IG buoyed by lockdown trading surge
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.