Fenner, Crawshaw and Gear4music

“The FTSE100 made a lacklustre start after its run of record closing highs with investors looking to eurozone retail sales numbers, German factory orders and the French trade balance this morning and US trade balance and jobless data out this afternoon,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.

“Engineering group Fenner topped the FTSE All-Share board after a bullish update ahead of its annual general meeting. The group is gaining traction from increased market share and from the refocusing of its businesses and expects results for the current financial year to be comfortably ahead of previous forecasts. Fenner’s shares were up by more than 10.8% in early trading.

“Butcher and food-to-go retailer Crawshaw saw sales rise 13% in the Christmas period with total customer number up by the same percentage. But like-for-like sales were 3.8% down in the five weeks to the beginning of January, although this was an improvement on the 8.1% drop in the four weeks to 27 November. The improvement in both sales and customer number momentum has required a moderate level of margin investment and gross margins in the group’s like-for-like stores have fallen to 43.6% from 44.9% a year ago. Crawshaw’s shares were down by 9.8% in early trading.

“Online musical instruments and music equipment retailer Gear4music was an early riser after it reported a 55% jump in total sales to £24.4m in the four months to the end of December. Own-brand sales were up by 63% and active customer numbers increased by 53% to 324,000. The group is on course to deliver profits for the full year that will be ahead of the increased expectations signalled at the half year stage. Gear4music's shares were up by 3.8%.”

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