Covid-19 has finally helped move one of the London market’s most notorious flotations closer to profitability.
Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer small business lender, said second-half adjusted ebitda will be no lower than £15m, well ahead of previous expectations. The company said the pandemic had accelerated the industry shift online, resulting in record loans under management and originations, and that achieving underlying profitability in the second half was a “significant milestone for the business”.
Floated in 2018 with a value of £1.5bn, Funding Circle plummeted from its IPO price of 440p to just 44p by early 2020 as marketing and staff costs led losses to balloon. The shares closed on Friday at 90p.
Spirent said it will consider returning cash to shareholders. In a trading update, the network testing specialist said that full-year earnings would meet consensus forecasts, with revenue up 4 per cent to $522m on increased demand as 5G equipment continues to roll out.
Equiniti, the corporate services outsourcer, said it was in talks to divest EQi, its direct-to-consumer financial services division best known as Selftrade. The update came after Sky News reported that rival share trading platform Interactive Investor was close to securing a deal for EQi with a value of around £50m.
Genus, the farmyard eugenicist, said in a trading update that it will beat previous guidance for the fiscal year ending June 2021. Pig breeding in China was the star performer for Genus though it also noted a strong performance for its bovine business. The company targeted first-half adjusted profit of between £47m and £49m, suggesting growth of nearly 30 per cent year-on-year, though it cautioned that the second half will be tougher in part due to higher levels of investment.
Sausage skin maker Devro said trading in the final months of 2020 was slightly ahead of management's expectations, driven by higher volumes and margins, so underlying operating profit for the full year will be around the upper end of current analyst forecasts.
CPP, the services group for insurers and financial companies, said business had bounced back stronger than expected in India, its key growth market. That, combined with a “steady” performance for its UK and European portfolios and a “resilient” out-turn in Turkey, meant 2020 results would beat forecasts, CPP said. It guided for revenue of £140m and ebitda of between £7.1m and £7.3m versus the current market consensus of £133m and £6.4m respectively.
Music rights fund One Media iP said it has bought producer royalties on a selection of early Take That recordings “for a modest consideration”.
Centrica chief financial officer Johnathan Ford has decided to step down after less than a year in the role. The British Gas owner said Mr Ford’s departure was for personal reasons and appointed company veteran Kate Ringrose, currently group financial controller, as his replacement with immediate effect.
Beyond the Square Mile
Fitch Ratings has struck a partnership with a French artificial intelligence start-up as it seeks to improve its early detection of misconduct after a spate of high-profile banking scandals around the world. The credit rating agency led a funding round for Paris-based Sigma Partners, which runs software that scours publicly available information for corporate governance risks.
Suez has agreed to open discussions with rival Veolia, the French waste and water group, after receiving an alternative proposal from two investment funds on Sunday night. Veolia purchased 29.9 per cent of its rival last year, a deal that values Suez at more than €11bn but led to one of the most vicious takeover battles that France has seen for years.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has successfully put a rocket in space. Eight months after a previous test ended in failure, the company’s LauncherOne rocket was on Sunday dropped from a Boeing 747 — nicknamed Cosmic Girl — off the coast of southern California and moments later headed towards space. The company said it would now “transition into commercial service for its next mission”.
Essential comment before you go
“Vaccines are wonderful, but they’re not a magic wand,” says Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, in conversation with Martin Wolf, the FT’s chief economics commentator. The two discuss the prospects for the global economy after the worst recession since the depression.
Markets have a whiff of simmering frog about them. Nearly every day something extraordinary crops up to remind us that the whizz-bang rush into risky bets may be getting out of hand.
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