FTSE 100 movers: Ocado gains; Ashtead slumps on UK weakness

Tue 10 Dec 2019

LONDON (SHARECAST) - (Sharecast News) - London's FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 7,215.68 in afternoon trade on Tuesday as investors mulled the latest GDP figures.
Equipment rental firm Ashtead lost ground as it posted a slump in first-half profit at its UK business, A-Plant, and warned of "challenging" trading conditions.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "As the UK is currently demonstrating all too well, renting out construction equipment is a cyclical business. When times are bad construction activity grinds to a halt and unsurprisingly rental demand disappears too. This affects both rental volumes and rental rates at the same time, exacerbating the pain.

"That's part and parcel of the business, but it becomes more concerning when borrowing climbs, since debt holders must be paid regardless of the economic conditions. So far strong results in the US are more than offsetting weakness in the UK, and Ashtead is keen to point to the not insignificant proportion of activity that falls into the 'vital maintenance' category.

"Nonetheless, with conditions in the UK looking set to remain tough for some time and debt still climbing, we'll be keeping a close eye on performance going forwards."

Morrisons was weaker after data from research group Kantar showed that sales at the supermarket retailer fell 2.9% in the 12 weeks to 1 December. Tesco was also in the red as its sales dipped 0.8%.

Rolls-Royce was under pressure as the aerospace and defence company announced the departure of non-executive director Bradley Singer, a representative of its largest shareholder, ValueAct Capital.

Going the other way, Ocado was a little higher after a rating upgrade to 'buy' at Berenberg and as Kantar data showed that it remains the fastest-growing grocer, with sales in the last 12 weeks up 13.7% compared to the same period last year.

FTSE 100 - Risers

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,742.60p 0.82%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,214.00p 0.79%
Evraz (EVR) 363.70p 0.75%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 682.00p 0.53%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,969.00p 0.45%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,917.00p 0.42%
Ferguson (FERG) 6,738.00p 0.39%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 2,108.00p 0.33%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,681.00p 0.33%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 6,800.00p 0.32%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,202.00p -6.93%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 196.80p -3.43%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,044.00p -2.99%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 706.60p -2.54%
BT Group (BT.A) 188.24p -2.17%
Tesco (TSCO) 238.60p -1.85%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 543.60p -1.77%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,618.50p -1.73%
Barclays (BARC) 168.72p -1.72%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 941.40p -1.71%
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