MARKET REPORT: Topps Tiles' rallies from its four-year low with 7% share rise after reporting a return to sales growth

Topps Tiles rallied from its four-year low after reporting a return to underlying sales growth.

The tile retailer, which has been dragged down by a fall in consumer confidence and changes to stamp duty, said sales had picked up in the eight weeks since the end of its financial year in September – increasing 3.2 per cent compared to a 0.3 per cent fall the year before.

The news encouraged investors and helped soften the blow of its weak full-year results.?

Topps Tiles reported a 2.9 per cent fall in same-store sales in the year to the end of September, while profits dived 15 per cent to £17million.?

Sales across the group slumped 1.5 per cent to £211.8million.

Topps Tiles which has been hit by a fall in consumer confidence and changes to stamp duty, said sales had picked up in the eight weeks since the end of its financial year in September

Topps Tiles which has been hit by a fall in consumer confidence and changes to stamp duty, said sales had picked up in the eight weeks since the end of its financial year in September

Matthew Williams, chief executive, said: ‘The business responded well to the more challenging trading conditions we experienced in 2017.?

While we are retaining our prudent view of market conditions for the year ahead, we are encouraged by this return to like-for-like sales growth.’ Shares rose 7 per cent, or 4.25p, to 65p.

Shares in Convatec dropped 2.5per cent, or 4.8p, to 190p as investors braced themselves for its exit from the FTSE 100.

The medical products firm is set to exit the blue-chip index, alongside theme park operator Merlin and engineer Babcock.

Takeaway company Just Eat, packaging firm DS Smith and products producer Halma are set to be promoted in the final FTSE reshuffle of 2017 today.

The FTSE 100 finished up 1 per cent or 76.75 points to 7,460.65 while the FTSE 250 finished up 0.7 per cent or 144.93 points to 20,026.19 points.

Meat producer Cranswick soared after beefing up its half-year sales and profits.

STOCK WATCH - UDG HEALTHCARE

UDG Healthcare dipped after posting a mixed set of results and announcing the retirement of its respected finance boss Alan Ralph.

Full-year profits jumped 17 per cent to £89.5million, driven mainly by acquisitions, while sales increased 13pc to £918.2m.

But news that Ralph would be retiring by the end of next year sent shares spiralling 3 per cent, or 26p, to 835p.

Broker Liberum said that ‘the retirement of the well-regarded Ralph will weigh on the shares’.

The business said sales jumped 23 per cent to £714.6million in the six months to the end of September – up from £580.8million the year before.?

Profits increased 9.9 per cent to £44.5million. It also revealed plans to invest in a £54m poultry factory in Suffolk, sending shares up 8.6 per cent, or 259p, to 3276p.

News that all of Britain’s major banks had passed the Bank of England’s stress tests did little to rock shares.?

RBS nudged up 1.4 per cent, or 3.6p, to 271.2p while Barclays and Lloyds finished down 0.1 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

Cyber-security firm Sophos slumped 6 per cent, or 39p, to 607p as its largest shareholder, Apax Global Alpha, sold down almost half of its stake.?

The private equity firm, which invested in Sophos five years before its IPO in 2015, had owned around 60pc of the company.

It announced its intention to sell 51m shares, together with its subsidiary Pentagon Lock, after markets closed on Monday.

Analysts at Jefferies upgraded insulation and roofing supplier SIG to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’. The move was enough to send shares soaring 4.8 per cent, or 7.9p, to 172.4p.

Rating upgrades from UBS and Investec also helped move healthcare provider Mediclinic out of the FTSE 100 drop zone.?

UBS said the market had over-reacted to the firm’s Swiss and UAE margins, and the half year could bring an earnings surprise, while Investec said Mediclinic is ‘through the worst’ and it expects to see a ‘significant improvement in operational performance across all platforms’.

Mediclinic’s share price has fallen by about 44 per cent since it listed on the London Stock Exchange in February 2016 and it has underperformed its peer group in all the respective markets.

Its bid to buy Spire Healthcare was rebuffed last week and the firm had been tipped to exit the blue-chip index.?

UBS’s upgrade to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ and Investec’s upgrade to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ helped save the firm. Shares jumped 2.4 per cent, or 12.5p, to 539p.

Dixons Carphone slumped 2.1 per cent, or 3.3p, to 154p after analysts from Stifel removed their ‘buy’ rating and cut full-year profit forecasts by 27 per cent – citing uncertain demand for smartphones.

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