MARKET REPORT: Not just any rally… M&S shares rise for a third day

Shares in Marks & Spencer rallied for a third day after two brokerages heaped praise on the retailer.

Credit Suisse and Berenberg increased their target prices – the amount they think the company’s shares are worth – after M&S took the market by surprise with a profit upgrade on Friday.

M&S signalled that revamps of its food and clothing divisions and changes to working practices were paying off. 

On the rise: Marks & Spencer signalled that revamps of its food and clothing divisions and changes to working practices were paying off

It was its first upgrade this century and follows years of struggles and constant restructuring that saw it booted out of the FTSE 100 in 2019. Credit Suisse brokers raised the target price from 185p to 215p.

Analysts there believe it will be a big beneficiary of the post-Covid reopening, in addition to its now-thriving online business.

Brokers at Germany’s Berenberg highlighted M&S’s improved online trading, after it teamed up with Ocado for home deliveries.

Stock Watch –  Mediazest

Investors piled into touchscreen maker Mediazest after it said business was thriving.

The AIM-listed firm makes interactive screens and moving wall displays typically used in shops.

Clients include Lululemon, Hyundai and Samsung.

Mediazest stopped short of upgrading its earnings forecasts, but said a combination of new work and several contracts being renewed meant there had been a ‘notable improvement’ in its performance during the second half.

It added that the outlook beyond September is ‘encouraging’. Shares rose 12.5 per cent, or 0.01p, to 0.07p.

They took a slightly more conservative approach, raising its targets from 195p to 200p. They too have a ‘buy’ rating on the company. 

After shooting to the top of the FTSE 250 leaderboard early in the day M&S later pared back gains. 

It still finished among the biggest risers, climbing 4.2 per cent, or 6.8p, to 170.7p, while Ocado rose 1.7 per cent, or 33.5p, to 1992p.

After rocketing on Monday on the back of reports it could be a private equity takeover target, Sainsbury’s lost steam yesterday, falling 4.9 per cent, or 16.5p, to 323.5p.

It was a good day across the board for reopening travel and leisure stocks, which took a knock recently when fears about the spread of the Delta variant were taking hold.

On the FTSE 100, Premier Inn-owner Whitbread gained 4.5 per cent, or 138p, to 3183p and British Airways-owner IAG rose 2.7 per cent, or 4.28p, to 164.74p. 

Meanwhile, on the mid-cap index cruise operator Carnival added 5.2 per cent, or 76.6p, to 1554.4p, Easyjet jumped 5.3 per cent, or 42.6p, to 843.4p and train station cafe owner SSP rose 4.1 per cent, or 10.8p, to 276.8p.

It was a good day for the two main indexes too. The FTSE 250 closed 0.61 per cent higher, up 145.52 points, at a record 23,886.01.

And the FTSE 100 rose 0.24 per cent, or 16.76 points, to 7125.78 amid gains among the index’s heavyweight miners, which often push the index higher. 

Rising commodity prices were behind the miners’ advances, which also saw oil prices jump for a second day.

Brent crude was back at the $70 a barrel mark, which sent BP 1.3 per cent higher, up 3.85p, to 298.85p, while Royal Dutch Shell rose by 0.9 per cent, or 120p, to 1425.8p. 

This no doubt gave energy industry services group Hunting a boost but it was also on the up after it bought a stake in a 3D-printing company based in Texas for £3.6million.

Bosses said the investment in Cumberland Additive was spurred by a growing interest in components made by 3D printing from customers in sectors including oil, space, aerospace and defence. It rose 2.2 per cent, or 4.4p, to 202p.

Defence contractor Babcock International rose 3.2 per cent, or 11.6p, to 371.6p after it teamed up with online security-focused tech company Arqit.

Over on AIM, Abingdon Health had a topsy-turvy day after the launch of an at-home Covid antibody test. It is manufacturing the biosure test, which requires only a small finger prick of blood and provides a result in 20 minutes.

Abingdon soared dramatically to over 80p, before plummeting back to its starting point – 60p.

And My Health Checked, which sells at-home Covid tests, rose 10.5 per cent, or 0.3p, to 3.15p after the Government cracked down on companies overcharging for their services. 

The Department of Health has said 82 providers – around 18 per cent of testing groups – have been displaying lower prices on the Government’s website than customers are charged.