FTSE 100 movers: WPP and ITV lifted by Publicis numbers
London's FTSE 100 index was struggling to stay on the right side of the line by Thursday afternoon, with drugmaker Shire and media stocks in the driving seat to offset the weight of some major stocks going ex-dividend.
Shares in drug-maker Shire spiked around 10% late in the session on reports that US based Allergan was in talk about a possible offer. Takeda Pharmaceutical had earlier had an approach at around £46.50 per share rejected. The shares fell after the Japanese company said the potential offer was comprised of £17.75 in cash and £28.75 of new Takeda shares, which would be listed in Japan and in the US.
Shire said it had rejected the approach as "it continues to significantly undervalue the company and Shire's growth prospects and pipeline". Talks are ongoing between the two companies.
WPP was taking succour after the battering since boss Sir Martin Sorrell left under a cloud, with the advertising giant's shares on the front foot after read-across from solid first-quarter results from French peer Publicis. ITV shares were also boosted, with the implication being good for TV ad sales.
Publicis reported continued improvement of North America, driven by new contract wins, while Europe returned to positive growth after two quarters of declines, helped by decent performances from France and the UK offsetting weakness in Germany and Italy. Asia-Pacific was the only disappointment, while Middle East and Africa were up.
Royal rat-catcher Rentokil International gained despite saying that revenue growth slowed in 2018 because of the impact of the hurricane in Puerto Rico and cold weather in the US that delayed the emergence of spring pests. Nevertheless the shares scuttled higher as revenue in the first quarter jumped 15.7% to £545.9m, even though adverse currency movements could cost between £10-5m.
In the quarter, Rentokil acquired 11 pest control businesses, so analyst David Madden at CMC Markets said this was an indication that management is bullish about the outlook. "The stock has been in an upward trend since 2011, and while it holds above the 260p area, its outlook is likely to remain positive."
HSBC was up on the back of a note from Credit Suisse, with shares in the Asia focused lender underperforming UK domestic peers 12% in the year-to-date. CS upped its rating from 'underperform' to 'neutral' and added 2% to its target price to raise it from 680p to 690p.
Despite a fairly solid set of first-quarter results Unilever was down, possibly over reports that the consumer goods giant is struggling with major shareholders over the choice of the Netherlands for its corporate HQ. First-quarter sales were up 3.4% underlying but pricing remained depressed in North America and Europe.
Confirmation of 6bn share buyback using proceeds from the sale of the spread business was not enough to lift shareholders' moods.
But the biggest weight on the blue chip index was from ex-div shares, led by Standard Life Aberdeen, Lloyds Banking and BAE Systems.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,325.70 0.11%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,143.17 0.66%
techMARK (TASX) 3,404.75 0.42%
FTSE 100 - Risers
WPP (WPP) 1,159.50p 3.90%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 283.30p 3.81%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,896.00p 3.78%
NMC Health (NMC) 3,574.00p 2.11%
ITV (ITV) 144.90p 1.72%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,574.00p 1.71%
Evraz (EVR) 409.00p 1.59%
Ferguson (FERG) 5,500.00p 1.55%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 686.10p 1.42%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,110.50p 1.42%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 366.00p -3.89%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 65.55p -3.06%
BAE Systems (BA.) 587.35p -2.17%
Unilever (ULVR) 3,871.00p -1.91%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,064.00p -1.81%
National Grid (NG.) 812.30p -1.66%
Croda International (CRDA) 4,571.00p -1.38%
Imperial Brands (IMB) 2,398.00p -1.11%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,817.50p -1.09%
Informa (INF) 733.00p -1.08%