Genus hits record high as it beefs up profit forecast


Shares in animal genetics business Genus hit an all-time high as it brought home the bacon for investors.

The company, which selectively breeds livestock and sells bull and pig sperm to farmers, said it was hiking its profit forecasts following a ‘strong’ performance in the six months to December 31.

It is now expecting a first-half adjusted profit of between £47million and £49million, compared to last year’s £36.6million.

Genus said its pig division was experiencing booming demand, particularly in China where pork producers are growing their herds again after being devastated by African swine fever

That is based on expected revenues of between £285million and £287million, up from £270.7million.

Genus said its pig division was experiencing booming demand, particularly in China where pork producers are growing their herds again after being devastated by African swine fever.

ABS, its cattle breeding business, is also doing well in Brazil, Russia, India and again in China.

However, the firm warned that growth in the second half was likely to slow because of the growing prevalence of Covid-19 across the globe, which is causing ‘challenges for our customers and employees’.

Following the update, its shares at one stage hit an all-time high of 4560p. They closed up 4.2 per cent, or 180p, at 4492p, valuing the company at £2.9billion.

Stock Watch – James Cropper
Shares rose in James Cropper after the paper, luxury packaging and advanced materials maker revealed an acquisition.

The 176-year-old Cumbria-based business is buying green hydrogen firm PV3 Technologies for an undisclosed sum.

It will be part of James Cropper subsidiary Technical Fibre Products, which provides specialist materials for aerospace, defence, fuel cells, medical equipment and wind energy devices. Shares rose 3.6 per cent, or 40p, to 1150p.

It came on a day of pig-related news, with sausage skin maker Devro also telling investors that it enjoyed good trading during the final three months of 2020. That helped the firm’s shares to fatten by 3.2 per cent, or 5p, to 160p.

Elsewhere, the FTSE 100 struggled to get lift off as traders digested gloomy High Street footfall figures and new travel restrictions being introduced in the UK.

The index sunk 0.22 per cent, or 15.06 points, to 6720.65. However, the FTSE 250 of mid-sized firms fared slightly better rising 0.12 per cent, or 23.75 points, to 20,639.34.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: ‘The current environment is not exactly upbeat as things are getting worse with respect to the lockdowns.’

Airline stocks shuddered following the announcement of tough new arrival checks at airports and the closing of travel corridors with the UK, which are expected to have a further chilling effect on bookings.

British Airways owner IAG fell 0.8 per cent, or 1.35p, to 160.9p, with budget operator Easyjet falling 1.9 per cent, or 16p, to 816p.

Fellow low-cost carrier Ryanair fell 3 per cent, or €0.49, to €15.30.

It was a mixed day for miners with traders convinced the US dollar will grow stronger under incoming president Joe Biden, making commodities quoted in the currency more expensive.

Glencore fell 1.1pc, or 3.05p, to 276.85p, while BHP lost 0.9 per cent, or 19p, closing at 2116p. Rio Tinto, however, rose 0.5 per cent, or 28p, to 5974p, as did Anglo American, which edged up 0.4 per cent, or 11.5p, to 2675p.

Financial services firm CPP shot higher after reporting a stronger than expected business comeback in India, its main growth market.

CPP’s shares surged 51.8 per cent, or 170p, to 498p after it said this meant 2020 revenues should reach about £140million, rather than the £133million forecast.

But it was another bad day for defence and outsourcing firm Babcock, which saw shares slide 6.8 per cent, or 15p, to 205.3p after brokers at Liberum and Morgan Stanley cut their target prices.

Babcock spooked investors last week when it warned it was reviewing its balance sheet and expected the exercise to have a ‘negative’ impact on income. The shares are down by 22 per cent since the announcement.

British Gas owner Centrica dipped 2.2 per cent, or 1.1p, to 49.5p after announcing that finance chief Johnathan Ford was stepping down after less than a year in the post.

The company said the departure was for personal reasons and has appointed Kate Ringrose as his replacement.