This Thursday has seen RSA Insurance (LON:RSA) and Ocado (LON:OCDO) shine in a lacklustre London market, with investors digesting a string of results and corporate updates. Tomorrow, however, is likely to provide fewer UK share prices to watch, with only British Airways and Iberia parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG) due to update the investors on its recent trading.
RSA and Ocado rise on lacklustre Thursday
RSA has been one of today’s most prominent blue-chip risers as it reported that its net premiums had climbed three percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the prior-year period, while weather large loss, attritional loss and controllable expense ratios all improved during the reported period. The results mark a boost for the company, whose full-year results disappointed the market. RSA’s chief executive Stephen Hester further reassured investors that “extensive underwriting actions are also on track, responding to 2018’s challenges”. RSA shares are currently trading about two percent higher, outperforming the FTSE 100 index which is about 0.2 percent in the red.
Proactive Investors quoted Shore Capital as commenting in a note that the results were ‘broadly in line’ with their expectations, while noting that the headwinds from the financial markets were “not helpful for the ongoing turnaround of the business”.
Shares in Ocado are also in demand with investors welcoming news of additional capacity as the online grocer said that it had agreed with Morrisons to temporarily suspend the Morrisons.com capacity at Ocado’s customer fulfilment centre (CFC) in Erith, South-East London. Ocado explained that following the fire at its CFC in Andover earlier this year, it had been seeking additional capacity within its existing network of CFCs. Ocado’s share price is about 1.3 percent better off in early afternoon trade in London.
BT Group (LON:BT.A) meanwhile is falling as it disclosed that its full-year revenue had inched lower last year. The former telecoms monopoly meanwhile lefts its dividend unchanged and said that it expects to hold it at that level in the current financial year.
City A.M. quoted Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity Personal, as commenting that BT’s investors “will need to be patient – underlying earnings will be flat this year – but they will hope today’s news is enough to end recent years’ dismal share price performance”. Shares in the former telecoms monopoly have given up nearly two percent in today’s trading.
Missing forecasts has put pressure on Morrisons (LON:MRW) as the blue-chip grocer posted a 2.3-percent rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel for the first quarter of its financial year. Reuters reports that the result was slightly below analysts’ average forecast for growth of 2.5 percent, and below the 3.8-percent result in the previous quarter. The supermarket pointed to political and economic uncertainty during the reported period which continued to impact consumer confidence and further warned that it expects the market to remain challenging in the second quarter. Morrisons’ shares are about 0.8 percent down this Thursday.
Barratt Developments (LON:BDEV) is more than two percent up, as the blue-chip housebuilder said that its outlook for the full year was modestly above the board’s previous expectations. ITV’s (LON:ITV) shares are in the doldrums for a second day, having given up more than three percent intraday, in the wake of the company’s disappointing first-quarter update.
UK share prices to watch on Friday
With the earnings season winding down IAG is the only FTSE 100 company set to provide results excitement tomorrow. The results will come after the British Airways and Iberia parent cheered investors with a special dividend earlier this year, as it reported a rise in full-year revenue and profits. The company, which also owns Aer Lingus, and low-cost airlines Vueling and Level, however, subsequently issued a clarification to the results, warning that its free cash flow in the current year would be lower than in the prior-year period. IG notes that investors will be hoping that investor passenger growth, seen in the year-to-date, will continue throughout the year despite Brexit threatening to weaken demand.
RSA will remain among the UK share prices to watch tomorrow as it is due to hold its annual general meeting, amid increased focus on pension allowances for execs of FTSE 100 companies. The Guardian reports that RSA’s chief executive Stephen Hester was handed a total pay and benefits package of more than £4 million last year, including a basic salary of more than £1 million, a bonus of £800,000 and a longer-term incentive payout of nearly £2.2 million, along with an extra £302,000 to help him ‘save for retirement’. The newspaper notes that this level of pension contribution stands at 30 percent of basic salary, compared with contributions of 9-11 percent for RSA staff.
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