Market Report: M&S up on talk Bolland's plan may make its Marc

 

It has been 15 months since Marc Bolland unveiled his three-year plan for Marks & Spencer and – judging by the market's reaction – investors have hardly been blown away. Since the boss of the high street institution, who had started the job just six months earlier, announced an ambitious, £900m investment program in November 2010, its share price has dropped more than 10 per cent.

Yet last night the retailer finished at its highest for seven months, powering up 6.7p to 360.1p, after UBS claimed evidence the strategy is working could be just around the corner.

Scribblers from the broker said that – as well as the tough economic situation facing shoppers – M&S's share price has been hurt by the lack of any explicit details regarding the plan, but that this should change with the release of its preliminary results in May.

Claiming "very little [is] incorporated in current consensus estimates for the three-year plan", they predicted that any signs the strategy may be working will see its share price "react very positively".

As well as raising their recommendation from "neutral" to "buy", the analysts also announced they were turning more positive on the sector as a whole, citing recent economic data plus the retailers' performance over Christmas.

B&Q-owner Kingfisher – which, along with M&S, was chosen as one of UBS's top picks – climbed 3.3p to 284.4p. The two were also highlighted for having a major opportunity online given the current disparity between their internet sales and overall market share.

Some of the high street names on the mid-tier index were also enjoying a strong session. Carpetright ticked up 7.5p to 680.5p as vague rumours its boss and founder, the Conservative peer Lord Harris of Peckham, could be considering trying to take the company private continued to do the rounds.

However, former Comet-owner Kesa Electricals was knocked back 0.95p to 75.3p, despite the news that Knight Vinke had yet again raised its holdings, with the activist shareholder's stake now standing at 21.3 per cent.

There was also some notable changes in the share register for Tesco (0.2p worse off at 318p) as it was revealed fund manager Blackrock's stake had dropped to 4.96 per cent, even though the supermarket share price has fallen more than a fifth since last month's profits warning,

It was a stark contrast to the recent decision by the "Sage of Omaha", Warren Buffett – whose Berkshire Hathaway investment vehicle is now Tesco's second-largest shareholder – to use the plummet as an opportunity to top up his holdings.

Overall, continuing fears regarding the effects of high oil prices and disappointment over the stance taken towards the eurozone debt crisis by G20 finance ministers over the weekend meant the FTSE 100 stayed below the 5,900 level for most of the session. However, promising US manufacturing data helped a late rally which limited the top-tier index's losses, and it finished 19.58 points worse off at 5,915.55.

While HSBC dipped 21.4p to 553.5p following its final results, it was Essar Energy which was standing out like a sore thumb after slumping 14.6 per cent to 107.6p. The miner – which looks set to be relegated in the next indices reshuffle – set a new, all-time low after its full-year earnings missed forecasts by $60m (£37.8m).

The decision to delay the trial over the Gulf of Mexico tragedy by a week, meant that BP advanced 5.5p to 501.7, with hopes growing the energy giant is close to reaching a settlement.

Among the oil groups on the FTSE 250, vague bid rumours continued to help Ophir Energy as the explorer shifted up 5.9p to 431.9p to set a new, all-time high.

The ongoing battle for Cove Energy has sparked hopes Ophir, which is also exploring in Africa, could be next for an approach, with RBC's Al Stanton saying it shows that "if a junior builds up a substantial resource base, big oil will take it out".

Cove itself edged back 0.25p to 234.75p on AIM, although it was still well ahead of the 220p a share that PTT offered last week to trump an earlier, 195p-a-pop approach from Shell (down 7p to 2,346p).

Although Goldman Sachs warned the recent rally in the oil explorers' share prices meant widespread M&A activity was now less likely, analysts from the broker also added that "compelling ... candidates exist". They named a number of names in the sector whom they said looked attractive, including the Falklands driller Rockhopper, which nonetheless slid back 4p to 389.5p.

Meanwhile, market gossips were also suggesting the mid-tier oil firm Exillon Energy as another potential target, citing Lukoil as a possible aggressor, although – with dealers playing down the vague speculation – it dropped 3.4p to 237p.

FTSE 100 Risers

l Bunzl 952p (up 21.5p, 2.31 per cent) Packaging firm takes the top spot on the benchmark index after beating forecasts by announcing an 11 per cent jump in its pre-tax profits for the year.

l International Airlines Group 162.9p (up 2.5p, 1.56 per cent) Having dipped more than 7 per cent over the last four sessions thanks to rising oil prices, British Airways-owner finally manages to bounce.

FTSE 100 Fallers

l Pearson 1,204p (down 47p, 3.76 per cent) Financial Times-publisher narrowly beats forecasts with its full-year results but is still knocked back as it warns trading in 2012 is likely to remain tough.

l International Power 449.3p (down 12.7p, 2.75 per cent) Power generator finishes in the red for the first time in four sessions despite vague rumours persisting that GDF Suez could try to take full control.

FTSE 250 Risers

l Perform 282p (up 12p, 4.44 per cent) Digital sports media company manages to set a new, all-time high after revealing it has struck a deal to increase its South American football rights.

l Cookson 685p (up 14.5p, 2.16 per cent) Industrial materials group is pushed up as it announces that its growing exposure to developing markets will help its sales grow during 2012.

FTSE 250 Fallers

l Afren 140.1p (down 5.9p, 4.04 per cent) Africa-focused oil group retreats as investors choose to bank profits after seeing its share price advance more than 70 per cent this year alone.

l Senior 195.4p (down 5.6p, 2.79 per cent) Aero engineer slips back despite revealing a 19 per cent jump in its full-year profits, with Peel Hunt blaming its recent rise for removing its "buy" advice.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker