UK share prices watch: AHT and AZN shine
Blue-chips Ashtead (LON:AHT) and AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) are among this Tuesday’s UK share prices to watch, with investors digesting corporate developments. Overall, market sentiment remains upbeat with investors eyeing the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting starting today.
Ashtead and AstraZeneca up
Ashtead is outperforming the market after reporting that its fourth-quarter revenue had climbed 19 percent to £1 billion, while pre-tax profit came in 11 percent higher at £222.5 million. The rental equipment company proposed a final dividend of 33.5p, taking the full-year payout to 40.0p, up 21 percent on the prior year. The results follow a period of wet weather on the other side of the Atlantic, which had fuelled concerns over the equipment rental company’s performance.
“In the lead up to these there have been some concerns we could see signs of a slowdown in the US construction market which was evident in Ferguson’s numbers, another UK company with heavy exposure to the US construction market; however, these fears seem unfounded looking at Ashtead’s results this morning,” Helal Miah at The Share Centre pointed out, as quoted by Proactive Investors, adding that the numbers were “slightly ahead of expectations which helped lift the shares at the open”. Ashtead’s share price has added nearly three percent in early afternoon trade, compared with about a 0.8-percent gain in the Footsie.
AstraZeneca has been another prominent FTSE 100 riser after reporting that its drug Lynparza was approved in Europe as a first-line maintenance treatment for women with BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer, marking the third indication for the treatment in the EU. The development spells good news for the blue-chip drugmaker which has bet on oncology as one of its key therapy areas to propel growth going forward. AstraZeneca’s shares are up by more than two percent intraday.
Rolls-Royce Holdings (LON:RR) is outperforming the market after announcing that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the electric and hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion activities of Siemens. The British engine maker said that the move would accelerate the delivery of its electrification strategy, and boost its “ambition to play a major role in the ‘third era’ of aviation”. Rolls-Royce’s shares are up by about 1.7 percent.
Elsewhere in the FTSE 100 index, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group (LON:IHG) has come under pressure as Barclays lowered its rating on the stock to ‘underweight’. Sharecast quoted the broker as telling clients that the then current ‘peak’ price-to-earnings multiple the shares were trading on ignored the downside risks from a potential macroeconomic slowdown.
“We still see 36 percent downside to the current share price in a recession scenario. This compares with 18 percent upside potential in our upside case,” the analysts pointed out, adding that they saw “risks skewed to the downside”. InterContinental’s shares are underperforming the market with a 0.06-percent drop.
Evraz (LON:EVR) meanwhile is underperforming the market. Reuters notes that the shares in the blue-chip steel company have slipped following 11 consecutive sessions of gains as VTB Capital cut rating on the stock to ‘hold’. Shares in the company are currently changing hands nearly one percent in the red.
For this week’s stocks to watch on the other side of the Atlantic, check out our Day Trading Stock Picks – US and Canadian Lists. For information on how to pick stocks, here is our tutorial on How to Screen For Strongest Stocks in Strongest Sectors.
UK share prices to watch tomorrow
Whitbread (LON:WTB) is likely to provide some excitement on the corporate front tomorrow, with the Premier Inn owner scheduled to update investors on its first-quarter performance. IG reports that Numis analysts forecast that the FTSE 100 company will post a decline of six percent in revenues per available room and a two-percent fall in food and beverage sales from its brands like Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Table Table.
IG’s financial writer Aaron Fronda commented in a note last week that Whitbread’s share price was trading at 4,692p ahead of its first-quarter results, “though investment bank UBS has set a target price at £50 a share, contending that there is a potential upside of 5.6 percent”.
Saga (LON:SAGA) will also be among tomorrow’s UK share prices to watch on account of its annual general meeting, which will come after the mid-cap cruises to insurance group for the over-50s recently announced that its chief executive Lance Batchelor would retire at the end of the current financial year in January 2020, after six years with the business. The announcement came at a sensitive time for the company which recently booked a £310-million charge and trimmed its payout to shareholders.