Wednesday, 27 March: It was another fundamental day in UK Parliament, as alternatives to PM May’s Brexit deal were discussed over the course of the afternoon. It comes in a day where some Brexiteers seemed to change their mind, and announce they would back May’s plan, but the DUP still seem to be against doing so. The story continues to unfold, and as we leave for the day. May is set to meet Tory backbenchers to further attempt to lure them over to her deal.
Brexit noise swayed the movement of sterling, and as discussions progressed over the day, the pound moved in to the green against the euro and US dollar. This, in turn, impacted movements on London indices, the FTSE 100 closing -0.15% after it began the day in the green. Progress in US/China trade talks buoyed many Asian markets overnight, although major European markets didn’t follow the same sentiment; the CAC and DAX falling 0.12% and 0.05% respectively at Wednesday’s close following cautious comments from ECB President Mario Draghi about negative interest rates. Over on Wall Street, global growth uncertainty offset trade talk optimism as the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both traded in the red at the time of writing.
Back in London, Bellway and Goals Soccer were two stocks of interest. The former announced revenue growth in its half year results, driven higher by an increase in housing volumes while the average selling price (ASP) rose 6.5%. A dividend increase is sure to please investors, however, the group warned of margin pressures to come; margins are expected to be flat over the remainder of the year before gradually moderating over the next year. Shares rose 2.17%. At the opposite end of the scale, Goals Soccer Centres, the 5-a-side football operator was forced to suspend its shares on the junior AIM market following an assessment of its historical accounting errors and policies. These errors aren’t minor – the group look to have been victim of a “substantial misdeclaration of VAT, going back over several years”, with the sum currently looking at £12m. Discussions with HMRC are to begin. Also included in the announcement was that trading since 8 March has continued to be strong – just for good measure.
Goals Soccer can only lead us on to Sports Direct (the latter holds c.19% of Goals). The Sports Direct/Debenhams story took another twist (and a hattrick of appearances in this week’s blog) as the former now looks to mulling an all cash offer for the department store. At 5p per share, the potential offer represents a premium of over 125% to yesterday’s close, and values Debenhams at £61.4m. This is Mike Ashley at the steering wheel, so any potential offer comes with conditions… Mike Ashley would immediately be appointed as Debenhams’ CEO and Debenhams should not pursue any third party funding arrangements (including those that were announced last week). We now wait to see if any offer is made, but hopefully tomorrow, neither Sports Direct nor Debenhams should make the blog.