28th February 2014
The FTSE 100 index of the UK’s top firms may have started the week on a high but it had plateaued by the time Friday’s closing bell rang writes Philip Scott.
On Monday the blue-chip index finished the day up 27.8 points at 6,865.86 – its best level since 30 December, 1999, when it reached an all-time high of 6,930.2.
On the day, Bunzl, up 6% to 1,573p over the week and Vodafone, 1% better at 249p, led the charge.
However the leader-board closed on Friday at 6,809.7, flat both on the day and over the week but 4% stronger over the month of February.
William Hill was the Footsie’s top riser over the week, rocketing 11% to 397.6p after it posted an operating profit of £335m for last year, up 3% on 2012. Although the group’s shares have been flat over the past 12 months, brokers are however upbeat on its prospects with Numis Securities today reasserting its ‘buy’ recommendation, echoing the market consensus.
Mining engineer Weir Group enjoyed a 9% rise to 2,567p after it announced that it anticipated a return to profit in 2014. Also witnessing a week of gains were fund management group Old Mutual and CRH, with each rising by 7% to close respectively at 197.1p and 1,763p.
Premier Inn and Costa Coffee parent Whitbread jumped 8% to 4,487p after it declared that its full-year results would reach the top end of market expectations while ITV reported solid figures with non-advertising revenue up 17% to £1.21bn, an area of the business that has been boosting performance in recent years.
Investors will be pleased to hear that acquisitions are likely to continue for the broadcaster in 2014 following a successful strategy in recent years. The yield-hungry will also have been cheered by the announcement of another special dividend along with a 35% increase in the full year dividend. But despite the upbeat report from ITV the shares slid 1% to 201.9p.
However Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre rates the stock a ‘buy’. He says: “The growth prospects continue to look promising and the improving dividend stream is attractive for investors.”
Financial Times owner Pearson and Royal Bank of Scotland, fell hardest among the top 100 this week, with each enduring a 9% drop, respectively closing at 1,013p and 327.9p.
Pearson warned that profits for 2014 were likely to disappoint as the group restructures. It reported full year results of £382m for 2013, £9m down on the previous 12 months.
The 81% taxpayer owned RBS dived after it reported its largest annual loss since its bailout during the crisis. Pre-tax loss for 2013 came in at £8.2bn, compared with £5.2bn in 2012. RBS’s new boss, Ross McEwan, told the BBC the results were “very sobering”.
HSBC shares fell by 4% to 629.7p during the trading week following the group’s full year results, which saw the bank deliver a 9% uplift in profits to $22.6bn (£13.6bn) for 2013 up from $20.6bn (£12.4bn) in 2012. However the numbers have fallen short of analyst forecasts of some the $24.5n.
Elsewhere within the UK banking sector, Barclays slipped 2% to 252.1p, Standard Chartered, reporting its own set of full year results next week, lost 4% to 1,265p while Lloyds Banking Group enjoyed a better week, rising 2% to 82.53p.
The miners fared worse over the week, with Antofagasta down 6% at 900.5p, Rio Tinto was 5% looser at 3,432.5p and Fresnillo was off by 4% at 951.5p.
Next week sees results arrive from insurer Legal & General, Aggreko and Intertek.