Morning Financial Press Review
Paul Kettle
AM Press Round-Up -3 min read
05:54, 11th July 2019

Below are the key morning headlines from today’s papers, featuring the The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail & more - see the full Press section here.

Vodafone Group (VOD)FOLLOW  top executives have agreed to cut their share bonuses by a fifth in an attempt to quell a potential investor revolt at its annual meeting this month. The company, which in May cut its dividend payout to shareholders for the first time in its history, said its chief executive, Nick Read, and its finance chief, Margherita Della Valle, had voluntarily requested the 20% cut in share awards in recognition of the company’s plummeting value in the last year. Vodafone’s share price has plunged 30% in 12 months, wiping more than £15bn off the company’s stock market value, from £51bn to £35.7bn. “This was requested to reflect the low valuation of the share price following its reduction over the year,” the company said. “Particularly the change in value between the date of the remuneration committee’s decision in respect of the value of the awards and the date of grant.”

A sales revival at Superdry (SDRY) FOLLOW will take at least two years, Julian Dunkerton admitted yesterday, after the company swung into the red in the first set of results since its co-founder’s dramatic return. Superdry unveiled an £85 million loss for the year to April 27, in stark contrast with last year’s profit of £65.3 million, after delaying the results by a week because it needed more time to calculate its complex property charges. The fashion retailer has had to take a £130 million writedown on about 114 shops, roughly half its owned store estate, as a result of falling sales in the stores and a “cautious recovery plan” that has forecast even bigger shop sale declines next year.

BT Group (BT.A) FOLLOW has given its clearest warning to shareholders that it could cut the dividend to help to fund investment in full-fibre broadband in Britain. The FTSE 100 telecoms group stopped short of scaling back the £1.5 billion payout in May, when Philip Jansen, 52, its new chief executive, honoured BT’s pledge to hold the dividend at 15.4p per share until the end of its financial year. However, Mr Jansen raised the prospect of cutting the dividend if BT decided to commit to its “ambition” to connect 15 million homes and businesses with full-fibre broadband by the mid-2020s. Addressing investors at its annual meeting in London yesterday, Jan du Plessis, chairman, said that BT remained confident of the dividend payment for its financial year thats ends on March 31, but that connecting 15 million premises, “if the conditions were right”, meant that BT had to find the funds

A cash-strapped biotechnology company has sold a potential cancer treatment for up to $206.5 million. Redx Pharma (REDX) FOLLOW said that it had signed a definitive agreement with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, an American drugs company, for the sale of a promising oncology research programme to treat tumours. Under the deal, Jazz will pay Redx $3.5 million in cash up front, though the British company could receive up to $203 million more in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. It also is in line for “mid-single-digit-percentage” royalties, based on any future net sales. The deal is a boost for Redx, which is recovering from a torrid period a couple of years ago and continues to negotiate with shareholders and specialist investors for longer-term funding.

Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) FOLLOW continues to outperform its peers, despite a slowdown in sales growth in the last three months and a refusal to put up prices eating into margins. Like-for-like sales swelled by 6.9% in the 10 weeks to July 7, better than recent performances by the likes of competitors Young’s and Greene King. However this was a slight slowdown on the previous quarter. Despite facing similar cost headwinds to its peers – such as rising wage bills and food inflation – the chain has not increased its prices, squeezing profits as a result. Recent industry research shows that the gap between Wetherspoon’s prices and the industry average had widened from 18% to 23%. Meanwhile, it continues to spend money sprucing up its pubs and splashed out £71m on buying the freeholds of sites where it was previously a tenant. Analysts estimate that just two in every five of its 900-strong estate are leasehold properties.

Barratt Developments (BDEV) FOLLOW said it ‘brushed aside’ Brexit concerns as profit for the year will come in ahead of expectations and hit a new record high of around £910million. The housebuilder said it built more homes last year and it had made ‘good progress’ in exiting central London to focus on ‘the strong growth opportunities’ in outer London. The FTSE 100 listed company said it completed some 430 extra homes in the year to the end of June, for a total of 17,111 homes, excluding joint ventures – the highest in 11 years. But average house selling prices fell by 5% to £312,000, which the company blamed on changes to the mix of homes sold. Chief executive David Thomas said they had ‘brushed aside’ concerns about Brexit uncertainty hampering the new-build market.’Whilst there remains some economic and political uncertainty, the group is in a strong position.’

Recruitment firm Pagegroup (PAGE) FOLLOW said Brexit-related uncertainty and a general global slowdown is hitting candidate and client confidence, forcing it to downgrade its profit expectations for 2019. ‘It is clear that macro-economic conditions in a number of our regions are becoming more challenging, and, as such, we currently expect 2019 operating profit to be towards the lower end of the range of current market forecasts,’ chief financial officer Kelvin Stagg said. The recruiter now expects operating profit for the year to come in at the lower end of the £156.5million to £168million range. PageGroup, which has offices around the world and helps hire executives and clerical staff, said the UK, France and Greater China saw ‘more challenging conditions’, although there was still strong growth in the US.

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The information, investment views and recommendations in this article are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engaging in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the writer but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. Vox Markets may receive payment from companies mentioned for enhanced profiling or publication presence. The writer may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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