London’s FTSE 100 edges 6.8 points lower to 7,717.5 early on Monday, investors bracing themselves for a blizzard of Christmas trading updates this week with Tesco (TSCO), Morrisons (MRW) and Sainsbury’s (SBRY) all due to report.
UK like-for-like sales slumped 7.2% in the 12 weeks to 30 December, Mothercare seeing lower footfall and website traffic, while ‘international trade was challenging’ in the third quarter as well. With no short-term improvement in UK market conditions expected, CEO Mark Newton-Jones warns full year profits will likely fall to a range of £1m-£5m, versus the prior market consensus of £11.9m.
Global diamond producer Gem Diamonds (GEMD) shines with a 7.2% gain to 82p on news it has recovered high quality 117 and 110 carat damonds from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world.
Also in demand is Dialight (DIA), the LED lighting technology company, which sparks up 4.7% to 576p on the appointment of Marty Rapp as its new CEO. Rapp replaces Michael Sutsko ‘with immediate effect’, charged with turning Dialight around following a disappointing recent product delivery performance.
Global business software giant Micro Focus (MCRO) reverses 10.3% to £23.15 as half year results miss expectations and long-serving finance director Mike Phillips takes on the newly created role of Director of M&A.
Investors jilt private label household-to-personal care products maker McBride (MCB), marked down 21% to 176p on a warning full year adjusted profit before tax will be flat. The downgrade reflects weak trading in McBride’s European Personal Care & Aerosols division in the first half, ongoing cost inflation and the operational requirements of servicing a significant level of new business wins.
Pawnbroker H&T (HAT:AIM) brightens 4.1% to 340p following a bullish update. The group expects full year profits to be ahead of market forecasts after a strong fourth quarter. H&T has expanded the range of its personal loan products and improved retail through the development of both click-and-collect and online sales.
Wealth management and employee benefits business Mattioli Woods (MTW:AIM) improves 17.5p to 795p on a positive half year trading update, highlighting strong year-on-year revenue growth north of 16% and assuring it is on track to meet management’s full year profit expectations.