Daily Mail

Bus battery deal is just the ticket for First Group

- By John Abiona

SHARES in First Group hit their highest level in more than ten years after it linked up with hitachi to bolster its fleet of electric buses.

The transport group’s stock rose 1.4pc, or 2.5p, to 178.7p – a level last seen in mid-2013 – as it took its gains for the year to 73pc.

The rally came after First Group and hitachi created a joint venture to supply batteries for its growing fleet of electric buses.

The newly created New Gen business will buy the batteries and lease them to First Bus for £100m over an eight-year period, with an option to extend the arrangemen­t for a further two years.

as well as providing cash, hitachi will also help prolong the battery life.

The Japanese giant already supplies and maintains some of the Ftse 250 group’s electric trains.

First Group chief executive Graham Sutherland said the ‘pioneering alliance’ is a ‘major strategic partnershi­p’ for the company.

The FTSE 100 rose 1.3pc, or 93.28 points, to 7504.25 and the FTSE 250 gained 1.2pc, or 216.39 points, to 18567.87.

The City issued a vote of confidence in Rolls-Royce ahead of the jet engine maker’s eagerly anticipate­d capital markets day in less than two weeks.

Deutsche Bank research said it expected the targets set out to be ‘bold enough’ to make the event a ‘welcome revolution’.

The broker reiterated its ‘ buy’ rating and raised its target price to 310p from 210p.

Shares, which have more than doubled this year, slid 0.2pc, or 0.5p, to 244p.

Astra Zeneca ended the week on a high after US regulators approved the pharma giant’s breast cancer treatment. Shares rose 0.9pc, or 94p, to 10260p.

Aston Martin cruised towards the top of the mid- cap leaderboar­d after the private equity firm arctos Partners bought a stake in the luxury car maker’s Formula One team that valued it at £1bn.

Shares revved up 6.1pc, or 13p, to 225.4p.

Investors in Babcock can now have ‘ more confidence’ in the defence group’s ‘ability to generate future cash returns’, Barclays said. The bank praised the company for its streamline­d business, strengthen­ed balance sheet, positive cash flow and reinstated dividend. It also upgraded its rating on the stock to ‘overweight’ from ‘equal-weight’ and hiked the target price to 529p from 325p.

Shares rose 2.6pc, or 10.4p, to 405.6p, taking its gains for the year to nearly 40pc.

CAB Payments extended its gains following reports on Thursday that a senior executive last week called a former top-20 investor to reassure them that the company would meet its revised forecasts. Shares increased 2.2pc, or 1.4p, to 64.9p.

November is proving to be a watershed month for the UK property firms, according to JP Morgan.

analysts at the bank said the sector has rallied 13pc so far and outperform­ed the Ftse all share by 10pc.

It pointed towards the impressive gains for the capital’s office landlords such as Workspace and Derwent London and raised the target prices of British Land and Land Securities by 25p.

JP Morgan added that it expects the Bank of england to hold interest rates at 5.25pc throughout the first half of next year.

Shares in British Land increased 4.5pc, or 15.9p, to 367.2p, Land Securities added 2.1pc, or 13.2p, to 653.4p, Workspace inched up 0.9pc, or 5p, to 587p and Derwent London rose 1.4pc, or 30p, to 2210p.

Pub chain Marston’s hired Justin Platt, the chief strategy officer at Merlin entertainm­ents, to be its next boss. Shares fell 0.5pc, or 0.15p, to 32.35p.

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