Asian boost offsets Pru’s UK troubles

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Prudential rounds off the interim results season from the major insurers today, ahead of results from Cineworld that are expected to show a bumper profit haul.

The Pru is expected to confirm once more that burgeoning sales in Asia has offset weaker trading in its UK arm. New business levels fell 2 per cent year-on-year in the UK to £185 million in the first three months after it was hit by this year’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR) overhaul, which banned commission payments from product providers across the industry.

The group reported an 18 per cent fall in investment bond sales in the first three months of the year as a sales rush ahead of the RDR came to an end.

But the tougher UK trading was overshadowed by another stellar performance from its Asian operation, and most analysts are expecting this to continue, with consensus suggesting a 15 per cent rise in half-year operating profits to £1.2 billion.

Cineworld looks set to unveil a bumper profits haul amid increasing ticket prices and higher audience numbers when it reports first-half results on Thursday.

The group’s total takings have also been boosted by its acquisition of Picturehouse, the arthouse cinema group – although this faces a Competition Commission inquiry.

It looks set to ride out the effect of the heatwave on the current quarter, since it will be up against the Olympics period last year when Britons stayed at home to watch sporting drama on the television rather than spend money at the box office.

N+1 Singer is forecasting first half profits to rise 39 per cent to £17.5 million for the first half.

Meanwhile, supermarket giant Asda will provide the latest snapshot of the highly competitive grocery sector when it publishes half-year results on Thursday, amid signs of a “barbecue bounce” for food retailers from the recent summer heatwave.

Asda, owned by US giant Walmart, announced in April that it was to open 12 stores and create up to 2,500 jobs in the UK this year, investing £700m in its outlets and online operations.

But despite the new store openings, it said it was shifting focus away from its “bricks and mortar” stores towards multi-channel sales, including click-and-collect services.