Market report

Centrica sells gas stake | Calnex ahead | Markets fall


5pm: Centrica gas sale

gas, Ofgem, price caps

British Gas owner Centrica became the latest to exit its gas supply agreements with Russian counterparts, including Gazprom, following the invasion of Ukraine.

Centrica said it currently has a medium-term contract with Gazprom Marketing and Trading, the Russian energy giant’s UK entity, through which gas can be sourced from the open market.

The firm highlighted that this supply contract is not affected by current sanctions imposed by the UK government but has still launched talks to quit the deal. Its shares closed 3.73% lower.

As the fighting in Ukraine showed no signs of easing, European markets suffered another bleak session. The FTSE 100 closed 128.05 points, or 1.7% lower at 7,330.20.

Russian steelmaker Evraz plunged a further 41.90p (28.95%) while Polymetal was down 26.3%. Shares in Edinburgh wealth manager Abrdn fell 10.95p (5.30%) after it announced it was selling investments to reduce its exposure in Russia and Belarus

BAE Systems continued to lead the risers, up 3.7%.

8.15am: Market steady

The FTSE 100 was trading 27.9 points higher at 7,486.14.

7am: Abrdn revenue growth

Wealth manager Abrdn reported an increase in revenue for the first time since the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management.

It posted a 6% rise in fee based revenue and 47% rise in adjusted operating profit to £323m.

The company said it had seen strong growth across all three business streams. Profit before tax came in at £1.115bn against £838m last time.

It has reduced its investments in Russia and Belarus.

Full story here

7am: Reach warns on rising costs

Media group Reach, publisher of the Mirror, Record and Express titles, saw its shares plunge as it warned that higher printing costs are set to impact profits this year.

It said rising costs were being felt the most across newspaper print production, with soaring energy prices adding to supply chain challenges.

The warning took the shine off figures showing its first like-for-like growth in revenue for 15 years, driven by a 25.4% rise digital income.

Full story here

7am: Calnex ahead of market forecast

Telecoms equipment firm Calnex Solutions has reported strong levels of trading in the first six months and said it expects FY22 to be in line with market expectations.

The Linlithgow-based company has experienced high demand for its range of test and measurement solutions, and the introduction of new regulation and standards for the telecoms industry continues to drive demand for Calnex’s products. 

It will begin FY23 with a record order book across all product lines and it is anticipated that revenue and operating profit for FY23 will be materially ahead of market expectations.

Tommy Cook, founder and CEO, said: “We are highly encouraged by the record level of orders we have received across our customer base, demonstrating the quality of our solutions and their applicability.

“We anticipate next year will see revenue and profits considerably ahead of initial forecasts, with the potential for further growth should the supply chain issues ease and we are able to capitalise on the significant opportunities within our markets.

“We remain highly profitable and cash generative and will continue to invest in our offering and people to ensure we are well positioned to continue to capitalise on the growth in the telecoms and cloud computing markets.”

7am: Shell hires CFO

Shell has appointed Sinead Gorman as chief financial officer. She will become a member of both the executive committee and board of directors.

After a distinguished career of 17 years with Shell, the last five years as CFO, Jessica Uhl will step down from her role on 31 March. She will be available to assist Ms Gorman and the board with transition until 30 June, after which she will leave the group.

7am: Flutter revenue grows

Paddy Power, Betfair and FanDuel owner Flutter Entertainment saw its revenue increase 37% last year to £6bn (€7.2bn), benefiting from the May 2020 combination with the Stars Group.

Average monthly players at the company increased 23% to 7.6 million.

However, it reported a loss before tax of £288m after a £543m charge for non-cash amortisation from acquired intangibles.

Group earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) fell 6% to £723m (€865m) following increased investment in the US market and regulatory impacts in its international markets.

7am: Omega shareholders shun offer

Fewer than one in four shareholders in Omega Diagnostics have backed its plan to raise further funds through a distribution of shares.

The board announced its intention to raise up to £7 million by way of a placing, subscription and open offer but by Monday’s close acceptances had been received for just 23.5% of the new shares through the offer.

The fundraising remains conditional on the approval by shareholders at the company’s general meeting on 7 March.

7am: DeepMatter wins Korea contract

DeepMatter Group, the international digital chemistry data company based in Glasgow, has signed a licensing and collaboration agreement with Standigm, an artificial intelligence drug discovery company based in South Korea.

The first stage of the agreement is expected to generate revenues of £233,000. The group is now actively working towards broadening the scope of the agreement in the three-year term.

Global markets

London’s FTSE 100 index was looking ahead to a steadier day after Monday’s heavy drop and partial recovery after markets globally picked up overnight after the shock from the heavy sanctions imposed on Russia.

Ahead of the open, financial spread betters were calling London’s main index around 23 points lower, though US markets closed improved and Asian markets also improved during the day.

Asian markets stabilised on signs of no immediate escalation of sanctions. Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.47%. The Russian rouble regained some footing after crashing to an all-time low, while the safe-haven dollar resumed its rise against major peers.

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