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Headlines
• UAE says Chinese vaccine 86% effective
• Joe Biden vows to provide 100m vaccines in his first 100 days.
• 90% of residents in low-income nations to miss vaccine in 2021
• Cunard cruises suspends cruises until June 2021

Company news

Buildings & Construction

Howden Joinery – “Since the company’s announcement on 2 November 2020, trading has continued to be strong, with Howdens UK depots’ total revenue for Period 12 (1 November 2020 to 28 November 2020) increasing by 18.8% and by 17.2% on a same depot basis. For the year to date (Periods 1 to 12), total UK revenue was 5.1% below that for 2019.”

Vistry# – “As stated in our trading update of 12 November 2020, the group expects to deliver FY20 profit before tax, at the top end of the range of £130-140m, reflecting the strong operational performance across the group.



The number of completions scheduled for December is at a normal level, with our usual strong focus on quality, and there are no individually significant transactions within the revised forecast. The group continues to buy land in line with its strategy of retaining a 3.5 to 4.0-year land bank for the Housebuilding business and delivering accelerated growth for Vistry Partnerships’ mixed tenure business. All land for forecast FY21 completions across the group is secured and we are in a strong position for FY22. The group utilises land creditors where appropriate and will secure land conditional on detailed planning. Land creditors as at 31 December 2020 are expected to be at a similar level to 30 June 2020.”

Leisure

Photo-Me International – “Since publication of the group’s results on 7 July 2020, trading across all of the group’s end markets and business areas has continued to be severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result of significantly lower consumer demand for its vending equipment and services.



The group’s instant-service machines are typically situated in busy locations, such as travel hubs and shopping centres. Ongoing government lockdown restrictions, constraints on international travel, and social distancing rules across its jurisdictions have significantly impacted consumer activity, most notably for photobooths (-26% from 1 May to 31 October 2020 compared to last year same period) and more deeply for children’s rides, which represented only 1.2% of total group revenue during the same six-month period.”

Retail

Marshall Motor Holdings – “On 13 October 2020, the group announced that as a result of a particularly strong trading performance in the important September plate-change month, it was targeting an underlying profit before tax performance for the year of £15m. It also noted that this guidance had been given in an environment where there were significant ongoing economic and social uncertainties and so the risks to the board’s guidance were much higher than in a normal year.



The group continued to trade strongly for the remainder of October, benefitting from previously reported sector tailwinds. New retail unit sales were up on a like-for-like basis and significantly outperformed SMMT-reported new retail market registrations, with like-for-like used car unit volumes also performing strongly.”

Technology

Dialight – “Our revenue in the period continued to be disrupted by Covid-19 due to the inability of some of our suppliers to provide components on a timely basis. This has been compounded by the delays in the freight market, resulting in production delays and temporarily elevated costs in order to maintain supply. Additionally, we are now operating our facility in Mexico with a 20% reduction in our workforce due to the area having just been classified as a ‘red zone’, and with certain employees unable to work in order to comply with amended government guidelines.”



Transport

Stagecoach – “Car use in the UK, as a percentage of pre-Covid levels, is currently significantly ahead of public transport use. Car trips in Great Britain during October 2020 were 80-90% of pre-Covid levels despite continuing restrictions at that time. That indicates a continuing propensity for travel but a preference in the short term for cars, reflecting government messaging discouraging public transport use and people seeking to minimise their contact with others during the Covid-19 pandemic. People make bus and tram journeys for a diverse range of purposes that remain central to their lives: work, education, leisure, shopping, meeting family and friends, healthcare, and other reasons. As we emerge from the pandemic, we anticipate strong support from government in pursuing our shared objective to drive modal shift from car to public transport. That, combined with the evidence of a continuing propensity for travel, further contracts wins in London and the potential for international diversification, leaves us positive on the long-term outlook for the group.”



Other

• The United Arab Emirates Government said a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the country is 86% effective, after analysing third-phase trials.

• Almost half of the world’s democracies have gone backwards in 2020 in terms democratic and rights standards, according to the international Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). The study says 43% of democracies – including countries like India, Poland and Argentina – have brought in restrictions “that were either illegal, disproportionate, indefinite or unnecessary”. Including non-democratic nations, that figure rises to 61% of countries worldwide.

• More than 50% of students say their mental health has declined since the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to a survey for the National Union of Students. Many of the 4,241 students surveyed in November say they have suffered stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression.

• Schools in England will be allowed to close a day early for Christmas to give teachers “a proper break” from identifying potential Covid-19 cases.

• A one-off “wealth tax” would be the best way to patch up UK public finances battered by the coronavirus crisis, tax experts have said. Rather than increasing income tax or VAT, the government should instead look at a tax on those with high net worth, the Wealth Tax Commission said.

• People with a history of significant allergic reactions should not have the new Pfizer/BioNTech jab, UK regulators say. The warning came after two NHS workers had allergic reactions on Tuesday – the first day of the UK’s vaccination rollout.





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