UK equity markets rose for a third consecutive session on Tuesday with the FTSE 100 was 0.39% higher at 7251.1, and the FTSE 250 up by 0.38% to 23,029.07.

Equity markets have adopted a more optimistic tone with the Dow Jones Industrial and S&P 500 closing at record highs on Monday. The NASDAQ composite index also performed strongly driven by gains in Pay Pal and Tesla. NASDAQ is within 1% of its 7 September closing record.

Meanwhile, UK equity investors will be eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s budget.

COMPANY NEWS

Shares in Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB), rose 0.7% to 3177p after it posted a narrower first-half loss as an easing of travel restrictions had resulted in a more encouraging outlook for their hotel business.

Pre-tax losses for the six months through September amounted to £19.3 million, compared to year-on-year losses of £724.7 million.

Revenues more than doubled to £661.6 million, up from £250.8 million year-on-year, but were still 39% below the £1.08 billion for the corresponding period two years' prior.

‘Sales recovery is ahead of expectations, and while a number of uncertainties remain, UK like-for-like RevPAR run rate has the potential to reach full recovery at some point in 2022,’ the London-listed company said.

RAISED GUIDANCE

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RKT) raised its annual sales guidance, after reporting stronger than expected third quarter sales.

This was due to a boost in demand for cold and flu remedies, coupled with price increases.

Like for like sales for the third quarter at 3.3% was significantly ahead of analysts’ expectations of a 0.7% decline. The group has seen a 10% jump in raw material prices citing tinplate and surfactants as areas of particularly sharp price increases.

'In September, we reiterated the building blocks which will see Reckitt return to mid-single digit revenue growth and mid 20's margins,' chief executive Laxman Narasimhan said.

The group has raised its full year revenue sales growth to 1-3%. This compares with previous guidance of flat to 2%. The company sounded a note of caution regarding the fourth quarter outlook suggesting that this would be softer. Despite this the shares have jumped 5% to 5746p.

Shares in distribution and services group Bunzl (BNZL) edged 1.1% higher at 2616p after it reported a rise in revenue in the third quarter of the year, following a 'strong' recovery in its core business.

For the third-quarter, revenue grew 7.8% year-on-year at actual exchange rates, with acquisitions contributing 4.3% to growth.

Underlying sales growth of 12% was driven by product price inflation, particularly in North America and from firmer demand across all business areas.

However this growth was mitigated by a decline in sales of top eight Covid-19 related products, which are primarily own brand. While top-line expectations have been increased, margin expectations for the year are unchanged.

'With 2021 continuing to reflect pandemic-related dynamics, we continue to expect to see a further normalisation of operating margin in 2022 to more historical levels, as the mix of sector and product sales returns to more typical levels for the group,' the company said.

Bunzl has completed the acquisition of Intergro, a distributor of agricultural supplies to commercial growers in the Eastern US with a strong own brand portfolio.

REAFIRMED REVENUE GUIDANCE

Online retailer The Hut Group (THG), reported a 34% rise in third-quarter revenue, while affirming its revenue guidance for the full year.

Revenues for the three months through September increased to £507.8 million, up from £378.1 million year-on-year, brining nine-month growth to 39%, or 42% on a constant currency basis.

At its recent IPO, the company offered guidance for FY20 revenue of around £1.43 billion, representing a growth rate of over 25%.

However, following the Q3 performance ‘and continued momentum so far in Q4’, this guidance is now being lifted to a range of between £1.48 billion and £1.52 billion, which would mean a rise of between 30% and 33%.

In Q3, the Ingenuity division saw its sales rising 10.1% to £35.4 million when including broader Ingenuity services.  Ingenuity Commerce revenues grew to £5.1 million, an increase of 171.4%.

THG also announced that it had appointed investor Softbank's managing director Andreas Hansson to its board. The market was uninspired and marked the shares down 5.8% to 289p.

Shares in oil services company Petrofac (PFC) slumped by 21% to 123.77p after it booked a first-half loss. It has  incurred penalties related to a bribery investigation by the UK's Serious Fraud Office.

However this is likely to be overshadowed by news that the company is undertaking a $275 million equity raising at 115p per share. This represents a marked discount to Monday's closing share price of 158p. Net losses for the six months through September amounted to $86 million, compared to year-on-year losses of $78 million. Revenue dropped 24% to $1.60 billion.

A list of FTSE 100 index movers can be seen HERE

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Issue Date: 26 Oct 2021