whsmith

WH Smith (LON:SMWH) reported a fall in pre-tax profits its interim results published on Thursday.

Whilst group revenue rose to £695 million, underlying pre-tax profits fell 1% to £82 million.

Travel sales continued to boost the business coming in at £364 million, up 18%.

The firm said that 10% of this was as a result of its acquisition of US airport chain InMotion for $198 million (155 million) last year. 

Total revenue on the high street was down 1% with like-for-like revenue down 2%.

Nevertheless, WH Smith said this was ‘our second best sales performance in the past decade’.

Overall, High street profit proved in line with expectations at £48m, £2 million shy of the same period a year ago.

The retailer said it expects full-year profit to be in line with last year, amid projected growth during the second-half.

Earnings per share fell 23% to 46.8p, compared to 60.9p the year before.

Nevertheless, WH Smith hiked its interim dividend 8% to 17.2p per share, with a £25 million share buyback.

Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive, commented on the results:

“The Group has delivered a strong performance in the first half of the financial year.

“In Travel, we continue to see strong sales growth, up 18%, driven by our ongoing investment and initiatives in our UK business and our growing international businesses. As a result, profit in Travel was up 7% in the period.

“High Street delivered one of our best trading performances in recent years, despite the widely reported challenges facing the UK high street, with LFL sales down 2%. This has been driven by good growth in seasonal stationery ranges including Christmas cards, wrap, diaries, calendars and our latest fashion and art and craft ranges.

Commenting on the wider economic backdrop, he added:

“While there is uncertainty in the broader economic and political environment, we have made a good start to the second half of the financial year and the increase in the interim dividend by 8% reflects the Board’s confidence in the outcome for the full year.”

Shares in the retailer are currently down -2.90% as of 12:54PM (GMT).