UK shares ended the day flat on Tuesday despite earlier optimism after positive overnight trading in Asia and a positive start on Wall Street.
Commodity prices were generally higher with Brent crude rising 0.9% to $70.10 a barrel and gold prices up 0.2% to a three-month high of $1,870 an ounce.
At the close the FTSE 100 of leading shares was virtually unchanged at 7,036 points with financial and consumer stocks posting the biggest gains while telecoms and mining stocks posted losses.
Telecom giant Vodafone (VOD) reported a profit for the year through March of €536 million, which missed analysts’ expectations, sending the shares to the bottom of the FTSE 100 leader board, sinking 6.3% to133p.
Looking forward, Vodafone forecast underlying EBTIDA for the current financial year of between €15.0 billion and €15.4 billion and adjusted free cash flow of at least €5.2 billion. The dividend was unchanged at €0.09 per share.
The company said it remained focused on driving shareholder value through deleveraging, improving returns on capital and a firm commitment to the dividend.
Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company Medicago reported positive interim phase II clinical trial data for Medicago’s plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Neutralizing antibody responses from the vaccine, tested in combination with GSK's pandemic adjuvant, which enhances the body’s immune response, were ten times higher than in people recovering from COVID-19.
Final phase III trials began on 16 March. The shares dipped 0.3% to £13.75.
STRONG PRICING, HIGHER DIVIDEND
For the six months ended 31 March, pre-tax profit increased to £2.06 billion from £785 million year-on-year as revenue grew 9.2% to £533 million.
The company increased the interim dividend by 1% to 41.12p per share. The shares gained 1.5% to £16.14.
It added that a sale would only proceed on the basis it maximised value for shareholders. Press talk put a value of more than £500 million on the assets. The shares gave up 0.8% to 723p.
For the six months ended 31 March, pre-tax profit fell to £42.7 million from £53.6 million year-on-year and revenue fell to £617 million from £698.8 million.
The company declared an interim dividend of 6.5p per share. The shares fizzed 3.5% higher to 951p.
Shares in international sales, marketing and support services company DCC (DCC) reversed their early gains to trade 1.7% lower at £59.90 after it reported adjusted operating profit up 7.3% to £530.2 million, for the full year to 31 March, ahead of market expectations.
Strong working capital management resulted in ‘excellent’ free cash flow generation of £687.8 million, up around 40%.
The firm also announced the acquisition of J Browne Group to bolster its existing water business, and reinstated its interim dividend thanks to strong cash flow generation. Shares climbed 4% to a hew high of 665p.
In an unscheduled trading update, industrial and property group Hargreaves Services (HSP:AIM) said the joint venture contribution to earnings from its German materials business would 'exceed current market expectations by a material amount'.
The firm left its full year profit guidance unchanged, but shares climbed 7% to 384p.
For the 52 weeks ended 27 March 2021, pre-tax profit was 10.4% higher at £114.8 million as revenue increased 13.9% to $1.90 billion.
The company proposed a final dividend of 51.3 pence per share, an increase of 17.4% on the 43.7 pence paid previously. The company noted a ‘particularly positive’ start to the new financial year.
A list of FTSE 100 movers can be found HERE