Barclays is restarting dividends and buying back shares after delivering better than expected results, in spite of another hike to its bad loan cover.
The bank said fourth-quarter net profit slumped 68 per cent to £220m as higher reserves eclipsed a robust investment banking performance. The profit was well ahead of analysts’ expectations for a £17m loss, with £492m of credit impairment charges for the quarter also lower than forecasted.
A proposed dividend of 1p per share was below the consensus forecast of 3.5p but was compensated by a £700m buyback programme, worth about 4p per share, which raised the cash return to the maximum allowed by the regulators.
“Barclays’ diversity has proven to be an asset through Covid-19 with the strong Corporate and Investment Banking arm covering for the weaker UK division,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Toms. “We expect the bank to continue to gain market share in investment banking, although we suspect that some of the recent gains can be attributed to peers stepping away from business rather than Barclays actively winning share. Therefore we expect the current pace of gains will slow going forward.”
Moonpig reported its strongest ever trading week ahead of Valentine’s Day. In its first update as a listed company, the gift card printer raised guidance for the full year ending April, saying third-quarter demand had remained at the elevated levels seen in the first half. A temporary increase in customers adding gifts to their orders meant revenue in the current year will be approximately double the £173m reported for 2020, it said. Guidance ahead of the company’s flotation this month was for current year revenue of £290m to £300m.
Indivior, the opiate addiction treatment maker, posted a $148m net loss for 2020 on legal costs and tumbling sales of its legacy Suboxone drug. The company booked $244m of exceptional costs having last year settled US criminal and civil investigations into fraudulent marketing and violation of antitrust laws.
Hays, the staffing agency, said it has identified £150m of surplus capital that will be returned to shareholders via special dividends. The company posted a 75 per cent drop in operating profit for the six months ended December but added that hiring activity had recovered to pre-Christmas levels by early February.
Mining group South32 said first-half profit slipped 46 per cent to $53m on weaker prices of key commodities such as coal. For the six months ended December the company reported revenue down 8 per cent to $2.9bn.
Smith & Nephew posted a 12.1 per cent drop in underlying revenue for 2020 and cautioned that disruption from Covid-19 was likely to continue for the first half of 2021. The orthopaedic implant maker’s 2020 operating profit slumped to $295m from $815m the year before.
Full-year results from Moneysupermarket showed underlying profit down 24 per cent to £107.8m as revenue from travel channels such as insurance sales dried up. The price comparison site operator held its full-year dividend steady at 11.71p per share.
Facebook has defied Australia’s push to make Big Tech pay for news by banning the sharing of content on its platform in the country. The extreme step was taken with very little warning and includes critical health information services, provoking a backlash from MPs and experts. Facebook’s ban was imposed hours after a separate decision by Google to strike a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, defusing a long-running dispute between the media group and the search company.
Thyssenkrupp has broken off talks with British tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty over the sale of the German group’s steel unit, saying the parties were “far apart” in their plans for the beleaguered business. The Essen-based company, which is also considering a spin-off of the steel works, said it would now develop the division using its own funds.
Keith Gill, the day trader at the centre of the short squeeze on GameStop stock, urged a House committee to investigate “potentially manipulative shorting practices” on Wall Street, ahead of a hearing later today in which he will appear alongside the hedge fund manager who lost billions on the other side of the bet. According to pre-prepared testimony published by the financial services committee of the House of Representatives, Gill — whose personas include DeepFuckingValue on the Reddit message board WallStreetBets and Roaring Kitty on YouTube — defended his investment in the video games retailer.
Lombard The City of London should turn to the night-time economy for its revival. Nimbyism has long been the bane of London’s night-time economy, with bars and clubs constantly battling neighbours who would prefer a good night’s sleep. Yet, with just 8,000 residents at last count, this is unlikely to be an issue in the City.
Ian Harnett Two words, “act big”, may come to define “the Yellen moment”, when the economic policy and investment regimes of the past 20 years ended and a new one began.
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