Bullring-owner Hammerson, one of the UK’s biggest retail landlords, is up 5pc today amid a broader relief rally for Brexit-exposed stocks.
The company, which has seen its share price wane steadily as it feels the impact of pressures on the high street, has been a fairly popular target for short sellers, who are circling large firms that mainly operate in the UK.
It has lost a chunk of value since it rejected a takeover bid by rival Klepierre last year.
On Wednesday, the company announced former AIG executive James Lenton would become its new chief financial officer.
Up the the end of June, £36bn has been paid out to customers who were victims of the UK’s largest mis-selling scandal, with Lloyds shelling out the most of any lender.
The insurance was supposed to pay out in the event that the policyholder lost their job, became ill or died. However, few checks were ever made against customers’ other policies, leading to many people being sold cover they already had elsewhere.
Could you have been a victim? If so, there isn’t long left to make a claim. Telegraph Money’s Sam Meadows and Sam Barker have explained what you should do:
Greggs is investigating creating vegan version of all its best-selling products as it tries to recreate the massive success of its meat-free sausage roll.
Its boss Roger Whiteside told LBC radio this morning the company is now looking at how it can get more vegan products into its stores. He said they are working on a product which remains under-wraps, but added:
Computacenter climbs after raising sights for end of year
FTSE 250-listed IT company Computacenter is up more than 3.4pc today, after saying it expected its full-year profit growth to hit record levels.
The company, which supplies equipment to private- and public-sector organisations in Europe and the US, saw its revenue for the first six months rise to £2.43bn, from £2.01bn the year before — a 20.8pc increase.
Chief executive Mike Norris said:
Whilst the performance of the first half of 2018 presented a very difficult challenge to beat, the opposite is true of the second half. The Board expects that the full year 2019 profit growth, in monetary value, will be the best in the company’s history. This performance will be predominantly achieved without the aid of acquisitions, however we expect to see a more significant contribution from our acquired business in the USA during the second half.
Some analysts are more sceptical. Berenberg analyst Benjamin May called the results “mediocre”, while UBS’s Michael Briest suggested strong growth was based on public sector spending, which may have weakened since.
Woodford shares drop further as holding is revalued
Neil Woodford has developed an uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in recent months, with ongoing problems at his Woodford Equity Income fund compounded by issues in several parts of his portfolio.
The struggling former star trader’s FTSE 250-listed vehicle Woodford Patient Capital Trust is the biggest faller among mid-caps today, down 6.15pc having fallen as far as 13pc down — to record lows — earlier on.
The latest pressure on the company is two-fold: as well as new doubts over the future of its stake in haulage firm Eddie Stobart, shares in which have been suspended, Woodford said this morning that its stake in IH Holdings would be reduced. IH is the parent of Industrial Heat, a high-tech energy firm based in North Carolina.
The Board has been notified by Link that it intends to reduce the valuation of the Company’s holding in IH Holdings International Limited. This is expected to impact the Company’s net asset value by approximately 3.4 pence per share
Here’s how Woodford’s shares are doing (use the range selector to see the drop over a longer period of time):
Pigs can fly: Peppa owner soars after takeover announcement
Peppa Pig-owner Entertainment One is leading risers on the FTSE 250 today, up 29.45pc after the film and television company was bought from £3.3bn by Hasbro, the American toy giant. Christopher Williams reports:
The all-cash deal represents a premium of 31pc of Entertainment One’s share price over the last month, and more than three times an aborted takeover attempt by ITV three years ago.
It unites Peppa Pig, which has become of Britain’s biggest media exports in recent years, with one of the world’s biggest owners of toy brands. Hasbro, valued on Wall Street at $14.4bn (£11.8bn), makes the board game Monopoly, the action figure GI Joe and Play-doh, among other children’s favourites.
- You can read his full report here: Hasbro acquires Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One for £3.3bn
Pounds ‘remains deeply troubled’
Despite some happy-looking gains yesterday, the pound has dipped again today, languishing in the red against other major currencies.
Sterling jumped after Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The PM is trying to push forward his policy of getting a Brexit deal that does not include the Irish backstop.
SpreadEx’s Connor Campbell says the pound’s drop shows the currency cooling off after its fierce run on Thursday:
Perhaps concerned that yesterday’s surge was a tad overdone — after all, all Macron and Merkel did was make positive noise about a deal; nothing more substantial than that was announced — sterling slipped 0.4pc against the dollar and 0.3pc against the euro. And while, yes, it still means the currency has had a decent couple of weeks, in the wider context of the last few months it remains deeply troubled.
Oanda’s Craig Erlam adds:
Ultimately, it’s all talk right now and we’ll see over the coming weeks if there’s any substance but for now, sterling has been given a lift. Of course, that lift is always helped by the fact that it has been beaten black and blue since March and Thursday’s gains are tiny in comparison.
Eddie Stobart shares suspended
Shares in haulage company Eddie Stobart have been suspended amid an accounting fiasco, as its chief executive Alex Laffey steps down with immediate effect. My colleague Michael O’Dwyer reports:
The haulage and logistics company, known for its distinctive trucks, said it was applying to suspend its listing on London’s junior Aim market from 7.30am on Friday “pending clarification” of the impact of a number of accounting issues.
The company said it would take a “more prudent approach to revenue recognition” and indicated that it would re-assess whether it was likely to be paid some of the amounts owed to it following a review of its interim results, carried out in conjunction with its auditors PwC.
The decision is yet another blow to beleaguered trader Neil Woodford, whose funds own almost a quarter of the company.
RBS and Santander rapped over PPI failures
The UK’s competition watchdog has taken action against Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland after mistakes in their handling of payment protection insurance reminders.
The Competition & Markets Authority has told the lenders they should appoint auditors to assess their PPI processes after notices were sent out late, or with inaccurate information.
RBS failed to inform 11,000 customers who may have been mis-sold PPI that they has potentially been affected. The lender has since written to the customers, and has paid out over £1.5m in refunds. Santander provided incorrect information to customers between 2012 and 2017.
It is the second time the banks have received a warning, after similar action in 2016.
The CMA’s Adam Land said:
It is unacceptable that some banks aren’t providing PPI reminders — or are sending inaccurate ones — 8 years after our Order came into force. The legally binding directions we’ve issued today will make sure that both RBS and Santander now play by the rules.
These are serious issues that, in the future, may result in fines if the Government gives us the powers we’ve asked for.
For now, we expect RBS to repay all affected customers quickly, and for both RBS and Santander to make sure that similar breaches do not happen again.
FTSE posts gains at open
European stocks have opened upbeat, shaking of some of yesterday’s losses. The FTSE 100 is being helped by weakness in the pound, which has shaken off some of yesterday’s strengthening.
Jackson Hole: What’s on the agenda?
Federal Reserve chair has a unenviable job today: forced to outline the central bank’s thinking, knowing that hewing to conventional wisdom will earn him one of his not-infrequent public dressing-down from US President Donald Trump.
Mr Powell is the keynote speaker at the Jackson Hole economic summit in Wyoming, His speech is first thing in the morning over there, which will translate to 3pm British Summer Time — early enough that we will likely see the impact on European markets if he says anything particularly surprising.
There’s plenty for Mr Powell to react to: since the Fed issued the US’s first rate cut in a decade earlier this month, tensions in Hong Kong have escalated, the trade war between the US and China re-ignited, and the US two-year/10-year yield curve has repeatedly inverted. Mr Powell labelled the 0.25pc cut as a “mid-cycle adjustment” — but the cycle may not be were the Fed thought it was.
Also making an appearance at the event is Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who is giving the ‘Luncheon Address’ at 8pm London time.
- You can read the full event schedule here.
Pound’s gains under pressure
Its been a good week for the pound after apparent progress in Brexit talks. Can it end the week on a flourish?
Sterling is down a touch against the euro, 0.11pc, at €1.1043, while it’s down 0.25pc against the dollar at $1.2220.
The FTSE 100 is called to open up 0.7pc at 7,157.
All eyes on Jackson Hole
Good morning. Wall Street stocks were mixed on closing yesterday ahead of a key Federal Reserve address. Fed chair Jerome Powell will be giving a speech at Jackson Hole later today.
In the past, central bankers have used the Wyoming summit to announce major policy shifts and many are expecting Powell to walk back through some of his commentary from last month’s post-rate decision press conference where he said the rate reduction was merely a “mid-cycle adjustment”.
5 things to start your day
1) Hasbro has acquired Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One for £3.3bn. The all-cash deal represents a premium of 31pc of Entertainment One’s share price over the last month, and more than three times an aborted takeover attempt by ITV three years ago.
2) Germany is examining plans to prohibit banks from imposing negative interest rates on savers, threatening to leave lenders in an impossible position and greatly complicating the job of the European Central Bank as it prepares fresh stimulus.
3) The boss of computer giant HP is to step down after four yearsdue to family health reasons. Dion Weisler will be succeeded by company veteran Enrique Lores from November 1. Mr Lores, who has worked at the printer maker for 30 years, currently heads HP’s imaging printing and solutions unit.
4) Scotland’s huge deficit means that numbers for independence don’t add up. Momentum is gathering behind First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP’s renewed push for independence, but the huge budget black hole raises serious questions.
5) Profits at Bauer Consumer Media, Britain’s biggest magazine publisher with titles including Take a Break, TV Choice, Heat and Grazia, tumbled last year as sales continued to slide. Pre-tax profits for the privately owned German company fell £7m to £3.7m on an £8.4m drop in turnover to £120.3m.
What happened overnight
Asian markets headed into the weekend on a cautious note on Friday ahead of the key speech by Mr Powell, while the pound held the previous day’s rally through the evening — fuelled by rekindled hopes for a soft Brexit.
The pound has dipped slightly, but is still sitting around three-week highs after French President Emmanuel Macron echoed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in allowing Britain to find a solution to the Irish border that has dogged negotiations since 2017.
Still, Asia’s main indexes were in positive territory in the morning. Tokyo went into the break 0.2pc higher, while Hong Kong added 0.2pc, Shanghai gained 0.1pc and Sydney rose 0.3pc.
However, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei and Wellington were all in the red, with Manila more than 1pc lower.
On currency markets, high-yielding, riskier units were broadly lower as traders move into the relative safety of the dollar.
Coming up today
An appearance by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell at the Kansas City Fed’s annual Jackson Hole economic symposium will be a key opportunity for further insight. “Historically, this has been used to signal shifts in the Fed’s thinking,” said Investec’s Victoria Clarke. “But this year may well take on additional importance given that it is likely to be Jerome Powell’s first public comments since the latest round of tariffs were announced.”
Interim results: Computacenter, Henry Boot
Economics: New home sales (US)