Half year earnings updates head the corporate news agenda as payments provider Worldpay (WPG) and insurer Legal & General (LGEN) top and tail the index after reporting mixed fortunes in the first six months of the year.
FTSE 100 stocks trade a few tenths of a percent higher at 6,823 in early deals, led by Worldpay as investors cheer a maiden dividend announcement at the payments outfit.
Transaction volumes gained 15% to 7.2 billion and transaction value increased 11% to £217 billion in the six months to 30 June. Worldpay’s board is proposing an interim dividend of 0.65p a share.
Bottom-of-the-class Legal & General dips 3.4% to 211p as profit comes in slightly below expectations and it reports lower solvency ratios in the six months to 30 June. Part one of a three section earnings release shows operating profit 10% higher at £822 million and earnings per share up 14% to 11.2p. But Solvency II Surplus, a measure of financial strength, declined to £5.3 billion from £5.5 billion at the year-end.
Shares in engineering turnaround specialist Melrose (MRO) fall 81% to 149p on technicalities around its deeply-discounted rights issue to acquire US-based ventilation specialist Nortek (NTK:NDQ). Investors taking up their rights are sitting on substantial gains since the announcement of the deal in early July.
In retail news, online supermarket Ocado (OCDO) ripens up 5.25% to 290.8p and Bradford-based grocer Morrisons (MRW) is marked up 1.3% to 190.4p as the pair announce a mutually beneficial new online agreement.
By agreeing to share some of the capacity of Ocado' new warehouse under construction in Erith, Morrisons will gains access to extra capacity to drive the growth of its online business, while Ocado has potentially locked-in better long-term cash flows through a tie-up which may well bring long-promised deals with international retailers to fruition.
Pure-play online fashion purveyor Boohoo.com (BOO:AIM) continues to put smiles on faces, the shares up another 2.7% to 76.5p on news full-year results should beat market expectations. Following a strong first five months of the financial year, Boohoo raises its annual sales growth guidance to between 28% and 33%, up from a 25%-30% range previously.
Sofas and carpets seller ScS (SCS) is sitting pretty with a near-4% gain to 157p, triggered by news trading was strong throughout the EU referendum campaign. Positive like-for-like sales momentum has continued since the vote and the retailer has also refinanced its debt.
Disclosure: The editor of market report owns shares in Morrisons.