Iomart profits slip | Marston’s back in black
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5pm: London lower
The FTSE 100 closed 46.15 points lower at 7,521.39 following some downbeat UK construction news and continuing caution over the pace of interest rate rises.
Investors are focused on next week’s meetings of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.
Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, said: “UK investors haven’t found much of anything to set London markets on a different course.
“News of further train strikes over Christmas aren’t exactly filling the hospitality sector with festive cheer and shares in Whitbread, Wetherspoons and Mitchells & Butlers are all down.
“The biggest faller on the FTSE 250 is likely also linked to industrial action, but this time from postal workers.
“Online greeting card seller Moonpig will update markets tomorrow, but even if its previous guidance stands there’s enough doubt about how consumer Christmas spend will be impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and disruption to deliveries that investors are wary.”
Shares in cloud computing firm Iomart closed 3.60p (3.20%) higher at 113p as the firm highlighted more stability ahead after a a period of “considerable operational activity.
The Glasgow-based company posted an 18% fall in half year profit before tax from £6m to £4.9m, while revenue grew 1% as it continued to benefit from very strong levels of recurring revenues.
The board expects revenues for the year ending 31 March 2023 to be ahead of original expectations.
Full year profits are forecast to be in line with expectations, with the second half profit showing progress on H1.
CEO Reece Donovan said: “We believe the diversity and limited concentration of our customer base, high level of recurring revenue, and strong cash flow generation should shelter us from the worst of the expected economic pressures as the UK enters a recessionary period.
“The critical nature of the infrastructure and digital services we provide in a growing cloud market will allow us to support businesses well into the future.”
Speaking to Daily Business he said there was now a stability in the business that he was comfortable with and that it is making “good progress”.
Marston’s back in black
Pubco Marston’s returned to profit in the 12 months to 1 October. The company, which runs almost 1,500 pubs across the UK, made a profit before tax of £163.4m against a loss of £171.1m in 2021 – when Covid lockdowns severely disrupted the hospitality sector.
Shares were just 0.5p off at 38.37p.
Marston’s said that full-year sales are back to 99% of pre-pandemic levels despite the disrupted Christmas 2021 trading environment, when the UK was last plunged into lockdown.
Andrew Andrea, CEO said: “Demand for our predominantly community-based pubs continues to be encouraging despite ongoing macro uncertainty and our estate is well-placed to benefit from changing patterns in consumer behaviour.
“We are managing cost inflation well and remain confident that our commitment to continue to reduce the Group’s debt and return sales to back to £1 billion will drive NAV and shareholder value.”
Beijing today began allowing citizens to enter supermarkets, offices and airports without having to show negative Covid tests, the latest easing of measures following last month’s nationwide protests.
China may announce 10 new national easing measures as early as Wednesday, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The prospect of of further relaxation of the rules has sparked optimism among investors that the world’s second biggest economy would strengthen, and help boost global growth.
Analysts at Nomura estimate that areas now under lockdown represent around 19.3% of China’s total GDP, equivalent to the size of India’s economy, down from 25.1% last Monday.