3 Positive Bosses Defying the Downturn


LONDON -- While many investors are worrying about Britain's struggling economy and the fate of the eurozone, quite a few company directors seem to be defying the pessimism with their upbeat comments.

Indeed, by issuing positive statements about the prospects for their particular businesses, the cheery chairmen and chief execs suggest there are still individual shares out there that could beat this choppy market.

I've trawled the FTSE indices to find three examples of buoyant bosses from the last three months:

Jolly James
Sebastian James, chief exec of Dixons Retail (ISE: DXNS.L) , sounded jolly earlier this month when he said:

While it is still early in our financial year, I am encouraged by the start we have made across the Group. We have had a real boost from a busy summer of events in the UK and our Northern European operations continue to go from strength to strength. I am pleased that we now have day to day control of PIXmania allowing us to take the decisive actions necessary to improve its performance. August has proven to be quieter across the retail sector in some of our markets and we continue to be cautious about the outlook. However, we are well placed for the back to school period and look forward to the launch of Windows 8 and the exciting new products that we will have available for customers for the Christmas period.

Certainly "had a real boost" and "our Northern European operations continue to go from strength to strength" sound promising to me.

James' statement accompanied a first-quarter update that showed U.K. sales up 6% and Northern European sales up 8%.

Supported by the comments of James, Dixons' shares have jumped 49% since June.

Pleased Peter
Then there's Peter Long, chief executive of TUI Travel (ISE: TT.L) , who sounded pleased in August when he stated:

We are pleased with our performance, driven by our strategy of differentiated and exclusive product with a focus on online distribution. We are significantly outperforming the market in the UK.

Summer 2012 volumes have improved in most key markets since our last update. We are seeing strong demand... for the peak Summer period. Our Winter 2012/2013 programme has had an encouraging start.

We are confident of exceeding our full year expectations based on like for like exchange rates, however, the impact of retranslation of fourth quarter Eurozone profits at current exchange rates leaves us to believe we will perform in line with our expectations for the full year.

Certainly "significantly outperforming the market" and "confident of exceeding our full year expectations" sound positive to me.

Long's quote came as TUI Travel issued third-quarter results that showed total sales of 3,690 million pounds and profits of 74 million pounds.

Supported by the remarks of Long, TUI Travel shares have jumped 45% during the last three months.

Jubilant Geoff
Finally, Geoff Drabble, chief executive of Ashtead (ISE: AHT.L) , sounded jubilant in September when he declared:

We are delighted with this record performance as we continue to benefit from the trends established in the business over a number of quarters.

The markets in which we operate have performed as anticipated with gently improving conditions in the US and a more challenging outlook in the UK. We do not anticipate any significant changes to this environment in the short term.

Against this back-drop our continued market share gains are again reflected in our strong growth in fleet on rent and improving margins demonstrate our operational efficiency. Given the momentum established in the business, we now anticipate a full year result materially ahead of our previous expectations.

Certainly "a record performance" and "a full year result materially ahead of our previous expectations" sound encouraging to me.

Drabble's remarks accompanied Ashtead's first-quarter results, which showed sales of 325 million pounds and profits of 61 million pounds.

Supported by the comments of Drabble, Ashtead's shares have jumped 43% since June.

What now?
So, what should you make of these upbeat bosses and their rallying share prices? Simply, every company is an individual opportunity and could provide handsome gains -- no matter what the broader market or general economy are up to.

But should you back those three bosses now? Well, you'll need to do some further research -- but the fact their shares have advanced of late suggests the underlying progress at each business has been better than expected.

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Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.

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