MARKET REPORT: Capco cheers West End recovery ahead of merger


Property group Capital & Counties cheered a recovery in the West End of London ahead of its £5billion mega merger with a rival landlord.

The FTSE 250 developer hailed the ‘positive momentum’ across its Covent Garden estate amid a strong post-pandemic rebound as shoppers returned to stores. It generated £57.2million of rent in 2022, up from £48.9million a year earlier.

Covent Garden’s property value was unchanged at £1.7billion. 

But this came after gains made during the first half of last year were wiped out by the impact of higher interest rates and rising inflation.

Recovery: Capital & Counties hailed the ‘positive momentum’ across its Covent Garden estate amid a strong post-pandemic rebound as shoppers returned to stores

Capco also swung to a loss of £211.8million, having made a £34.8million profit in 2021. The shares fell 3.3 per cent, or 4.2p, to 122.2p.

The update came less than a week before Capco merges with Shaftesbury. Last month the competition watchdog cleared the deal which will bring together some of London’s prime real estate under a single company.

Shaftesbury (down 3.9 per cent, or 16.2p, to 402.2p) owns large parts of Chinatown, Carnaby Street and Fitzrovia north of Oxford Street.

In 2020 Capco snapped up a 25 per cent stake in Shaftesbury and the pair announced plans to merge two years later.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.5 per cent, or 38.65 points, to 7914.93 and the FTSE 250 fell 0.2 per cent, or 32.68 points, to 19870.60.

Fresh data from China showed its manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace for more than a decade.

The upbeat figures helped lift metal prices and mining stocks.

Stock Watch – Accrol

Accrol has landed a deal with Unilever to produce and sell kitchen roll under the consumer goods group’s Lifebuoy brand.

It said its licensing agreement to produce Lifebuoy kitchen roll ‘requires no additional capital investment’.

Accrol, which works with retailers such as Tesco, Lidl and Aldi, said its licensed business model should make up between 10 per cent to 20 per cent of revenues in the medium to long-term. Its shares soared 7.4 per cent, or 2.3p, to 33.3p.

Rio Tinto was up 4.6 per cent, or 260p, to 5972p, Antofagasta added 4.2 per cent, or 66p, to 1636p, Glencore rose 3.5 per cent, or 17.55p, to 512.9p, and Anglo American increased by 3.3 per cent, or 95.5p, to 2980p.

But the best performance of the day belonged to Weir Group. The mining technology firm topped the blue-chip index following a surge in revenue and profit.

Its dividend for 2022 increased by 38 per cent to 32.8p a share, and it started this year with a record order book following favourable conditions. Shares surged 6.3 per cent, or 119p, to 2018p.

Serco made gains after Citigroup raised its target price to 230p from 224p. It rose 4.9 per cent, or 7.7p, to 163.7p.

Meanwhile Nichols hailed the strength of its Vimto brand after the soft drinks maker reported a profit of £13.8million for 2022 having made a £17.7million loss a year earlier.

Revenue soared 14.3 per cent to £164.9million. While it warned this year will be challenging, its profit is expected to meet market forecasts of £25.1million.

John Nichols, who is set to bring his 16-year tenure as chairman to an end, will be replaced by Elizabeth McMeikan on April 26. It climbed 4.2 per cent, or 42p, to 1040p.

Just Eat results were a mixed bag after the takeaway delivery group reported a £16.7million profit for 2022 having racked up a £308million loss in 2021. But orders tumbled 9 per cent to £984million.

It has forecast a profit of around £198million for 2023 though some analysts warned this may be tricky as households cut back spending. It fell 2.1 per cent, or 37.6p, to 1771.4p.

Over at Rathbones, the wealth manager remained upbeat even though its net outflow of £400million – the amount of money customers pulled out – was ‘low when compared with the market’. It rose 1.4 per cent, or 30p, to 2110p.

Revenues at Me Group soared 21.2 per cent to £259.8million in the year to October 31 while profit jumped 86.7 per cent to £53.4million.

The photo booth and launderette operator said it was on course to beat market forecasts and reckons revenue will be between £280million and £300million with profits set to be £61million to £65million. Shares jumped 11.7 per cent, or 14p, to 140.5p.

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