Bumps in the road in Go-Ahead Group’s regional bus business tarnished an otherwise positive trading update.
It said revenues in this division grew by around 2.5 per cent between June 30 and October 26, when compared with its performance during the same period of 2018.
But difficulties integrating a bus company in Manchester and other trading hiccups forced Go-Ahead to lower its full-year expectations for that part of the business.
Shares in the mid-cap transport group slid 3.1 per cent, or 70p, to 2208p, Its international and London bus arm sped ahead, with revenues up 8 per cent. Go-Ahead also said it is in talks with the Government to extend its contract to run Southeastern rail beyond an extension it already has until March.
Sterling surged to its highest level in a week on Wednesday night after a Yougov poll predicted Boris Johnson is on course for a hefty 68-seat parliamentary majority in next month’s election.
The pound jumped to $1.2950 against the dollar on Wednesday, though it gave up those gains to trade at $1.2910 last night.
London’s premier indexes had a mixed close, with the FTSE 100 edging 0.2 per cent lower, or 13.35 points, to 7416.43, as the progress of US-China trade talks was thrown into doubt after US President Donald Trump signed a bill in support of human rights in Hong Kong.
And the FTSE 250, which is more influenced by events in the UK, rose 0.3 per cent, or 69.23 points, to 21,023.55. A number of firms lost ground as they went ex-dividend, meaning anyone who bought their stock from yesterday won’t get the next investor payout.
Mid-cap companies, including tech group Micro Focus, which was down 3 per cent, or 34p, to 1114.4p, and property developer Bellway, down 1.6 per cent, or 55p, to 3420p, held the FTSE 250 index back from making stronger gains.
Severn Trent (2.2 per cent lower, or 51p, to 2285p), Vodafone (3.9 per cent down, or 6.28p, to 154.16p) and Johnson Matthey (down 1.5 per cent, or 44p, to 2916p) were among the blue-chip ex-divi fallers.
Johnson Matthey was also trading lower after it was downgraded from ‘neutral’ to ‘underweight’ by analysts at JP Morgan, as they trimmed back their earnings estimates for the chemicals giant.
Broker views were behind some of the day’s biggest movers on the FTSE 350. Gambling technology group Playtech was stung by a cut to a target number for its share price – from 550p to 390p by Morgan Stanley, hot on the heels of similar clips from Deutsche Bank, UBS and JP Morgan.
Its shares slumped 5.3 per cent, or 21.1p, to 378.3p.
Liberum analysts, meanwhile, cast a favourable eye on Genus’s ideal price, raising it from 2800p to 3450p, as it said the pig and cattle genetics specialist will be in demand from the Chinese as they look to rebuild their pork industry, which has been decimated by disease and subsequent culls.
Genus inched 1.5 per cent higher, or 48p, to 3206p.
Residential landlord Grainger gained 3.7 per cent, or 10.4p, to 292.2p, after it agreed to invest £55.5m in a build-to-rent development in east London.
Karen Cope, the wife of housebuilder Redrow’s company secretary Graham Cope, sold 150,000 shares for £996,000. Its shares fell 0.6 per cent, or 4p, to 672p.
A new North Sea oil company, Longboat Energy, had its first day of trading on AIM yesterday.
Longboat is led by the former leadership of Faroe Petroleum, which was snapped up by Norwegian energy giant DNO for £640m in a hostile takeover in January. Shares in Longboat, which does not have any assets but is on the hunt for some, were priced at 100p but closed at 99.5p.
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