The downward pressure on London equity markets continued into the early afternoon as investors continued to worry about the impact of the UK’s nationwide lockdown and stiffer restrictions elsewhere.

At 12.30pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 had lost 0.75% 6,747.43 as a mixture of resources, consumer goods and retail-facing stocks dragged, led by miner Fresnillo (FRES), down 3.7% at £11.355.

The mid-caps faired a little better but were also locked into reverse, the FTSE 250 falling 0.3% to 20,719.55.

KINGFISHER DOES-IT-ITSELF

A handful of positive updates helped cap losses, with home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF) heading the FTSE 100 leaderboard with a 3.7% gain to 289.7p.

The B&Q-to-Screwfix-owner assured it is ‘comfortable’ with the top end of current market expectations for annual pre-tax profit as ‘strong’ demand continues.

Group like-for-like sales for the fourth quarter to date (9 Jan) are up 16.9%, supported by the lockdown-induced DIY boom and rapid ecommerce growth, although Kingfisher cautioned that ‘uncertainty over Covid-19 and the impact of lockdown restrictions in most of our markets continue to limit our visibility’.

Fantasy miniatures maker Games Workshop (GAWwas a big mid-cap victim as investors continued to top-slice profits following a 2020 share price surge from £35.90 in March.

The stock topped the FTSE All-Share loser board, falling more than 7% to £107.08 despite marching in with exceptionally strong first half results, as investors took some profits off the table following a phenomenal share price run.

Games Workshop generated record sales, profit levels and cash generation in the half to 29 November, driven by ‘a step change’ in sales of its Warhammer 40,000 miniatures across the world, though management remains ‘mindful’ of the uncertainty created by Covid-19 and Brexit.

THE HUT UPGRADES GUIDANCE AGAIN

Online retailer THG (THG) rose 1.4% to 801.4p after it reported a surge in annual revenue and upgraded sales guidance for 2021.

Sales for the year to December 2020 jumped 41% to £1.61 billion, bolstered by a 51% improvement in the fourth quarter and revenue for 2021 is now expected to grow by 30%-to-35%, up from previous medium-term guidance of 20%-to-25%, with an anticipated boost from recent acquisition Dermstore.

Online greeting cards business Moonpig has announced its plans to join the London stock market. The company said it earned £173.1 million revenue in the year to 30 April 2020, 44% up year-on-year.

Housebuilder Vistry (VTY) reversed earlier gains to slip 0.8% to 942.5p, having guided for a full year profit at the upper end of forecasts and a resumption of dividends with a ‘modest’ final payout.

Building materials distributor Grafton (GFTUlost 0.9% to 932p as it too raised its annual profit guidance, citing a strong-than-expected performance in November and December.

Elsewhere, Gamesys (GYS) jumped more than 5% to £13.24 after the online gaming company said it expected to report annual revenue and adjusted core earnings at the upper end of current market expectations following a ‘strong’ fourth quarter performance.

Gambling company Playtech (PTEC) rallied 6% to 475.8p as it forecast a better than expected drop in 2020 earnings, completed the sale of YoYo Games for around $10 million and said it remains in talks over the possible sale of financials division Finalto.

MENZIES MARKED HIGHER

Aviation services group John Menzies (MNZS) jumped 6% to 248p despite flagging a 37% drop in 2020 revenue after the pandemic hurt the airline sector. Investors focused on news the company generated an underlying operating profit in the second half, driven by increased volume, government support programs and cost cutting.

Agriculture and engineering group Carr’s (CARR) rallied 5.4% to 131p as it said its agriculture business was performing ahead of expectations, although the engineering business was behind amid a backdrop of lower oil and gas investment following a fall in oil prices.

The company said it had made a positive start to the year with trading overall in line with the board’s expectations.

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Issue Date: 12 Jan 2021