Market Report: Coca-Cola HBC stops the rot among Britain's blue chips


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The Independent Online

The bottling company Coca-Cola HBC was the king of the blue chips, up 97p at 1,420p, after smashing City forecasts with a 32 per cent jump in net profits to €125m (£89m) in the first six months of 2015. It managed to increase sales in Greece despite the debt crisis, but weakness in Russia, where the oil price and sanctions have hit the value of the rouble, and other currency movements meant revenues fell 1 per cent to €3.15bn.

Along with the travel giant TUI, up 69p at 1,114p, Coca-Cola HBC stopped the rot among Britain’s blue chips before early falls on Wall Street dragged the FTSE 100 2.86 points into the red at 6,568.33.

Energy stocks were the biggest drag, with Shell down 57p to 1,833.5p and BG 20p to 1,080p after another fall in the oil price.

Investors cashed in shares in Ladbrokes, down 0.6p at 106p, after investment bank Jefferies suggested merger target Coral is “not a perfect fit” for the bookie. Analyst Ian Rennardson said Coral’s online arm is only going great guns because of its casino games, adding: “As such, we don’t think it is equipped to help Ladbrokes grow its sportsbook.” Crucially, he thinks the pair will have to put around 600 of their 4,000 betting shops up for sale to appease the competition watchdog.

On the junior market, the shale gas explorer IGas Energy put on 2.75p to 29.75p as investors welcomed the Government’s move to prevent local councils from delaying planning decisions for fracking.

Egdon Resources, another AIM company with shale ambitions, rose 0.38p to 11.75p.

Utilitywise, the consultancy, fell 12.5p to 173.75p as Panmure Gordon cut its rating to sell. The downgrade, after a subdued outlook for profits in Wednesday’s trading update, means the company has lost more than 20 per cent of its value in two days.

Lansdowne Oil & Gas almost halved, down 3.5p  to 3.88p, after reporting a dry well in the Celtic Sea. All that remains in the AIM tiddler’s portfolio is a 20 per cent stake in the Barryroe oilfield, for which operator Providence Resources is still struggling to find a partner willing to stump up the funds.