The FTSE 100 and the pound started this morning modestly positive and maintained it for much of the day. The Brexit waiting game goes on. Commons Speaker John Bercow refused the government’s call to hold another vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal today.
Blue-chip boss departure
In today’s company news, the healthcare sector was prominent. Pharma giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline both had updates, albeit with no big impact on their share prices.
AZN announced its Farxiga treatment has been approved in the US to reduce the risk of hospitalisation for heart failure in patients with type-2 diabetes. GSK revealed it’s agreed to divest its rabies and tick-borne encephalitis vaccines to Danish firm Bavarian Nordic. This for an upfront payment of €301m (£259m), with milestone payments taking the total consideration up to €955m (£822m).
Meanwhile, Circassia Pharmaceuticals announced the US launch of Duaklir for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The company described the launch as “a major strategic milestone.” The market shrugged, and sent the small-cap firm’s shares a few percent lower.
Returning to the FTSE 100, healthcare firm Smith & Nephew saw a big move in its shares. Down. As much as 10% at one point. This followed a shock announcement that chief executive Namal Nawana is stepping down after less than 18 months in the job.
The company said Nawana will leave on 31 October, “by mutual agreement … to pursue other opportunities outside of the UK.” Behind this are reports the company couldn’t, or wouldn’t, meet his demands for higher pay, in line with the bosses of US medical device-makers.
Other big FTSE 100 fallers
Just Eat and Prudential spent most of the day vying with Smith & Nephew for the bottom slot on the FTSE 100 fallers board. Just Eat’s drop follows the release of its Q3 results in which key metrics were below City expectations. While the company reconfirmed its full-year revenue and earnings guidance, analysts expect the consensus to move down to the lower end of the range.
My Foolish colleague Alan Oscroft doesn’t downplay the potential of the food ordering platform and delivery business. However, he has some wise words on early movers with shares on super high valuations.
Insurer Prudential’s fall was triggered by today’s formal demerger of its M&G UK asset management business. An investor who owned 1,000 Prudential shares on Friday now also owns 1,000 shares in the separate M&G company. After reviewing today’s developments, fellow Fool Roland Head concluded he’d be happy to own either – or both – stocks.
In the FTSE 250, Capital & Counties Properties, the owner of Covent Garden and Earls Court, was prominent among the risers. This came after confirmation a consortium led by Candy Ventures is in the early stages of considering a possible cash offer for the company.
At the other end of the mid-cap movers board, troubled technology firm Micro Focus International was rooted to the bottom for most of the day. A Bloomberg report that Canadian group OpenText was weighing a bid for the company was scotched by OpenText in a statement this morning.
Small-cap shooting star
Finally, the biggest riser on the London market was AIM-listed Watchstone (formerly Quindell). The company’s long-running battle over £50m with Australian firm Slater & Gordon has been settled. Watchstone’s getting £39m from the pot and S&G £11m.
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G A Chester has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Micro Focus, and Prudential. 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.