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MARKET REPORT: Ocado shares soar as it declares ‘total victory’ in robot wars

MARKET REPORT: Ocado shares up 25% in the past two weeks as online grocery firm declares ‘total victory’ in robot wars

Shares in Ocado will be in the spotlight again today after it claimed ‘total victory’ in robot wars with a rival.

The stock has risen more than 25 per cent in the past two weeks including a jump of 10.3 per cent, or 49.2p, to 527.2p yesterday. 

The rally has come amid a growing feeling that the recent sell-off has been overdone and the business may be in better shape than feared.

The stock could get another leg up when trading resumes today after a High Court ruling in its favour.

After the market closed yesterday, Ocado said a judge has dismissed patent infringement claims brought against it by Norwegian rival Autostore.

Automated packing: Rival Autostore brought a patent infringement case in 2020 claiming Ocado had infringed six patents relating to the robots it uses in its warehouses

The case dates back to 2020 when Autostore claimed Ocado infringed six patents relating to the robots it uses in its warehouses. But a judge ruled in Ocado’s favour – a year after it won a similar victory in the US.

Declaring ‘total victory’, Ocado said: ‘As we have said consistently since the day the action was launched, we did not infringe any valid Autostore patents.

‘Once again a judge has proved we are right. Autostore’s decision to sue has been a complete waste of time – for us and them – and will now also be a further waste of money for them as we intend to seek a significant costs order.’

Moonpig soared after it clocked up its best week of sales in the UK ahead of Mother’s Day.

The online greetings card company said business was ‘resilient’ in recent months despite postal strikes, rising interest rates and subdued consumer spending.

It reiterated that revenue for the year to April 30 should come in at around £320million, up from £304million last year, and it expects a further rise in the 12 months to the end of April 2024. 

Shares soared 10.7 per cent, or 12.1p, to 125.7p, taking gains for the year to nearly 14 per cent.

Stock Watch – Petrofac

MARKET REPORT: Ocado shares soar as it declares 'total victory' in robot wars

Petrofac jumped 69.9% or 34.29p to 83.35p after the oil rig builder and Hitachi Energy won a contract worth more than £11billion to build six offshore wind projects.

The deal – the largest Petrofac has signed – was awarded by the Dutch-German electricity grid operator Tennet.

Each of the six involves supplying offshore platforms and onshore converter stations.

Five offshore wind farms will be connected to the Dutch grid, with the remaining one attached to German supplies.

The update marked a change of tone for Moonpig after a tough autumn. In December, it lowered its revenue forecast from £350million to £320million as business became ‘progressively more challenging’.

On the wider market, the FTSE 100 rose 0.7 per cent, or 56.16 points, to 7620.43 and the FTSE 250 was up 1.5 per cent, or 274.93 points, to 18,907.74. 

The Footsie has now made gains every day this week amid hopes the banking crisis that rattled global markets has been contained.

Inflation is on the slide in Europe. In Spain, it fell to 3.1 per cent from 6 per cent, while in Germany it fell from 9.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent.

This was still higher than expected, however, presenting the European Central Bank with another headache as it battles to control inflation.

Separate figures showed the US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year. Back in London, there will be a new face at M&C Saatchi.

The advertising firm hired Zillah Byng-Thorne as chairman from June 15. Byng-Thorne, who steps down as chief executive of magazine publisher Future today and also chairs customer review website Trustpilot. Shares rose 1.4 per cent, or 2.6p, to 192.6p.

Defence group Qinetiq won a contract worth up to £75million to develop night vision goggles for the US Army. It came only two months after an £80million contract with the UK Ministry of Defence. It fell 0.7 per cent, or 2.4p, to 322.4p.

S4 Capital was down 6.9 per cent, or 12p, to 161.4p after it nearly trebled its losses and warned its markets and clients were likely to grow more slowly this year.

Sir Martin Sorrell’s digital advertising agency widened losses from £56.7million to £159.6million last year, and made £1billion of revenue for the first time. 

It said a cocktail of economic woes, from inflation to higher interest rates and geopolitical uncertainty, was likely to affect it this year.