Pearson reports revenue growth, AstraZeneca announces raft of drug updates
The FTSE 100 is expected to open four points lower on Monday, having closed up 0.01% on Friday at 6,938.56.
Stocks to watch
Educational publisher Pearson reported underlying first quarter revenue growth of 5% driven by demand for global online learning. The company on Monday said its online division revenue increased 25% with strong growth in Virtual Schools due to enrolment growth in the current school year in Partner Schools as well as in US district partnerships. International sales were down 2% with a decline in English as Covid-19 continued to impact Pearson’s courseware and franchise business in Latin America, despite courseware recovery in China.
AstraZeneca said on Monday that the phase 3 trial for ‘nirsevimab’ met its primary endpoint of a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of medically-attended lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus compared to placebo, in healthy late preterm and term infants. The FTSE 100 pharmaceutical giant also announced that ‘selumetinib’ had been recommended for conditional marketing authorisation in the EU for the treatment of symptomatic, inoperable plexiform neurofibromas in paediatric patients with neurofibromatosis type-1, and confirmed that ‘Tagrisso’, or osimertinib, had been recommended for marketing authorisation in the EU for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early-stage epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated non-small cell lung cancer, after complete tumour resection with curative intent.
Tate & Lyle is in talks over the sale of its industrial ingredients business as the 160-year-old British food manufacturing group mulls a sweeping overhaul. The FTSE 250 company has confirmed that it has begun discussions with “potential new partners” interested in acquiring a controlling stake in its American-focused primary products division, paving the way for a separation of its sprawling empire. - The Times
Britain’s economy is forecast to grow at the fastest rate since the second world war this year after businesses adapted better to coronavirus restrictions and consumer spending booms as lockdown measures are relaxed. With businesses and households preparing for looser controls this spring, the EY Item Club said it had upgraded its growth forecasts for 2021 after a stronger start to the year than expected and as rapid progress with the vaccine programme enables a swift return to relative normality. - Guardian
Ministers have launched a £1bn auction for thousands of miles of phone lines running alongside Britain’s railways, in a move they hope will improve train services while boosting broadband speeds for millions of homes. Private sector bidders will have the chance to upgrade 10,000 miles of cables, while also building 250 new mobile phone masts close to train lines. The investment could help the Government meet its commitments to drastically improve rural broadband and eradicate so-called 5G “notspots”. - Telegraph
Investors are expecting higher dividends and a wave of share buybacks as companies which successfully shored up their profits during the pandemic prepare to share the spoils. Payouts have declined at their slowest pace since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis while Britain’s economy emerges from lockdown, signalling a brighter outlook for shareholders after boardrooms battened down the hatches last spring. - The Times
Solar projects commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, the government’s Coal Authority, United Utilities and some of the UK’s biggest renewable energy developers are using panels made by Chinese solar companies accused of exploiting forced labour camps in Xinjiang province, a Guardian investigation has found. Confidential industry data suggests that up to 40% of the UK’s solar farms were built using panels manufactured by China’s biggest solar panel companies, including Jinko Solar, JA Solar and Trina Solar. - Guardian
Stocks closed stronger on Wall Street on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.67% at 34,043.49.
The S&P 500 added 1.09% to 4,180.17, and the Nasdaq Composite was ahead 1.44% at 14,016.81.