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Omega’s Rhodes nets £341k from shares; Barclays, Hays pay divis

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4.30pm: Blue chips sharply lower

London traders sold stocks on the back of a softening growth outlook and higher bond yields, while some shaved profits after a recent good run. The FTSE 100 closed 93.75 points (1.4%) lower at 6,617.15.

10am: Ex-Omega chairman sells shares

Bill Rhodes, retired interim chairman of Covid testing kit manufacturer Omega Diagnostics, has sold 450,000 share options at 91.115p. The option purchase price was 15.25p, leaving net proceeds of £341,392.50.

Mr Rhodes no longer owns ordinary shares in the Clackmannanshire business, but does hold options over a further 1,380,406 shares.

The 450,000 new ordinary shares will be admitted to trading on AIM on 25 February taking the total number in issue to 182,208,167.

Mr Rhodes remains a non-executive director of the company and has been succeeded as chairman by Simon Douglas.

The shares were trading 6p lower at 88.5p.

9am: London blue chips lower

The FTSE 100 was down 20.05 points, or 0.3%, at 6,690.85. NatWest Group, which is looking to sell Adam & Co and exit Ireland was 1.5% lower.

Barclays was also down, 1.1%, despite announcing a resumption of dividend payments (see below).

Brent crude was trading at $65.01 a barrel, up sharply from $63.53 late Wednesday, as US refining and extraction capacity remains closed due to deadly wintry conditions in Texas.

7am: Barclays

Barclays

Barclays has announced a resumption of dividends and a share buyback.

“Given the strength of our business, we have decided the time is right to resume capital distributions,” it said after announcing the group remained strong despite a fall in annual profits.

“We have today announced a total payout equivalent to 5p per share, comprising a 1p 2020 full year dividend and the intention to initiate a share buyback of up to £700m. We expect to comment further on capital distributions when appropriate.”

Barclays saw group profit before tax fall from £4.4 billion to £3.1bn last year but said it remained profitable in every quarter.

The UK business reported a 78% decrease in profit before tax, excluding litigation and conduct, to £578m, including £278m in the fourth quarter, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic driving higher impairment.

Hays to pay dividend

The board of recruitment agency Hays intends to resume core dividends, with a single full-year payment based on 3x earnings cover, to be declared with its year-end figures n August.

It will also return £150 million of surplus capital to return to shareholders via special dividend, in two phases.

It expects to commence with a £100 million payment, declared at the FY21 preliminary statement.

The company said its first half had been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Pre-tax profit fell 78% to £21.1m from £95.6m although trading in all its major markets improved through the half and this resilience had prompted the dividend statement.

Moonpig’s Valentine’s Day boost

Online greetings retailer Moonpig said it enjoyed its “strongest ever week” as customers flocked to its site for Valentine’s Day.

The company said it expects to deliver annual revenues approximately double the £173 million it secured in the previous full-year.

Moonpig recently floated on the London Stock Exchange in a £1.2 billion listing.

Smith & Nephew

Drugs company Smith & Nephew warned the Covid-19 pandemic impact was likely to continue into the first half of 2021 with uncertainty on the timing of recovery.

The firm said group trading profit fell 42% to $683m as the pandemic forced the cancellation of elective procedures.

Revenue for the 12 months to 31 December declined 11.2% to $4.56bn. The board, however, proposed a final dividend of 23.1 cents a share for an unchanged total of 37.5 cents.

Markets

Wall Street benchmarks saw mixed trading. The Dow Jones traded higher, rising 90 points or 0.29% while the S&P 500 was broadly flat. The Nasdaq fell point 0.58%.

Asian stocks mainly fell as growing caution over economic growth led investors to lock in profits on sectors that have outperformed recently.

In Asia, this morning, Japan’s Nikkei traded down 0.19% as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng pulled back 1.13%. However, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.56%,

 



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