SHARES AND MARKET REPORT: WPP boosted by sales success of French rival

WPP CLOSED as one of the best performers in the FTSE 100 yesterday, as the advertising giant received a welcome boost from its rival, Havas. London-based traders were excited by better-than-expected sales growth figures from the French group. Havas' fourth-quarter numbers boasted of 4.6 per cent organic sales growth, and analysts said this bodes well for the likes of WPP.

Also supporting WPP was Credit Suisse First Boston, which was heard telling investors that upgrades to forecasts for the advertising giant are likely in the coming months. The broker is believed to have highlighted comments from Sir Martin Sorrell, the boss of WPP, at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos where he indicated that trading at the group is strong. WPP closed up 9.5p at 592p.

Outside the media sector, GlaxoSmithKline jumped 22p to 1,232p before today's fourth-quarter results from the pharmaceuticals group. The numbers are expected to show a 5.5 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 1.3bn. Smith & Nephew added 7.5p to 557.5p as vague takeover rumours again surrounded the company.

On the merger and acquisition front, Somerfield soared 22.5p to 184.5p after the supermarkets group admitted it had received a 190p-a-share offer from Iceland's Baugur. Numis Securities urged investors to sell into the strength in Somerfield's share price, warning them there is no certainty that Baugur will complete the deal. The broker also pointed out that the Icelandic group could lower its bid price as it did during its takeover of Big Food Group.

JJB Sports, up 8.75p to 220.25p, was tipped by traders as the next in line in the retail sector to be bid for. They believe a private equity offer is just around the corner.

Scottish & Newcastle dropped 0.5p to 455.5p after Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein played down the takeover speculation that has surrounded the company since the start of the year. The German broker argued that the purchase of S&N by one of its major rivals would not generate enough in the way of cost savings to make the deal attractive. It also pointed out that S&N shares now trade at a premium to the wider European beer industry, making the company too expensive to be attacked by a predator.

Bradford & Bingley lost 2.75p to 337.25p as Deutsche Bank told investors to sell the stock and urged them to switch into its rival, Northern Rock, steady at 796.5p. "B&B is the UK bank most dependent on the buy-to-let market, where we believe slowing house price inflation is likely to quell volume growth," the broker warned.

The FTSE 100 flirted with 5,000 for most of the session but closed just short of that psychologically important level at 4,990, down 5 points. In fact, a few hours before the end of business, the blue-chip index stood at 5,003 but was undermined by a weak start to trading on Wall Street. Nevertheless, brokers expect the index to close above 5,000 soon, most probably before the end of the week.

Citigroup Smith Barney called time on the awesome performance of insurer Britannic, off 15p to 495p. Shares in the group have soared by 70 per cent over the past 12 months but Citigroup believes they are now up with events and so cut its stance to "hold" from "buy".

Richmond Foods rose 10p to 652.5p on talk that the ice-cream maker continues to win market share. Robert Wiseman gained 6p to 268.5p on whispers that the milk producer is close to securing a major contract from a supermarket chain. XP Power added 5p to 526p despite news that its chief executive, Duncan Penny, had exercised options over 25,000 shares and then sold the stock at 522p. Who can blame him? Shares in the group have doubled in the past 12 months.

City legends Leonard Licht and Harry Soloman, who have kick-started the once-sleepy Falkland Island Holdings into action, were busy yesterday cashing in on their success. Mr Licht sold 400,000 shares at 450p while Mr Soloman, also a director at FIH, disposed of 200,000 at the same price. FIH, a major retailer on the islands, recently spun-off various natural resources assets on AIM, which has set its stock price alight. It is also in the process of acquiring the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company.

Brewin Dolphin ticked 0.25p higher to 125.25p on talk that business is booming at private client stock brokers, thanks to the recent strength in equity markets on both sides of the Atlantic. Finally, P&MM added 12p to 76.5p after a bullish trading statement from the marketing services specialist. Brokers rushed to upgrade their earnings forecasts for P&MM after the statement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?