Market report

Aston Martin ‘confident’ | Persimmon warns | Weir rises


4.30pm: China data pushes London higher

Upbeat Chinese manufacturing data gave a lift to miners but housebuilders were hit after a profit warning from Persimmon.

Rio Tinto Group was up 4.55%, Antofagasta ahead 4.2%, Anglo American rose 3.31%, and Glencore added 3.54%.

Weir Group jumped 6.27%, after the engineering group posted a rise in annual profits on the back of a booming mining industry (see below).

Aston Martin Lagonda advanced 3.23% after it reported a sharp jump in full-year revenues amid increasing output and record total average selling prices (see below).

Heading in the other direction were housebuilders after Persimmon‘s warning (see below). It tumbled 12.05%, while Taylor Wimpey lost 4.1%, Barratt Developments was off 4.18%. Berkeley Group slipped 2.05%, Redrow was down 3.36%, and Bellway was behind by 3.61%.

UK shop price inflation hit a fresh high according to new industry data, as the cost of food continued to soar.

According to the latest BRC-NielsenIQ shop price index, annual inflation was a record 8.4% in February, compared to 8% in January.

Food prices surged 14.5%, the highest inflation rate in the food category on record.

The FTSE 100 closed 38.65 points higher at 7,914.93.

7am: Aston Martin

Aston Martin

Luxury car maker Aston Martin said it was on course for positive free cash flow on the back of its strongest order book in years.

It posted a higher adjusted operating loss of £118 million for the year ended 31 December, compared with a loss of £74.3m a year earlier.

But revenue increased by 26% year-on-year to £1.4bn and Q4 revenue increased by 46% year-on-year to £524m 

The company reported continued strong demand across all product lines with c.80% of current range of GT/Sports cars sold out for 2023 ahead of upcoming launches and DBX order book into Q3 2023

Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin Lagonda executive chairman, said: “2022 saw Aston Martin continue to build on the strong foundations that have been established during my three years as executive chairman. While the last 12 months presented industry-wide challenges, we look to the future with renewed confidence in our ability to deliver on our vision, and the targets we have set.

“Despite the operating environment, we ended the year with significantly improved growth, margin enhancement and positive free cash flow in Q4, exiting 2022 with the strongest order book in many years.

“I knew it would take multiple years to build Aston Martin into the world’s most desirable ultra-luxury British performance brand. With the heavy lifting behind us, we are now poised to see the results of this transformation, starting in 2023.”

7am: Persimmon

House builder Persimmon warned of lower profit and margins and cut its annual dividend by 75% after flagging a further slowdown in demand for new homes.

Group chief executive Dean Finch said: “The sales rates seen over the last five months mean completions will be down markedly this year and as a consequence, so will margin and profits.”

Underlying pre-tax profit rose 4% to £1.01 billion in the year ended 31 December, but provisions for building safety remediation meant the bottom-line figure fell to £730.7 million from £966.8m in the previous year.

7am: Weir Group

Weir Group CEO Jon Stanton said the Glasgow-based mining technology company is making mining “smarter, more efficient and sustainable”.

The company posted a 40% rise in adjusted profit before tax to £348 million for the year to the end of December. Revenue was 21% higher on a constant currency basis.

Mr Stanton, chief executive, said: “The value creation opportunity for Weir is compelling. The mining industry is playing a crucial role in meeting the twin demands for decarbonisation and economic growth, resulting in multi-decade demand growth for critical metals.

“We are making mining smarter, more efficient and sustainable. We are growing faster than our markets, strengthening margins and cash and reducing our CO2 footprint. We are underpinning our continued progress through our commitment to our future technology roadmap with increased investment in R&D, and a sharper focus on execution through Performance Excellence.

“So our future is exciting. Reflecting high levels of confidence in this strategy to deliver long-term sustainable profitable growth, the board has approved a final dividend of 19.3p, an increase of 57% on 2021.”

The full year dividend is up 38% to 32.8p.

Global markets

Survey results pointed to a stronger-than-expected recovery in Chinese manufacturing activity.

The Shanghai Composite was up 0.9%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong surged 3.9% as data showed that China’s factories returned to growth in February, amid the loosening of pandemic restrictions.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 58.83 points, or 0.7% at 7,876.28 on Tuesday and ended the first two months of 2023 up 4.3%.

Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending down 0.7%, the S&P 500 down 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.1% lower. 

Sterling was quoted at $1.2056 early today, down from $1.2118 at the London equities close.

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