Global shares were broadly up on Tuesday: the Dow Jones finished 0.17% higher at 20,949.89 while the Nasdaq climbed 0.06% to 6,095.37. In London the FTSE 100 finished at 7,250, up 46 points while the German Dax was up 0.56% to 12,507.90. The French CAC 40 pushed 0.70% higher to 5,304.15.
There was a touch of pressure on gold, down -0.05% to $1,256.40. On the currency front the pound was trading at 1.289 against the dollar this morning.
Company-wise, some surprise from Apple. Latest iPhone sales are 1% down year-on-year to 50.8m for the first three months of 2017, Apple boss Tim Cook admitted. In after-hours trading Apple’s share price fell almost 2%.
Sainsbury's profits thumped
Let’s head first in the direction of Sainsbury’s. Full-year profits have taken a battering with profits before tax slumping 8.2% to £503m. That compares to sales of £548m a year ago.
Like-for-like sales overall for the last 12 months are 0.6% down for the grocer. Bad news for the final year dividend, slumping 18.5% from 8.1p to 6.6p. One small chink of good news: overall group sales climbed 12.7% thanks to the Sainsbury’s Argos integration.
“We are on track to deliver our three-year £500m cost saving programme by the end of 2017/18,” Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said, “and we will deliver a further £500 million of cost savings over three years from 2018/19.”
Direct Line premiums bump up
We move onto Direct Line Insurance. Gross written premiums climbed 4.2% higher in the first quarter of 2017 with Motor own brands increasing 11.2% claims Direct Line.
"We have,” said boss Paul Geddes, “delivered particularly strong results in Motor and this performance has more than offset the challenging home market. Direct Line for Business and Green Flag have also performed well.”
Investment income is in line with expectations at £42m while Direct Line says it’s on course to achieve a 2.4% yield. Shares in the company remain -3.71% down year-to-date at 355p though they climbed 1.7% yesterday.
JD Wetherspoon warns on costs
Finally, FTSE 250 pubs operator JD Wetherspoon. For the 13 weeks to 23 April like-for-like sales picked up 4% with total sales gaining 1.3%. On a year-to-date basis like-for-like sales increased 3.5% and total sales are up 1.4% the company claims.
Wetherspoon says it anticipates “significantly higher costs” for the second half of the year though. It claims extra pressure on business rates, utility taxes, excise duty and labour - so some caution ahead.
"As a result of these higher costs,” boss Tim Martin says, “the company anticipates it will require like-for-like sales of about 3 to 4% in our next financial year to maintain profits at current levels."