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FTSE 100 movers: AstraZeneca slumps on results; DS Smith surges

(Sharecast News) - London's FTSE 100 was down 0.2% at 7,614.99 in afternoon trade on Thursday. AstraZeneca lost ground after it delivered a 6% increase in sales in 2023 despite a $3.7bn decline in Covid-19 medicines revenues, as it guided to a strong pick-up in growth this year, but profits came in slightly below analysts' forecasts.

SSE was also in the red after a third-quarter trading statement.

Packaging company DS Smith surged as it confirmed it had received "a highly preliminary expression of interest" from rival Mondi.

"The board of DS Smith understands that Mondi is considering a possible offer for DS Smith although no proposal has been received at this stage," it said in a brief statement.

DS Smith said there can be no certainty as to whether any proposal will be made or the terms of any such proposal and that a further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.

Peer Smurfit Kappa also rallied.

British American Tobacco gained despite saying it swung to a full-year loss mainly due to an impairment charge related to its US business, as investors cheered the fact the company has hit its targets on new categories sooner than expected.

In its preliminary results for the year to the end of December 2023, the company said it swung to a reported loss from operations of £15.75bn from a profit of £10.52bn the year before, impacted by a £27.6bn non-cash impairment charge mainly related to the US business.

BAT said revenues ticked up 1.6% to £27.28bn, with revenue from new categories up 15.6% at £3.35bn. This was driven by Vuse and Velo, it said, with revenue from non-combustibles now making up 16.5% of group revenue.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Usually, a company announcing losses running into the tens of billions of pounds wouldn't be cause for celebration among investors. However, British American Tobacco has done just that this morning and been rewarded with share price gains.

"The impairments which have tipped British American Tobacco into a mega loss are non-cash items, relating to a write-down of the value of its acquisition of the part of Reynolds American it did not already own in 2017. While the size of the write-down has grown slightly, it was previously flagged in December.

"There was also a nugget of good news in today's results for the market to latch on to - the company has hit profitability with its 'new categories' products.

"These include its big vaping brands Vuse and Velo and these 'new categories' sales are seen as the company's answer to declining levels of cigarette smoking in the West."

Compass rose as the catering firm said it delivered a strong start to its financial year with organic revenue growth currently running ahead of full-year guidance.

FTSE 100 - Risers

Smith (DS) (SMDS) 313.30p 11.45% British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,468.00p 6.43% Smurfit Kappa Group (CDI) (SKG) 3,154.00p 6.12% Unilever (ULVR) 4,028.50p 3.26% Admiral Group (ADM) 2,561.00p 2.89% Compass Group (CPG) 2,209.00p 2.74% 3i Group (III) 2,394.00p 2.57% Diploma (DPLM) 3,374.00p 2.55% Ocado Group (OCDO) 533.40p 2.42% Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,810.50p 1.97%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

AstraZeneca (AZN) 9,839.00p -6.21% SSE (SSE) 1,581.00p -4.36% Mondi (MNDI) 1,346.50p -2.50% Persimmon (PSN) 1,407.00p -2.22% Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 236.90p -1.70% Haleon (HLN) 324.20p -1.50% Standard Chartered (STAN) 585.00p -1.48% JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 105.85p -1.40% HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 620.20p -1.12% London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 8,774.00p -0.99%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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