IG buoyed by lock­down trad­ing surge

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Louis ash­worth market re­port

LOCK­DOWN trad­ing fever boosted IG Group, send­ing its shares 6pc higher. Net trad­ing rev­enues dur­ing the three months to the end of Au­gust, IG’s first quar­ter, were £209m, up 62pc on the same pe­riod last year.

The group said its per­for­mance was driven by “a com­bi­na­tion of con­tin­ued high lev­els of trad­ing ac­tiv­ity from ex­ist­ing clients and growth in the ac­tive client base”, with to­tal ac­tive clients up 50pc on 2019’s lev­els.

June Felix, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Al­though there was some mod­er­a­tion from the ex­cep­tional per­for­mance in Q4, our first-quar­ter re­sults demon­strate IG’s con­tin­ued strength.”

Royal Bank of Canada’s Ben Bathurst said the re­sults were strong, adding IG’s per­for­mance through the pan­demic would con­tinue to pro­duce long-term ben­e­fits for the group. Shares rose 47.5p to 837p.

The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both slipped slightly, with a down­beat mood on mar­kets set by the US Fed­eral Re­serve’s fore­casts re­leased on Wed­nes­day night.

Next was the blue-chip stand­out, ris­ing 256p to £64.26 af­ter re­port­ing solid re­sults that drew praise from an­a­lysts. On the FTSE 250, IG’s gains left it closely matched with Train­line as the biggest mid-cap ris­ers. Shares in the ticket book­ing site rose 21.8p to 406.8p af­ter it re­ported a mod­est re­cov­ery in pas­sen­ger num­bers in its first-half re­sults.

The group said its net ticket sales were at 19pc of 2019 lev­els dur­ing the six months to the end of Au­gust – ris­ing to 30pc in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter just 9pc in the first. Over­all, rev­enues were at 24pc of 2019 lev­els.

Clare Gil­martin, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We have rapidly pro­cessed un­prece­dented lev­els of cus­tomer re­funds, re­duced costs and en­sured we have enough liq­uid­ity to op­er­ate for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

At the op­po­site end of the mid-cap in­dex, gam­bling soft­ware group Playtech stum­bled 25p to 366.5p af­ter man­age­ment sounded cau­tion over its out­look. The group’s rev­enues to the end of June fell 23pc to €564m (£515m) com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2019, with prof­its sink­ing 71pc to €10.5m. It said it was per­form­ing well, but re­mained “cau­tious about the out­look for re­tail”.

Among small-caps, Kier shares bounced back 6.6p to 61.4p af­ter touch­ing a record low on Wed­nes­day, as the con­struc­tion out­sourcer re­ported full-year re­sults that topped an­a­lysts’ ex­pec­ta­tions.

Its an­nual loss be­fore tax re­mained fairly flat at £225.3m, com­pared to 2019’s £229.5m loss. Rev­enues slipped 13pc to £3.42bn. It in­curred di­rect Covid-19 costs of £45m. Look­ing past the virus-linked costs, Liberum’s Joe Brent said the per­for­mance was ahead of ex­pec­ta­tions, adding the com­pany now had some much-needed breath­ing space af­ter rene­go­ti­at­ing its debt covenants.

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