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Macfarlane acquisition; Next profits fall; Wood’s Sweden deal


4.30pm: London closes higher

London stocks have been in positive territory throughout the final session before the East break. The FTSE 100 closed 23.67 points higher at 6,737.30.

3.40pm: SSE offloads division

SSE, the Perth-based energy group, is selling one of the UK’s biggest contracting business to the Aurelius Group.

Full story here

9.15am: Wood wind deal

Wood, the Aberdeen-based consulting and engineering company, has been appointed by Luxcara GmbH as owner’s engineer on its Önusberget wind farm development, located in Sweden’s Norrbotten County, near the town of Piteå.

Upon completion, the 753MW project is set to become Europe’s largest wind farm. The development will play a substantial role in supporting Sweden’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

9am: Stocks rise

Stocks rose in early trade with a profit upgrade from Next and US President Joe Biden’s $2trn infrastructure plan helping to underpin sentiment, amid rising Covid cases and tighter restrictions in Europe.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.5% at 6,745.05.

Following the 26% fall in its shares on the first day of dealings, Deliveroo was down another 5.15p or 1.79% to 282.3p compared to its flotation price of 390p.

7am: Macfarlane acquisition

Macfarlane lorry

Glasgow packaging company Macfarlane Group has acquired Carters Packaging (Cornwall), the owner of Carters Packaging in a £4.5m deal.

Carters is a well-established business, based in Redruth, and is the leading distributor of protective packaging in the South-West of England. It has 25 employees, including its two directors, all of whom will remain with the business.

The acquisition is in line with Macfarlane’s declared strategy of building its business through a combination of organic and acquisitive growth It will be financed through Macfarlane’s recently extended £30m bank facility. For the year ended 31 March 2020, Carters generated sales of £4.2m and pre-tax profits of £500,000.

Peter Atkinson, chief executive of Macfarlane, said: “Carters is a well-run, successful protective packaging distributor that meets our strict acquisition criteria and its acquisition will be earnings-enhancing in its first full year in the Group.

“I am confident that the business will prove to be an excellent acquisition improving our geographic penetration and extending our customer reach in the South West of England.”

7am: Next falls

Next Straiton

Fashion and home furnishings chain Next said profit before tax fell to £342m for the year to the end of January 2021 from £729m last time and that no dividend will be paid. The share buyback remains suspended.

Chairman Michael Roney said that despite most of stores being closed for a significant portion of 2020/21, total group sales decreased by less than 17% to £3.6bn (2019/20: £4.4bn).

“We remain committed to returning capital to shareholders in the long term and will review our position later in the year when we have better visibility of our trade once our stores reopen,” he said.

Overnight markets

Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets said that while Europe ended the month in a fairly quiet fashion US markets had a much more positive end to proceedings, with the S&P500 edging to within touching distance of the 4,000 level, and a new record high, as a Nasdaq and Russell inspired surge saw US stocks finish the quarter in more or less the same way as they started.

“Optimism over the impact of a further $2trn stimulus package in infrastructure spending merely served to add more fuel to the fire of last month’s US$1.9trn stimulus bill, that came on top of the US$900bn that came at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Mr Hewson said there was some concern over how it would be funded, including a corporate tax hike to 28%, and other tax raising measures.

The Dow Jones closed down 0.26% while the S&P 500 rose by 0.36% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 1.54%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.73% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.08%. The Shanghai Composite was also marked 0.18% higher.

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