Pets at Home takes a lead as sales soar
THEY say every dog has its day. That was certainly true for Pets At Home, which soared 28pc, or 84.8p, to 390p yesterday, hitting an all-time high.
The FTSE 250 group – one of London’s best-performing retail stocks through lockdown – said resurgent trading momentum across its operations has continued over recent weeks, with customers shopping habits returning to pre-virus levels.
“It would appear that pets, especially dogs, have been an important comfort and component of the UK’s mental and physical health during the pandemic,” said Shore Capital’s Greg Johnson.
It achieved “double-digit” like-forlike sales growth over the eight weeks to Sept 10, adding: “This is testament to several factors, not least the inherent resilience in our pet care model and the underlying pet care market.”
Pets at Home said its underlying pre-tax profit is likely to be ahead of market expectations based on current trading, but warned Covid-19 “continues to create a number of material uncertainties around the trading environment”.
The rise left Pets At Home as the FTSE 250’s standout yesterday. Also rising strongly was National Express, up 15p at 140p, which said its performance had been “slightly above our previously guided base case”, with anticipated revenue at 50pc of pre-Covid levels at the end of August. The transport operator said its underlying liquidity remains “strong”, with several “notable contract wins” over recent months.
The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both underperformed indices across Europe as investors digested new restrictions and stimulus effort from the Government. The pound traded in a narrow range through the session.
London’s blue chips were dragged down by a string of heavyweight fallers, including AstraZeneca, down 253p at £85.59 after the pharmaceuticals giant said it is still awaiting approvals from US regulators to continue its vaccine trials in the country, having paused global trials after a participant grew ill.
Education group Pearson was the biggest riser on the FTSE 100, climbing 31.4p to 536.6p. Goldman Sachs analyst Katherine Tait said preliminary data on US undergraduate enrolments suggests numbers had fallen about 2.5pc, less than Pearson had feared.
Cineworld was the biggest drag on the FTSE 250, dropping 7.2p to 41.4p after revealing a $1.6bn (£1.25bn) first-half loss. Analysts warned the cinema chain’s future hangs on successful film launches.
Pub chain Mitchells & Butlers slipped slightly, falling 2.2p to 133.8p after saying food trading had taken a hit after the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Jefferies analyst James Wheatcroft said tightening restrictions “will likely undermine confidence in the timing of a return to normality”.