Vodafone, Bovis and FirstGroup

“The FTSE100 confounded forecasts and opened in positive territory ahead of key inflation data and despite ongoing Brexit concerns, following the performances on markets in the US and Asia,” says AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould.

Vodafone led the blue-chip board in early trading after it upgraded its earnings guidance following a strong first half. Interim operating profits were up by nearly a third despite a 4.1% fall in revenues although services revenue, an underlying measure preferred by the company, grew by 1.7%. Vodafone maintained good commercial momentum in the first half and saw revenue growth in the majority of its markets driven by mobile data and its continued success as Europe's fastest growing broadband provider. Vodafone’s shares were up by more than 4.0%.

“Housebuilder Bovis was an early riser after a bullish trading update. The group has sold its targeted completions for this year and continues to make encouraging progress towards all of its medium term performance goals. The market remains strong and Bovis expects to deliver an increase in the average selling price for this year. The group’s shares were up by over 1.5%.

FirstGroup’s shares were down after adjusted operating profits were flat in the first half. Revenues rose 8.1% to £2,771.3m, but the figure included the new South Western Railway franchise from 20 August and favourable foreign exchange. Excluding these, group revenue was up by 0.9%. Solid performances from most of the group’s businesses were partially obscured by the impact of the recent severe hurricane on its operations in Puerto Rico. FirstGroup’s shares were down by more than 1.7%.”

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