It’s a tale of two markets for Britain’s property sector, with housebuilders on the up and estate agents in the doldrums.
Estate agency chain Countrywide reported a 10 per cent drop in revenue in the first quarter, driven by a slump in house sales.
That probably wasn’t too much of a shock to shareholders: last month it scrapped its dividend as it reported losses of more than £200million.
Housebuilder Persimmon, on the other hand, reported ‘robust’ figures for the first three months of the year, with demand for new homes soaring.
Housebuilder Persimmon reported ‘robust’ figures for the first three months of the year, with demand for new homes soaring
The FTSE 100 firm may be facing a revolt from shareholders over executive pay, but it is flying.
It reported total forward sales revenue, which includes completions, of £2.76billion – up 8 per cent year-on-year.
In a note published last week, analysts at broker Peel Hunt said: ‘The February and March results season did little to change our bullish view on the UK’s new housing market.
It also did little to change our more cautious view on transactions in the second-hand housing market.
‘News flow from the housebuilders has been consistently robust, while the estate agents have been struggling with softer volumes.’
Stock Watch – Feedback
Shares in Feedback spiked after it inked a software licence and distribution agreement with General Electric Healthcare.
The deal gives GE the global rights to distribute Feedback’s medical imaging analysis software, Texrad, with India first on the list.
Used by 40 research institutions worldwide, it allows researchers to analyse the textures in radiological scans to detect the presence of cancer.
Shares rocketed 71.2 per cent, or 1.3p, to 3.15p.
Countrywide’s shares slid 3.8 per cent, or 3.9p, to 98.1p, while Persimmon climbed 0.2 per cent, or 4p, to 2694p.
The FTSE 100 was dragged lower by basic materials producers and technology stocks, ending the day down 0.62 per cent, or 46.08 points, at 7379.32, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.87 per cent, or 176.23 points, at 20,019.08.
Anglo American warned profits would be up to £290million lower in 2018 because a burst pipe in an iron ore mine in Brazil halted production.
It is carrying out an inspection at the site and is not expecting production to restart for at least another 90 days. Shares fell 4.2 per cent, or 72.6p, to 1675p.
Antofagasta reported a 10.5 per cent fall in copper production and a whopping 39.4 per cent slide in gold production in the first quarter.
But despite the fall, the firm says it is on course to meet full-year production guidance. Shares dipped 1.8 per cent, or 17.4p, to 960p.
A strengthening pound dealt a blow to drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline. It reported a 2 per cent fall in turnover to £7.2billion and a 29 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £1.1billion. Shares fell 3.4 per cent, or 50p, to 1412.2p.
In the small caps, shares in struggling Carpetright jumped after it emerged hedge fund Meditor Capital Management had increased its stake in the firm.
Meditor now holds 29.9 per cent in Carpetright, just shy of the threshold at which it would be forced to make a formal bid. Carpetright shares rose 5.3 per cent, or 1.9p, to 38p.
On Aim, Crawshaw shares avoided the butcher’s cleaver despite disappointing sales. The butcher posted a £13.5million loss in the year to January 28, resulting largely from a £10.6million writedown in the value of its 40 underperforming high street shops.
But out-of-town factory outlets are doing better and Crawshaw plans more of them. Shares rose 11 per cent, or 0.5p, to 5.05p.
It was a good day of trading for the UK’s small drug firms. Futura Medical shares rose following ‘highly encouraging’ results for its erectile dysfunction gel. The trial suggests that its gel, MED2002, works faster than Viagra.
Someone clearly dumped a bucket of MED2002 on Futura shares, which rose 8.5 per cent, or 2.75p, to 32.25p. The EU granted Aim-listed drug firm ValiRx a patent for its prostate cancer treatment, and shares ticked up 15.2 per cent, or 0.48p, to 3.6p.