Let’s end the week with a gag: I never met John Venn. We didn’t mix in the same circles.
After agreeing a Brexit deal in Brussels yesterday, Boris Johnson and his allies have today been trying to persuade wavering MPs – whether Brexiteers, Remainers, or Others – to back it. We might think of it as a Venn diagram, with the Prime Minister having to nudge a sufficient number of MPs into the Reuleaux triangle to secure what is expected to be a knife-edge vote in Parliament tomorrow.
With no definitive news emerging today on whether key factions would or wouldn’t be supporting the deal, the FTSE 100 wandered dispiritedly through the day. The waiting game continues.
In company news, Intercontinental Hotels was the FTSE 100’s biggest faller, as the blue-chip owner of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and other brands unveiled a Q3 trading update. The group said it had increased room numbers 4.7% year on year, but reported a 0.8% fall in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in Q3, “impacted by tougher trading conditions in the US and China, and ongoing unrest in the Hong Kong SAR.” In the UK, Q3 RevPAR was up 1%, with London up 3% (driven by international inbound demand) and the provinces flat.
Super-budget operator easyHotel painted a similar UK picture in a year-end trading update. Its shares moved higher after it said it had outperformed the UK mid-scale and economy segment of the market where London RevPAR was up 4.5% and the regions down 2.8%. Half-year results from Premier Inn owner Whitbread are due next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, AIM-listed small-cap Elegant Hotels was the London market’s top riser today. The owner of seven luxury hotels in Barbados, which I tipped at 71.5p earlier this year, announced it had agreed to a cash offer from Marriott International at 110p.
Put up or shut up
Sticking with the AIM-listed companies and takeover theme, Eddie Stobart Logistics today announced it’s opening its books to Main Market peer Wincanton. Stobart’s shares have been suspended since August, due to accounting errors, a profit warning, and an inability to get out its interim results. Nevertheless, it’s received a number of approaches (it remains in talks with private-equity group DBAY Advisors), and Wincanton has until 15 November to make an offer or walk away.
Returning to the FTSE 100, London Stock Exchange Group saw its shares move modestly higher on the back of its latest trading update. It reported a “strong Q3 performance across all parts of the group.” A 12% increase in total income for the quarter pulled up growth on a year-to-date basis to 9%. The company added that its proposed transformational $27bn acquisition of Refinitiv continues to progress and remains on track for completion in H2 2020.
In reviewing today’s update, my colleague Roland Head said LSE is a business he’d like to invest in. He’s put off by the current £70 price tag, but would be a buyer if the stock fell below £50.
Finally, in the mid-tier FTSE 250, cybersecurity specialist Avast headed the leader board after posting a positive Q3 trading update.
How will Monday’s markets respond to events in Parliament tomorrow? We can only wait. Have a good weekend all.
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G A Chester has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended InterContinental Hotels Group. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.