MARKET REPORT: Weir Group sees stocks stutter after cyber-attack

Mining equipment maker Weir Group saw its shares tumble as investors digested news that it had been hit by a cyber-attack.

The stock fell 2.5 per cent, or 40.5p, to 1607p on Friday after the FTSE 250 engineer said on Thursday night that an ‘attempted ransomware attack’ late last month had hit its profits.

Ransomware is a type of computer software that infiltrates an IT network and threatens to publish, block or destroy private data unless the hacker is paid.

Cyber attack: Weir Group shares fell 2.5 per cent on Friday after the FTSE 250 engineer said on Thursday night that an ‘attempted ransomware attack’ late last month had hit its profits

Weir said the attack had not impacted its orders and that all of its facilities were operational, however, the incident had caused shipping delays and its capabilities would be affected over the rest of 2021.

As a result, the company said its profit for the year is expected to be between £230million and £245million, around 10-15 per cent lower than previous forecasts.

Despite its IT troubles, analysts at broker Shore Capital said Weir was still ‘well positioned to take advantage of market dynamics in the long-term’. 

They added: ‘Population growth, the convergence of living standards in developing economies, urbanisation, ore grade decline and decarbonisation all point in Weir’s favour as demand for essential mining commodities is growing/required, especially for battery metals given the significant expected transition into renewables.’

Stock Watch – N Brown

N Brown, the owner of the Jacamo and Simply Be clothing brands, got a lift after it hailed the success of its turnaround strategy.

For the half-year to the end of August, the fashion company reported a profit of £24.2million, up 7 per cent year-on-year, despite a 0.1 per cent decline in revenues to £346million.

N Brown – which also owns Ambrose Wilson and Home Essentials – has stepped up its marketing in recent months, signing up new brand ambassadors, including TV presenters Davina McCall and Amanda Holden for its JD Williams line.

The shares jumped 2.5 per cent, or 1.18p, to 48.5p.

The view was echoed by analysts at Peel Hunt, who said despite the ‘very serious’ cyber-attack Weir had also outlined ‘an encouraging trading backdrop’ which reinforced their confidence in the stock.

The FTSE 100 was barely moved, up 0.25 per cent, or 17.51 points, to 7095.55 while the FTSE 250 dipped 0.1 per cent, or 23.05 points, to 22536.17. 

A disappointing set of jobs numbers, which showed the US economy added 194,000 roles in September, well below predictions of 500,000, took the wind out of the market’s sails.

British Airways-owner IAG was on the ascent, rising 1.6 per cent, or 2.9p to 179.72p after the Government unveiled plans to remove 47 countries from its ‘red list’. 

Nations due to be removed from the list on Monday include tourist hotspots such as South Africa, Thailand and Mexico.

Electrocomponents was boosted by 0.2 per cent, or 2p, to 1077p as it said trading in the six months to October had been ahead of its expectations. 

The maker of computer circuit boards and factory control systems said revenues in the period were up 31 per cent year-on-year, and as a result, its full-year profit margin was expected to be slightly ahead of previous expectations.

Volex, a maker of power cables and electrical plugs, charged up 0.2 per cent, or 1p, to 428.5p after it snapped up two Canadian firms for £13million in cash. 

The group said the two new companies, manufacturing firm Prodamex and wire harness maker Terminal & Cable, will expand its presence in the key North American market once the acquisition completes in the third quarter of next year.

Clean fuel specialist ITM Power surged 1.5 per cent, or 5.6p, to 389p after its consortium received a £27million grant from the European Union to develop a 100-megawatt hydrogen electrolyser in Germany.

The electrolyser produces hydrogen which can then be used as a source of green energy.

ITM said it expects to complete the project in 2024.

Bloomsbury, the Harry Potter publisher, also got a bump early on after one of its authors, Zanzibar-born Abdulrazak Gurnah, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shares eventually dropped back and closed flat at 343p.

Online fashion giant Boohoo wept as its shares dropped 2.3 per cent, or 4.5p, to 187.95p after a series of target price cuts from brokers.

Analysts at Berenberg slashed their target on the retailer to 350p from 460p while Credit Suisse trimmed their price to 265p from 350p.

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