Following yesterday’s heavy selling, the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 rally 51.5 and 102 points to 7,283 and 19,133 respectively on Friday as risk appetite receives a lift from US President Donald Trump’s prediction of a swift end to the trade war with China. However sterling remains volatile as rumours swirl of Theresa May’s imminent departure from Number 10.
International baby goods retailer Mothercare (MTC) is marked up 17.7% to 24p as chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Newton-Jones flags ‘some improving UK trends’ in the early stages of the new financial year. Results for the year to March, issued a day later than scheduled due to their complexity, also confirm progress with the embattled retailer’s turnaround.
Covering a year of major restructuring, group revenue fell 13.5% to £566m and Mothercare reports widened adjusted losses. UK like-for-like sales fell 8.9% last year although the international arm is showing signs of moderate recovery.
Diversified media firm Informa (INF) improves 7p to 777p on a positive annual general meeting (AGM) update indicating the exhibitions, events and scholarly publisher has ‘performed well’ in the first four months of 2019. CEO Stephen Carter says this early showing ‘leaves us well placed to meet our targets for 2019 and deliver a further year of growth in revenue, adjusted profit, earnings, cashflow and dividends’.
Informa’s events company peer Tarsus (TRS) charges 37% higher to 427p as the board recommends a £561m cash offer from private equity firm Charterhouse, the 425p bid price representing a 36.2% premium to yesterday’s closing share price.
Premium carbonated mixers marvel Fevertree Drinks (FEVR:AIM) softens 16p or 0.6% to £28 despite news of ‘further encouraging operational progress’ across international markets in 2019, as the absence of additional earnings upgrades disappoints. Fevertree remains confident of meeting 2019 expectations, although there’s also a cautious tone to the statement with management ‘mindful of last year’s exceptional summer trading performance’ in the UK.
Cash generative instrumentation and controls company Spectris (SXS) sparks up 30p to £25.22 on news of a 3% like-for-like sales increase for the four months to 30 April, a credible showing considering a slowdown in certain end markets that management saw coming. Investors also welcome the assurance Spectris is on track to deliver the expected £15m-to-£20m of benefits in 2019 from its profit improvement programme.
Elsewhere, leading European floor coverings distributor Headlam (HEAD) ticks up 9.5p to 466p on news of a ‘pleasing’ start to 2019 with like-for-like revenue up 3.1% and 5.8% in the UK and Continental Europe respectively over the first four months of the year. There’s also relief as Headlam maintains full year guidance ahead of the traditionally stronger second half.
LED lighting and electricals manufacturer Luceco (LUCE) sparks up 14.7% to 116.8p on the news 2019 operating profits should come in ‘materially ahead’ of current market expectations amid strong progress in overseas markets.
Pharmaceutical firm Vectura (VEC) is bid up 0.5p to 79p after announcing it will receive a $2.5m milestone payment in relation to asthma treatment ‘QVM149’ under an exclusive licence deal with Novartis. The milestone payment follows acceptance of a Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) by the European regulators.
Cameroon-focused gas producer Victoria Oil & Gas (VOG:AIM) cheapens 3% to 12p on full year results showing another annual loss after a key gas customer failed to renew a supply agreement, reserves fell and drilling costs rose.