Home Money LIVE BUSINESS: BT to boost free cash flow; EasyJet CEO to leave; United Utilities profits fall

LIVE BUSINESS: BT to boost free cash flow; EasyJet CEO to leave; United Utilities profits fall

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 LIVE BUSINESS: BT to boost free cash flow; EasyJet CEO to leave; United Utilities profits fall

The FTSE 100 is down 0.1 per cent in early trading. Companies with trading reports and updates today include BT Group, EasyJet, United Utilities, Vistry and Premier Foods. Read the Business Live blog from Thursday 16 May below.

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Premier Foods profits soar

Premier Foods beat market expectations for full-year profits, thanks to strong demand as customers opted for its quick meals such as meat pies and sauces, and increased marketing spend.

The company, which makes a variety of products from plain flour to cooking sauces and fast foods, expects a return to volume-driven revenue growth this year as consumers opt to eat at home rather than go to restaurants. restaurants as inflationary pressures loom.

“We have a strong set of plans for this year, across each of our strategic pillars and with our return to volume growth, we are on track to meet expectations for the full year,” boss Alex Whitehouse said.

Electric car quotas risk creating “volatility and disruption” in the market, Vertu boss warns

Imposing electric car quotas on manufacturers risks creating “volatility and disruption” in the market, the boss of one of Britain’s biggest dealerships has warned.

That could mean higher prices as companies reduce supplies of gasoline and diesel vehicles to meet targets and avoid fines, said Vertu Chief Executive Robert Forrester.

“The UK water sector remains in the spotlight and there is much work to do to restore public confidence”

Aarin Chiekrie, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘Despite some of its infrastructure desperately needing upgrades, United Utilities showed no leaks in its profit line last year. The UK water sector remains in the spotlight and there is much work to be done to restore public confidence.

“But United Utilities appears ready for the fight, bringing forward an ongoing £400m-a-year investment to help reduce the use of storm overflows at a faster rate.

‘Results delivery incentives (ODI) amounted to £34 million last year, which, despite being a record reward, is approximately £30 million less than the group’s original expectations. ODIs are bonuses for offering service levels higher than those promised to customers.

“The shortfall is due to the negative impact of exceptionally high levels of rainfall last year, the wettest year in the North West for 69 years. This put pressure on the group’s ability to manage everything properly, ultimately leading to burst pipes and unwanted spills due to storms.

‘Despite lower ODIs, full-year profits increased at double-digit rates, in line with market expectations. This growth was largely driven by inflation-linked income increases.

“In addition to strong cash generation, the group’s debt levels remain within the bottom half of its target range, supporting its ambitious £13.7bn plans to expand and enhance its assets between 2025 and 2030.” .

United Utilities profits plummet under pressure from wastewater discharges

Questioned water company United Utilities has failed to meet market expectations for annual profits as higher consumer bills failed to offset a sharp rise in costs as the group struggles to bolster its environmental reputation.

However, expensive consumer bills helped boost annual revenue by 8.1 per cent to £1.95bn.

The north-west England water supplier reported an adjusted operating profit of £517.8m for the year to the end of March, compared with analysts’ expectations of £522.2m.

United faced the ire of consumers, politicians and regulators on Tuesday after it emerged that the group was responsible for mMillions of liters of sewage are illegally pumped into one of England’s most famous lakes.

He failed to stop illegal pollution at Windermere in the Lake District for 10 hours in February and did not report the incident to the Environment Agency until 13 hours after it started, according to the BBC.

An almost identical incident occurred at the same location in 2022.

Anglo to sell coking coal division for £4.75bn in bid to convince investors restructuring is working

Anglo American is considering a quick sale of its coking coal business as it tries to convince investors that its radical restructuring is working.

The London-listed mining giant, which has rejected two bids from BHP worth £31bn and £34bn, this week revealed plans to split the company to fend off takeover interests.

1715844385 675 LIVE BUSINESS BT to boost free cash flow EasyJet CEO

EasyJet CEO to leave

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren will step down in early 2025, the low-cost airline said this morning, as it reported a larger-than-expected first-half loss on Thursday ahead of a busy summer season.

Lundgren, who helped dig the airline out of its pandemic debt and grew the vacation business, will be replaced by finance chief Kenton Jarvis.

The company reported an overall pre-tax loss of £350m, higher than the expected loss of £340m but down from £392m a year earlier.

“We are now absolutely focused on another record summer that is expected to deliver strong earnings growth in FY24 and we are on track to achieve our medium-term goals,” Lundgren said in a statement.

BT commits to strengthening free cash flow

BT Group’s new chief executive has set out a plan to more than double free cash flow over the next five years as the telecoms giant surpasses the peak of its investment in fiber networks.

Allison Kirkby, who previously led Sweden’s Telia, said BT would increase its dividend for the 2024 financial year by 3.9 percent to 8 pence a share after free cash flow beat expectations.

Some analysts expected free cash flow to take a hit during the period as a result of huge spending on BT’s full fiber rollout, which could even force a dividend cut.

While BT exceeded expectations in this regard, broadband line losses to its competitors were worse than expected: 491,000 in the year to March 31, down from 210,000 a year earlier.

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