Morning Financial Press Review 11/09/19
Paul Kettle
AM Press Round-Up -3 min read
06:48, 11th September 2019

Below are the key morning press headlines, featuring the The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail & more - see the full Press section here.

One of Cobham’s major shareholders is backing the aerospace and defence company’s current managers over a £4bn private equity bid for the business. Sanderson Asset Management has indicated it will vote against the management-backed 165p-a-share offer for Cobham (COB)FOLLOW  from US-based investor Advent International. Sanderson – which holds almost 3% of FTSE 250-listed Cobham – has written to the family of the company’s founder signalling it will go against the takeover at next week’s vote. Lady Cobham, widow of former chief executive Sir Michael Cobham, is leading a campaign to try to stop Advent’s bid. She fears that US ownership would see Cobham’s manufacturing work relocated abroad, harming the UK’s industrial base, and that the sale could raise national security issues.

JD Sports Fashion (JD.) FOLLOW claimed yesterday that its “vibrant retail theatre” is the reason for soaring sales and a boost in profits as the sportswear retailer highlighted its success compared to Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct. The company reported a 6.6% rise in pre-tax profits to £129.9 million for the six months to August 3, better than expected, as sales jumped by 47% to £2.7 billion. In stark contrast with the rest of the high street, it achieved a 10% rise in UK like-for-like sales, which measure income at stores open for more than a year.

Bovis Homes Group (BVS) FOLLOW is poised to become the fourth biggest housebuilder in Britain after revealing that it is in talks to buy Galliford Try (GFRD) FOLLOW housebuilding business for more than £1 billion. Bovis sold nearly 4,000 homes last year, will be able to increase its output to more than 10,000 homes a year if the purchase goes ahead, putting its sales closer to those of Britain’s three leading builders — Barratt Developments, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. The deal has been masterminded by Greg Fitzgerald, 55, chief executive of Bovis, who formerly ran Galliford. He established Galliford’s partnerships housing division, which builds homes for housing associations and local authorities. Under the proposed offer, Galliford will receive 0.574 Bovis shares for each of its own, worth £651.4 million based on last night’s closing price. Bovis also will take on £100 million of Galliford’s debt. Unlike the terms of a rebuffed offer Bovis made for the business three months’ ago, Galliford will receive an additional £300 million cash payment.

IP Group (IPO) FOLLOW blamed the crisis engulfing veteran fund manager Neil Woodford for a sluggish first half of the year. The investment company, which backs a mixture of private and Aim-listed early-stage technology businesses, said the “the well-publicised difficulties” experienced by Mr Woodford and his eponymous investment firm had “impacted” market sentiment towards the sector, damaging both company valuations and their ability to raise money. Mr Woodford is IP Group’s second-largest shareholder with a 13.42% stake. Both have invested in a number of the same companies, including biotech outfit Oxford Nanopore. IP Group is Oxford Nanopore’s largest shareholder, while it is estimated that Mr Woodford still owns around 12pc of the private company via both his suspended equity income fund and the Woodford Patient Capital Trust.

Shares in struggling fashion chain Superdry (SDRY) FOLLOW fell after analysts warned ‘radical’ change was needed. As it prepared to meet shareholders at the annual meeting today, Investec urged investors to sell their shares as the retailer’s target price was slashed from 490p to 370p. Investec was previously a broker for Superdry but quit this year after co-founder Julian Dunkerton orchestrated a boardroom clear-out and returned to head the firm, ousting former chief executive Euan Sutherland. Dunkerton has admitted it will take time to revive Superdry, which sunk to an £85million loss in July after it wrote off the value of poorly-performing stores. He blamed the ‘misguided strategy’ introduced by former management.

The gold price could push past its all-time record and progress beyond $2,000 an ounce over the next three years, according to Citigroup. The prospects for gold were strong because of political uncertainties, recession risk and the expectation that global interest rates are going lower for longer, the American investment bank said in a note to clients. It also pointed to strong buying of gold by central banks. Aakash Doshi, a Citi analyst, said in his most bullish scenario that the spot price could reach $2,150 by the end of 2022. Gold is seen as the ultimate safe-haven asset. However, it yields nothing and is costly to insure and store. At present at $1,497 an ounce, it hit an all-time high of $1,918 in August 2011. It fell to as low as $1,060 in December 2015. Since May it has been on a tear, soaring from $1,275 to $1,550 before drifting lower.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead Group (AHT) FOLLOW has notched up higher first-quarter profits as another bumper US performance offset tougher UK trading. The group reported a 9% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £319million for the three months to July 31, with group revenues jumping 22% to £1billion. Statutory pre-tax profits were 8% higher at £304.7million. Its Sunbelt business in the US and Canada drove the performance, thanks to higher rental demand for industrial gear and recent acquisitions in Canada. But its UK arm – called A-Plant – suffered a 31% plunge in operating profits to £15.4million as it said the market remained competitive.

Disclaimer & Declaration of Interest

The information, investment views and recommendations in this article are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engaging in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the writer but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. Vox Markets may receive payment from companies mentioned for enhanced profiling or publication presence. The writer may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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