UK share prices watch: Smiths Group up on Friday
Smiths Group (LON:SMIN) has climbed into today’s UK share prices to watch list, with investors reacting positively to an executive appointment at its Medical business. Broader market sentiment meanwhile has been upbeat in the run-up to the highly-anticipated US non-farm payrolls report due out this Friday.
Smiths rises on quiet corporate Friday
Smiths has advanced in today’s session as it announced that it had appointed JehanZeb Noor as CEO of its Medical unit. He joins from sterile packaging specialist Amcor Flexibles where he led the Healthcare North America business and Global Sales for Medical, and will report to the FTSE 100 company’s CEO Andy Reynolds Smith. The executive change comes with the blue-chip company proceeding with its plans to spin off the business, having scrapped talks about a potential combination of the unit with ICU last year. Smiths Group’s share price has added nearly 1.9 percent in early afternoon trade, compared with about a 0.9-percent gain in the benchmark FTSE 100 index.
Mondi (LON:MNDI) is also outperforming the broader UK market as it confirmed “that good progress is being made in implementing the Simplification, including the processes to obtain the necessary regulatory consents”. Mondi’s share price is standing about 1.8 percent higher.
GlaxoSmithKline (LON:GSK) meanwhile has been steady as the US Food and Drug Administration approved two new methods for administering its severe eosinophilic asthma treatment mepolizumab, marketed as Nucala. The methods include an autoinjector and a pre-filled safety syringe, and give patients and healthcare professionals the potential option to administer the treatment outside of a clinical setting. Shares in the blue-chip drugmaker are changing hands about 1.2 percent higher intraday.
The Sage Group (LON:SGE) has made the list of today’s most notable FTSE 100 fallers, suffering a downgrade at Deutsche Bank, with the analysts turning bearish on the software specialist. Proactive Investors quoted the analysts as commenting that they “foresee that good progress is being made in implementing the Simplification, including the processes to obtain the necessary regulatory consents”.
“We believe that Sage is now entering a new phase, where the quick wins from low-hanging fruit are fading, and the company now needs to focus on organic product development to sustain growth in the future,” they continued, adding that in their view, this would “unavoidably result in a sustained rise in Sage’s historically low level of research and development investment and operating margin pressure”. Sage’s shares are about 0.7 percent worse off in early afternoon trade.
In mid-caps, Royal Mail Group (LON:RMG) is trading lower as HSBC trimmed its rating on the privatised postal operator. This marks the second slide of the company’s shares this week after Jefferies lowered its valuation on the stock, pointing to the postal operator’s low productivity in the UK as the company’s biggest challenge. Royal Mail’s shares are changing hands more than three percent lower this Friday, compared with about a 0.4-percent gain in the mid-cap FTSE 250 index.
AJ Bell (LON:AJB) is also in the doldrums after it emerged that Invesco had completed the sale of part of its stake in the mid-cap company. AJ Bell’s shares are down by more than two percent. Ferrexpo (LON:FXPO) is at the other end of the mid-cap leaderboard after reporting that its EBITDA in the first half was expected to ‘increase materially’ compared with the prior-year period. Ferrexpo’s shares are changing hands a little more than four percent higher.
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Next week’s UK share prices to watch
The corporate news draught is set to continue next week, meaning that macroeconomic releases are likely to set the tone for UK share prices. Monday will see a slew of updates on the UK economy, including the nation’s balance of trade, gross domestic product, index of services, industrial production and manufacturing production data.
While little is happening on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday will bring some corporate excitement with Tesco’s (LON:TSCO) first-quarter trading statement.
“Quarterly UK retail sales growth excluding fuel has a 79-percent correlation to Kantar data, and while Kantar and Tesco’s periods do not perfectly overlap, Kantar suggests that Tesco will report +0.2 percent retail growth for the first quarter of 2020, close to our expectations,” Deutsche Bank said in a preview of the results, as quoted by Proactive Investors, adding that it expects Britain’s biggest grocer to report 0.4 percent sales growth excluding fuel, with 0.7 percent like-for-like growth ex fuel”.
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