Shire tops the Footsie leaderboard as it reveals Lotus Tissue Repair deal

RELATED QUOTES

SymbolPriceChange
DWD.DE22.80+1.32
AAL.L1,566.50+19.50
^FTSE6,703.00+28.26
MAKSY14.615-0.151

Shire (LSE: SHP.L - news) was in vogue despite the blue-chip index closing in negative territory.

Dealers chased the pharmaceutical company often considered a takeover target for US drug manufacturing giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE - news) to the top of the leaderboard.

However, the pharma group's rise appeared not to have been driven by a bid rumour this time around, but a Shire acquisition and the prospect of solid earnings guidance.

The London-listed company which closed up 49p at £19.63 said it had bought Lotus Tissue Repair for an undisclosed sum.

Lotus Tissue is a US-based biotechnology company focused on developing the first treatment for dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic disorder that causes extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation. The group's lead product candidate, which is in late pre-clinical development, is a protein replacement therapy for the treatment of DEB.

Philip Vickers, head of research and development at Shire Human Genetic Therapies, claimed protein replacement therapy had the potential to provide a first-in-class disease-modifying treatment for children with the disorder.

Shire also said after the London market had closed that Angus Russell, chief executive, was set to address investors at yesterday's JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. In his address Mr Russell planned to confirm that Shire expects to deliver double-digit earnings growth for 2012, and is now increasingly confident of meeting current consensus earnings expectations for 2013.

Overall, the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) slipped 10.95 points to 6053.63 while the FTSE 250 retreated 86.98 points to 12635.01.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, said: "The 'fiscal cliff' might be behind us, but we haven't entirely run out of things to be worried about. Today's eurozone unemployment figures underscore just how deeply the problem runs through the currency union, reminding us (if we needed reminding) that the issues affecting Europe run far beyond the indebtedness of national governments."

Tui Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) was hit a by Morgan Stanley (Xetra: 885836 - news) downgrade to "underweight". The broker argued the shares now look expensive given the company's weak free cashflow relative to earnings. The shares lost 9.8 to 276.8p.

Elsewhere, several brokers lowered their target prices on Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW.L - news) , which sent the oil exploration company's shares 46p lower to £12.25.

In the mining sector, copper mining giant Antofagasta (Other OTC: ANFGY - news) fell 34p to £12.88 as UBS (Berlin: UBRA.BE - news) advised clients to "sell" the stock on valuation grounds.

The big grocers were also in focus. WM Morrison dipped 2.8 to 253.3p as some brokers cut their target prices following a weak festive period trading update. Credit Suisse (NYSE: CRP - news) , for example, lowered its target price to 265p from 280p.

Marks & Spencer (Other OTC: MAKSY - news) also fell 2.4 to 369.6p after Debenhams , down 9 to 108.1p, appeared to hint that its rival had not traded well during December.

However, J Sainsbury bucked the weak market trend after market research group Kantar claimed Britain's third largest supermarket group generated the highest sales growth of the so called "big four" grocers in the run-up to Christmas and was the only one to grow market share. Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) 's shares advanced 7.3 to 339p.

Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L - news) perked up 2¾ to 162.4p following a report in which Lowell McAdam, Verizon Communications chief executive, was quoted as saying he may buy Vodafone's 45pc holding in Verizon Wireless.

Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN.L - news) edged up 3½ to 692p as Deutsche Bank (Xetra: 514000 - news) lifted its price target to 638p from 625p.

News (NasdaqGS: NWS - news) that Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L - news) had picked Mark Cutifani to replace Cynthia Carroll as chief executive of the world's largest platinum producer helped the shares, which plunged 20pc in 2012, gain 27½p to £20.28.

On the mid-cap index, gold mining company Centamin (Toronto: CEE.TO - news) jumped 3.6 to 44.1p ahead of today's production update. Company insiders pinned yesterday's gains to a delayed reaction by dealers to reports gold shipments from Egypt had resumed, calming fears about the group's ability to continue to run its project in the country.

Centamin has been plagued by difficulties in Egypt over the last three months and in December had to halt mining due to an earlier ban on exports and a disruption to fuel supplies.

However, Egypt which has endured nearly two years of political upheaval and is battling to contain a currency crisis on Sunday allowed Centamin to export a shipment of gold after blocking it for several weeks because it did not have the proper permits.

Magdy Abdel Aziz, the head of the central department at the cargo customs section of Cairo airport, was reported to have said: "The company [Centamin] that owns the Sukari mine has presented the necessary permits to export the gold to Canada for purification before it is sold on world markets."

A bullish note on the housebuilding industry from Deutsche Bank lifted some companies in the sector. Glynis Johnson, an analyst at Deutsche Bank said: "We believe at least 15pc [to] 30pc share price performance could be available (based on a stable economic and mortgage outlook)."

Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV.L - news) , a Deutsche Bank "top pick", put on 3.8 to 215.9p while Bovis Homes Group perked up 9 to 600p.

However, African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L - news) took the wooden spoon, tumbling 91.9 to 352.1p, after China National Gold ended talks with Canadian Barrick Gold, the London-listed company's largest shareholder, about buying its 73.9pc stake.