Political events continue to dominate the news agenda even for investors with the pound plunging back below $1.25 as confirmation filters through that Theresa May faces a no confidence vote from her own party.

Conservative MPs will vote this evening, either backing the Prime Minister or hoping to shunt her aside for new leadership.

Yet UK stock markets take that news in their stride, with the FTSE 100 adding around 30 points in early trading to 6,838.08. Mid cap FTSE 250 stocks remains largely flat at around 17,650.

Doing its best to drag on the market mood is fashion retail chain Superdry (SDRY) after issuing its second profit warning in three months. It’s a fairly familiar high street story of the wrong sort of weather, with November temperatures apparently too mild for the firm, or its customers', liking.

Superdry expects similar problems through December and the net result is a profits miss this year of about £11m. Like many retailers, the Christmas run-in is key for Superdry sales, so a steer that profits are likely to come in at around the £55m to £70m mark is a big blow, especially when drawn against consensus forecasts before the October profit warning of between £107m to £111m for the year to 30 April 2019.

Needlesstosay, the shares tank, crashing by more than 26% in early deals to a five-year low 424p. That values the business at about £357m.


There is also bad news for TVs, computers and gadgets retailer Dixons Carphone (DC.), which posts a headline half year pre-tax profits slump from £73m a year ago to £50m despite a 2% increase in like-for-like sales.

There is also the not insignificant matter of a £490m write-off of assets on the Carphone Warehouse side thanks to flagging smartphone sales.

Cue talk of cost savings and store improvements as net debts swells to £274m and free cash flow shrinks to £116m. Those latter points look like a key reasons why the dividend has also been slashed, from 3.5p per share this time last year to 2.25p now.

Dixons Carphone shares slump 11% to 134.45p.

Elsewhere, doubts are starting to emerge over the proposed merger of two of the UK’s big supermarkets – Sainsbury (SBRY) and Asda. The deal is already subject to a probe by UK competition authorities but Sainsbury has now lodged an application for a judicial review of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation.

Sainsbury's is worried about the timetable and processes, effectively saying it needs more time. That does not sound very positive for the deal, and investors mark Sainsbury stock more than 3% lower on Wednesday to 286.7p.

Asda is owned by Walmart, the US chain and the world’s largest retail business.


Oil services firm Wood Group (WG.) is the biggest faller among FTSE 100 firms on Wednesday after flagging worries about volatile commodity pricing and the pace of new contract awards.

That latter news is ironic given the win today of a large ethylene contract.

Wood Group heads the Footsie loser board with a 9% share price slump to 586.2p.

Topping the blue-chip winners today is aero-engineer Rolls-Royce (RR.), up 2.6% to 801p, after confirming full year guidance on operating profit and free cash flow for the year to 31 December 2018. Investors can expect more detail when those results are published in February 2019.

Elsewhere, strong trading at healthcare and PR agency Huntsworth (HNT) means it will hit full year earnings targets of £29.4m, according to current forecasts. Reading between the lines, the company may do even better than that, prompting investors to chase the share price 14% higher to 111p.

But collapsing dramatically is the share price of mobile communications kit designer Filtronic (FTC:AIM). Its’ shares more than halve to 8.65p after demand for a new range of antennas failed to live up to expectations.

That will see the microcap company plunge into the red this year to 31 May 2019, having posted a £1.2m pre-tax profit in the previous 12 months.

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Issue Date: 12 Dec 2018