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What to watch: Foxtons loss, Aston Martin crashes, and BA's flat year

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A general view of a Foxtons estate agent in the Pimlico area on June 11, 2013 in London, England. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Foxtons swings to loss

Estate agent Foxtons (FOXT.L) swung to a loss of £17.2m in 2018 due to weakness in the housing sales market, the company said on Thursday.

Revenue declined by 5% to £111.5m and the company opted not to give its shareholders a full-year dividend.

Chief executive Nic Budden said: “Our performance in 2018 was impacted by a further deterioration in the sales market, with transaction levels falling for another year from their already low levels.

“We are pleased with the lettings business and the investment we made earlier in the year helped to drive a good second half performance.”

Aston Martin crashes

Shares in luxury car maker Aston Martin fell by 10% (AML.L) on Thursday after the company reported a £68.2m annual loss.

The sizeable loss compared to profits of £85m in 2017 came due to £136m of costs associated with its stock market debut last October.

Aston Martin also revealed plans for a £30m fund to help it weather any Brexit disruption. The group said its board had approved “plans for up to £30m of advanced working capital and/or operating expenses.”

It added it was taking action to “mitigate the impact on the business from potential supply chain disruption should the UK withdraw from the European Union without an agreement or in an unstructured manner.”

Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive Andy Palmer said: “2018 was an outstanding year for Aston Martin Lagonda, delivering strong growth, with improving revenues, unit sales and adjusted profits.”

He added the group was navigating “uncertainties and disruption impacting the wider auto industry.”

Flat year for BA-owner IAG

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L) on Thursday said it expects profits this year to be flat at €3.2bn.

The forecast came as IAG posted a 6.7% increase in revenue for 2018 to €24.4bn (£20.8bn). Profit before tax was up 9.8% to €3bn (£2.6bn).

IAG chief executive officer Willie Walsh said: “Yet again, we’ve improved our operating profit this year and our adjusted earnings per share grew by 15.1%.

“This was a very good performance despite three significant challenges: fuel prices increasing 30%, considerable Air Traffic Control disruption and an adverse foreign exchange impact of €129m.”

IAG shares rose by 1.4%.

Rolls-Royce engine bill hits £790m

Engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) said the bill to rectify problems with its Trent 1000 engines reached £790m last year.

Rolls-Royce said underlying earnings jumped to £633m in 2018, up from £317m in the previous year. But on a statutory basis, the group swung to a pre-tax loss of £2.9bn, compared to profits of £3.9bn in 2017, due to a raft of exceptional charges.

Chief executive Warren East said: “Despite the challenges we faced on Trent 1000 in-service issues, solid progress has been made realising our ambition to make 2018 a breakthrough year, both strategically and financially.

“Underlying financial results are ahead of expectations, with good growth in profit and cash flow.”

Rolls-Royce said its restructuring was on track, having already slashed its workforce by around 1,300. It is set to save £400m in annual costs by the end of 2020.

European markets

European stock markets were lower after investor confidence was dented by the abrupt end to US President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and after poor manufacturing and services numbers from China.

Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down by 0.8%, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.2% lower, France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 0.1% lower, but the Euronext 100 (^N100) was up by 0.09%.

It was a similar story in Asian markets. Japan’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) was down by 0.7%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (^HSI) was down by 0.4%, and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was down by 0.4%.

What to expect in the US

US stock futures were pointing to a mixed open. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up by 0.1%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) were down by 0.2%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were up by 0.08%.

Companies reporting in the US later today include:

  • JD.com (JD)
  • Marriott International (MAR)
  • VMware (VMW)
  • Farfetch (FTCH)
  • SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS)
  • Keuring Dr Pepper (KDP)
  • Dell (DELL)
  • JC Penny (JCP)