Harvester-to-O’Neill’s owner Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) has enjoyed 4.7% like-for-like sales growth over the Christmas period, much to the surprise of many investors and analysts. The business has been struggling for years but solid trading in the four week period to 7 January could prompt the market to reassess negative views of the stock. Investors certainly like today’s news as the shares rise 2.5% to 266.6p.
The FTSE 100 continues its stellar run by rising a further 27 points to 7,302 in early trading. The blue chip index was up 13 days in a row as of yesterday's close. It has hit a record close for 11 days in a row as of last night (12 Jan).
Investors breathe a sigh of relief there’s no further bad news from insulation products supplier SIG (SHI) following its profit warning in November 2016, sending its shares up 8.7% to 102p. Admittedly life isn’t getting any better as SIG says pre-tax profit will still be in the previously downgraded range of £75m to £80m for 2016.
Builders’ merchant Grafton (GFTU) operates in a similar market to SIG as both are heavily exposed to the property market and the construction sector. Its fourth quarter actually showed signs of improvement with 5.3% rise in life-for-like sales. That’s a significant pick-up in pace from the 2.8% seen between July and October 2016. Its stock rises 4.8% to 566.25p.
Brick maker Forterra (FORT) also had a good end to its financial year with volumes up year-on-year in both November and December; its shares advance 2.2% to 184p. Net debt of £93m looks better than expected by analysts who were looking for net borrowings to be more in the range of £108m.
Sadly the fourth quarter splash doesn’t apply to UK property services group Countrywide (CWD). It says the underlying level of market transactions continued to run below the 2015 rate between October and December 2016. It expects full year market volumes (for 2016 figures) to be 6% down on the previous year’s levels.
Computer power pack maker XP Power (XPP) has enjoyed a good finish to its financial year with underlying revenue growth in the fourth quarter ahead of analyst forecasts, so too net cash. A bullish outlook statement helps to drive the stock up 0.5% to £17.60.
Fresh from the bid war for Lavendon (LVD), shares in the aerial platform specialist enjoy a 1% lift to 267.25p after it said full year results would be ahead of the board’s expectations. There is no mention of the takeover battle that’s been driving up the shares in recent months.