Wetherspoon swings to half-year profit, Smiths Group raises full-year guidance

By Josh White

Date: Friday 24 Mar 2023

(Sharecast News) - London open

The FTSE 100 is expected to open 37 points lower on Friday, having closed down 0.89% on Thursday at 7,499.60.
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Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said sales for the last seven weeks were 14.9% higher than the same period last year as it swung to a half-year profit despite "ferocious" inflationary pressures. The company on Friday posted a pre-tax profit of £4.6m for the 26 weeks to January 29, compared to a £26.1m loss in 2022.

Smiths Group reported record growth and announced increased guidance for the full year in its half-year results on Friday. The FTSE 100 company recorded organic revenue growth of 13.5%, reported revenue growth of 25.6%, and an increase in basic earnings per share of 52.1%. It raised its guidance for 2023 to at least 8% organic revenue growth, with moderate margin improvement.

Newspaper round-up

Ten construction firms have been fined a combined £60m by the competition regulator for "illegally colluding" to rig bids for lucrative contracts for projects including Bow Street magistrates court and Selfridges department store. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the companies had acted as a cartel over 19 private and public sector contracts that were worth a total of £150m. - Guardian

The energy regulator Ofgem is preparing to crack down on UK power firms to prevent them from "manipulating" the market with a manoeuvre that has bolstered their profits by millions of pounds. The practice, which does not break existing market rules, involves generators warning the electricity system operator that they are turning their power plants off at times of peak demand and subsequently offering to keep them running in exchange for a "balancing" payment. -Guardian

Google's artificial intelligence chatbot is still making the same error that contributed to a $120bn wipeout for the tech giant's share price a month ago. Bard, which was opened to the public in the US and UK on Tuesday, still incorrectly claims that the James Webb Space Telescope took "the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system". - Telegraph

The Swiss financial regulator has defended its controversial decision to wipe out $17 billion of Credit Suisse bonds but spare some value for the troubled bank's shareholders as part of the state-orchestrated rescue of the lender. Finma, the country's watchdog, has faced a fierce backlash from debt investors over the decimated bonds and fund managers are preparing legal action. The regulator said yesterday it stood by its decision. - The Times

Households are facing more financial pain as mortgage bills rise, cost of living payments end and the average council tax exceeds £2,000 for the first time. More than a million homeowners with variable rate mortgages will spend hundreds of pounds more a year on repayments after an eleventh consecutive interest rate rise by the Bank of England, which took the cost of borrowing to 4.25 per cent. - The Times

US close

Wall Street markets finished in the green on Thursday, as investors took into account interest rate hikes from a number of central banks globally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.23% to close at 32,105.25, while the S&P 500 gained 0.3% to reach 3,948.72.

The Nasdaq Composite was the top performer, jumping 1.01% to end the day at 11,787.40.

Earlier in the day, the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank raised interest rates, coming on the back of the Federal Reserve's overnight hike, which was widely anticipated by investors.

In currency markets, the dollar gained 0.04% on sterling to trade at £0.8142, while it weakened 0.01% against the euro to €0.9231.


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