MARKET REPORT: Investors down tools at housebuilder Persimmon with shares down 6.2% as it warns of an uncertain few months ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic
Housebuilder Persimmon was down in the doldrums after flagging up that the coronavirus could still spell an uncertain few months.
That was the message from the FTSE 100 firm, which raked in £3.3 billion of revenues last year despite lockdown disruption.
Nevertheless, its trading update pointed to a relatively strong 2020. The £3.3 billion was down just slightly from 2019’s £3.7 billion, and the average selling price of a house was up from £215,709 to £230,500.
Housebuilder Persimmon was down in the doldrums after flagging up that the coronavirus could still spell an uncertain few months
Persimmon put this down to pent-up demand for houses after the first lockdown, a surge in interest for larger houses, and the stamp duty holiday which is in place until March. But towards the end of the year, these factors began to wane. Weekly sales during the final quarter dipped, sparking caution among investors.
It also warned of the pandemic’s effect on ‘unemployment levels and consumer confidence’, which could damage house-buying, the impact of an end to the stamp duty holiday, and increased customs duties on supplies imported from the EU due to Brexit.
It added: ‘We recognise the elevated risk to the group’s planned build programmes presented by the higher transmission rates of the new variant of the Covid-19 virus.’
Unease caused shares to dip 6.2 per cent, or 173p, to 2612p. Persimmon ended up as the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, which was near-flat at 6745.52 points. But while the large-cap index was treading water, there were some bigger swings at the smaller end of the market.
Shares in Synairgen , listed on junior stock market Aim, rose 9.7 per cent, or 15p, to 169p as the British drugs firm began late-stage tests of a coronavirus treatment
Shares in Synairgen, listed on junior stock market Aim, rose 9.7 per cent, or 15p, to 169p as the British drugs firm began late-stage tests of a coronavirus treatment.
The first person was dosed yesterday as part of a fast-track study looking at the impact of the inhaled drug, usually used to treat lung disease, on hospitalised Covid patients.
STOCK WATCH: Touchstar
Technology business Touchstar was celebrating a year of profitability after demand for its products held up despite the pandemic. The tiddler, which uses gadgets to provide services such as proof of delivery, route planning and vehicle tracking for logistics firms, said it was ‘profitable’ in 2020, after it made £89,000 loss the year before. Chairman Ian Martin said he hoped that 2021 would be ‘more straightforward’. Shares climbed by 17 per cent, or 8.5p, to 58.5p.
Testing will take place in 20 countries, Synairgen said, and is expected to involve 610 patients. Synairgen boss Richard Marsden explained: ‘This trial presents an opportunity for a significant UK scientific breakthrough and, if given the right support, our drug could rapidly assist with the global crisis.’
The FTSE 250 was down 0.5 per cent, or 96.65 points, to 20616.31 points, amid rising fears that Britain’s economy would take some time to recover from the virus even with vaccines.
Fund manager Liontrust was one bright spot, climbing 8 per cent, or 100p, to 1350p. It said investors had piled in £792 million more than they had pulled out between October and December, and £2.5 billion more over the entirety of 2020. It now looks after £29.4 billion of savers’ money, up 83 per cent since January.
Howden Joinery was also on the rise. The company, which makes kitchen and joinery products, said that its sales had been stronger than expected towards the end of last year. Home improvement firms have been sustained by more households being at home and deciding to make changes.
Howdens now thinks its profits for 2020 will be £185 million – down from £260.7 million the year before, but higher than it initially thought Shares climbed 2.8 per cent, or 19.2p, to 713.2p.
Back among the smaller stocks, broadcaster STV rocketed after announcing profits for 2020 would be ‘comfortably ahead of expectations’ at a minimum of £18 million. The Scottish firm pulled in more money from advertising than the average of its rivals, and it saw a rise of 14 per cent in TV viewing and 68 per cent on its on-demand service. The shares leapt 14.6 per cent, or 43p, to 338p.