(Alliance News) - The following stocks are the leading risers and fallers within the main London indices on Wednesday.
FTSE 100 - WINNERS
Polymetal International, up 4.4%, Fresnillo, up 4.3%. The gold miners were tracking spot gold prices higher after the precious metal decisively breached the USD2,000 mark. Gold was quoted at USD2,035.80 an ounce on Wednesday morning, up sharply from USD1,995.19 an ounce at the London equities close Tuesday. Bullion hit a record high of USD2,039.75 in morning trade. "The latest rise in US-China tensions that brings the phase one trade deal into question adds to an extensive laundry list of concerns that are sending investors toward safe-haven assets, and gold seems to be top of that list. The principle drivers remain the same: a record pace of ETF inflows, the weak USD, and negative real yields," explained AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.
Coca-Cola HBC, up 4.2%. The soft drinks bottler expressed confidence in its prospects going forward, despite posting a drop in interim earnings. For the six months ended June 26, net sales revenue fell 16% to EUR2.83 billion from EUR3.35 billion last year, and operating profit declined 30% to EUR202.9 million from EUR288.9 million. Pretax profit fell 36% to EUR167.2 million from EUR260.8 million. Coca-Cola HBC blamed the decline in revenue on closures of bars and restaurants in its out-of-home business, which it said typically accounts for around 40% of its revenue. Looking ahead, Coca-Cola HBC said current trading continues to confirm sequential improvement - with the second quarter the "trough" of performance caused by Covid-19.
ITV, up 1.5%. Deutsche Bank raised the broadcaster to Buy from Hold.
FTSE 100 - LOSERS
Legal & General, down 2.5%. The insurer maintained its shareholder payout despite reporting a drop in interim profit and said it remains confident in delivering organic growth through the Covid-19 led volatile period. L&G posted a 68% drop in pretax profit for the six months to June 30 to GBP342 million from GBP1.06 billion recorded a year ago. Total income fell 64% year-on-year to GBP17.42 billion. The sharp drop in pretax profit was attributed to the impact of lower interest rates and negative market movements resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Operating profit - the company's preferred profit measure - declined 6.3% to GBP946 million from GBP1.01 billion last year. L&G declared an unchanged interim dividend of 4.93 pence. "So far Legal & General seems to be weathering the crisis fairly well, with profits and capital holding up better than analysts had expected. However, management remains cautious and the half-year dividend has stayed flat year-on-year when the group's stated dividend policy would have implied an increase in the region of 7%. That caution is sensible in our view," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nick Hyett.
FTSE 250 - WINNERS
Hastings Group, up 18% at 253.00p. The motor insurer said it has agreed to a GBP1.66 billion offer from a newly created consortium comprising of Finland's Sampo and South Africa's Rand Merchant Investment Holdings. Under the offer, accepting shareholders will receive 250p per share in cash, a 16% premium to Tuesday's closing price of 215p and a 47% premium to its closing price of 170p on July 28 the day before Hastings said it received the offer. Shareholders also will be able to keep the interim dividend of 4.5p declared Wednesday. For the six months to June 30, pretax profit increased to GBP63.5 million from GBP46.1 million last year and gross written premiums were up 3% to GBP514.9 million from GBP499.2 million.
Ferrexpo, up 11%. The iron pellet producer said sales and production volumes increased in the first half. For the six months ended June 30, Ferrexpo posted pretax profit of USD294 million, down 7.5% from USD317.9 million reported the year prior. This was as revenue fell 1.4% to USD776 million from USD787 million. The London-based company said that while pellet production rose 5% to 5.6 million tonnes, revenue was hurt by lower realised prices which were the result of lower pellet premiums. Pellet sales were up 22% in the six months to the end of June. An interim dividend of 6.6 US cents was declared, unchanged from the year prior.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
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