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FTSE 100 latest: Bunzl in demand and Wincanton up on contract extension

·2-min read
Wincanton operates from a number of warehouses (Wincanton)
Wincanton operates from a number of warehouses (Wincanton)

Unglamorous Bunzl put its shares among the FTSE 100 pacesetters on Thursday, after revealing it is coping better than expected as demand slows for face masks and sanitisers.

The distribution group, which has built a reputation as a buy-and-hold stock for investors after 28 years of dividend growth, has been encouraged by the recovery for its core products as the hospitality and retail sectors reopen after the pandemic.

Bunzl typically supplies businesses with products including coffee cups, rubber gloves, hard hats and toilet rolls, although demand for personal protection equipment meant its profits surged by 25% last year.

Despite the return to more normal conditions, revenues are moving in the right direction after Bunzl forecast growth of 1% at actual exchange rates for the first half of the year.

Chief executive Frank van Zanten, who has worked for the company for more than 25 years, also continues to target acquisitions after buying two businesses with a focus on supporting enhanced hygiene trends.

Shares rose 2%, or 48p to 2,431p, but analysts at Jefferies think a price of 3,000p is justified after seeing better-than-expected growth and margins in today’s half-year update.

Bunzl was joined at the top of the blue-chip risers board by several property stocks following today’s strong update from Crest Nicholson, whose shares rose 3.4% or 14.80 to 445p.

Berkeley Group led the way with a gain of 3% or 120p to 4,739p, while property portal Rightmove lifted 9.8p to 664p.

Technology was also in favour as Ocado and Auto Trader fared well to help the FTSE 100 index improve 13.29 points to 7,087.35. The FTSE 250 fell 23.5 points to 22,635.92.

Among smaller stocks, logistics firm Wincanton kept up recent momentum with contract extensions to operate Ikea’s customer distribution centres in Kent and Essex.

Shares rose 9p to 429p as chief executive James Wroath said the agreement was another boost for Wincanton’s strategic focus on digital and e-fulfilment markets.

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