Rolex shop front
Watches of Switzerland tops FTSE 350 / Image source: Adobe
  • Major indices make biggest gains since January
  • Driven by hopes that inflation and interest rates have peaked
  • Mid-cap FTSE 250 beats blue chip index

November was a great month for risk assets with major stock indices racking up their biggest gains since January. The German Dax was the leading European index, gaining close to 10% while the UK blue chip FTSE 100 was a laggard notching up a 2% gain.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 fared better with gains of 6.6%. Over the pond the big US indices were up around 9%.

Excitement was driven in part by signs inflation is heading back down towards target and the central banks have finished hiking interest rates.

UK and US 10-year bond yields dropped the most since 2008 which means bond investors also enjoyed 5% plus price gains on the month.

 

 

Topping the leader board were luxury watch and jewellery retailer Watches of Switzerland (WOSG), food retailer Ocado (OCDO) and specialist lender OSB (OSB) with gains of 28% to 30%.

Watches of Switzerland shares rose as much as 15% after revealing new long-range plans (7 November) which call for profits to more than double by 2028.

Growth is expected to be driven by strong sales growth, sustained growth in average pricing and expansion into pre-owned watches and luxury jewellery.

Shares in lender OSB received a boost after upping guidance (2 November) for annual loan book growth to 9% from 7% previously. The group said it was cognisant of rising cost of retail funds, but it remains on track to deliver on full year 2023 guidance.

This calls for net interest margin of 2.3% and a cost to income ratio of 33%.

Food retailer Ocado (OCDO) has been one of the more volatile stocks trading on the market in recent years, so perhaps it isn’t surprising to see the shares near the top of the leader board.

The shares also got a boost after the company revealed its first deal outside grocery after signing a deal to provide its robotic warehouse technology to Canadian drug distributor McKeeson Corp.

CEO Tim Steiner said: ‘It has been proven over 20 years in one of the most complex supply chain environments, online grocery, and we're now bringing our experience and IP to more sectors.’

FTSE 350 LAGGARDS

Iconic boot maker Dr. Martens (DOCS) was one of the biggest fallers in November with the shares down 22% after the company issued a profit warning.

North London-based Dr. Martens now expects to deliver a high single digit full year 2024 sales decline, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation) expected to be ‘moderately below’ the bottom end of the £223.7 million to £240 million consensus range and a higher finance bill to impact pre-tax profits to boot.

Promotions company 4imprint (FOUR) saw its shares fall 15% despite upgrading full year pre-tax profit guidance on 7 November to more than $130 million from $125 million previously.

Investors may have been spooked by the company saying in recent weeks it has seen some evidence of a softening of demand.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account. AJBell logo

Issue Date: 01 Dec 2023