Interactive Investor

FTSE 250 continues its charge while its big brother stalls

22nd July 2021 15:38

Graeme Evans from interactive investor

We round up the main action in the FTSE 100 and 250, examining the big influences on markets today.

The record of outperformance by the FTSE 250 index continued today as Morgan Sindall Group (LSE:MGNS) and Volution Group (LSE:FAN) joined the select band of mid-caps trading at all-time highs.

The domestic-focused FTSE 250 rose 1% and is already back in sight of this month's record, having overcome Monday's volatile session to add more than 275 points over the week.

In contrast, the recovery of the FTSE 100 index stalled at close to 7,000 as the impact of a stronger pound was felt by dollar earning companies.

Miners and oil giants including BP (LSE:BP.) were all lower, despite markets appearing more relaxed about the twin threats of rising prices and slower-than-expected growth caused by the spread of the Delta variant.

Royal Mail (LSE:RMG) and gaming company Flutter Entertainment (LSE:FLTR) were among the biggest blue-chip risers after benefiting from broker upgrades, but there was no matching the FTSE 250 for excitement after a second session in a row of of big earnings upgrades.

Future (LSE:FUTR) and Computacenter (LSE:CCC) were yesterday's star performers after boosting forecasts, with the Marie Claire publisher up another 5% today to a fresh high of 3,662p.

Shares started the year at 1,770p and have rallied on the back of robust digital ad income and diminishing City scepticism about the merits of its GoCompare takeover last year.

IT services company Computacenter, which now expects to beat even last year's pandemic-fuelled strong performance, rose another 70p today to trade near a record high at 2,670p.

Star billing among today's crop of upgrades was Morgan Sindall after an unscheduled update revealed the construction and property fit-out group now thinks it will deliver 2021 profits significantly ahead of City expectations.

Strong trading conditions, fuelled by the pandemic recovery, have boosted the order book and aided margins as Morgan said half-year profits of about £53 million are set to be 46% higher than the pre-pandemic trading period in 2019.

Shares rose 12% to 2,360p, which is still 40p short of Peel Hunt's new price target based on what it sees as “clear operational and market momentum”.

Volution only joined the FTSE 250 index in June but has already left its mark, with shares up another 4% to a fresh record of 471.5p after the maker of fans and energy efficient ventilation products upgraded earnings forecasts for the year.

Increasing awareness of the importance of indoor air quality have helped the business, alongside a strong housing market and demand for low carbon and silent solutions in this year's flurry of home refurbishments.

Revenues for the year to 31 July are expected to be 15% ahead of the same period two years ago, leading to an earnings per share figure higher than the current 20.5p guidance.

Howden Joinery Group (LSE:HWDN), a supplier of kitchens to trade customers, is also benefiting from similar favourable trading conditions after revealing today revenues jumped by a fifth on 2019 to £784.9 million, leading to earning per share 59% higher at 16.4p.

It flagged the strong figures in an upgrade a week ago, but shares still rose 24.6p to 904p to give Howden a valuation well above £5 billion as the second largest stock in the FTSE 250.

Shares rose as chief executive Andrew Livingston said the recent performance showed the potential for 900 depots in the UK, compared with 755 currently.

Other stocks doing well in the FTSE 250 included transport group FirstGroup (LSE:FGP) after it surprised investors by promising a bigger return of cash from the now completed sale of its US operations First Student and First Transit.

This autumn's planned distribution is expected to be worth 41p a share or £500 million, rather than the £365 million originally thought.

The increase, which reflects higher proceeds of $3.1 billion (£2.3 billion) from the sale to EQT Infrastructure, helped shares rally 3p to 82.6p although they remain a long way off the record 650p seen in 2007.

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    UK shares
    Consumer goods and services