It is another slow start for stocks on 'Super Thursday' with the FTSE 100 index giving up 0.1% to 7,163 on weakness in food producers, industrials and oil services.

All eyes are on the Bank of England with the release of data on inflation, the latest monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting notes and a decision on interest rates all due at midday.

Food-service company Compass Group (CPG) is the best performer up 4.3% to a new all-time high of £17.58 after another upbeat trading statement.

Like-for-like sales for the quarter to December were up 6.9% thanks to new business wins with particularly strong progress in the US.

Close behind is medical technology company Smith & Nephew (SN.) with shares up 2.5% to £14.98 after it reports a small rise in full year sales and margins.

The outlook for this year is more of the same with sales seen rising c3% on emerging market demand and another small increase in margins.

Housebuilder Bellway (BWY) sheds 2.5% to £28.20 despite reporting a record level of sales for the six months to January and record numbers of reservations.

Investors seem to have homed in on the small rise in cancellations and the firm’s comments on customer uncertainty instead.

Purveyor of up-market sausages Cranswick (CWK) is a major casualty seeing its shares put through the mincer, down 19% to a new 12-month low of £23.98.

Current trading is in line with estimates but it is the forward guidance which has spooked investors.

With pork prices down and the firm’s investment in poultry production ramping up, the squeeze on margins is likely to be compounded by what the company calls a ‘potentially challenging commercial landscape’.

Joining Cranswick in the ‘sin bin’ is travel operator TUI (TUI) whose shares also hit a 12-month low, down 16% to 993p, after it cut earnings guidance last night.

Due to last summer’s UK heatwave and the weak pound fewer Brits have booked holidays abroad meaning TUI won’t make its earnings target.

It also abandoned its target of raising earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) for the next three years.

There was happier news from rival Thomas Cook (TCG) with first quarter sales in line with previous estimates and the outlook for the full year maintained.

Turnover in the three months to December was up 1% on a like-for-like basis and summer bookings are slightly ahead of last year.

After a year of disappointing updates investors cheer the news sending the shares up 13% to 35p.

There is also upbeat news from holiday operator On The Beach (OTB) as it reports revenues up 20% for the first four months of the financial year.

The firm is enjoying strong mobile traffic and rising conversion rates which are leading to an increased level of repeat business.

On The Beach shares add 2% to 450p, continuing their recent strong run.


Issue Date: 07 Feb 2019