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Darktrace soars on IPO debut; Barclays profits double


4.30pm: London edges higher

The FTSE 100 enjoyed a surge in mid-afternoon before closing the session just ahead at 6,969.81, up 8.33 (0.12%).

Drugs maker AstraZeneca was the best performer, up 4.3%, after the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker retained its full-year guidance as profit grew in the first quarter. It said it was expecting an “acceleration” in performance as the Covid-19 pandemic eases in the second half of this year.

Barclays was the worst performer, down 7%, despite posting a record quarterly profit figure as credit impairment charges were reduced.

Cybersecurity firm Darktrace made an impressive debut, closing at 330p, a 32% leap on its initial public offering price of 250p which had been drastically cut ahead of its first day.

This closing price gives it a £2.7 billion market capitalisation. Unconditional dealings begin on 6 May.

11am: Legal deal

McClure Solicitors, one of Scotland’s oldest law firms, has been acquired.

Full story here

8am: Darktrace surges on debut

Shares in cyberscurity firm Darktrace surged 40% at the start of conditional trading in London, ensuring it avoided the humiliating debut suffered by Deliveroo.

Darktrace slashed its valuation to £1.7 billion but the shares rocketed from an opening price of 250p to 350p, giving it a £2.4bn market capitalisation in the first minutes of trading.

The UK tech startup, founded in 2013, provides cybersecurity services to businesses using artificial intelligence.

The cut in the price appeared to have been decided to avoid the disastrous recent debut of food delivery app Deliveroo, whose shares fell more than 30% on their first day.

The FTSE 100 also defied expectations of a slide, trading after the first half hour at 6,983.53, up 22.05 points (0.32%)

7am: Darktrace prices IPO

Cybersecurity firm Darktrace has priced its shares at 250p, giving a market capitalisation of £1.7 billion, significantly below earlier forecasts of £3.6bn and a recent suggestion that it would be valued at between £2.4bn and £2.7bn.

The company will raise gross proceeds of approximately £143.4 million while shares to be sold by certain existing shareholders will raise £21.7 million.

Dealings begin today.

7am: Barclays profits rise


Barclays said first quarter profits had more than doubled, but warned that its outlook remained uncertain due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pre-tax profit before tax for the three months to 31 March came in at £2.4 billion from £923m a year ago and compared with forecasts of £1.76bn.

Impairment charges came in at £55m, driven by reduced unsecured lending balances.

Unlike Lloyds and NatWest, Barclays did not release any cash set aside to cover potential bad loans from the pandemic.

Chief executive Jess Staley said: “While evidence of recovery is encouraging, we have continued to take a cautious view of the impact of the pandemic on the business.

“We remain disciplined on costs, with a cost to income ratio of 61% this quarter. Our capital position remains well above target with a CET1 ratio of 14.6% and we completed our £700m buyback this month. We will give further guidance on distributions when appropriate.”

7am: AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca said it expected performance to accelerate as the drugs company reported “robust” revenue growth for the first quarter.

Revenue increased 15% to $7.3bn in the three months to the end of March, or by 11% excluding currency movements. At constant currency and excluding the Covid-19 vaccine revenue rose 7% to $7.05bn.

7am: Card Factory

Greeting cards retailer Card Factory said its performance following the reopening of essential retail stores in England and Wales on 12 April has exceeded expectations.

The company reopened stores in Scotland on 26 April and shops in Northern Ireland from today.

Card Factory has agreed terms for refinancing with its current syndicate of lenders. The syndicate has also extended waivers regarding the company’s anticipated covenant breaches to 31 May 2021, taking account of its cash flow projections. 

7am: Omega Diagnostics

Omega, the Scottish medical diagnostics company, has launched its COVID-19 Antigen test, a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for the detection of active COVID-19 infections.

Full story here

Overnight markets

Amazon followed Apple and Facebook by comfortably topping expectations, with revenues of $108.5bn. The shares soared in after-hours trading.

Twitter remains out of step with the US tech scene, although its revenues and earnings were better than expected. However, investors were disappointed in the growth in the number of what are called “monetisable daily users”.

All of that came after US markets had powered ahead, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 240 points to and the S&P 500 rising 28 points.

In Asia, both the Nikkei 225 was down 220 points and the Hang Seng was off 447 points.

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