MARKET REPORT: Smith & Nephew in rude health as demand soars

Smith & Nephew was in rude health after it raised its forecasts on the back of booming demand for its medical devices.

The FTSE 100 company, which provides hip and knee implants, said it expects revenue for 2023 to increase by between 5 per cent and 6 per cent.

That’s better than the 4.7 per cent rise in revenues to £4.3billion it reported for 2022. But profit fell to £195million from £485million a year earlier, as it was hit by higher freight costs.

Smith & Nephew, which provides hip and knee implants, said it expects revenue for 2023 to increase by between 5% and 6%

Smith & Nephew’s strongest quarter came during the final three months of 2022 when revenue rose 6.8 per cent to £1.13billion.

The group remained hopeful for a recovery in orthopaedics, its largest division, after rising Covid cases in China hit the number of operations taking place.

Trading was stronger across the two other divisions – the sports medicine & ear, nose and throat business and the advanced wound management arm – which make up 60 per cent of all sales. Shares rose 4.2 per cent, or 49p, to 1210.5p.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent, or 36.56 points, to 7977.75 and the FTSE 250 was down 1.2 per cent, or 247.56 points, to 19850.85.

A host of mining updates weighed on the London market. Anglo American sank 5.5 per cent, or 183.5p, to 3154p after its subsidiary Kumba Iron Ore said production forecasts for this year would not be reached until 2025 as a result of ongoing issues with South Africa’s state-owned freight transport Transnet.

Things were not much better for Antofagasta, which slashed its dividend by nearly 60 per cent after a steep drop in profits.

It will pay shareholders a total dividend of 59.7 cents for 2022 –down from a record 142.5 cents per share a year earlier. Profits fell nearly 40 per cent as sales weakened and the cost of doing business soared.

Revenues plunged more than 20 per cent following lower copper production due to a drought and pipeline incident at its Los Pelambres mine in Chile. Shares fell 2.2 per cent, or 39p, to 1722p.

Stock Watch – Aurrigo International

Aurrigo International will develop and test its automatic baggage-handling robots with a Singapore airport group.

The Coventry-based tech firm’s Auto-Dolly vehicles will be tested at Changi Airport with a view to potentially being rolled out if successful.

The electric devices would replace hundreds of manual diesel trailers that drive baggage around an airport.

The Aim-listed firm’s shares, which floated at 48 per cent in September last year, rose 7.4 per cent, or 8.5p, to 123.5p.

Matters were not helped by BHP, which reported a 30 per cent slump in profits during the second half of 2022 after the market closed on Monday. Shares were down 3.6 per cent, or 104p, to 2751p.

There was also little to celebrate for fraud prevention specialist GB Group after it warned business was still tough in North America.

The firm, which develops software to help customers verify data such as addresses, said revenue for the year to the end of March is now set to be around £279million – below the £292million expected by analysts.

Its forecast for profits of £60million also falls short of market expectations of £67million. Shares slid 4.1 per cent, or 14.2p to 330p.

Meanwhile, UK Oil and Gas jumped 25.6 per cent, or 0.02p, to 0.08p after a report said its Loxley gas discovery nearly ten miles south of Guildford, Surrey, could be worth up to £124million.

Blancco Technology, which offers software that can erase data on old laptops and mobiles, saw its revenue rise 22 per cent to £24million for the six months to December.

Profit jumped 42 per cent to £2.6million during the period. Shares rose 15.6 per cent, or 25.5p, to 188.5p.

Elsewhere, biotechnology group Scancell shot up 11.1 per cent, or 2p, to 20p after positive early clinical results from its vaccine to treat four different types of cancer.

Wizz Air fell after Barclays downgraded the airliner to ‘underweight’ from ‘overweight’ and cut the target price to 2400p from 3000p. Shares sank 4.9 per cent, or 132p, to 2545p.

Vodafone has taken another step towards streamlining its African portfolio. The telecoms giant completed the sale of its 70pc stake in Vodafone Ghana to Telecel Group.

The Ghanaian government will retain its 30 per cent minority shareholding. Vodafone shares fell 1.1 per cent, or 1.1p, to 101.6p.