London’s FTSE 100 finished Wednesday’s trading session 0.4% higher at 7,108 points as inflation worries eased and the blue chip benchmark was boosted by a decent start on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 up 0.3% to 4,216.2 by 4.30pm UK time.

As in the US, the absence of earnings from big-name companies left the FTSE 100 lacking a bit of inspiration, with the index outshone by the FTSE 250, which rose 0.3% to a new record high of 22,933.3 points.

WIZZ AIR SWINGS TO HUGE LOSS

In company news, budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) weakened 3p to £48.73 as it swung to a deep annual loss after the pandemic sent passenger volumes plunging. Net losses for the year through March amounted to €576 million, compared to a year-on-year profit of €281.1 million, as revenue sank 73% to €739.0 million with passenger volumes tumbling 75% to 10.2 million.

‘This was probably one of the most challenging years for the aviation industry, heavily impacted by Covid-19 related regulations,’ chief executive Jozsef Varadi said.

He added: ‘We are cautiously optimistic about the recovery of the business, which has started later than what we would have liked as Covid-19 restrictions have remained in place longer than anticipated.’

Home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF) shed 2.1% to 354p following news that it has secured a sustainability linked £550 million three-year revolving credit facility with its relationship banks.

BLOOMSBURY REPORTS RECORD YEAR

Publisher Bloomsbury (BMY) jumped 11.3% to 344p after it reported a record financial year as reading enjoyed a renaissance during pandemic lockdowns.

Revenues at the Harry Potter publisher rose 14% to £185.1 million in the year ending 28 February, up from £162.8 million the previous year. Pre-tax profit was also boosted by 22% to £19.2 million and the company has declared a special dividend of 9.78p per share as a result.

Chief executive Nigel Newton said: ‘Our diverse consumer portfolio included backlist titles which really struck a chord with readers throughout the pandemic on themes such as humanity, social inclusion, escapism, fantasy, cookery and baking.’

AVEVA CEO BUYS IN

Industrial software group Aveva (AVV) added 1p at £34.97 as it revealed chief executive Peter Herweck bought 13,500 shares in the business at a price of £35.48 each in a deal worth around £479,000.

Oil company Tullow Oil (TLW) ticked up 2.3% to 57.2p as it said chairman Dorothy Thompson had decided to stand down, having only stepped into the role in September 2018. A search process to find a replacement had been launched and is expected to conclude towards the end of the summer, the company said.

WATER INTELLIGENCE MAKES ACQUISITIONS

Leak detection and remediation group Water Intelligence (WATR:AIM) gained 2.4% to 855p as it announced two acquisitions in the US for a combined $0.95 million.

The two deals included the reacquisition of an American Leak Detection franchise in Reno, Nevada for $0.25 million and the acquisition of plumbing group PlumbRight Services for $0.7 million.

Telecoms company Airtel Africa (AAF) edged 0.06% higher to 79.2p after it sold 1,400 towers in Tanzania for $175 million. The firm said the transaction is the latest strategic divestment of its tower portfolio as it focusses on an asset-light business model and on its core subscriber-facing operations.

OTHER NEWS

Bicycle and other leisure equipment retailer Tandem (TND:AIM) fell 3.8% to 640p despite its profits rising ‘considerably’ in the year to date amid a jump in sales.

The company, however, added that pressure on stock availability, higher freight rates and bicycle supply constraints had put pressure on its margins. Revenue for the five months through May had risen around 24% year-on-year, the company said in a trading update.

Cloud and managed communications services provider Maintel (MAI:AIM) was marked down 8.4% to 316p as it swung to a full-year loss after the pandemic delayed project work and it lost legacy contracts in 2019.

Enterprise software group Sopheon (SPE:AIM) sparked up 3.4% to 905p on the news long-standing customer 3M has started using its software for new product development.

Sopheon explained that 3M’s deployment of its Accolade software was enterprise-wide, including every division and business group across the company.

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Issue Date: 02 Jun 2021