The FTSE 100 index closed 0.1% higher at 7,630.02 points Thursday after big gains from kitchen-and-joinery company Howden Joinery and consumer-healthcare business Haleon. Howden Joinery topped the blue-chip bourse with a 7.0% rise, while Haleon rose 5.6%. On the other end of the index is IAG, the owner of British Airways, which, despite booking a record profit, fell 3.6%. "The market is instead focusing on the fact that IAG won't pay a dividend and it didn't forecast that a dividend could be paid in the future," XTB research director Kathleen Brooks said in a market comment.


Serco Group Profit Rose, Backs Guidance and Kicks off Buyback

Serco Group said its pretax profit rose and backed its guidance, and said it is launching a share buyback.


Ocado Pretax Loss Narrows After M&S Joint Venture Returns to Profit

Ocado Group said its pretax loss narrowed, supported by a return to profitability at the retail joint venture it co-owns with food and fashion retailer Marks & Spencer Group.


Schroders Profit Falls on Restructuring; Assets Under Management Rise

Schroders reported a fall in pretax profit on restructuring costs, while revenue and assets under management rose.


Haleon Backs Views After Profit Rise on Robust Growth

Haleon said pretax profit for 2023 slightly rose supported by better-than-expected sales, with positive volume, price and organic growth across all categories and regions, and backed its targets for 2024.


London Stock Exchange Group Pretax Profit Falls Despite Higher Income; Plans GBP1.0B Buyback

London Stock Exchange Group reported lower pretax profit despite higher income reflecting profitable growth across all segments, and said it plans to execute a share buyback program in 2024.


Howden Joinery Pretax Profit Falls on Higher Costs, Says This Year Is on Track

Howden Joinery Group said pretax profit fell after it booked higher costs, and that it is on track to meet its outlook for the year ahead.


Drax Profit Rises on Reduced Costs, Sees Earnings in Line With Market Views

Drax Group said pretax profit rose supported by lower costs, and raised its dividend payout.


PPHE Hotel Group Revenue, Earnings Hit Record Highs After Strong Growth

PPHE Hotel Group said revenue and a key earnings metric surged to record highs after a year of sustained growth, and said it is confident of continued momentum in the year ahead.


Hammerson Pretax Loss Narrows on Property Revaluations

Hammerson said its pretax loss narrowed for the year after reduced losses from revaluations on properties, and that it expects further cost reductions in the year.


Hunting Swung to Profit on Broad-Based Revenue Growth

Hunting reported a swing to pretax profit supported by revenue growth across most of its product groups, and raised its dividend.


Spire Healthcare Group Pretax Profit Rises on Increasing Demand

Spire Healthcare Group said pretax profit and revenue rose, driven by increasing demand for private healthcare.


Shaftesbury Capital Swings to Pretax Profit on Revenue Rise

Shaftesbury Capital said it swung to a pretax profit for the year as revenue increased and that the board was confident in the portfolio's growth prospects.


Spectris Pretax Profit Rises on Strong Sales Growth

Spectris reported higher pretax profit and double-digit sales growth, and said it remains confident in its ability to navigate an uncertain environment this year.


Man Group Raises Shareholder Returns Despite Profit Fall

Man Group raised is dividend and outlined a new buyback despite reporting a fall in pretax profit and revenue.


Metro Bank Taps Marc Page as CFO

Metro Bank Holdings said it has appointed Marc Page as chief financial officer with effect from Sept. 2.


GXO Logistics Makes $965 Mln Bid for Wincanton, Heating Up Bidding War

GXO Logistics said it made a 762 million-pound ($964.9 million) cash offer for Wincanton, heating up a bidding fight with CMA CGM subsidiary CEVA that sent shares in the U.K. logistics company soaring.


IAG Benefits From Strong Demand But Headwinds Remain

1005 GMT - International Consolidated Airlines' 2023 operating profit soared, outstripping its prepandemic performance as it provided a positive 2024 outlook, Admiral analyst Roberto Rivero says in a note. Still, although strong demand has been led by a boom in leisure travel, the more lucrative corporate travel's recovery is still sluggish with other headwinds remaining for the company, Rivero says. "Ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have the potential to disrupt long-haul travel and pose an upside risk to fuel prices, which account for roughly 30% of an airline's operating costs," he says. Shares are up 0.9% at 154.20 pence. (


Spire Healthcare's Momentum Expected to Continue

1000 GMT - Spire Healthcare top-line growth of 13.4% is impressive, and costs are coming out of the business, Peel Hunt analysts Miles Dixon and Leolie Telford-Cooke write in a research note. The company is targeting another year of strong Ebitda growth, with the midpoint of this guidance being GBP265 million and fiscal 2024 consensus being GBP269 million, the analysts says. The U.K. brokerage believes that there won't be many changes, as most are likely to look through to the high growth on the top line driven by strong demand for future private healthcare. Shares are down 4.4% at 226.00 pence. (


IAG's Free Cashflow Generation Likely Taken Positively

0950 GMT - International Consolidated Airlines' 4Q adjusted operating results of EUR502 million, compared with a company-compiled median consensus of EUR508 million, were mostly driven by a rise of around 2% in unit revenue per available seat kilometer, versus Visible Alpha consensus of -1%, Citi analysts say in anote. The airline group expects 2024 capacity to grow by around 7% driven by Iberia and British Airways and to generate substantial free cashflow, with consensus at around EUR710 million, Citi says. "We see the commentary around free cash flow generation will be taken positively," Citi says. Shares are up 1.5% at 155.15 pence. (


IAG's Investment Case Has Attractions

0936 GMT - International Consolidated Airlines' 2024 outlook is positive, with the company confident of achieving significant free cashflow generation, RBC analyst Ruairi Cullinane says in a note. In 2023, passenger revenue per available seat kilometer--a key aviation metric--rose 4.7% on European routes but declined on long-haul routes, and although leisure demand was hit by the conflict in the Middle East in 4Q and 1Q, this is now recovering, he says. "We see attractions in the IAG investment case but see more favorable supply-demand balance outlook for short-haul, which we think low-cost carriers are more exposed to," Cullinane says. Shares are up 1.1% at 154.50 pence. (


IAG Benefits From Strong Leisure Demand, But Business Travel Recovering at Slower Pace

0928 GMT - International Consolidated Airlines' significant revenue and profit growth shows that passengers are returning to the skies in their droves, Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter says. Despite the obvious economic challenges consumers are facing, the annual holiday seems to have become shielded from day-to-day financial constraints, he says. Still, although leisure travel remains strong, business travel is recovering at a slower pace, especially in short-haul destinations, he says. "The recovery for IAG will itself be a long-haul journey, although it is one which is being supported by investors for the longer term, with the market consensus of the shares coming in at a buy," he says. Shares are up 1.4% at 155 pence and are up 0.1% over the past 12 months.(


Haleon Flexes Volume, Pricing Strength in a Competitive Market

0923 GMT - Haleon reported a robust 4Q and showed its ability to improve both volumes and pricing in a competitive market after outperforming peer Reckitt, Quilter Cheviot head of equity research Chris Beckett says in a note. The consumer-healthcare business's growth was driven by solid, broad-based performance across its core categories, however the pain category was slightly disappointing after facing headwinds from generic competition and regulatory changes, Beckett says. Haleon's operating margin improved by 50 basis points as it continued to deleverage its balance sheet, enabling a GBP500 million share buyback, Beckett adds. "The company trades at a reasonable valuation of 18 times earnings, in an attractive and resilient category of consumer healthcare," Beckett says. Shares are up 7.5% at 337.5 pence. (


Weir Group Consensus Earnings Could Drift on Currency Impact

0923 GMT - Weir Group consensus shouldn't change much given management comments on expected top and bottom line progress, but there could be a modest currency impact this year, so consensus may drift slightly, Jefferies analyst Andrew Douglas writes. Order momentum remains robust and the group is starting the year with a healthy order book, while outlook commentary is positive, which should be welcomed, he says. Douglas says the group is executing well, and the bank looks for further EBITA margin and free operating cash flow progress this year and beyond. "We retain our buy recommendation, as there continues to be significant improvement potential, which is not reflected in the group's valuation." Jefferies rates Weir at buy with a 2575p price target. Shares trade 4.4% lower at 1794p. (

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02-29-24 1210ET