UK share prices watch: Ferguson in the doldrums
Blue-chip plumbing specialist Ferguson (LON:FERG) has been one of today’s UK share prices to watch, with its third-quarter update failing to cheer investors even as the company announced share buyback. In smaller London-listed companies, troubled tour operator Thomas Cook (LON:TCG) is rallying after confirming an approach for its tour operations.
Ferguson dips, Thomas Cook surges
Ferguson has slumped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 leaderboard in today’s session, with the group’s third-quarter update failing to cheer investors, despite the company announcing a $500-million share buyback and reiterating its full-year expectations. The market has instead focused on the plumbing specialist’s slower revenue growth during the reported period.
“Management has chosen not to blame the weather, but we note that US rainfall in the quarter was exceptional, which has disrupted construction somewhat, at the same time as there was a natural lull in growth rates caused in part by the rising rate environment at the end of the 2018 calendar year,” analysts at Liberum pointed out, as quoted by Proactive Investors. Ferguson’s share price has given up more than six percent in early afternoon trade, as compared with about a 0.5-percent gain in the benchmark FTSE 100 index.
At the other end of the spectrum has been online grocer Ocado (LON:OCDO), whose shares have been in demand this Monday as it emerged that the company was investing a total of £17 million in a pair of vertical-farming ventures.
“Vertical farming has always been on our wish-list for a lot of strategic reasons, but we were really busy going other core things,” Ocado’s head of corporate development Stewart McGuire told Bloomberg News in an interview. “Ocado is a technology company now so we’re not interested in becoming the world’s farmer, but we are interested in ensuring that people who have food supply chains have the best technology and the ability to operate that if need be.” Shares in the online grocer are changing hands about three percent higher.
British Airways and Iberia parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG) is outperforming the market as it updated investors on its passenger traffic, reporting a six-percent rise in traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometres for May. IAG’s shares have added more than one percent in London so far today.
Troubled tour operator Thomas Cook meanwhile is rallying after receiving a preliminary approach for its tour operations from its biggest shareholder, China’s Fosun Tourism. The move comes after the London-listed travel firm recently issued its third profit warning in less than a year, with the statement sending the group’s shares tumbling.
“Sadly, it rather looks like Thomas Cook will be carved up in some fashion or other. This may not be a bad thing – clearly managing this large, complex holiday business proved daunting,” Neil Wilson, an analyst at Markets.com, commented, as quoted by the Guardian, adding, however, that “selling off the various bits of the business is likely to be even more complex”. Thomas Cook’s share price is up by more than 17 percent intraday.
Elsewhere in the London market, the Woodford Patient Capital Trust (LON:WPCT) has extended losses even as the company moved to reassure investors that it was pleased with its performance despite the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund. Shares in WPCT are currently more than six percent down in early afternoon, while blue-chip asset manager Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HL), which has been particularly impacted by the fund turmoil, is trading more than three percent lower in early afternoon.
Broader market sentiment meanwhile has been upbeat in the wake of the weaker-than-expected US jobs report on Friday which has fuelled expectations for a rate cut from the Federal Reserve. Markets.com’s Neil Wilson called hopes of near-term rate cuts ‘overly optimistic,’ as quoted by Reuters.
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UK share prices to watch tomorrow
FTSE 100 technology company Halma (LON:HLMA) will be among tomorrow’s UK share prices to watch, with investors set to digest its full-year results. The update will come after the company issued a trading update in March, saying at the time that it expects adjusted profit before tax for the year ending March 31 to be in line with market consensus expectations, or between £240.1 million and £253.4 million, with a consensus of £243.7 million.
Other London-listed companies reporting tomorrow include Crest Nicholson (LON:CRST), Bellway (LON:BWY) and Ted Baker (LON:TED).
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