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What happened in the stock market today

It’s official – there will be an election on 12 December. Last night, MPs voted to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for a general election, although not after some infighting – proposed amendments that would have lowered the voting age to 16 and extended franchise to EU nationals were defeated.

The FTSE 100 is essentially flat as of writing, after initially trading down this morning, reflecting the market’s uncertainty. 

Elsewhere, the latest surveys show European Union economic sentiment worsening, with economic and industrial confidence figures down. UK sentiment has been even lower than on the continent, a further consequence of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty. Given the economic weakness, all parties involved seem to understand that a no-deal Brexit would be a bad outcome. It remains to be seen whether an election shakeup can really break the deadlock.

ConvaTec

The biggest winner in the FTSE today was medical technology company ConvaTec, whose shares are up almost 15% on the day. The company posted a third-quarter 2.4% increase in total revenue compared with the same period in the previous year, and left its 2019 earnings guidance unchanged. 

This exuberant reaction to what seem like just solid results can be explained by ConvaTec’s history. Its share price had been hammered by multiple profit warnings in 2018, necessitating a turnaround plan. Credit must be given to management, who initiated a £14m ‘transformation initiative’ in the first half of 2019, which sought to restore the company’s fortunes (which has been followed up with a further £40 in the second half.

Earlier this year, my colleague Kevin Godbold wrote about the ongoing turnaround at ConvaTec, and it looks like he may have been right to be optimistic.

GlaxoSmithKline

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline reported third-quarter earnings today, beating consensus analyst expectations for earnings per share, and revising its full-year earnings outlook upwards. The company had been forecasting a 3%–5% drop in annual earnings; this has now been adjusted upwards to an expectation of no change.

The company’s annual dividend has been maintained at 80p a share, which is good for a yield of 4.5%, roughly in line with the FTSE 100 average. Shares of Glaxo are up almost 2% today on the news and are currently trading at 1,770p a share. 

De La Rue

One of the biggest fallers in the market today were shares of banknote maker De La Rue, which are down almost 20%. The reason for this extreme drop, which brings the share price to its lowest point in a decade, at 150p a share, was a warning by management that full-year profits would undershoot expectations by a significant amount. 

De La Rue prints currency for many countries the world over, but it seems as if printing money is not as easy as it sounds. The embattled company faces allegations of suspected corruption over its dealings in Africa, and is in the middle of a turnaround.

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The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. 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.