Market Report: Investors optimistic despite William Hill's 'annus horribilis'


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The Independent Online

Investors today placed their bets that next year could be an annus mirabilis for William Hill, after what one analyst described as an “annus horribilis”.

Shares in the bookmaker jumped 10.5p, or 3.1 per cent, to 348p as analysts at Barclays decided that the incoming chief executive, James Henderson, will herald a new era. Barclays said “there could be reasons for optimism” and listed five areas that “could surprise investors” when Mr Henderson takes over from Ralph Topping and updates the market next month. Barclays expects its retail and online operations to work better together and marketing spend to be better used.

The online bookie Bwin.Party revealed that its most recent quarter has been helped, and hindered, by the World Cup. Favourable results were offset by poker players ditching online gambling to watch the tournament. Profit margins were a “little better” than expected, but overall trading between April and June “a little softer”, and it slipped 0.9p to 85.35p.

Comments from Janet Yellen, head of the US Federal Reserve, caused investors to hit the sell button and the FTSE 100 fell 35.69 points to 6,710.45.

It isn’t a household name in London like other recent floats including AA, Saga or Pets at Home, but a Russian supermarket group has outperformed the lot. Lenta, a 77-strong chain, is the best-performing main market London listing of 2014 so far, with the shares up more than 37 per cent. It floated at $10 in February and rose 0.19c to $13.80 after it said it expected its full-year 2014 sales to grow by 34 to 38 per cent. Today it said its second-quarter sales were ahead 39 per cent to 46.3bn roubles (£761m) and that it plans to open 24 hypermarkets and 15 supermarkets.

On the FTSE 250, Dairy Crest said its first-quarter trading was in line with expectations but that its Clover spreads business is still struggling. The shares eased 5.8p to 432.5p.

The AIM-listed video search group Blinkx has signed a deal with the Ladies Professional Golf Association to provide clips and video footage. The group, which said it was a victim of short selling earlier this year, rose 1p to 35.25p.