“Early gains in the FTSE 100 were eroded in afternoon trading as GlaxoSmithKline took centre stage,” says AJ Bell investment director, Russ Mould.
“The £76bn pharmaceuticals giant delivered its final results for 2016 and the last of chief executive Andrew Witty’s tenure after almost 10 years at the helm of the company. While it would be unfair to say Witty exits with a whimper, GlaxoSmithKline’s share price did wobble after he admitted there was ‘some uncertainty’ about earnings prospects in the face of generic competition for asthma treatment Advair in the US. With the share price down 1.5%, investors will be looking to see evidence of the promised sales momentum in 2017 and beyond once new boss Emma Walmsley takes the helm at the end of March.
“RSA, the company behind car insurance brand More Than, enjoyed a 2% share price rise after announcing it had agreed to dispose £834m of UK legacy insurance liabilities to Enstar Group. Group chief executive Stephen Hester hopes the ‘risk clean-up’ will allow the firm to focus resources squarely on the insurer’s continuing business lines.
“Investors were positive on Smurfit Kappa, the packaging firm recently admitted to the UK’s blue chip index. The firm reported earnings growth in 2016 on the back of price increases, despite higher input costs and a currency headwind and hiked its dividend by 20%. Shares were up over 2% on the back of the announcement.”
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