Millennium & Copthorne, AstraZeneca and Essentra

“The FTSE100 edged lower in early trading on the back softer sessions in the US and Asia with little in the way of either corporate or economic news to stir trading,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.

“Hotel group Millennium & Copthorne faced intense pressure on revenue in its key cities which include London, New York and Singapore last year and pre-tax profits fell by 0.9% to £108m although the weakness in sterling meant a 12.9% drop in constant currency terms. The global hospitality industry has been affected by the increased supply of rooms in major cities, concern over terrorist attacks in Europe and increased competition from non-traditional lodging options. The group is taking steps to increase revenue and profit across the estate, particularly in New York and Singapore, through the ongoing restructuring of its sales function and strategy, and continuing improvement of its e-commerce capability.

“Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was one of the leading blue-chip risers in early trading following positive results from a trial of its breast cancer tablets, Lynparza. Patients treated with the tablets showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival compared with those who received chemotherapy. The results are highly encouraging for the development of AstraZeneca’s broad portfolio which aims to treat multiple cancers by targeting DNA damage response pathways. AstraZeneca’s shares were up by more than 1.3%.

Essentra’s shares edged lower after adjusted operating profits and like-for-like revenues fell in the year to the end of December. A comprehensive business review is now under way and the group will set out a clear corporate strategy to restore growth with the first half results at the end of July. Essentra’s shares were down by over 0.7% in early trading.”

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