Fuller Smith & Turner toasts a return to profit

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Shares in Fuller Smith & Turner (AIM:FSTA) are toasting a return to profit for the pubs and hotels group.


First half revenues more than doubled to GBP45.6mln and it turned a GBP22.2mln loss into a GBP4.6mln profit, despite its outlets only being free of any COVID-19 restrictions for nine full weeks of the period.


Chief Executive Simon Emeny said: “While the first half of this financial year has been a story of slowly returning to some semblance of what was known as normality, I am proud of what we have achieved. We have used the time wisely, planning for the future, further improving our already robust infrastructure and focusing on our people, our properties, our supplier relationships and our systems.


“Like for like sales in our Managed Pubs and Hotels continue to grow steadily and for the seven weeks to 13 November 2021 stand at 90% of 2019 levels. Christmas bookings are in good shape and there is clearly continued appetite from our customers to get out and socialise with friends and family…


“We are pleased with the steady growth we are seeing across our pubs and hotels and we will benefit as international tourists return and office workers continue to head back to their desks and colleagues.


“There are a number of well-documented issues facing the industry as a whole and, while we are not immune, we are a long-standing business that is well funded, backed by a substantial, predominately freehold estate, and has the benefit of experience to help us navigate through.”


Fuller’s shares have frothed up 4.05% or 26p to 668p.


2.11am: Jet2 stuck on the runway after increased losses


Leisure travel group Jet2 PLC (AIM:JET2) has seen its shares grounded as its losses increased and it warned of continuing competitive prices for holidays.


In its first half it made an operating loss of GBP170.4mln, an increase of 53%. The government’s traffic light system hit demand, in particular to Amber high-volume leisure destinations where consumers were worried the rating could quickly be changed to Red, meaning enforced quarantine on their return to the UK.


Because of the three-weekly reviews of the system, customer bookings were significantly closer to departure than normal, leading to a reduction in average flight-only ticket yield per passenger.


It added: “The competitive pricing environment being experienced for Winter 21/22, plus the necessary investment in our own operations in the remainder of this financial year in readiness for our flying programme expansion in the Summer 2022 season, means that, as is typical for the business, further losses are to be expected in the second half.”


It said forward bookings for Winter were markedly stronger, and package holiday bookings for Summer 2022 were encouraging.


But its shares have lost 7.49% or 89.5p to 1106.6p.


12.16pm: Biffa falls despite improved profits as cost pressures increase


Waste management group Biffa PLC (LSE:BIFF) has seen its shares rubbished after its latest update.


It continued its post-COVID-19 recovery but warned it faced increased costs, including paying higher wages to mitigate the HGV driver shortage.


It expected to push through price increases to compensate for this in the second half.


But despite this – and a jump in first half adjusted operating profits from GBP9.7mln to GBP45.4mln plus comments that its full year figures would be in line with expectations – its shares have fallen 14.81% or 58.5p to 336.5p.


On the cost pressures, it said: “Like most businesses, we have been affected by supply chain challenges impacting the UK economy, including shortages of HGV drivers, vehicles, fuel and waste containers. We responded decisively to the challenges in the driver market by offering increased pay, amongst other measures. We have seen signs of stabilisation in recent weeks, but we will continue to monitor the situation closely.


“Most areas of our business have a level of pricing flexibility, meaning we are well placed to mitigate the cost inflation we are experiencing through price increases that will be implemented in the second half.


“The board is pleased with Biffa’s strong performance and the outlook for the full year remains positive and in line with the board’s expectations.”


11.20am: CyanConnode climbs after opening Indian innovation centre


CyanConnode Holdings PLC (AIM:CYAN) is in demand after expanding in India.


The company, which specialises in networks used for machine to machine communication, has opened its new corporate office and innovation centre in the country.


It said the centre will help India deploy 250 million smart prepaid meters, and will develop and test radio frequency solutions for scattered agricultural and semi-urban consumers.


CyanConnode also reached the milestone of shipping 1 million nodes to customers across all of its projects in India in October.


Executive chairman John Cronin said: “[The] centre will showcase our strengths in technology, innovation, research and development. [It] reaffirms CyanConnode India’s approach of bringing new technologies to meet the customers’ requirements.”


CyanConnode has climbed 13.73% or 3.5p to 29p.


10.15am: Enquest slides as it cuts production target


Production and development group Enquest Plc (AIM:ENQ) is under pressure after cutting its prduction target.


The oil and gas company, which has operations in the North Sea and Malaysia, now expects output to be 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared to the 46,000-52,000 it predicted in September.


That figure includes a contribution from the recently acquired Golden Eagle operation.


It said: “Group production has been challenging, largely driven by performance at Magnus [which saw compression system outages] and a recent unplanned shutdown at Kraken, combined with a supplier driven delay in the pipeline replacement in Malaysia.”


Its shares are down 14.54% or 3.25p at 19.10p.


8.57am: Eagle Eye Solutions says profits will beat expectations


Investors have Eagle Eye Solutions Group PLC (AIM:EYE) in their sights after the marketing technology company said it was performing better than expected.


In a statment prepared for its annual meeting the company – which specialises in marketing through coupons, loyalty, apps, subscriptions and gift services – said first quarter revenues had risen 35% compared to the same time last year.


So now it expects full year earnings to be “comfortably ahead” of previous forecasts.


The strong performance was helped by previous customer wins, including Woolworths, Staples US Retail and Virgin Red, starting to show results.


It has also won new business, such as an expansion of the Pret a Manger coffee subscription service into France and a trial with existing customer Asda for a new loyalty programme, Asda Rewards.


It has also unveiled a new three year GBP5mln funding facility with Silicon Valley Bank, with up to an additional GBP2.5mln available for an appropriate investment opportunity.


The company’s shares have climbed 5.79% or 33p to 603p.


Elsewhere FIH Group Plc (AIM:FIH) has built up a good gain after its FIC subsidiary won a GBP17.3mln contract to build a total of 70 houses for the Falkland Islands government and the UK Ministry of Defence in Stanley and at the Mount Pleasant military base.


Chief executive John Foster said: “This successful contract win underlines the growing strength of FIC in the construction arena and its’ ability to deliver a high-quality product to discerning clients. It is also a significant win for the group and underlines the trust and confidence placed in FIC by these two important customers and we look forward to further developing our relationship with them both in the coming years.”

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