The FTSE 100 was unable to take its cue from strong trading in the US and Asia overnight, with the blue chip benchmark nudging a meagre 3.6 points higher to 7,412 on Tuesday morning. Strength in sterling, with markets awaiting the publication of UK plans for Brexit, weighed on the index early on.
However, plumbing and heating supplies play Ferguson (FERG) firmed 3.8% to £61.70 on strong results for the year to July with robust organic growth of 6.2% across the pond. Whilst US market growth is ‘currently broadly flat’, investors were reassured as deal-hungry Ferguson, planning to demerge its UK business, said it expects to ‘continue to outperform’ in this key market.
Value sandwiches, coffees and vegan sausage rolls purveyor Greggs (GRG) gave up 4.6% to trade at £19.94 as third quarter sales growth moderated against stronger prior year comparatives. Like-for-like sales were still up by a tasty 7.4% in the 13 weeks to 28 September, although investors were spooked by news of rising costs and the absence of further earnings upgrades, with Greggs leaving full year expectations unchanged.
Sainsbury’s (SBRY) rose 3.2p to 223p despite the shock news John Rogers, boss of Argos and the prime internal candidate to take over from Mike Coupe as the supermarket’s CEO, is joining WPP (WPP), bid up 12p to £10.03, as finance director.
High street star turn JD Sports Fashion (JD.) softened 1.9% to 737.4p on news the planned merger with Footasylum could be off as the acquisition becomes subject to a more in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Aviation services specialist John Menzies (MNZS) was marked up 3p to 407p after reporting on a number of contract awards and renewals across its UK operations, demonstrating the resilience of the business in a tough market.
Value sofa and carpet seller ScS (SCS) cheapened 7.2% to 220p, despite delivering slightly better than expected full year results showing continued profitable growth, as the retailer flagged a ‘more challenging start’ to the new financial year. Like-for-like order intake fell 7.6% between 28 July and 29 September due to Brexit-induced uncertainties as well as baking temperatures over the August bank holiday weekend.
Investors were betting on GAN (GAN:AIM), the gaming software group bid up 4.1% to 77p as CEO Dermot Smurfit flagged an ‘unprecedented year on year growth rate’ in the third quarter amid bumper demand for sports betting in the US.
Biopharmaceutical business Amryt Pharma (AMYT:AIM) added 1.5p at 132.5p on news its treatment for EB, a rare genetic skin disorder, is being fast-tracked by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a positive development that builds on yesterday’s encouraging interim results.