Stocks in the UK and Europe opened lower on Friday after a weak trading session in the US fed through into falls across Asia.

The technology-focused Nasdaq 100 index registered further losses after falling 1.3% while the small-cap Russell 2000 dropped almost 2%.

Adding to investor woes, in aftermarket trading Netflix shares sank 21% after it provided a disappointing outlook and weaker than expected subscriber growth.

Oil prices dropped sharply with Brent Crude down 2% to $86.2 a barrel. Reflecting increased risk aversion, Bitcoin traded 5% lower.

In early trading the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was down 1.1% to 7,500 points led by weakness in mining shares as investors retreated to the relative safety of utilities and staples.

COMPANY NEWS

International direct marketing company 4-imprint (FOUR) said full-year revenues to 1 January jumped 41% to $787 million while pre-tax profit was expected to be at the upper end of market forecasts.

After a strong recovery during the year, total order count reached 90% of pre-pandemic levels demonstrating the resilience of the business in the face of lingering inflation and supply-chain challenges. The shares added 1.3% to £26.65.

Investment manager Ninety One (N91) confirmed its assets under management at 31 December 2021 reached £141.7 billion, representing a 10% increase over the year. The company said it would publish its fourth quarter results on 14 April. The shares dropped 0.2% to 265.2p.

Investor in infrastructure debt GCP Infra (GCP) said net asset value at 31 December 2021 was 107.18p per share. The fund said it was exposed to a diversified and partially inflation protected portfolio of 47 investments with an unaudited valuation of £1.1 billion.

The portfolio had a weight-adjusted average annualised yield of 7.9%, principal outstanding of £1.0 billion and an average life of 11 years. The shares dipped 0.2% to 107.8p.

AHEAD OF EXPECTATIONS

Value retailer Theworks.co.uk (WRKS) said half year revenues to 28 October grew 30.6% to £116.1 million, ahead of expectations, representing 17.9% growth over pre-pandemic levels.

Like-for-like sales growth over the last two years was 14.5%, ahead of the board’s expectations. Trading since the period end has remained strong with two-year like-for-like revenue growth of 9%.

Good overall trading performance is more than expected to offset increased container freight costs.

The company said fiscal year 2022 adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) is forecast to be around £15 million, ahead of the board’s previous expectations. The shares added 1.6% to 57.4p.

Cinema group Everyman Media (EMAN:AIM) said full-year revenues to 30 December increased 101% to £48.7 million despite only trading for 33 weeks of the period due to restrictions.

A better than expected trading performance in December means the company now expects to report full-year EBITDA of approximately £8.3 million compared with a loss of £1,1 million last year which is above market expectations, pushing the shares 6% higher to 148p.

Wagamama owner Restaurant Group (RTN) said that due to continued strong trading and good cost control management now expected full year adjusted EBITDA to be at the upper end of its guidance range of between £73 million and £79 million.

Net debt is expected to be less than £180 million. The company said it continued to trade above the market as measured by the Coffer Peach survey. The shares gained 2.2% to 102.2p.

Shares in advertising group M&C Saatchi (SAA:AIM) jumped 5% to 185.1p after the company said a ‘strong’ end to the year meant it now expected full-year pre-tax profit to be ‘materially’ ahead of previous expectations.

The company said the momentum has continued into the new financial year with major client wins. It also announced that the Financial Conduct Authority was closing its investigation into the company with no action being taken.

A list of FTSE 100 index movers can be seen here.

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Issue Date: 21 Jan 2022