London’s FTSE 100 was on the back foot again on Friday as fears of renewed turmoil in Italy pushed the blue chip benchmark 27.6 points lower to 7,258.3, thereby surrendering some of Thursday’s gains. Sterling was also in the red ahead of UK GDP data and one company counting the cost of the weak currency was travel outfit On The Beach (OTB).
Bookie William Hill (WMH) galloped 7p or 4.8% higher to 153.7p, investors enthused by slightly better than expected first half results and a positive outlook with the gaming giant making strides in the US market.
Admittedly operating profit fell from £114m to £76m in the six months ended 2 July, reflecting the introduction of the £2 staking limit on betting shop gaming machines and increased compliance costs in digital, but this was ahead of analysts’ estimates and William Hill left full year guidance unchanged.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Siggi Olafsson insisted ‘all of our businesses are performing well’. His charge is ‘delivering more from our unique and diversified business model, leading market positions and high-quality operations to drive strong organic growth’.
Also unveiling an acquisition to expand Hikma’s nasal spray capabilities, Olafsson added ‘our good half year financial results demonstrate the breadth and resilience of our marketed portfolio, successful pipeline launches and actions we’ve taken to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.’
Advertising giant WPP (WPP) was marked up 6.9% to 977.8p as first half results showed CEO Mark Read’s revamp gaining traction with sales up 1.6% to a forecast-beating £7.6bn. Read also highlighted an improving trend through the second quarter, where performance was ‘slightly ahead of our internal expectations’, whilst reiterating full year guidance.
Global security giant G4S (GFS) gained 10.4p to trade at 194p after it posted an increase in half-yearly profits led by ‘strong’ revenue momentum in its Secure Solutions business in Africa and North America. The company also said plans were underway to demerge its Cash Solutions business in the first half of 2020.
Beach holiday retailer On The Beach slumped 18.4% to 365p on a full year profit warning blamed on the pound’s devaluation against the euro due to the increased likelihood of a no deal Brexit. While demand has strengthened in the second half, sterling’s weakness has led to a significant increase in On The Beach’s prices versus competitors, making it difficult to gain market share while maintaining margins.
Defence and security sector training systems developer Pennant International (PEN:AIM) plunged 33.5% lower to 51.5p as it warned annual profits will be ‘materially’ below current market expectations due to contact delays.
Rambler Metals and Mining (RMM:AIM) sparked up 9.8% to 1.4p on news it produced more gold and copper concentrate in the second quarter as it reaped the benefits of a mining process improvement programme initiated last year.