London’s FTSE 100 clung on to earlier gains to end Friday’s indecisive session 0.27% higher at 6,351.45 points as investors focused on vaccine optimism, hopes a Brexit deal is close to being finalised and better than expected UK retail sales for October.

SAGE SLUMPS

In company news, the big faller was software group Sage (SGE), which tumbled 13.3% to 589.2p after its organic operating profit fell 3.7% to £391 million and its operating profit margin dipped 1.7% to 22.1% in the year to 30 September 2020.

Investors were put off the stock after it added that its organic operating margin is expected to be up to 3% below this year’s figure, depending on the level of additional investment it makes during the year.

But there were some plus points for the firm as it reported an 8.5% increase in organic recurring revenue, a 15% increase in earnings per share and a 2% rise in its dividend to 17.25p per share.

ASTRAZENECA’S IN RUDE HEALTH

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) added 2.3% to trade at £83.09 on the news its antibody imfinzi has been approved in the US for an additional dosing option to treat some forms of lung and bladder cancer.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa (SKG) fell 2.4% to £31.46 after it raised €660 million through a share issue. The company listed 19.4 million new shares, selling them at €34.00 each or £30.46 for investors who elected to settle in sterling.

The new shares represent approximately 8.1% of the company’s issued share capital immediately prior to the placing.

CEO Tony Smurfit said yesterday that the proceeds would be used to enable the company to accelerate investment over the next three years and improve financial flexibility.

OTHER COMPANY NEWS

Gold and silver miner Hochschild Mining (HOC) ended 2.2% higher at 225.8p after the company resumed its dividend and said it was on track to meet its revised production guidance, while it lowered its outlook on annual cost.

With regards to the current financial year, Hochschild said it remained on track to meet revised production guidance of 280,000-290,000 ounces of gold and 24-25 million ounces of silver.

The Edinburgh Investment Trust (EDIN) finished Friday’s session flat at 518p as it reported net asset value (NAV) total return growth of 7.8%, above the 7% return generated by the FTSE All-Share index in the six months to the end of September.

Meanwhile, Personal Assets Trust (PNL) softened 0.4% to £452, despite recording an NAV gain of 2.9% over the six months to 31 October, while the FTSE All-Share fell by 3.4%.

Telit Communications (TCM:AIM) saw its share price jump 17.7% to 198p after it received a merger offer from Swiss firm u-blox.

The proposed deal valued the firm at £2.50 a share, or approximately £332.6 million, and would result in Telit shareholders owning 53% of the combined company.

Real estate investment trust Segro (SGRO) rose 0.1% to 909.8p after it received approval to list shares on the Euronext Paris stock market. It will remain listed in the UK.

Pest control giant Rentokil Initial (RTO) gained 0.8% to 519.8p as it purchased €174.3 million of its bonds from holders.

Argentex (ARGX:AIM) advanced 3.8% to 124p after the foreign exchange broker said it was seeing an unleashing of pent-up demand with September revenues up 57% compared with August.

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Issue Date: 20 Nov 2020