Good morning. Today marks the third anniversary of the UK officially leaving the EU. A wave of surveys have been commissioned to measure what the public currently thinks of Brexit with Brits who regret leaving the EU increasingly outnumbering those who do not.
Ryanair’s bumper profit
Yesterday Europe’s biggest low cost airline reported that it made a record profit in the last quarter of 2022 thanks to post-Covid pent-up travel demand from price-sensitive consumers. The company posted a profit after tax of €211m between October and December, compared to a loss of €96m during the same period in 2021. CEO Michael O’Leary said he expects a rush of American and Asian tourists will boost demand in Europe this summer, encouraged by the strength of the US dollar.
So far in 2023, airlines have been among the strongest performing sectors in the stock market with recovering passenger numbers, resilient pricing and falling fuel costs helping drive the likes of easyJet and WizzAir more than 40% higher, whilst BA-owner IAG is +37% and Ryanair +24%.
Betting company shares slump
Shares in William Hill owner 888 fell 27% yesterday after it announced the immediate departure of its CEO Itai Pazner and the suspension of its Middle Eastern VIP customer accounts over money laundering concerns. The company says that suspended accounts affected around 3% of group revenues or about £50m. The news comes just weeks after online gambling group’s chief finance officer Yariv Dafna also announced he was leaving. 888 has been hit with £17m of fines from the gambling regulator in recent years over compliance problems. In a bid to calm investors, 888 has asked Dafna, who was expected to leave at the end of March, to stay on until the end of the year.
JD Sports’ major data breach
Yesterday the high street sportswear group warned that stored data relating to 10m customers may be at risk after it was hit by a cyberattack. The data related to online orders at JD Sports, Size?, Millets, Blacks, Scotts and Millets Sport brands between November 2018 and October 2020. Impacted customers have been contacted and asked to watch out for suspicious emails, calls and texts from scammers posing as JD. The group is the latest high profile UK company to be hit by cyberattacks following similar incidents at the Royal Mail and the Guardian.
International bidding war over Aussie cosmetics firm
The Australian brand Aesop, known for its luxury shampoo and bodycare, is reportedly at the centre of a $2bn bidding war between French consumer giants LVMH and L’Oréal and Japanese makeup firm Shiseido. Aesop’s current owners, Brazilian personal care group Natura & Co, has hired investment banks Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to explore the possibility of selling a stake in the business.
Another downgrade: New research by the IMF has forecast that the UK economy will contract by 0.6% this year and fare worse than any other country in the developed world - including sanctions-hit Russia.
Fire strike: Firefighters across the UK have voted for strike action in a row over pay.
Raising the alarm: The number of profit warnings issued by UK-listed companies in 2022 increased by 50% year-on-year, with record levels of warnings citing rising costs.
Price war: Ford has slashed the prices of its electric vehicles following a similar move by rival Tesla.
Spreading the cost: Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct and House of Fraser, will launch new financial services this year that allows shoppers to buy products through its own buy-now, pay-later scheme.
Radioactive error: The mining giant Rio Tinto has apologised after it lost a highly radioactive and very tiny capsule when the product fell off a truck in Australia.
Tax league tables: The 100 wealthy individuals or families revealed in this year’s Sunday Times Tax List were liable for a total of £5.2bn of UK tax last year.
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Number Of The Day
The number of UK streaming service subscriptions that have been cancelled in the past year with 28.5m remaining.