Premarket London: Berkeley Splashes the Cash, Burberry Raises Guidance

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By Geoffrey Smith — Here is a summary of the most important regulatory news releases ahead of the U.K. market open on Wednesday 22nd January. Please refresh for updates for U.K. market news from the LSE’s RNS on individual UK shares from , and 350.

  • Housebuilder Berkeley Group (LON:) said it will raise its planned return to shareholders by 455 million pounds ($594 million) over the next two years. It plans to return to the current schedule of annual returns of 280 million pounds thereafter, saying it needed the cash to finance long-term regeneration projects.
  • The move comes after three years of cautious cash hoarding in the wake of the U.K. vote to leave the EU. The company’s net cash position has risen from 108 million pounds to over a billion pounds in that time.
  • Burberry (LON:) raised its sales forecast for the full year after “strong growth” from new collections pushed like-for-like sales up 3% in the three months through December.
  • Having previously expected flat sales for the year through March, it now expects a “low single-digit percentage” increase, adjusted for foreign exchange swings. It expects its operating margin to remain stable.
  • The maker of check-patterned trench coats depended largely on China for the improvement, where sales rose by some 15%. However, sales in Hong Kong halved due to the impact of months of protests.
  • More worrying was the group’s failure to capitalize on a strong U.S. economy. Revenue in the Americas was flat on the year.
  • Supermarket chain J Sainsbury (OTC:) (LON:) is getting a new chief executive, less than a year after regulators quashed its ambitious deal to merge with Walmart (NYSE:) unit Asda. The company said Mike Coupe will retire at the end of May.
  • Sainsbury’s is appointing another company insider to the top job in the form of Retail and Operations Director Simon Roberts.
  • Accounting software provider Sage Group (LON:) upheld its guidance for the 2020 fiscal year after a promising start in the three months through December.
  • Recurring revenue rose 11% to 410 million pounds as the company signed up more customers for its cloud-based subscription service.
  • That was despite currency tailwinds generated by sterling’s rise against the euro in the last three months of 2019.
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