Daily Business Live
Cairn Energy; Craneware; Aggreko; Dixons Carphone
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4.45pm: Biden inaugurated
Joe Biden was officially inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States and promised to unite the nation.
4.30pm: London closes higher
The FTSE 100 ended the session 27.44 points higher at 6,740.39 amid hopes for more US stimulus spending from the new president and an improved rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
3.30pm: Oxford life sciences milestone
Legal & General and the University of Oxford have received planning permission for a £200m life sciences building.
The Life and Mind building is Oxford’s largest ever building project and represents a milestone for the £4bn Oxford University Development (OUD) partnership.
The 269,097 sq ft building will house the departments of experimental psychology and biology, including plant sciences and zoology. It will provide research facilities to 800 students and 1,200 researchers.
8am: London lower
The FTSE 100 was trading marginally lower at the open, down 10.33 points at 6,702.62.
7.05am: Inflation rises
Consumer price inflation rose to 0.6% in December, according to the latest data from the ONS.
The 0.3% jump in overall CPI was more than many market watchers had expected, and is likely to ease the nerves of those who feared the UK was skidding towards deflation.
7am: Wetherspoon placing
Pubs group JD Wetherspoon has raised gross proceeds of approximately £93.7m from a placing at a price of 1,120p. It represents a discount of 5.3% to the mid-market closing price of 1,183p on 19 January.
Alex Baldock, group chief executive, declared Dixons Carphone a big online winner over the last year as it saw the highest growth in large screen TVs, smart tech, food preparation, health & beauty and all areas of computing & gaming.
The company saw an 11% rise in like for like sales of electrical products over the 10 weeks to 9 January.
Online revenue growth of electricals in the UK and Ireland rocketed by 121%.
“We’re winning online, where we’re the biggest and fastest-growing specialist technology retailer in all our markets,” said Mr Baldock.
“And even where stores have been closed, our work to bring the best of digital and physical shopping to every customer has borne fruit in such innovations as our 1-hour drive-thru Order & Collect and ShopLive.
“Our flexible infrastructure and accelerating transformation mean we’ve been able to react ever-faster to changing trading restrictions, while building more lasting and valuable customer relationships.
“The outlook remains uncertain, and we’re still far from our full potential. But this strong performance makes us more confident than ever that we’re on the right path to create a world class business for colleagues, customers, shareholders and society. “
Dixons Carphone has appointed Bruce Marsh as group chief financial officer with effect from 12 July.
Mr Marsh has been finance director, UK and Ireland, at Tesco since 2015 and was previously at Kingfisher.
The stationer and travel firm reported a better than expected Christmas in its high street business with sales in December at 92% of 2019 levels. The online businesses continued to deliver significant year on year growth in the period.
The travel business saw little change in the environment prior to the current lockdown, as expected, with sales in December at 36% of 2019 levels.
‘Blue Christmas for retailers’
Scotland’s retailers are making fresh demands on the government after the worst ever December trading, according to David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium.
Simon Thomson, Chief Executive, Edinburgh-based oil explorer Cairn Energy said the firm has entered the year with balance sheet strength and financial flexibility.
In a trading update ahead of full year results on 9 March, he said: “The sale of the company’s interests in Senegal and return of capital to shareholders demonstrates continued strategic delivery and differentiation.
“The company is well-positioned to be opportunistic in the current market as it seeks to diversify and grow its production base.”
The company is planning a drilling programme in both Mexico and the UK this year.
Edinburgh-based healthcare software group has delivered a strong performance in the first half with growth at both the revenue and adjusted EBITDA levels of greater than 5% compared to the first half of the prior year (HY20 Revenue: $35.9m, adjusted EBITDA $12.7m).
The group secured new sales at a significantly higher level than in the first half of the prior year; customer retention rate has remained above 90% and the dollar renewal rate of customers at the end of their multi-year contracts has returned to approximately 100%; all building the foundation for a return to double-digit growth in the future.
Keith Neilson, CEO of Craneware (pictured), said: “We are pleased to report a return to growth at both the revenue and EBITDA levels, following the continued positive sales momentum. “We remain cognisant of the ongoing macro uncertainties, but with a strong balance sheet, high levels of recurring revenue, expanding product offering and healthy sales pipeline, we are in a strong position as we enter the second half of the year.”
As a result of the continued recovery in activity levels across a number of its markets, the temporary power company now expects the group to deliver profit before tax for 2020 slightly ahead of the top end of previous guidance range of £80-100 million.
In addition, a strong cash performance in the second half has resulted in a reduction in the group’s net debt over the year of around £200m, with closing net debt to EBITDA of less than 1 times.
Looking ahead to this year, despite the recent strengthening of sterling, the company retains the guidance provided as part of our latest trading update on 17 November 2020 for Group profit before tax for 2021 in the range £170-190 million.
Aggreko’s full year results will be announced on Monday 1 March 2021.
The construction and civil engineering group said it is performing well, with trading for the period in line with the board’s expectations.
As previously announced, the board expects to report a return to profitability and a resumption of dividend with its half year results to 31 December.
DeepMatter, the AIM-quoted Glasgow company focusing on digitising chemistry, said one of its subsidiaries has entered into a multi-year, limited-use data licensing agreement with the life science business of Merck to provide proprietary chemical structure and reaction data content to Merck’s selected application.
The terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.
Spread-betting firm IG expected the FTSE 100 to open up about 21 points after ending Tuesday’s session down 8 points at 6,713, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president,.
Crude oil prices have been rallying, triggered by rising demand in China.
WTI futures are up by 0.69% to trade at $53.36 and Brent futures are trading higher at $56.26.
The S&P 500 on Wall Street has rallied by about 13% since the 3 November presidential election, with gains mainly in sectors expected to benefit the most from policy shifts expected under the Biden administration.
However, the Democrats’ slender majority in Congress mean the final shape and timing of many Biden policies – including a proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package – remain uncertain.
Janet Yellen, Mr Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, urged lawmakers in her confirmation hearing on Tuesday to “act big” on the next coronavirus relief package.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.38% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.66%.