UK stocks rose sharply throughout morning trading on what has been dubbed ‘Super Thursday’ as a number of high-profile companies updated the market, with Christmas results revealing lockdown’s winners and losers.

At around 12.15, the UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 gained 0.7% to 6,792.66 while the midcap FTSE 250 was up 0.84% to 20,789.48.

CORPORATE NEWS

Supermarket Tesco (TSCO) dipped 0.66% to 240.5p after it reported a strong UK sales performance in its third quarter with like-for-like growth of 6.7% to £14.7 billion in the 13 weeks to 28 November. The company said like-for-like sales in Christmas trading rose 8.1%.

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) edged 0.18% lower to £22.17 as it warned on the performance of Primark after estimating the loss of sales caused by temporary store closures would reach £1.05 billion.

The company said it now expected full year sales and adjusted operating profit for Primark to be ‘somewhat lower’ than last year.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB) gained 5.46% to £32.27 as it revealed in a third quarter trading update that it had gained market share during lockdown and outperformed the wider UK hotel market.

However it said Covid-19 restrictions caused UK accommodation sales to fall 55.2%, with occupancy at 49.3% in the 13 weeks to 26 November. Group sales were down 55.6% in the third quarter and by 70.2% in the year-to-date.

Online fast fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO:AIM) fell 3% to 358p despite upgrading its outlook on performance as revenue rose 40% in the four months through the end of December.

Following the strong peak trading performance, the company raised its guidance on revenue for the financial year to 28 February 2021, to a range of 36% to 38%, from its previous guidance of 28% to 32%.

Retailer Halfords (HFD) gained 6.3% to 295p as it reported that like-for-like sales rose 11.7% in the third quarter, led by jump in autocentres sales on strong demand for the services of its growing fleet of mobile expert vans.

For the 13 weeks to 1 January 2021, retail like-for-like sales were 9.8% and autocentres like-for-like sales were up 21.1% year.

Homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM) dropped 6.1% to £12.17 as it expected pre-tax profit for the first half of its 2021 financial year to be approximately £112 million, up 34% year-on-year as sales rose 23% to £585 million.

The guidance comes on the back of higher sales and margin in the second quarter. For the 13-week period ended 26 December 2020, sales were up 11.8% to £360.4 million, with digital sales up 40%.

TAYLOR WIMPEY COMPLETIONS PLUNGE

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) gained 2% to 164.2p after its total UK home completions fell by 39% to 9,609 in 2020, due primarily to the impact on production capacity during the second quarter shutdown. Despite this, the company said trading was in line with market expectations.

Online gambling company 888 (888) decreased 1% to 300p as it expected performance to be ‘moderately ahead’ of its prior expectations following a strong end to the year.

Both revenue and active customer numbers in December rose to monthly records, and the company said it now expected to report revenue and adjusted EBITDA, ‘moderately ahead’ of its prior expectations.

Recruitment company Hays (HAS) rose 3.2% to 146p after lifting its outlook on first-half profit on improving trends in both its temporary and permanent business segments during the second quarter.

Operating profit for the first half of its 2021 financial year is now expected to be about £25 million following stronger fees seen in the second quarter, the company said.

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Issue Date: 14 Jan 2021