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FTSE 250 movers: Currys surges on bid talk; Moneysupermarket slips

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Monday 19 Feb 2024

(Sharecast News) - FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,186.82 -0.03%

Shares in Currys surged more than 35% on Monday after US private equity firm Elliott Advisors and China ecommerce giant JD.com on Monday confirmed they were considering separate bids for struggling British electrical retailer.

Elliott, which bought the UK bookstore chain Waterstones in 2018, said in a statement there was "no certainty that an offer will be made for Currys" or the terms on which any bid might be made.

Currys on Sunday rejected Elliott's 62p-a-share approach, saying its £700m proposal "significantly undervalued" the chain and its future prospects.

Elliott has until March 16 to make a firm bid. Meanwhile, Beijing-based JD.com also confirmed it was in the "very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Currys" and will need to show its hand by March 18.

Last month Currys lifted full-year profit forecasts despite reporting a drop in sales as consumers cut back on discretionary spending amid high inflation and stagnant wage growth.

In an update for the 10 weeks to 6 January, the retailer said group sales declined by 4%, with those in the UK and Ireland down 3%, while the international segment saw a 6% fall. The Nordics and Greece fell 6% and 4%, respectively.

It has more than 800 stores around the world and employs 28,000 people. In the UK, it operates about 300 stores with 15,000 staff.

The company now expects adjusted pre-tax profit for the year of between £105m - £115m, above consensus expectations of £104m.

Bank of Georgia said on Monday that it has agreed to buy Armenia's Ameriabank for around $303.6m.

It said the deal will "significantly enhance" its presence and growth opportunities "within a fast-growing and attractive market".

BOG said the Armenian market has similar characteristics to Georgia, and pointed to significant upside potential from leveraging the group's existing customer focus and digital/payments capabilities.

Mel Carvill, chairman of the board of directors of Bank of Georgia, said: "This transaction is a significant milestone for the group and a new chapter in our strategic development. Through Ameriabank we are set to enter Armenia, one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. Ameriabank has a well-regarded and experienced management team, and I am delighted that they will stay on after the transaction is closed.

"The board believes this transaction will enable the group to substantially increase scale and unlock additional growth opportunities as our impressive results in digitalisation, payments and customer franchise growth can be applied to Ameriabank's further development. This transaction is immediately earnings enhancing, using the group's existing cash resources, with no dilution for existing shareholders. The board unanimously views it as an excellent opportunity to create more value for our shareholders."

Moneysupermarket hailed record full-year revenues on Monday following a strong performance from its insurance business.

In the year to the end of December 2023, group revenue rose 11% to £432.1m, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation up 14% at £131.9m.

The jump in revenue came despite no material revenue from energy switching, led by "exceptional" trading in the insurance segment, it said. Revenue from insurance increased 28% to £220m.

Moneysupermarket said growth was underpinned by strong switching in car and home insurance, and it won market share in both products. It noted that car and home premium prices paid increased substantially as providers passed on rising costs of claims.

Premium prices paid in car insurance were up 35% to end of November, which showed signs of stabilising at the end of the year. Home premium inflation accelerated in the year, up 34% in the same period.

"The combination of high levels of premium price inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze resulted in high levels of search traffic with consumers seeking a better deal," it said.

The company lifted its full-year dividend by 3% to 12.1p a share.

Chief executive Peter Duffy said: "We helped customers save a record £2.7bn in 2023. The more we can help households save, the more the group grows.

"We're proud that in tough times for consumers, MoneySuperMarket, MoneySavingExpert and Quidco have been able to make a real difference for so many."

Looking ahead, Moneysupermarket said it doesn't expect any increase in energy switching revenue in 2024. In addition, comparatives in the insurance segment are expected to get tougher, particularly into the second half.

"However, our trading performance and momentum in our strategic execution, gives the board confidence that group EBITDA will be within the current market consensus range," it said.

Market Movers

FTSE 250 - Risers

Currys (CURY) 65.05p 38.17%
Bank of Georgia Group (BGEO) 4,215.00p 6.31%
Renishaw (RSW) 4,234.00p 2.77%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 433.40p 2.31%
Capital Gearing Trust (CGT) 4,635.00p 2.21%
Moonpig Group (MOON) 163.90p 1.67%
Trustpilot Group (TRST) 194.20p 1.62%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 5,680.00p 1.61%
Cranswick (CWK) 3,988.00p 1.58%
Ibstock (IBST) 162.60p 1.56%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Indivior (INDV) 1,349.00p -3.92%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 163.80p -3.42%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 147.70p -2.57%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 415.00p -2.47%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 166.80p -2.46%
Bodycote (BOY) 620.50p -2.13%
Baltic Classifieds Group (BCG) 232.50p -2.11%
Abrdn (ABDN) 161.30p -1.83%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 94.00p -1.67%
Elementis (ELM) 137.80p -1.57%

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