As is often the way we seem to have more announcements today as it is Thursday - I've never worked out why Thursday is such a popular day to announce.
Firstly we had an IMS from Amlin (AML) the high yielding (5.9% (F) for 2014) Lloyds Corporate Insurance vehicle. This was very detailed which you can read in full at the IMS link above. The highlights were premiums being up by about 5% with an increased retention rate of 88.2% but they did flag that premium rates were softening and these fell by 2.3 % overall versus a small increase 12 months ago. Within some lines they claimed that they had seen smaller falls than the market thanks to their specialist businesses securing preferential signings and having access to business which is not available in the open market and, on some business, better pricing. Earnings are forecast to be down for this year, so probably no surprise here and that is the nature of the insurance cycle.
Next was Electrocomponents (ECM) which I wrote up earlier in the year when they did a Pre Close Update so I won't dwell too much on the figures here which seem to be roughly in line with expectations with sales growth of just 2.1%, profits up by 7.4%, earnings by 9.4% and the dividend disappointingly flat at 11.75 pence versus a small increase to 11.9 pence which had been forecast. However, this is perhaps not so surprising when it is only covered 1.4x by earnings. Indeed they have apparently previous stated that over time as earnings increase, the Board intends to pursue a progressive dividend policy whilst increasing headline earnings dividend cover towards two times. Their new year has started in a similar fashion but they make reference to currency head winds and making progress towards their medium term targets. These seem to be for "through the cycle" targets of Sales growth of 5 to 8%, operating margins 9-11% and ROCE of 20 to 30%. Their sales are obviously quite light compared to their target, while margins at 8.3% should have some scope to expand to offset the sluggish sales and they are just hitting their ROCE range which is good. Still looks a bit expensive on 16 to 17x given the sluggish growth and Mr Market seems to agree as it has been marked down 5% first thing.
Meanwhile IG Group (IGG) have announced a brief pre close update in which they flag a quiet end to the year so sales will be light but that they are likely to meet expectation on earnings and cash flow thanks to their cost cutting initiatives. The shares have drifted back to the middle of their recent range so should be OK on the back of this given the rating of 14x and around a 4% yield seems fair but i guess it could drift back towards the bottom of its recent trading range at around 550p.
Finally Investec (INVP) - which I wrote up earlier in the year and traded successfully reported their final results today. I'll not dwell on them as I'm out and they are at the top of their trading range of the last few years. However, as they are not that expensive I guess they could still progress further, but will need markets and the rand to behave themselves. So if you want to learn more then see the highlighted links above.