Brexit anxiety takes toll on Irish bank and travel stocks

Applegreen shares surge after founders and Blackstone reveal deal to take business private

Brexit jitters prompted investors to sell shares on Thursday, hitting Irish-focused equities and travel stocks.


Petrol station chain Applegreen surged 44.3 per cent to €5.60 after its founders and US investor Blackstone confirmed a deal to take the business private for €5.75 a-share or almost €694 million.

Investors ditched the banks as Brexit worries continued. AIB tumbled 3.88 per cent to €1.538 while Bank of Ireland slid 2.64 to €2.88.

Among leading stocks, packaging group Smurfit Kappa closed 0.27 per cent up at €37.60 after hitting a €38.10 high in mid-afternoon trade. British rival DS Smith restored its dividend and predicted strong profit growth on Thursday.

Airline group Ryanair Holdings shed 2.14 per cent to €15.99 as ongoing uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit talks and concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on its industry weighed on the stock.

Dealers said Irish-focused shares bore the brunt of investors’ fears about the UK-EU impasse on Thursday.

House builder Cairn Homes fell 4.04 per cent to €2.88. Rival Glenveagh closed 1.58 per cent down at 81 cent. Hibernia Real Estate Investment Trust shed 2.04 per cent to €1.15.


Shares in Aer Lingus and British Airways owner International Airlines' Group fell 1.16 per cent to 162.3p sterling on fears of a no-deal Brexit and ongoing nervousness about aviation.

Low-cost rival Easyjet, one of Irish group Ryanair's main competitors, suffered a steeper fall, closing 2.68 per cent down at 850.4p on Thursday.

Woodies DIY owner and builders' merchant Grafton Group retreated 3.34 per cent to 826p as construction-related stocks fell out of favour. The Irish group has its sole listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Cardboard box maker DS Smith was one of London's better performers, climbing 3.79 per cent to 372.1p.

The group, a key rival of Irish multinational Smurfit Kappa, announced plans for a 4p dividend and predicted profit growth on the back of a surge in demand from online shoppers.

Exporters generally fared better on Thursday as ongoing Brexit uncertainty weakened the pound but mid-cap stocks performed poorly.

Higher oil prices fuelled a 4.46 per cent gain in BP's shares, which closed at 284.75p. The move on crude prices lifted London's blue-chip FTSE-100 along with several other indices.

Mike Ashley's sportswear group Frasers jumped 12.9 per cent to 495.8p after reporting a 25 per cent rise in first-half core earnings.

Online supermarket Ocado Group fell 7.2 per cent to 2,159p even as it raised its core earnings forecast for 2019-20 for the second time in two months.


Oil major Royal Dutch Shell climbed 2.73 per cent to €15.94 in Amsterdam as crude prices rose on world markets.

The oil price boost lifted Europe’s Stoxx 600 index which tumbled almost 1 per cent before paring those losses back to around 0.2 per cent.

Troubled airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, which this week got protection from creditors from courts in the Republic and Norway, closed 71.4 per cent up at 0.935 Norwegian kroner. The group is due to seek investor backing for plans to raise about €370 million next week.

German airline Lufthansa slid 2.72 per cent to €9.74. Air France KLM closed more than 2 per cent off at €5.09.

An index of euro zone banks ended down 2.1 per cent despite the European Central Bank agreeing to provide them with even more ultra-cheap liquidity. Spain's lender-heavy IBEX index led declines in the region, down 0.6 per cent.


The S&P 500 was nearly flat on Thursday as investors weighed signs of progress in fiscal stimulus talks against data showing a surge in jobless claims.

Oil companies Apache, Occidental Petroleum and Hess jumped between 9 per cent and 4.5 per cent. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas