Markets report: PaddyPower owner Flutter flying high

Louis Ashworth
·2 min read

Gambling group Flutter flew to the top of the FTSE 100’s movers on Thursday after grabbing a spot on Europe’s most prestigious stock gauges.

Flutter, owner of PaddyPower, rose 545p to £138.45 after grabbing Unilever’s spot in the prestigious Stoxx 50 index.

The consumer goods giant has been dropped from the gauge due to the pending unification of its Dutch and British arms.

Its loss is Flutter’s gain, with the group having already risen 45pc this year amid a boom in online gambling.

Adding to the buzz around Flutter were press reports that Canada may soon introduce legislation to end a current prohibition on single game sports betting – creating a potentially lucrative new market for established bookmakers.

“With a total population of 38m, where sports are popular, there is no doubt that should the Canadian government allow single game sports betting then the market could become a material sports betting market,” said Goodbody analyst Gavin Kelleher.

The rise made Flutter one of the standouts on a poor day for London-listed stocks, with the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both markedly underperforming European peers.

About two thirds of London’s blue-chips fell, with banks and virus-exposed stocks in the energy and aerospace sectors – which have been the biggest winners from the recent rally – slipping slightly.

Even mild support from the pound, which dipped slightly during the session to break a five-day winning streak spurred by Brexit hopes, failed to support the blue-chip index.

Among mid-caps, soap-maker PZ Cussons rose 5p to 230p after naming Sarah Pollard of Nomad Foods as its new chief financial officer. She will join the company from early January.

Britvic wobbled but eventually closed up 11p at 821.5p after its full-year results.

The soft-drinks maker posted a 6.8pc drop in revenues to £1.41bn for the 12 months to the end of September, although its profit before tax remained steady, rising slightly to £112.2m. The group disappointed investors with a 21.6pc dividend, down from 30p for 2019.

Britvic said “positive trading momentum” at the start of its financial year hit the rocks from March, as social distancing measures introduced in response to the pandemic hurt sales.

Bodycote, the heat treatment and thermal processing company, was among the biggest mid-cap fallers, dropping 41.5p to 725.5p after announcing another restructuring because of weak demand from aerospace customers.

Updating the City on its trading over the four months to the end of October, Bodycote said revenue was 20pc lower year on year at £193.6m, though this was better than the 28pc fall in the preceding four months.