London’s FTSE 100 rebounds 22.5 points to 7,161.2 on Wednesday, bouncing back from Tuesday’s heavy losses triggered by the shock departure of Rex Tillerson and Philip Hammond’s lacklustre Spring Statement.
Dignity says it has engaged L.E.K. Consulting ‘to work with us in developing our plan for the funeral business’ and help the company to understand ‘the relationship between price, service and volume to develop a broader proposition for customers across a number of market segments’. This welcome news accompanies full year results which are reassuringly in line with January’s damaging profit warning.
Bradford-based grocer Morrisons (MRW) is marked down 3.1p to 223.2p, despite announcing a 4p special dividend, taking the full year total dividend up 85.8% to 10.09p. Better than expected full year results reveal like-for-like sales up 2.8%, an 11% increase in profit before tax to £374m and net debt reduced to £973m, below Morrisons’ £1bn year-end target, although some investors may be disappointed by lower operating profit of £458m (2017: £468m).
Elsewhere, insurance and savings giant Prudential (PRU) improves 5.8% to £19.32 after announcing plans to demerge UK & Europe arm M&G Prudential, as well as the partial sale of its UK annuity portfolio.
Gambling firm Sportech (SPO) slumps 56% to 34p after terminating talks regarding a sale of the business. Sportech also warns 2017 profits will be below expectations after write-offs and restatements and also flags a ‘fairly challenging’ opening ten weeks of 2018.
Balfour Beatty (BBY) rises 5.8p to 282.7p after reporting a underlying profit from operations more than doubled to £196m as CEO Leo Quinn’s Build to Last programme continues to transform the construction group. ‘As a result of Build to Last, and the governance and controls now in place, we remain on track to achieve industry-standard margins in the second half of 2018,’ enthuses Quinn.
Automotive retailer Marshall Motor (MMH:AIM) accelerates 4.2% higher to 174p on another set of record full year results, which come in ahead of previously upgraded expectations. CEO Daksh Gupta does however note the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ UK new car market forecasts for a decline of 5.6% in 2018 and ‘remains cautious about the UK car market in 2018 as it returns to a more normalised level.'