The FTSE 100 was under early pressure on Friday morning, dragged down by weakness in index heavyweight AstraZeneca (AZN), which produced disappointing third quarter results.

Asian trading was generally steady with China’s SE Composite up 0.2% and Japan’s Nikkei gaining 1.1%.

Commodities were weaker with Brent Crude down 0.7% to $82.3 a barrel while Gold prices were 0.4% lower at £1,855 an ounce.

At 9am, the blue chip benchmark was down 0.3% at 7,363 points.

CORPORATE NEWS

Shares in pharma giant AstraZeneca sank 6% to £89.20 after saying higher research and development expenses and operating costs had pushed the company to a third quarter loss.

Third quarter revenues excluding its vaccine sales grew 34% to $8.8 billion.

However, AstraZeneca maintained full year guidance for core earning per share to be in the range of $5.05-to-$5.40 with revenues expected to grow in the low-twenties percentage excluding Covid-19 sales and in the mid-to-high twenties percentage including sales from the vaccine.

It is now expecting to make a modest profit from the vaccine as new orders are received.

BODY BLOW

Shares in critical personal protection company Avon Protection (AVON) plunged 42% lower to £11.01 after saying that it will undertake a strategic review of its body armour business after the body armour plates product failed in ‘First Article Testing’, which will significantly delay approval of the product.

The business was previously expected to contribute revenues around $40 million for the year to 30 September 2022, which will now be significantly lower. The company will also delay publishing its 2021 results to assess the carrying value of the related assets.

UPGRADE FOR REDROW

Housebuilder Redrow (RDW) upped guidance for revenues saying that it expects full year results to approach pre-pandemic levels amid rising house prices and a record order book.

The company now expects revenues to be around £2.1 billion and to report an operating margin around 9%.

The value of net private reservations in the 19 weeks to 5 November 2021 was 2% above the prior year at £672 million. The shares gained 1.7% to 638.2p.

Real estate company Land Securities (LAND) said it had sold 6-9 Harbour Exchange in London to Blackstone European Property Income Fund for £196.5 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 3.99%.

The disposal was in line with Landsec’s strategy set out in October 2020, to focus on central London offices, major retail destinations and urban mixed-use areas in London and other cities. The shares added 0.6% to 706.4p.

Engineering group John Wood (WG.) said it had initiated a strategic review of the part of its consulting business facing the built environment end market.

The company conceded that the rate of recovery in its projects business had been slower than anticipated largely due to the deferral of activity and awards into 2022.

Full year revenue was expected to be approximately $6.4 billion, while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) margin was expected to be 8.5% to 8.7%. The shares dropped 5% to 191.1p.

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Issue Date: 12 Nov 2021