London’s FTSE 100 ticked up 0.1% to 7.472.9 points on Monday with investors awaiting the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Thursday.

UK telecoms titan Vodafone (VOD) was the top performer on the blue chip benchmark, bid up 3.6% after it was targeted by activist investor Cevian.

Oil leviathan Shell (RDSA) is now trading without its dual listing. The consolidation into a single line took place over the weekend.

Whilst the oil majors will benefit from the Brent crude oil price moving to a seven-year high, it will further exacerbate concerns regarding inflationary pressures within the economy.

This is particularly timely given that on Thursday the Bank of England will decide on whether to increase interest rates from their current 0.25% level.

ACTIVIST TARGETS VODAFONE

Vodafone is the latest target for Sweden-based activist investor fund Cevian. The Swedish investment firm has built up its holding in the telecoms giant over recent months. The shares jumped 3.6% to 132.2p on the news.

Shares in budget carrier Ryanair (RYA) fell 1.3% in Dublin to 16.38 cent after announcing that it had booked a third-quarter loss after the Omicron coronavirus variant severely damaged demand during the crucial Christmas period.

Net losses for the three months through to 31 December amounted to €96 million, compared to year-on-year losses of €321 million.

Passenger volumes jumped to 31.1 million, up from 8.1 million, but were still relatively low thanks largely to Omicron.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said Ryanair’s full-year traffic forecast remained unchanged at just under 100 million passengers.

But due to Covid uncertainty, he said the company’s full-year net loss guidance remained within a wider-than-normal range of €250 million to €450 million.

Educational publisher and services group Pearson (PSON) has acquired digital credentials and certifications company Credly.

Strategically the deal extends Pearson’s presence in the workforce skills sector, bringing together workforce analytics, learning, assessment and credentialing services. The market reacted positively to the news marking the shares 0.2% higher to 607.4p.

UK food producer Cranswick (CWK) said it had acquired Grove Pet Foods, a dry dog food producer, for an undisclosed sum.

Cranswick believe the combined business would be a beneficiary of vertical integration opportunities within its poultry and pork business.

The shares edged 0.2% higher to £36.36 on the news.

AROUND THE MARKET

Online estate agency firm Purplebricks (PURP:AIM) blamed a challenging period for a loss of £800,000 compared to last year’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation of £8.4 million.

Revenues during the six months to 31 October 2021 declined 7% to £41.3 million. An operating loss of £11.1 million, compared to a prior year profit of £6.9 million.

The shares moved 4% higher to 21p on the news.

Specialist marketing firm Next Fifteen Communications (NFC:AIM) gained 12.9% to £12.25 as it upgraded expectations for the year to 31 January 2022 after a strong fourth quarter performance.

Troubled Studio Retail (STU) slumped 39% to 97p after the online value retailer warned it is exploring options to meet a ‘short-term working capital funding requirement’, having over-committed to buying stock against a difficult backdrop of global supply chain disruption.

The online value retailer also downgraded earnings guidance for the second time in three months due to the impact of ‘market-wide shipping issues’ and muted post-Christmas demand.

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Issue Date: 31 Jan 2022