Roundup of shares news from this week

Wow that was a rough week for investors. The FTSE 100 has shed a reported £206bn after suffering its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, with Friday being a particularly bad end to a tough week. But In between all the worsening reports on coronavirus there were some interesting company updates as well during the week.

Housebuilders particularly seemed to be struggling and WPP shares plummeted but there was better news for the high-yielding British American Tobacco.

ABF, the owner of Primark, said it expects half-years sales and adjusted profit to come in ahead of last year because of growth at Primark. It did though warn that on the food side there may be an effect from coronavirus as factories operate at lower capacity.

The housebuilder Taylor Wimpey was hit by rising costs. It revealed underlying profit before tax fell 4.1% to £821.6m. Full-year operating margins were knocked back to 19.6%, from 21.6% and the group has a target for 21-22%. The group’s land bank also fell, from 5.1 years supply to 4.8.

Advertising group WPP saw shares fall further than most this week after the company posted falling sales in 2019 and said growth for the year ahead would be flat. It posted a 1.6% drop in revenue, while profits also sank 22.3% to £982 million. For 2020, it added that revenue would be flat.

Persimmon, another housebuilder, saw its CEO tell investors he plans to step down as CEO once a replacement is found. Persimmon revealed a 4.5% slip in profit before tax to £1.04bn and a squeeze on its underlying housing operating margin, which fell from 30.8% in 2018 to 30.3%. Meanwhile, Persimmon sold 4% fewer homes than in 2018 to total 15,855 at an average price of £215,709.

British American Tobacco reported revenue of £25.87bn, up 5.7%, whilst profit from operations reduced by 3.2% to £9.01bn. At 249.7p earnings per share was down 5.4%. Cash generation from operations was marked at £8.99bn which was a 12.6% decline.

Companies reporting next week include Direct Line, Greggs, Legal & General and ITV.

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