BUSINESS LIVE: Aston Martin shares plummet; Next ups profit expectations; Asos sales to weaken


The FTSE 100 is down 0.2 per cent in midday trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Aston Martin, GSK, Asos, Next and Smurfit Kappa Group. Read the Wednesday 1 November Business Live blog below.

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Revealed: The banks least likely to pay out if you get scammed

Lloyds Bank, Monzo and Starling reimburse less than half the money that has been lost to scams, according to a shocking new league table that names and shames the banks leaving customers high and dry.

For the first time, banks have been ranked according to the rate at which they reimburse victims of scams.

Asos sales could fall another 15% as online retailer continues to struggle

UK jobs at risk as Germany blocks deal to sell British jets to Saudis

Thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs could be lost after Germany blocked a deal for British-made fighter jets to be exported to Saudi Arabia.

The Typhoon programme run by Lancashire-based BAE employs more than 6,000 aircraft specialists and supports an estimated 28,000 jobs in the supply chain.

UK shop price inflation eases to lowest level since August 2022

Shop price inflation slowed for a fifth consecutive month in October, slipping to its lowest rate since last August, fresh figures show.

Prices were 5.2 per cent higher in October than a year earlier, down from September’s 6.2 per cent, according to the British Retail Consortium-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

Elon Musk sees value of Twitter sink by £20bn in one year

Elon Musk – who once joked that the way to make a small fortune out of social media was to start with a large one – has seen the value of Twitter more than halve since he bought it.

The billionaire took control of the company, which is now known as X, to great fanfare last year in a deal worth £36billion.

Aston Martin shares plummet

Investors haven’t responded positively to Aston Martin’s third quarter update, as the carmaker’s shares continue to fall.

Aston Martin shares are now down 16 per cent to 183.9p.

Next hikes profit forecast AGAIN despite weather pressure

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Aston Martin flags sales volumes dip amid DB12 production issues

Handbags and shoes fly off the shelves at British fashion brand Kurt Geiger

‘Next has long been regarded as a well-oiled machine with the determination to drive progress’

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor:

‘The improved quarterly performance and volatility within its sales performance is one which Next ascribes to changing weather conditions over the period rather than any noticeable change in consumer behaviour.

‘Even so, this remains something of an overhang on the retail sector given the uncertain economic outlook, especially for the likes of Next which has eschewed discounting its products in favour of a concentration on full-price sales.

‘The shares are certainly on a roll given its recent ability to confound expectations, and have risen by 40% over the last year, as compared to a gain of 2% for the wider FTSE100. There remains work to be done, though, since the two-year performance remains negative with the shares down by 14% and some way off the peak of £81 achieved in November 2021.

‘Nonetheless, Next has long been regarded as a well-oiled machine with the determination to drive progress, and a recent upgrade of the market consensus to a cautious buy reflects warming appreciation of its prospects.’

Asos set for yet another ‘annus horribilis’

Charlie Huggins, manager of the Quality Shares Portfolio at Wealth Club:

‘The past year has been another annus horribilis, but then again it was always going to be. You cannot perform major surgery on a broken business without taking considerable pain. ASOS still remains in intensive care, meaning the year ahead is also likely to be very painful.

‘ASOS’ new CEO José Antonio Ramos Calamonte seems to be taking all the right actions to turn the business around. This includes reducing stock and promotions, cutting costs, prioritising cash, and transforming the culture. This has helped to stem the bleeding, but has led to an inevitable acceleration in sales declines, compounded by a weak consumer environment.

‘Arresting that sales decline and getting the top line growing again will be the biggest challenge for Mr Calamonte. He is targeting a return to growth in FY25, but in an intensely competitive industry, investors are unlikely to believe it until they see it.

‘Overall, ASOS is still in a mightily challenging spot and it seems unlikely it will ever rediscover its former glory. But at least it now has a leader who recognises those challenges and is taking bold actions, giving it a fighting chance of returning to growth in FY25.’

WeWork plans to file for bankruptcy as early as next week after struggling with massive losses – despite once being valued at $47billion

Asos sales to weaken again

Asos has forecast yet another year of falling sales in 2024 but the budget fashion retailer said its turnaround plan was starting to take shape and growth would return the following year.

Chief executive Jose Antonio Ramos Calamonte took over in June 2022 aiming to revamp Asos, which struggled when people returned to shops after the pandemic, while its own operational problems hit its performance.

Asos posted a £29million loss before nasties for the year to 3 September, just behind a consensus forecast for a £24million loss.

It expects 2024 sales of declines of 5 to 15 per cent, but to return to core growth in 2025.

Odey hedge fund closed for good following sexual assault allegations against its founder

Odey Asset Management is closing its doors for good – less than six months after its disgraced founder Crispin Odey faced fresh allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 32-year-old company said that it would wind down after moving its funds and managers elsewhere.

This will include shutting both Brook Asset Management and Odey Wealth, it said on its website.

Next ups profit expectations

Next has raised full-year profit expectations for the fourth time in six months after a better-than-expected 4 per cent rise in third-quarter full-price sales.

The group, which trades from about 460 stores in the UK and Ireland and has an online presence in over 70 countries, is often considered a useful gauge of how British consumers are faring.

Next now expects to post a pre-tax profit of £885million for the year to January 2024, up from previous guidance of £875million and the £870.4million made last year.

Aston Martin lifted by DB12 – but production woes hurt volumes

Aston Martin losses came in higher than expected in the third quarter as ‘exceptional demand’ for its new DB12 sports car was frustrated by temporary production issues.

The luxury car maker started delivery of its next-generation sports car last quarter, and expects its 2023 volume to come in at 6,700 units, from an earlier forecast of about 7,000 units.

‘Given the initial delays experienced with the DB12 ramp up during Q3, we have marginally updated our FY volume outlook as the impact limits production capacity for the full year,’ the company said in a statement.

Aston Martin, which retained the rest of its 2023 outlook, reported an adjusted operating loss of £48.4million on revenue of £362.1million in the three months to 30 September.

This was worse than analyst forecasts of a £38million loss on revenues of £370million.


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