London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.6% to trade at 7,267.11 at midday, a new post-pandemic high as investors reacted to a record close on Wall Street overnight and strong corporate results.

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 PayPal and Tesla.

WHITBREAD CATCHES A BID

Shares in Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB), rose 3.6% to £32.68 after it posted a narrower first half loss as an easing of travel restrictions resulted in a more encouraging outlook for its 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 company said.

RECKITT RAISES GUIDANCE

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RKT) jumped 6.1% to £58.04 as it raised 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 growth of 3.3% for the third quarter 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.

Reckitt raised its full year revenue sales growth guidance to a 1%-to-3% range compared 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.

Distribution and services group Bunzl (BNZL) softened 0.2% to £25.82 after it reported a rise in third quarter revenue 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.

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

REAFFIRMED REVENUE GUIDANCE

Online retailer THG (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 full year 2020 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%. The market was uninspired and marked the shares down 12.2% to 269.4p.

Shares in oil services company Petrofac (PFC) slumped 18.4% to 128.9p after it booked a first half loss and said it is undertaking a $275 million equity raising at 115p per share, 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 $1.6 billion.

IG Design (IGR:AIM) slumped 33% to 295p after the consumer gift packaging company warned full year earnings will be ‘significantly below’ current market expectations as rising costs and supply chain disruption bite.

Ominously, the greetings cards, Christmas crackers and creative play products maker also cautioned cost and supply chain headwinds are likely to continue into the second half of this year and for an ‘as yet unknown period’ in the year to March 2023.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account.

Issue Date: 26 Oct 2021