The FTSE 100 opens on the front foot up 44 points to 7,564. The gains have been led by mining majors such as Glencore (GLEN), up 2.5% to 355.75p and BHP Biliton (BLT), up 2% to £15.48. These companies have benefitted from a recent bout of sterling weakness which has boosted the dollar earners.
Insurer Direct Line (DLG) is down 3.9% to 361.6p on revealing that premiums fell 5% to £769.9m in its first quarter. The company also says that due to severe weather at the start of the year, it would need to utilise the full annual weather budget. The claims associated with the ‘major freeze’ in the first quarter are expected to be in the region of £50m post tax.
Online grocer Ocado (OCDO) gains 4.9% to 582.8p on news it has entered into a partnership with ICA. ICA is a large grocery retailer in Sweden and is partnering with Ocado to develop its online grocery business.
Bookie Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) loses 6.6% to £67.80 as its first quarter results reveal flat revenue on a year on year basis. The company’s underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation is down 6% to 102m and its underlying EBITDA margin is down by 1.5 percentage points to 24.9%.
Kitchens company Howden Joinery (HWDN) heats up 4.3% to 500.6p after saying its revenue is up 14.8% in the 16 weeks to 21 April. The company says that looking forward, ‘we are on track with our plans for the year as a whole’.
Office workspace company IWG (IWG) sheds 3.1% to 236.5p as it reveals weak underlying cash generation in its first quarter. For the three months ending 31 March, the company generated £9.5m, a reduction of £23.7m on the prior year. The company has also increased its net debt position to £347.2m, up from £296.4m at 31 December, 2017.
Healthcare investment company Syncona (SYNC) is up 4.6% to 207.5p as its portfolio company Blue Earth signs a worldwide license for is high potential cancer imaging agent, rhPSMA-7. The company says that the move expands Blue Earth’s oncology portfolio and represents an opportunity to extend its ‘leading position’ in prostate cancer imaging.
Online motor seller Pendragon (PDG) backs up 3% to 28.95p as new vehicle revenue falls by 13.3% from 1 January to 1 May. New vehicle gross profit fell by 17.7% in the same time period while used vehicle revenue fell by 1.5%. The company says that during March, it was unable to retain sufficient used stock to meet demand and sales suffered as a result.