William Hill annual revenue down 16pc, Spectris sales fall less than expected in Q4
The FTSE 100 is expected to open six points higher on Wednesday, having closed down 0.65% on Tuesday at 6,754.11.
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Gambling firm William Hill said net annual revenue fell 16% to £1.32bn, reflecting the impact of betting shop closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company, which is being taken over by US giant Caesars Entertainment, on Wednesday reported a 9% rise in fourth quarter net revenue. Sportsbook staking increased 16%, driven by enhanced products and geographical expansion, whilst gross win margins benefitted from favourable sporting results, driving Group sportsbook net revenue up 20% year-on-year.
Measurement tools company Spectris updated the market on its trading on Wednesday, reporting a 7% decrease in like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter, which was a stronger trading performance than expected. The FTSE 250 firm said that as a result, sales for 2020 were expected to be down 11% on a like-for-like basis at £1.34bn. Given an 8% impact from disposals, primarily related to BTG, and a limited impact from foreign currency exchange movements, Spectris said that led to an expected 18% decrease in reported sales compared to 2019.
Just Eat Takeaway's revenue rose by more than 50% in 2020 after UK delivery orders increased 387% in the fourth quarter. The company said it would continue to invest heavily in its business and prioritise market share over earnings. Just Eat also said it was reviewing which exchanges its shares would be listed on after buying Grubhub in the US.
People who were trapped in poverty before the pandemic have suffered the most financial damage during the crisis, according to a report warning the government that more support is needed to help hard-pressed families. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said those who had been struggling to make ends meet before March last year were more likely to work in precarious jobs or sectors of the economy that had been hardest hit by lockdowns. - Guardian
Morrisons has become the first UK supermarket to break the £10 an hour pay barrier just as the spotlight is being shone on poor pay levels in an industry where workers are in the frontline of the pandemic. The Bradford-based supermarket said it would guarantee pay of at least £10 an hour with the new deal, which starts in April, ushering in a significant pay increase for nearly 96,000 colleagues. Its minimum hourly pay now stands at £9.20 an hour. - Guardian
The end of the stamp duty holiday will leave hundreds of thousands of buyers poorer and bring the housing market boom to a crashing halt, experts have warned. Campaigners are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the tax break from its current end date of March 31 to prevent chaos from engulfing the market and derailing Britain's post-Covid recovery. - Telegraph
The cost of shipping goods from Europe to the UK has risen sharply this year, raising the prospect of higher prices for French cheese, German sausages and other imports together worth tens of billions of pounds. The average cost of transporting a lorryload of goods to Britain from Germany was 26 per cent higher in the first week of 2021 compared with the average for the third quarter of last year, according to Transporeon, which tracks freight flows. - The Times
Investors in the failed Woodford income fund have missed out on a multimillion-dollar payout from the $1.5 billion takeover of Kymab, the largest acquisition of a private UK biotechnology company. Sanofi, the French drugs group, agreed this week to purchase Kymab for an upfront payment of about $1.1 billion. The purchase price could rise by up to $350 million, depending on future milestones. - The Times
Wall Street's main market gauges closed in the green on Tuesday, as investors cheered positive news regarding the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in the US, and in growing anticipation of further economic stimulus.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.19% at 31,068.69, while the S&P 500 gained 0.04% to 3,801.19 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.28% firmer at 13,072.43.
“Vaccine rollouts have been messy, but as more vaccines get regional approval, risk appetite is thriving as we get closer to the other side of Covid-19," said Edward Moya at Oanda.
According to Pantheon Macroeconomics, the pace of daily vaccinations in the States had climbed past 400,000, although a clip nearer 1.5 million to two million per day was needed to reach so-called 'herd immunity' by the spring.
Mergers and acquisitions activity was still making the headlines as medical supplies outfit Steris unveiled a takeover bid for rival Cantel Medical for $4.6bn, including debt.