London’s blue chip stocks open 0.5% higher at 6,169 on a busy day for corporate updates. Full-year reports from companies with March year-ends are coming thick and fast and and a general absence of profit warnings is being taken as a positive sign.
Sterling is also in form, gaining around half a cent against the dollar to $1.454 after the latest EU referendum poll shows the ‘Remain’ camp has a 20 point lead. Currency traders are also eyeing up an announcement on UK government borrowing, scheduled later this morning.
Specialist retailer Topps Tiles (TPT) ticks up 3.6% to 136p after posting better-than-expected interims showing robust growth in sales, profits and the dividend. CEO Matthew Williams also reports a strong start to the second half, like-for-like sales up 8.4% in the seven weeks to 21 May, aided by the growing appeal of the Topps brand.
Home improvement giant Kingfisher (KGF) clips ahead 6.6p (1.83%) to 367.10p as better-than-expected first quarter sales, up 3.6% on a like-for-like basis and driven by strong performances at Screwfix and in Poland, stoke forecast upgrades. Against the backdrop of store closures, investors are heartened by like-for-like growth at B&Q, while CEO Veronique Laury is pleased with the early progress with Kingfisher's bold five-year turnaround plan.
Budget gifts-to-greeting cards seller Card Factory (CARD) cheapens 4.2% to 365p on news of slower first quarter like-for-like sales growth, with new CEO Karen Hubbard bemoaning varied retail footfall trends across the quarter.
Car parts-to-bicycles purveyor Halfords (HFD) adds 1.7p at 434p on the acquisition of South Wales-based Tredz and Wheelies, a deal that extends its presence in the online market for premium bikes, parts, accessories and clothing.
Online gambling group GVC (GVC) gains 1.5% to 578.5p after reporting positive early results from its February acquisition of Bwin.Party. Pro forma revenues per day rose by 11% in the second quarter, or by 15% on a constant currency basis.
Super budget hotelier EasyHotel (EZH:AIM) edges up 0.5% to 99.5p on an 11.6% rise in revenue to £2.59 million in the six months to 31 March, driven by an 18.6% rise in revenue at its owned hotels. Planning permission on a hotel in Birmingham is expected in a few weeks, and it has asked for permission for two new hotels in Barcelona and Ipswich.
Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank owner CYBG (CYBG) rises 2.4% to 242.5p with the market happy to see margins up to 2.25% in the six months to 31 March from 2.23% on higher mortgage lending and lower borrowing costs. Reserves remain high compared to the risks it carries with a 13.2% CET 1 ratio. Payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation continues to be an issue with a further £450 million charge received during the period.
Cancer and infection-focused drug company Redx Pharma (REDX:AIM) shoots 12% higher to 37.5p on a blood cancer treatment reaching proof of concept, meaning that the company has pre-clinical evidence that it could work. Losses more than doubled to £7.1 million in the six months to 31 March.