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Travel café operator SSP said its recovery remained on track in spite of softer trading in January due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
The owner of chains including Upper Crust, Ritazza and Camden Food Co reported sales of around 57 per cent of 2019 levels in the past eight weeks. In the preceding nine weeks sales had been running at 66 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The company said underlying ebitda was positive and net cash flow was broadly neutral during the first quarter of the financial year ending September. It reiterated a target of returning to pre-pandemic levels of like-for-like sales and profitability by 2024.
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Mail delivery group DX said its auditor Grant Thornton has tendered its resignation over concerns about the company’s handling of a corporate governance investigation. DX said the inquiry, announced in November 2021, “has not proceeded as expediently as initially hoped by the board”. In its resignation letter Grant Thornton complained of potential law breaches, inaccurate information and insufficient access. Aim-quoted DX suspended its shares last month after failing to deliver an annual report on time. The non-executive directors put in charge of the inquiry, Paul Goodson and Ian Gray, resigned from the board earlier this week.
Shaftesbury, the West End landlord, said a recovery is on track as disruption from Covid restrictions abates. For the quarter to December Shaftesbury has collected 88 per cent of its rent roll.
Fresnillo, the Mexican precious metals miner, announced the death of its honorary chair Alberto Baillères. “The board extends its deepest condolences to the Baillères family and would like to thank Don Alberto for his leadership, impeccable record and extraordinary legacy, which will live forever among all our collaborators. We will carry on with his vision and honour his legacy,” it said in a statement.
Beyond the Square Mile
Amazon shares surged in after-hours trading after the company announced a 17 per cent price rise for its popular Prime membership scheme and strong earnings from its cloud computing and advertising divisions.
US stocks slid in the regular session with the S&P 500 falling 2.4 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite shedding 3.7 per cent, its worst day since September 2020, driven by drops in tech stocks. Huge swings in tech stocks including Meta, PayPal and Snap around earnings this week pointed to what investors said was a dramatic recent deterioration in liquidity, hindering their capacity to transact large batches of shares.
The Federal Reserve must reverse the weakening of bank stress tests, writes Sheila Bair, a former chair of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. “Big banks will argue that they did well during the pandemic so there is no need to toughen their oversight. In truth, they did well because of actions by the Fed and Congress to backstop debt markets, while providing trillions to help households and businesses.”
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