Stock markets in Europe are subdued this morning as Brexit remains in focus.
Prime Minister May agreed upon a new withdrawal agreement with the EU last night, as she secured ‘legally binding’ changes that she hopes will garner support. Concerns about the slowdown in the global economy have faded for now, and the positive finish in Asia overnight suggests traders are still optimistic about the state of US-China trade relations.
Dominos shares are higher after the company had a ‘mixed year’. Full-year group system sales edged up by 9%, while underlying profit before tax slipped by 1.1%. The UK and Ireland accounts for roughly 90% of the group’s business, and the combined region posted a 7% rise in system sales. The international operation continues to play catch-up, and it registered a 7.7% rise in pro forma sales. The company paid generous returns to shareholders. In total, £103.5 million was returned, which was made up of £44.3 million in the form of dividends, and £59.2 million was returned in the form of share buybacks. The net debt position soared by 128% to £203.3 million – which is still at the lower end of their debt to earnings ratio. It seems odd that the company is boosting shareholder returns while racking up debt at the same time. The stock drove higher in early trading, and if it can hold above the 223p region, it might extend it gains.
Cairn Energy reported a full-year net loss after tax of $1.1 billion. The loss was largely down to write downs in the company’s India investments. The group had an operating loss of $182 million from impairments in relation to its Kraken North Sea field. Cairn also confirmed that the output from Kraken was ‘below expectations’ The group expects net production of between 19,000 and 22,000 barrel of oil per day, and the average cost per barrels is $20, which should lead to high profits given the current price of oil.
888 confirmed that full-year adjusted profit before tax jumped by 11%, even though revenue dipped by 2%. The group’s sports operation and casino posted a 6% and 8% jump in revenue respectively. Tighter regulation in the UK was blamed for a poor performance at the bingo unit. 888 is continuing its expansion into the US as a way of diversifying away from the UK. The group is taking measures to minimise risks against Brexit as it obtained a gaming licence in Malta, and it set up a server in Ireland.
GBP/USD saw heightened volatility today on the back of traders awaiting the ‘meaning vote’ on Theresa May’s new and slightly improved withdrawal agreement. Geoffrey Cox MP, warned the legal risk of Breixit is unchnaged, and that prompted the pound to fall. In January, the UK economy grew by 1.4%, topping the 1.2% forecast, and that was an improvement on the 1% in December.
Dicks Sporting Goods will be in focus today as the company is due to report its full-year figures. Last week the stock hit its highest level since June 2017 so investors clearly have high hopes for the update. In November, the group issued mixed results. Third-quarter revenue dipped, and undershot forecasts, but the outlook for the full-year was raised.
We are expecting the Dow Jones to open 15 points lower at 25,635 and we are calling the S&P 500 up 3 points at 2,786.