MARKET REPORT: British satellite firm Inmarsat goes into orbit on talk US rival Echostar is plotting a takeover bid
Shares in British satellite group Inmarsat surged after reports said a US rival has lined it up as a takeover target.
US media reports said Echostar was expected to renew its interest in the company ‘very soon’ – or at least within the next six months.
Echostar dropped a £2.4billion takeover approach for the London-headquartered firm last July after failing to tempt it into talks.
Inmarsat shares jumped by as much as 10 per cent, before paring some gains and closing up 6 per cent, or 22.7p, at 399.8p.
Foreign target: US media reports said Echostar was expected to renew its interest in Inmarsat ‘very soon’ – or at least within the next six months
Marks & Spencer is facing further questions over the hefty price it’s paying for its late entry into food delivery.
Analysts at US broker Jefferies downgraded their recommendation on M&S shares to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and cut their target price to 280p from 310p.
The High Street retailer is teaming up with Ocado to create an online delivery joint venture that will trade as Ocado.com but stock M&S branded products.
M&S will fork out £750million for a 50 per cent stake in Ocado’s UK retail business as part of the deal. To fund its first foray into online grocery shopping, the FTSE 100-listed firm is selling £600million of shares and chopping its dividend by 40 per cent.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said he thinks the company is paying a fair price but the negative share price reaction to news of the venture on Wednesday suggests investors think otherwise.
Stock Watch – Applied Graphene Material
There was nothing rusty about Applied Graphene Material last night.
Shares jumped 14.6 per cent, or 3.5p, to 27.5p after it announced the successful testing and recognition of breakthrough anti-corrosion graphene technology.
The AIM-listed firm said 3,000-hour trials of its proprietary Genable (R) dispersions technology delivered a more than five-fold improvement in rust protection enabling big opportunities in its industrial coatings target market.
M&S has argued the tie-up will deliver cost savings of at least £70million per year by the third year following completion but analysts at brokers Jefferies are of the view that this may prove rather difficult to deliver in full.
Shares in M&S recovered yesterday to rise 2.9 per cent, or 7.6p, to 273p after falling about 12.5 per cent, or 39p, a day earlier. Ocado lifted 1.5 per cent, or 15.5p, to 1034.5p.
M&S ready-meals supplier Bakkavor was on the back foot with shares down 10.3 per cent, or 16.6p, to 145p after the food producer said it expects margins to shrink the first half of this year due to weak consumer confidence and inflationary pressures.
The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.5pc, or 32.47 points, to 7074.73 as investor sentiment took a hit after the US and North Korea failed to reach an agreement over denuclearisation for the peninsula at a summit in Vietnam.
Rio Tinto was under the cosh on the FTSE 100 with shares falling 2 per cent, or 89p, to 4336p after Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowered its rating to ‘underperform’ from ‘neutral’ and cut its target price to 4150p from 4770p, citing limited positive catalysts for the stock.
Cigarettes giant British American Tobacco was also up in smoke as it reported 2018 results that beat expectations but noted concerns about the impact of a regulatory crackdown in the US on menthol cigarettes. Shares fell 1.3 per cent, or 36.5p, to 2,758.5p.
Insurer RSA was another big blue-chip faller after posting a worse-than-expected decline in 2018 operating profit, blaming weather-related claims and one-off losses in its UK operation. Shares sank 3 per cent, or 15.6p, to 511p.
CRH shares edged upwards, up 1 per cent, or 23p, to 2382p after the Irish buildings materials group unveiled 2018 earnings growth of 7 per cent on the back of a strong performance in the Americas and Europe.
On the second-tier FTSE 250, Howden Joinery Group shares dropped 6.5 per cent, or 34.1p, to 492.7p after the kitchen supplier issued a cautious outlook in the face of Brexit uncertainty.
But Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments’ shares gained 2.5 per cent, or 9p, to 361.6p after posting a 6.2 per cent rise in 2018 core earnings.