UK stocks open 0.5% higher amid torrent of earnings updates

Writer, Stock Market Wire
Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 09:07

UK stocks opened higher on Tuesday as investors digested a bevy of local corporate earnings results while awaiting further signs of progress in US-China trade talks.

At 0848, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 42.05 points, or 0.6%, at 7.349.75.

EasyJet rose 3.4% to £13.20 after the budget carrier posted a fall in annual profit that nevertheless hit the top end of its guidance range.

Engineering group Melrose Industries gained 2.1% to 227.13p on announcing that it was trading in line with expectations for 2019, with sales rising at its aerospace division but falling at its automotive and powder metallurgy units.

Hazard detection group Halma rallied 8.5% to £20.60 as it reported a 12% rise in first-half profit, buoyed by acquisitions and a strong performance at its infrastructure safety and environmental businesses.

Payments group Equiniti was having a tougher morning, sinking 15% to 193.61p after it forecast operating earnings toward the lower end of market expectations, owing to 'weaker higher-margin UK corporate activity'.

Water and climate management group Polypipe fell 2.9% to 462.65p as it guided for an annual underlying operating profit 'just below' its previous expectations.

Utility service provider Telecom Plus firmed 2.5% to £13.12 on reporting a 9.2% rise in first-half profit driven by new customer additions.

Self-storage group Big Yellow shed 4.1% to £11.4357, even as it reported a 6% rise in adjusted first-half profit.

Suit retailer Moss Bros added 0.9% to 21.19p on announcing that it had poached Ted Backer chief financial officer Bill Adams to be its new CFO.

Adams would replace Tony Bennett, who had decided to stand down for personal reasons, effective in February. Ted Baker shares rose 3.0% to 389p.

Seniors services provider Saga climbed 1.6% to 55.55p as it announced the appointment of former Legal & General general insurance head Cheryl Agius as head of its insurance business.

The company also said it had hired Gilles Normand, head of Covea's UK retail business, as chief operating officer.

Instrumentation and controls company Spectris advanced 4.1% to £27.04 despite reporting that its like-for-like sales were flat in the four months through October against a tough comparative in the previous year.

Components supplier to the defence and aerospace sectors Meggitt rose 2.4% to 645.2p, having secured a six-year requirements contract with the Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia worth as much as $130m.

Electrical-appliance retailer AO World gained 5.5% to 60.23p as it booked a narrower first-half loss, after notching higher sales in the UK, offset by a weaker performance abroad.

Healthcare and industrial company Scapa added 1.1% to 234p despite it swinging to a first-half loss owing to the loss of large customer ConvaTec.