London’s high-flying FTSE 100 firms 4.6 points to 7,735.4 with a helping hand from banking and utility stocks, though it is retailers that are the main focus for investors on Monday.

Online grocer Ocado (OCDO) ripens up 10.2% to 455.3p after inking another major international deal, just a few months after joining forces with Groupe Casino in France. Ocado’s latest agreement to power an overseas supermarket with its technology is with Canada’s Sobeys, with profits set to tumble in from Ocado's 2019 financial year and beyond.

CEO Tim Steiner says ‘we are delighted to be working with one of the leaders in North American grocery retailing. Sobeys is a highly successful and much admired Canadian business and we are proud that they have chosen Ocado Solutions to partner with to build their online grocery business’.

Electrical and mobile retail titan Dixons Carphone (DC.) sparks up 2.5p to 190.45p on the appointment of well-regarded Shop Direct boss Alex Baldock as its new CEO. He succeeds incumbent Sebastian James, who is off to join Walgreens Boots Alliance later this year after six years in the hot seat.

Dixons Carphone’s Christmas trading statement proves somewhat mixed; while group like-for-like sales grew 6% in the 10 weeks ended 6 January, full year profit before tax guidance is downgraded to a £365m-to-£385m range, down from £360m-to-£400m previously, due to disappointing Boxing Day electricals sales and margin pressure in phones.

Cambridge-based engineering software firm AVEVA (AVV) advances 3.3% to £29.98 on news it is trading ahead of the board’s previous expectations. The improving growth trend seen in the first half continued into the third quarter and a recent significant contract is also expected to boost performance in the current financial year.

Elsewhere, newspapers, magazines and parcels distributor Connect (CNCT) crashes 26% lower to 78p on a full year profit warning. Annual profit before tax guidance for Connect’s continuing businesses is downgraded to a £42m-to-£45m range due to contract delays in its Pass My Parcel (PMP) business, margin pressure in Mixed Freight and slower than expected cost savings. There’s also disappointment as European investor Aurelius tries to abandon its previously agreed purchase of Connect’s Books division.

Goals Soccer Centres (GOAL:AIM) cheapens 3.9% to 75p as analysts downgrade forecasts following a full year trading statement that shows the scale of the challenge in turning round the under-invested UK business. The board says profits for 2017 will be ‘broadly in line with the lower end of market expectations’ following a year in which group like-for-like sales softened 0.5%.

West African palm oil producer DekelOil (DKL:AIM) cultivates a 4.5% gain to 11.12p on a positive update on its programme to improve the productivity of its crude palm oil (CPO) mill in the Ivory Coast, just in time for the peak harvesting season.

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Issue Date: 22 Jan 2018