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Next sales on target as online business outperforms

Total sales at the clothes retailer between 1 August and 24 December rose 3.1% compared with a year earlier, ignoring the effect of rising VAT.Next Directory sales grew 16.9%.
But its High Street business, which sees some two-thirds of sales, recorded a 2.7% fall, sending Next’s share price 4.3% lower in early London trading.Next has seen its share price rise 39% over the past 12 months, easily outperforming a 5% fall in the broader FTSE 100 index.Shares in some other big retailers also fell in the wake of Next’s announcement, which was the first trading update of the year from a major High Street chain.

Home Retail Group – owner of Homebase and Argos – dropped 4.7%, while car accessories chain Halfords was down 3%.
Profit margins
Next reconfirmed its full-year profits forecast at £565m, narrowing the range to plus-or-minus £7m.
The total sales growth figure of 3.1% was in the middle of its previous guidance of 2.5% to 4%, despite the “slightly disappointing” numbers from its 500 stores.

Next expressed uncertainty in its statement as to why the High Street performance had been so weak, particularly considering that last year’s sales had been hurt by cold weather.One possibility cited in its statement was its long-standing policy of not cutting the price of its products in the run-up to Christmas.

“Next’s own admission of disappointment is a setback to its hitherto robust growth story,” said Richard Hunter, head of equities at brokerage Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The fact that the company did not discount its products in the approach to Christmas may have been a factor, whilst the more general consumer malaise has yet to be corroborated by updates from its rivals.

“In addition, higher sales do not necessarily translate to higher profits, so the fact that the company has been able to maintain operating margins may yet play into its hands.”

Richard Perks, analyst at research firm Mintel, confirmed this view.

“These figures from Next are really pretty good I think,” he told the BBC.

“OK, Next may be – in sales terms – held back by the fact that it wasn’t discounting, but in profit terms it will be a lot better off.”

Mr Perks said he was optimistic about retail sales across the UK – predicting a 4% rise in December.

“People are reluctant to cut back any more on retail, and are cutting back elsewhere, particularly on leisure,” although he added that the rising cost of food was still crimping spending.

Next said it was cautiously optimistic about its end of season sales – which began after the end of its latest reporting period – and expected results to be slightly ahead of budget.

The retailer said it expected sales this year to be helped by a probable freeze in the price of its products.

It forecast generating £200m surplus cash in the year ahead, which it said it would return to shareholders via share buybacks.

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California Institute of Technology Alumni Qian death obituary published

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Well-known Chinese scientist Qian (1911 ~ 2009).

California Institute of Technology Alumni Qian death obituary published

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Qian (1911 ~ 2009) China’s famous scientist

China news agency, Los Angeles, November 2 (Reporter Zhang Wei) – Well-known American institutions of higher education at the California Institute of Technology on the 2nd page on its Web site published an obituary Qian’s death. Qian, California Institute of Technology in learning and working for 10 years and received his Ph.D. in the school. Qian awarded the highest honor the school in 1979: “Outstanding Alumni Award.”

Today is Monday, California Institute of Technology’s home page on its official Web site of China published the news of the death of eminent scientist Qian, reported that: “Qian (Ph.D. 1939 winner), California Institute of Technology alumni, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) one of the founders died on October 31, at the age of 98 years old. ”

Obituary said that Qian had participated in the U.S. military’s new rocket development program, and his outstanding contribution to be appreciated by the U.S. Air Force. However, in 1950, this Chinese-born scientist accused of sympathizing with communism under investigation. However, these allegations lack of evidence, Qian and his colleagues, and all walks of life to protest the authorities out of nothing. The next five years, Qian and his family by the U.S. government surveillance and house arrest.

Obituary concluded that in September 1955, Qian was allowed to return to China. In China, Qian resumed research work, the creation of the Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; later became China’s “Father of the missile,” China’s most respected scientists.

Qian studying in the United States for nearly two decades, most of them spent time at the California Institute of Technology. He was from 1936 to 1939 at the California Institute of Technology aeronautics and mathematics learning, and earned a doctorate, and then most of the time in the school to teach and conduct research. In 1979, California Institute of Technology awarded the highest honor Qian: “Outstanding Alumni Award”, it was not until December 2001, Qian was formally accept this honor.

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