Themes from February

Royal Bank of Scotland signalled a return to financial health it will pay a 7.5p special dividend alongside a final dividend of 3.5p. The bank reported a 2018 attributable profit of £1.62bn beating consensus forecasts of £1.42bn. Marchks & Spencer is to raise up to £600m via a rights issue to fund its joint venture with Ocado. The board announced they will reduce the 2019 dividend by 40%.

Ocado will receive up to £750m from Marks & Spencer for the creation of a 50/50 joint venture that will transform Marks’ delivery capabilities.

Rio Tinto will pay $4bn in special dividends out of a total return of $13.5bn for 2018. Rio said net earnings hit $13.64bn up 56% helping free cash flow to hit $7bn. The board said its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia had made progress over 2018.

BAT reported 2018 revenues of £24.5bn and EPS of 264p with net debt of £43.4bn down 2.7%. The dividend was hiked to 203p up 4%.

Hammerson intends £1bn of asset sales and is currently in talks over £900m of its portfolio. The board reported its gearing rose to 63% from 58% after reporting a 5.9% drop in its portfolio value to £9.94bn.

CMC Markets reported revenues fell were likely to fall up to 35% due to weaker retail client activity post the adoption of ESMA rules on 1st August 2018.

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