Today’s deluge of corporate news is led by Marks and Spencer, where after five consecutive quarters of growth, chief executive Stuart Rose has finally admitted the recovery is under way. He said this morning that like-for-like sales rose 5.6 per cent in the third quarter. But, as the ad says, “this is not just food”, it is also above all clothes, especially cashmere jumpers. Rose is a little downbeat about the year ahead, despite the strong Christmas sales figures from the British Retail Consortium, and this is holding the shares back today. But it just goes to show: you don’t have to go private in order to revive a struggling business.
The latest production figures from BP were slightly weaker than analysts expected, hovering around 4m barrels of oil equivalent per day for the third quarter in a row. The group is also suffering from falling oil and gas prices. The Q4 trading statement knocked 1 per cent off the shares.
The London Stock Exchange is fighting back against Nasdaq’s hostile document yesterday by announcing a 53 per cent rise in adjusted Q3 earnings, boosted by a rise in trading volumes and the number of companies listing. LSE shares, however, are unmoved at £12.81.
Shares in Cairn India, the Indian arm of Cairn Energy, fell 20 per cent in their debut this morning on concern that production from its Rajasthan fields could be delayed. Investors also baulked at its high valuation, which analysts noted was well above its local and international peers. Chairman Sir Bill Gammell admitted in an interview with the FT this week that there had been delays in talks with the Indian government over the Indian production schedule but he added: “I think that has been perceived to be a bigger issue than it is.” Cairn Energy shares, which have already fallen sharply on the weak oil prices and expectations of a poor debut for the Indian float, are off another 2 per cent.
Both Bovis Homes and Galliford Try reported higher selling prices and completions this morning as well as strong order books. We also have a strong trading update from Rightmove (shares up 10 per cent) and Savills.
We also have our second big interview of the week. Having had Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC on Monday, we have another big name lined up for tomorrow.
Rumours of the Day: JJB Sports shares are up on the story in City AM that Permira is stalking the troubled retailer. And ABN Amro suggests that Saint-Gobain of France may want to buy Wolseley’s US business or SIG.
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