After a delay to the opening of the London stock market, the FTSE 100 ticks higher early on thanks to another good day for the miners combined with strength among financial companies, before easing back 3.7 points to 7708.7.
Mitie (MTO) is marked up 7.1p or 3.6% to 202.8p as the outsourcer says it expects ‘modest’ sales growth next year and reiterates medium term margin improvement guidance ‘to around 4.5-5.5% in the future’. However results for the year to March reveal a 6% drop in operating profit to £77.1m reflecting investments in customer service and ‘internal capabilities’.
Vehicle listings website Auto Trader (AUTO) accelerates 3.8% higher to 367.4p on annual results showing revenue and earnings per share nicely ahead despite the weakness in the new car market, demonstrating how resilient the business. Auto Trader says the new year has started well and is treating investors to a 15% hike in the full year dividend to 5.9p.
Online trading platform CMC Markets (CMCX) sparks up 5% to 196.2p after posting a 24% jump in pre-tax profit to a record £60.1m for the year to March, the strong growth driven by high value and institutional clients.
‘Now we have clarity about the regulatory changes in Europe, and with CMC’s balanced portfolio of retail, professional and institutional clients across a breadth of growing geographies, we are confident that our technology and service-led strategy will continue to deliver profitable growth,’ insists CEO Peter Cruddas.
Funerals operator Dignity (DTY) cheapens 7p to £10.80, despite assuring that trading has remained strong since issuing first quarter results and leaving full year guidance unchanged. Investors are unsettled as Dignity says it is ‘not yet possible to draw any meaningful conclusions’ from ongoing price and service trials and warns ‘trading during 2018 will be volatile’.
Shares in the Sutton Coldfield-headquartered company fell last week after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a review into the £2bn funerals market to ensure people aren’t getting a bad deal.
Specialist information play Ascential (ASCL) sheds 5.9% to 410p on the news that while trading for the year thus far is in line with expectation, its Cannes Lions division is facing ‘a more challenging trading environment with a lower than expected level of spend by the advertising agency holding companies’.