MARKET REPORT: Barratt building on strong foundations

Housebuilder Barratt was one of the top blue-chip risers after it shrugged off the end of the stamp duty holiday and changes to Help to Buy to deliver strong sales of new homes.

The FTSE 100 firm said it had seen ‘continued strength in customer demand’ over the summer, with buyers reserving around 281 homes every week between July and October. 

The company’s order book expanded to £3.9billion from £3.6billion a year ago while the average house sale cost crept up to £344,300 from £331,400.

Building boom: Housebuilder Barratt said it had seen ‘continued strength in customer demand’ over the summer months

Barratt also said it had built 3,699 homes, down from 4,032 over the same period last year which had benefited from a surge in activity following the relaxation of the first UK lockdown.

As a result, the firm reiterated its plans to complete at least 17,000 homes in the year to the next June.

‘The positive start to the new financial year has continued in recent weeks with private reservations remaining strong. 

Stock Watch – Angling Direct 

Fishing tackle retailer Angling Direct bobbed higher after upgrading its full-year profit forecasts following a strong first half.

For the six months to August, the group reeled in a profit of £3.7million, more than double the £1.4million in the same period a year ago, while revenues bounced 19.5 per cent higher to £38.4million.

Angling Direct said it now expects its earnings for the year to the end of January 2022 will be ‘no less’ than £5million… comfortably exceeding current market expectations’.

The shares jumped 10.9 per cent, or 7p, to 71p.  

This is encouraging given the significant year on year reduction in Help to Buy reservations and the ending of the stamp duty holiday.

‘We have not experienced any significant disruption to our build programme as a result of the challenging supply chain environment’, said Barratt boss David Thomas.

The assessment sent the shares up 6.3 per cent, or 40p to 682.2p. Analysts at Peel Hunt were also impressed, upgrading the firm to ‘buy’ from ‘add’. 

The news lifted other building firms, with Vistry Group rising 4.7 per cent, or 53p, to 1178p while Persimmon climbed 3.6 per cent, or 92p, to 2,657p, Berkeley added 1.7 per cent, or 72p to 4278p, Taylor Wimpey jumped 3.9 per cent, or 5.9p, to 155.3p and Redrow rose 2.4 per cent, or 16p to 670.8p. 

The FTSE 100 barely moved, rising just 0.16 per cent, or 11.59 points to 7141.82 while the FTSE 250 rose 0.74 per cent, or 166.37 points to 22635.27.

Investors appeared to be unsure of which direction to turn after UK GDP data showed that the economy picked up in August but was below pre-pandemic levels. 

Supply chain issues and the fuel crisis left many wondering if momentum could be maintained.

British Gas owner Centrica saw its shares cool, falling 4.5 per cent, or 2.8p to 58.3p after it postponed a capital markets event due to the ‘unprecedented’ volatility in energy markets.

Company boss Chris O’Shea said the company was instead focused on looking after its customers in what he said was an ‘unprecedented commodity price environment’.

Food delivery app Just Eat flagged that hungry UK households have placed one 1bn orders on its platform since its 2001 creation, including 266m orders in the third quarter of this year.

Although order numbers were 25 per cent up on last year, the rate of growth was slower than previous quarters, sending the shares down 1.7 per cent, or 92p, to 5414p.

Cybersecurity firm Darktrace surged 7.7 per cent, or 64.5p to 904.5p after lifting its full-year revenue guidance. 

The company said it had seen a strong performance in the three months to October, with revenues up nearly 51 per cent year-on-year, it expects revenues for its 2022 financial year to grow by between 37 per cent and 39 per cent, up from previous estimates.

Asset manager Man Group was another strong mid-cap riser after its funds under management grew to a record £102billion in the three months to October from £99billion at the end of June.

The company highlighted ‘very strong’ inflows of funds and a solid performance from its investments, adding that the positive momentum is expected to continue into the following quarter.

Shares rose 7.6 per cent. or 15.4p to 218.2p.

Meanwhile, publican Marston’s dropped 0.1 per cent, or 0,05p to 72.8p after a rebound in sales following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions in April.

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