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MARKET REPORT: Bunzl buys McCue Corp and MedShop as spree continues

FTSE 100 distribution firm Bunzl bounced into the blue-chip risers after unveiling two additions to its business.

One is McCue Corp, a Boston firm that sells safety bollards, queuing barriers and corner guards found in supermarkets.

The firm has operations in the US states of Massachusetts, Texas and California, as well as in the UK and other markets.

Shopping spree: FTSE 100 distribution firm Bunzl has bought Boston-based McCue Corp and Australian medical supplier MedShop

The second is Medshop, a medical supplies firm focused on Australia, which sells everything from stethoscopes to hand sanitiser. The group has operations in Melbourne as well as Singapore.

Bunzl completed the purchase of Medshop this month, with the McCue acquisition expected to be finalised later this year. 

While the prices were not revealed, analysts at Peel Hunt calculated it splashed out £256million, taking its acquisition spend to £390million this year.

Bunzl boss Frank van Zanten said McCue represented ‘an exciting expansion’ of the firm’s safety operations, while Medshop will allow it to target an expanded customer base in Australia. Shares rose 1.4 per cent, or 26p, to 2603p.

Stock Watch – Portmeirion

Portmeirion, the maker of Royal Worcester porcelain, climbed sharply after it reported a record set of half-year results.

For the six months to the end of June, the Stoke-on-Trent-based pottery firm posted a profit of £1.5million.

That swung from a £2.7million loss a year ago, while company revenues increased by 35 per cent to a record £43.1million.

The potter flagged up strong growth in its key South Korean market, adding that it also expects to resume dividend payments this year.

Portmeirion’s shares jumped 9.7 per cent, or 60p, to 680p on the back of the news.   

The FTSE 100 was down 0.5 per cent, or 34.37 points, at 7034.06, while the FTSE 250 dipped 0.4 per cent, or 88.47 points, to 23,687.26.

Miners weighed on the blue-chip index as sharp cuts to steel production in China sent iron ore prices to their lowest level in 10 months. 

China is attempting to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the steel industry, one of its biggest polluters.

The drop spooked analysts at Barclays, who downgraded their rating on BHP, sending the shares down 2.6 per cent, or 54.5p, to 2026p. 

The bank also trimmed target prices for Anglo American, which slipped 3.1 per cent, or 96.5p, to 2996.5p, Rio Tinto, sending it 2 per cent, or 108p, lower to 5179p, and FTSE 250 digger Ferrexpo, which slumped 9.4 per cent, or 35.8p to 343.6p.

Oil prices continued to rise as Hurricane Nicholas slammed into the US Gulf coast mere weeks after Hurricane Ida, meaning production in the area is likely to suffer disruption.

Brent crude rose towards $74 a barrel, but BP slipped 0.8 per cent, or 2.3p, to 300p and rival Shell dipped 0.4 per cent, or 5.4p, to 1451.2p.

Ticket booking app Trainline expects to return to profitability in 2022 as sales recover from the pandemic amid a surge in ‘staycation’ trips in the UK. 

Sales for the six months to August 31 stood at £1billion, up from £358million in the same period a year ago. Despite the positive update, the shares were down 2.6 per cent, or 9.8p, at 368.2p.

Kape Technologies, a privacy software firm controlled by Cypriot-Israeli gambling tycoon Teddy Sagi, jumped 14.3 per cent, or 50.5p, to 404p after a deal to acquire virtual private network outfit Express VPN for £676million. 

The company has tapped investors for £258million to help fund the purchase. Payments firm Equals Group was up 8.8 per cent, or 5p, at 62p after a record performance so far in its third quarter. 

Silver Bullet, a digital marketing and data specialist, was also lifted 2.8 per cent, or 7p, to 259.5p after securing a contract with Irish broadcaster RTE.

Audio recording firm Focusrite hit a bad note as it warned of supply constraints due to a global shortage of semiconductors and other components as well as ‘significantly higher’ shipping costs. Shares fell 2.3 per cent, or 40p, to 1675p.

Printer ink maker Xaar slid 13.8 per cent, or 31.4p, to 195.6p after a disappointing result. For the six months to June 30, it slumped to a £2.1million loss from a £1.3million profit in the same period last year.

Electric meter maker Smart Metering Systems also tumbled 13.7 per cent, or 140p, to 884p after completing a discounted fundraising to support its growing pipeline of orders. 

The group raised £175million by placing 19.4m new shares at 900p each, a 12 per cent discount to its Monday closing price.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk