London’s FTSE 100 advanced 30 points to 7,618 on Monday with European stocks ticking modestly higher following a lacklustre end to last week.
Weekend press reports suggesting a growing number of Bank of England policymakers are considering voting for an interest rate cut to try and stimulate the economy put a dent in banks such as Lloyds (LLOY), down 0.9% to 59.8p, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which softened 0.4p to 234.9p.
Water and waste management group Pennon (PNN) gushed 9.3% higher to £11.01 on reports that US private equity giant KKR had made an early bid for its recycling arm Viridor, which is up for sale with a £4bn price tag.
Morgan Stanley and Barclays have been appointed to sell Viridor, which burns waste to generate energy and is one of the UK’s most sought-after investments of 2020. Advisers are in the process of formally kicking off the auction for Viridor, but City sources said KKR had attempted to jump start proceedings with a knockout bid early last year.
Betting and gambling giant William Hill (WMH) advanced 1.75p higher to 186.1p after raising 2019 operating profit guidance to a £143m-to-£148m range, ahead of both market and management expectations and driven by favourable sporting results through the year end.
Chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said his charge had made ‘good progress on a number of fronts, including our retail business, online and in the US, enabling us to deliver on our long term strategic ambitions’.
City Pub Group (CPC:AIM) plunged 11.5% to 192.5p after serving up a profit warning for the year ended 29 December. The premium pubs operator’s annual adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) is now expected to be ‘slightly below’ market expectations at between £9.1m and £9.2m following disappointing festive trading.
City Pub Group blamed everything from political uncertainty and unhelpful weather to the impact of train disruption on its London pubs, a Rugby World Cup that failed to provide the anticipated sales boost as well as pub refurbishment delays for the damaging earnings alert.
Telecoms and connectivity testing equipment maker Spirent (SPT) surged up 11.7% to 228.5p on news it expects to beat the market’s 2019 profit expectations following a strong fourth quarter and enters 2020 with a bulging order book.
XP Power (XPP) sparked up 50p or 1.6% to £32.60 on a positive pre-close trading update, in which the power converters maker flagged strong fourth quarter order intake and expressed confidence in growing revenues in 2020.
International property agent Savills (SVS) skipped 5.1% higher to £12.07 on news it expects to post full year results at the upper end of management’s expectations thanks largely to an ‘excellent’ performance in the UK, significant growth in the US and a strong showing from its Savills Investment Management arm.
West Africa-focused agriculture minnow Dekel Agri-Vision (DKL:AIM) cultivated a 5.5% gain to trade at 3.85p on news it expects to deliver a ‘substantial improvement in financial performance’ in 2020 with a tailwind from the recovering crude palm oil (CPO) price.