London’s FTSE 100 rises 36 points to 6,537.48 on Tuesday as some on the high street announce better-than-expected updates. Bakery retailer and running Shares Play of the Week Greggs' (GRG) tasty run continues, the shares are up another 6.3% to 796.5p as a terrific Christmas trading statement triggers upgrades. Own shop like-for-like sales grew 8.2% in the five weeks ended 3 January and following strong trading over the festive period, annual results should beat expectations. Shares flagged the potential for upwards earnings revisions here in December.
Bradford-based grocer Morrisons (MRW) is marked up 6.2% to 187.9p on better-than-feared Christmas trading, reaffirmed full-year guidance and the departure of embattled chief executive officer (CEO) Dalton Philips. Britain's fourth biggest supermarket chain by market share reports a 3.1% decline in like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) for the six weeks to 4 January. Though disappointing in light of weak comparatives, this shows an improving trend on recent quarters, though the performance is still worse than both Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s festive trading. News of Philips’ imminent exit fosters hopes a new boss and a new strategy will have greater success in restoring the retailer's fortunes.
Department store Debenhams (DEB) cheapens 8.6% to 68.6p as its latest trading update highlights worse-than-expected sales over the 19 weeks to 10 January and disappointing full-year margin guidance. The British brand did perform well over the key Christmas trading weeks however, with like-for-like sales up 4.9% and the online sales growing 28.9%. Shares flagged the risks facing Debenhams here in October.
Oil and gas minnow Leyshon Energy (LEN:AIM) gains 46.4% to 3.66p as it announces plans to cancel its AIM quote and return $15.4 million to shareholders. Having failed to prove its Zijinshan gas development in the Ordos basin in China is a commercial venture the company has abandoned subsequent plans to acquire new projects citing the steep fall in oil prices which rendered assets unattractive.
With Brent crude oil prices continuing to slump – approaching $45 per barrel – the energy sector remains under severe pressure. Notable fallers include EnQuest (ENQ) – down 6.8% to 27.5p. Glasgow engineer Weir Group (WEIR) is the top faller on the FTSE 100 down 3.7% to £16.59 reflecting its heavy exposure to American shale oil.
There is more good news from the white collar recruitment sector as Michael Page International (MPI) reports net fee income growth of 12.9% in the fourth quarter. Shares in the clerical, professional and executive recruiter surge 5.4% to 450p, taking gains in January to more than 9%.
Egyptian healthcare company Integrated Diagnostics plans to float on the London Stock Exchange’s main market next month. Read our analysis of the company here soon.
Interactive TV gaming company Netplay TV (NPT:AIM) rises 5% to 7.6p after marketing changes have worked with the group trading in-line with expectations despite uncertainties surrounding Point of Consumption tax. The company also makes interim chief executive officer Bjarke Larsen its permanent CEO.
Paper and packaging group Powerflute (POWR:AIM) edges up 1% to 52p on a year-on-year rise in earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), constrained by lower production and deliveries in the second half. December's acquisition of Corenso is expected to have a meaningful impact on business performance in 2015.