arks & Spencer’s army of small shareholders were cheering today after the retailer’s better-than-expected interim results sent shares surging by as much as 16% today.
With sales back above pre-pandemic levels, chief executive Steve Rowe is now forecasting annual underlying profits in the region of £500 million. He said: “The hard yards of driving long term change are beginning to be borne out in our performance.”
Halfords also surged 11% after e-bike sales led to an upgrade to its profits guidance, while ITV shares jumped as chief executive Carolyn McCall said the broadcaster is on track for the highest advertising revenues in its 66-year history.
Inflation figures in the United States will provide a major test for later markets today amid expectations the consumer prices index will hit a 31-year high.
Marks & Spencer shares jump 15%
Marks & Spencer now languishes in the FTSE 250 index, but its shares were the London market’s star attraction today after surging 15% following half-year results.
The retailer’s shares jumped 28.05p to 222.5p — much to the delight of the company’s long-suffering army of retail shareholders — after M&S upgraded its full-year expectations on the back of interim figures showing sales and profits above pre-pandemic levels.
The former blue-chip stock is now at its highest level since the start of 2020.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said the results show a company going full throttle: “Marks & Spencer was one of many companies where the pandemic forced accelerated change and the results are beginning to bear fruit.”
There was also a jump of 31.6p to 310.2p for Halfords in the FTSE All-Share after it upgraded profit forecasts to £80-90 million due to “exceptionally strong” sales of e-bikes and e-scooters.
The FTSE 100 index rose 22.64 points to 7296.68, led by a rise of 8% for ITV after the broadcaster’s upbeat third quarter trading update. BP also rose 2% as the price of Brent rose back above $85 a barrel following a decline in US crude stocks.
M&S topped the FTSE 250 index, which stood 73.02 points higher at 23,440.16.
Housebuilding shares backed for better 2022
Shares in London-listed housebuilders are below where they started 2021, a performance that Liberum said today is hard to explain given the industry’s strong trading and upgrades to guidance.
The broker blames the perceived threats from interest rates, input pressures and shifting government policy, but believes these fears are now past their worst.
Based on this favourable outlook for 2022, Liberum’s note sees significant upside for shares across the sector. Its top picks are Persimmon and MJ Gleeson.
ITV predicts highest ad revenue in history
ITV is on track for the highest advertising revenues in its 66-year history, the national broadcaster said today.
The broadcaster and production studio said advertising revenue was on track to rise by 24% by year end, which would take it above pre-pandemic levels and to an all-time high.
Advertising sales are up 30% so far this year, ITV said, helping revenue at its media and entertainment business climb 28% to £1.6 billion. Revenue at ITV Studios, which produces shows for the broadcaster and other channels, saw revenue rise 32% to £1.2 billion.
CEO Carolyn McCall said: “By any standards ITV has had an outstanding nine months. Revenue from each business over the nine months is up both on last year and on 2019.
Tesla shares slide 12%
Tesla shares have endured their worst session of the year after the electric car maker lost 12% of its value on Wall Street last night.
The slide is on top of Monday’s 5% fall and comes after boss Elon Musk indicated he would abide by the result of a Twitter poll and sell a 10% chunk of his holdings worth around $21 billion.
Tesla’s valuation is now back at $1 trillion, having gone through this threshold at the end of October after a 150% surge in the past year.
Amazon picks Westfield London for next store launch
Online retail giant Amazon has boosted its UK physical real estate presence, agreeing to open a shop at the Westfield centre in White City.
The firm’s new ‘4-star’ Westfield London branch, around 5,000 square feet, will sell a range of goods trending on Amazon’s website, covering categories such as books, games and toys.
M&S toasts higher profits, but not immune from supply chain pain
Marks & Spencer has cheered first-half sales and profits rising above pre-pandemic levels, but it cautioned on “significant” supply chain costs rises ahead.
However, assuming there is no further pandemic related disruption, the chain is forecasting profit before tax and adjusting items for the year will be ahead of expectations and in the region of £500 million.
Read the full story HERE.
Vodka sales spike, ale sales tumble at JD Wethespoon
SALES of cocktails, vodka and rum have jumped at JD Wetherspoon, while ale and stout sales have plummeted in the last three months.
Following a record annual loss reported last month, today the pub chain said sales in the quarter to November 7 were nearly 9% lower than the same period in 2019, pre-Covid.
The company puts the shift in the sort of drinks being consumed down to age – younger drinkers are back in pubs, older customers are still staying away.
Cocktail sales are up 45%, ale is down 30%.
Federal Reserve under pressure as US inflation spikes
US inflation is set to reach its highest level since 1990 when figures for October are released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics later today.
Wall Street expects the consumer prices index for the month to have risen by as much as 5.9% over a year earlier, above the level seen in 2008 when the rate hit 5.6%.
Policymakers at the US Federal Reserve believe that the price pressures are short-term and that there’s currently no need to think about putting up interest rates.
A strong inflation figure will fuel expectations that rates may have to rise next year, reversing the recent decline in US bond yields seen since the Federal Reserve’s meeting last week.
It also emerged today that China’s annual inflation rate accelerated sharply to 1.5%, which was slighly above the market consensus of 1.4% and the highest figure since September 2020.
The inflation uncertainty meant US markets broke a sequence of eight successive daily gains, with Tesla among the stocks most under pressure after falling by 12%.
The electric car maker’s sell-off also reflected the fall-out from the result of Elon Musk’s weekend Twitter poll on whether to offload 10% of his stake in the S&P 500-listed company.
The FTSE 100 index is forecast by CMC Markets to open 14 points lower at 7260.
Bitcoin has also fallen back overnight, with the cryptocurrency trading at $66,538 compared with the record of above $68,000 seen earlier this week.