StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 struggled in early morning trading, dropping more than 4 points to 7,454 as coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines.

Minutes published yesterday (Wednesday, February 20) by the US Federal Reserve suggested there was little concern about the immediate impact of the pandemic on the wider economy.

London's markets have been dominated by a number of significant announcements. Lloyds Banking warned it expected lower returns this year after reporting that profit fell by more than a quarter in 2019 on lower net interest income and costs associated with provisions for payment protection insurance claims.

The bank said it expected to report a return on tangible equity, a measure of profitability, within a range of 12% to 13% in 2020 compared to its previous targets of 14% to 15%.

For the year ended 31 December 2019, pre-tax profit fell 26% to £4.3bn as net income declined 4% to £17.1bn on the back of a 3% fall in net interest income.

Its share price rose 2.64% in the early hours of trading, reaching 57.24p per share.

Defense company BAE Systems reported a rise in profit amid better-than-expected performance in its maritime business, boosting its share price by more than 3% to 659.80p in early morning trading.

For the year ended 31 December, pre-tax profit rose to £1.62bn from £1.2bn on-year as revenue increased to £18.3bn from £16.8bn

Sales in the Maritime businesses were up 5%, ahead of guidance, at £3.1bn.

The company reported order intakes of £18.4bn, down from £28.3bn a year earlier, with the orderbook standing at £45.4bn, down from £48.4bn.

Global medical technology business, Smith and Nephew, has seen its underlying revenue increase 4.4%, more than double the growth reported in 2018.

According to its full year 2019 results, the company had a trading profit margin of 22.8% for the year, which includes the impact of dilution from acquisitions.

Roland Diggelmann, chief executive officer at Smith and Nephew, said the improved underlying revenue growth in 2019 was the best for several years and has 'propelled Group sales above $5 billion for the first time in Smith and Nephew's history'.

Meanwhile, Aveva said it had achieved high single-digit revenue growth in the first ten months of the financial year, but the engineering software company did flag some weakness in China amid coronavirus-led disruptions.

'The ongoing disruption in China, caused by the Coronavirus, due to travel restrictions and office closures, is having some impact on sales in that country,' the company said.

China historically accounted for around 5% of overall revenue.

Elsewhere, total funds under management at Rathbone Brothers surged 14.3% in 2019, reaching £50.4 billion, according to its preliminary results.

Funds in its investment management arm grew 11.7% to £43 billion, while operating income increased 12.9% to £310.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2019.

Rathbone Unit Trust Management saw its funds under management rise to £7.4 billion over the year to December 31, 2019, up from £5.6 billion a year prior.

As part of the preliminary results, the board recommended a final dividend of 45p for 2019, making a total of 70p for the year and an increase of 6.1% on 2018.

FTSE 250 firm Spectris has reported an adjusted operating profit boost of 3.7% for 2019, increasing to £258.1 million, and proposed a £175 million special dividend and share consolidation, in its full year results announcement.

Like for like sales at the company grew 0.4% over the 12 months to December 31, 2019 to £1,632 million.

The results statement also showed a 50-basis point expansion in its adjusted operating margin on a like for like basis.

Adjusted earnings per share were up 1.9% in 2019, while the company has reported a dividend per share increase of 6.7%.

TBC Bank, the largest retail lender in Georgia, has reported a 19.8% boost in its underlying consolidated net profit for 2019, supported by a strong Georgian economy.

The underlying return on equity for the year ended December 31, 2019 was 22.6% and underlying return on assets stood at 3.3%.

In 2019, the bank's operating income was up by 3.7% year-on-year, supported by an increase in net fee and commission income and net interest income.



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