London’s FTSE 100 opens modestly lower on Thursday in contrast to Wall Street, which marked a new high overnight, and progression on Asian markets. Disagreement among rival factions within the Government over Brexit negotiations continues to weigh on investor sentiment.
Pay-TV broadcaster Sky (SKY) sparks up 3.5p to 917p on news of a strong start to the year. CEO Jeremy Darroch says his charge continues to see ‘good demand for our products and services with 51% more new customers joining Sky than a year ago; we surpassed the milestone of 60m subscription products; and pay-as-you-go sports and entertainment buys grew by 12% to 9.6m.’
Plus-size fashion specialist N Brown (BWNG) cheapens 3.6% to 337.4p on profit-taking following a strong re-rating this year. The catalyst for investors is a forecast-beating set of half year results showing continued revenue momentum and market share gains, with the Simply Be brand the standout performer.
Profit-taking also accounts for a 39p reverse to £20.32 for WH Smith (SMWH), strong full year results revealing pre-tax profits up 7% to £140m and a 10% dividend increase to 48.2p. The much-maligned High Street Division held its operating profit at £62m, despite negative like-for-like sales thanks to good margin and cost control, whilst the lucrative Travel Division has overtaken the High Street in revenue terms for the first time.
Bathroom fit-out specialist Norcros (NXR) nudges 2.9p north to 171p on a positive half year trading update, guiding towards 12.5% revenue growth to £144.9m, reflecting a robust UK performance and growth in South Africa.
Industrial chains-to-power transmission products supplier Renold (RNO) slumps 12.6% to 45p on a full year profit warning blamed on its Chain division, where profitability has been affected by the rising cost of steel and ‘major machine break-downs’ at its Einbeck factory in Germany.
Elegant Hotels (EHG:AIM) improves 6% to 85p on news bookings at the start of the new financial year are tracking ahead of last year and confirmation that ‘Treasure Beach hotel is on track to reopen for business at the start of the peak tourist season.’ This is a 4-star, 35-room hotel in Barbados which Elegant acquired in May and ‘the project of refurbishing, repositioning and ultimately repricing the property is progressing to plan.'