FTSE 250 movers: Spirent slumps; Virgin up on buyback, NIM

by | Aug 2, 2023

(Sharecast News) – Shares in Spirent Communications slumped more than 8% after the telecoms testing company posted a sharp fall in half-year profit due to weak growth in its networks & security unit and issues at its connected devices division.
Revenues increased 4% to £467.6m in the six months to June 30. However, pre-tax profit plunged 88% to £4.8m.

UK bank Virgin Money on Wednesday said it had lifted provisions for bad debts as customers struggled to meet credit card payments amid the cost of living crisis, while also unveiling plans for a £175m share buyback this financial year.

The group said third-quarter provisions for loans expected to turn sour rose to £547m from £526m in the previous three months. It took a £55m impairment charge in the quarter to June 30.

In a third-quarter trading update, the bank said it would start a £50m buyback immediately, with plans for the rest to follow when it announces full-year results in November.

While overall borrower arrears were “modest”, Virgin said it continued to see a “gradual increase in credit card arrears”.

Mortgage lending fell 0.4% to £57.5bn in a “subdued” market as borrowers facing soaring borrowing costs amid surging interest rates as the Bank of England tries to quell inflation.

Customer deposits grew 5% to £67.3bn with savers looking for better returns after years of feeble interest rates on cash accounts, leading to accusations of profiteering in the sector. Virgin’s net interest margin – a key metric that measures the difference between what is paid out on savings and charged on loans rose to 1.93% from 1.87% a year earlier.

Building materials supplier Ibstock reported a fall in first-half earnings as the housing market cooled due to higher mortgage costs.

Pre-tax profit fell 42% to £30m, including an exceptional cost of around £11m from the potential closure of a clay site.

Revenue was down 14% to £223m, reflecting reduced activity levels in residential markets, although Ibstock said selling prices remained firm.

The interim dividend was lifted 3% to 3.4 pence per share.

“While recent macroeconomic events have introduced greater uncertainty into the outlook, we remain confident in our ability to respond to market conditions and the board’s expectations for the full year are unchanged,” the company said on Wednesday.

Low cost airlines Wizz reported a sharp jump in passenger numbers for July on strong summer holiday demand.

Hungary-based Wizz carried 6.02 million passengers, a 26.6% increase compared to July 2022, at a load factor of 94.9%.

Market Movers

FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,866.63 -1.04%

FTSE 250 – Risers

Virgin Money UK (VMUK) 181.90p 3.53%
Ibstock (IBST) 156.80p 3.16%
Domino’s Pizza Group (DOM) 399.60p 1.73%
4Imprint Group (FOUR) 5,230.00p 1.55%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 153.50p 1.52%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 83.35p 1.28%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 2,407.00p 1.13%
Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) 3,724.00p 0.98%
Dr. Martens (DOCS) 145.40p 0.83%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 100.00p 0.81%

FTSE 250 – Fallers

Spirent Communications (SPT) 153.80p -8.45%
IP Group (IPO) 57.10p -4.83%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 570.50p -4.20%
Man Group (EMG) 216.90p -3.90%
Vanquis Banking Group 20 (VANQ) 123.00p -3.15%
Keller Group (KLR) 799.00p -3.03%
Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) 700.00p -2.91%
Trainline (TRN) 247.20p -2.91%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 601.50p -2.83%
Helios Towers (HTWS) 84.55p -2.82%

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