Luxury brand Burberry (BRBY) shot to the top of the FTSE 100 leader board on Thursday after reporting a rise in half year profit as new collections boosted sales.

Shares in the company rallied close to 7% in early trading to £22.02 as the £9bn business delivered an 11% hike in pre-tax profit to £193m for the 26 weeks ended 28 September, although the UK fashion brand said it expected a further decline in margins amid civil unrest in Hong Kong.

That welcome news failed to lift the overall mood of the market which remains fixated on US/China trade war concerns, Brexit and upcoming UK elections.

At 9.00am the FTSE 100 index is off by around 14 points at 7,337.07, although the mid cap FTSE 250 index is modestly on the front foot, adding close on 20 points at 20,309.31.

Today's biggest share price movers can be found here.

INVESTORS UNIMPRESSED BY 3I

Acting as a surprising drag is private equity and infrastructure group 3i (III) after it posted a rise in half year profits, led by growth in its private equity portfolio.

For the six months to 30 September, net asset value per share rose to 873p from 815p seen at the end of March, and total returns grew 10% to 873p on-year. The group also lifted its dividend from 15p per share to 17.5p, although this appears to be below the performance anticipated by investors.

Shares in 3i slumped nearly 6% in early deals to £10.61.

Elsewhere, travel company Firstgroup (FGP) reported wider losses in the first half of the year as a write-down related to its US coach business Greyhound offset a rise in revenue. The company, which also said the sale process for Greyhound was now ‘well advanced’, saw its share price crash 16% to 108.3p.

For the six months ended 30 September, pre-tax losses widened to £187.1m from £4.6m year-on-year, while revenue rose 6.9% to £3.5bn. Profit was hurt by a rise in costs, including the Greyhound impairment charge of £124.4m, North American self-insurance reserve charge of £59.3m and restructuring and reorganisation costs of £15.4m.

UK defence technology company QinetiQ (QQ.) has announced a 16% rise in underlying operating profit in the six months to 30 of September.

The half year report also showed a similar growth in revenue, the majority of which was on an organic basis. The underlying earnings per share rose 14% during the period, while the interim dividend stands at 2.2p, one third of full year expected dividend.

Qinetiq shares were up 3% in early trading at 331.6p.

DIVIDENDS REASURE POWER FIRM INVESTORS

The UK’s largest power company National Grid (NG.) saw its share price climbed 1.3% to 903.2p on the back of its half year report for the six months to 9 September.

It reported a 1% rise in its underlying operating profit, but importantly, announced an interim dividend of 16.57p per share.

Mining group BHP (BHP) edged 0.4% lower to £16.702 after confirming that Mike Henry will take over the top job at the Anglo-Australian miner next year. He'll succeed Andrew Mackenzie who is set to retire in December after nearly seven years in charge.

Mr Henry currently leads the firm's Australian operations and comes to his new role despite some calls for the global miner to bring in outside talent.

Premier Oil's (PMO) share price rose 3% to 89.46p, boosted by its announcement that it has cut its net debt by $300m as at the end of October.

The company also announced a significant commercial discovery at Tolmount East, with development planning already well advanced. The project sanction is targeted for the second half of 2020.

Storage company Safestore (SAFE) nudged close on 1% higher at 730p as it reported a 5.6% increase in revenue in the fourth quarter.

It said that the UK division, specifically, had a solid fourth quarter with the business growing total revenue by 5.9% and like-for-like revenue by 3.8%. Performance was particularly strong in regional UK stores with like-for-like revenue up 5% whilst London and the South East grew by 2.9%.

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Issue Date: 14 Nov 2019