Corporate news round-up
Retailer Next said that the fall off in sales since the lockdown has been “faster and steeper” than anticipated in its March stress test and the company is now modelling lower sales for the second half of the year. The maximum decline in its previous stress test was 25 per cent.
Barclays reported that bad loan provisions surged to £2.1bn in the first quarter, almost fivefold of £448m in the same period last year and far exceeding analyst expectations of £923m, as lockdowns across the world threaten to push swaths of its clients into default.
Housebuilder Persimmon said that there was a good level of customer enquiries through the lockdown period, an encouraging sign that demand for new houses will be resilient. Its builders will return to sites this week, after the government was clear that it wanted construction companies to restart building operations.
Dixons Carphone, an electronics retailer, reported that online sales recovered two-thirds of sales lost from bricks-and-mortar stores and that it had secured a further £266m revolving credit facility, although it decided not to pay a full-year dividend.
Trainline, the transportation ticket sales platform, said that its lenders have waived the debt covenants for its £350m revolving credit facility until August 2021.
DWS, the asset management arm of Deutsche Bank, has held its €1.67 per share dividend unchanged, after it reported that adjusted pre-tax profits were down by a third and investors pulled €6.1bn from long-term funds in the first quarter, relative to the previous quarter.
AstraZeneca said that revenues rose to $6.4bn in the first quarter, up 16 per cent on the previous year, while noting the outlook is “highly uncertain” due to coronavirus. The company is testing Calquence, a drug used to treat leukaemia, in a Phase II trial to suppress inflammation of the lungs and other organs experienced by some Covid-19 patients.
WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, said like-for-like sales dropped 7.9 per cent in March, prompting it to cut more costs, as clients hold back spending on advertising.