M&A boost helps European shares stay at one-year high

Financial stocks among main Dublin movers, with Bank of Ireland up 1.5% and Permanent TSB gaining 3.4%

Unilever products. Shares in the Marmite, Dove soap and PG Tips firm were down 157.5 pence to 3,191 pence at the close

Unilever products. Shares in the Marmite, Dove soap and PG Tips firm were down 157.5 pence to 3,191 pence at the close


European shares held around one-year highs on Thursday, supported by mergers and acquisitions-related optimism, with Johnson & Johnson’s $30 billion deal to buy Actelion lifting shares in the Swiss biotech firm.

Actelion surged 19.4 per cent after the US healthcare giant’s move to make an all-cash purchase that includes spinning off the Swiss firm’s research and development pipeline. The acquisition gives J&J access to the Actelion’s line-up of high-price high-margin medicines for rare diseases.


Bank of IrelandPermanent TSB

It was a relatively quiet day for Swiss-Irish food group Aryzta, which slumped nearly 32 per cent to €28 on Tuesday after issuing another profit warning. Shares were 2.4 per cent higher in Dublin at €27.30, but were flat in Switzerland.

Recruitment firm CPL was up 1.7 per cent to €5.71, having trading higher earlier in the day. About 800,000 shares in the jobs agency were traded, a high volume for the firm, which reported a 7 per cent rise in first-half profits to €8.1 million. Insurer FBD was up 3.4 per cent to €8.01, while Iseq heavyweight CRH was down nearly 1 per cent to €33.71.


Unilever was among those pulling the FTSE 100 down after revealing that currency headwinds dragged on full-year earnings. The Marmite, Dove soap and PG Tips firm said annual net profit rose 5.5 per cent to €5.5 billion, but revenues dropped 1 per cent, while underlying sales rose by a lower-than-expected 3.7 per cent. Shares in the group were down 157.5 pence to 3,191 pence at the close.

Whitbread shares dropped 159 pence to 3,900 pence after the Costa Coffee owner revealed a slowdown at its restaurants arm. The group reported a 1.5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales at its restaurants, which include Beefeater and Brewer’s Fayre.

Drinks giant Diageo was in the ascendancy after cheering rising profits thanks to a triple tonic from the Brexit-hit pound, robust Scotch sales and a strong US performance. The maker of Guinness, Captain Morgan rum and Johnnie Walker Scotch saw operating profits jump 28 per cent to £2.1 billion in the six months to the end of December.


Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics rose 7.6 per cent after posting in-line results for the final quarter of 2016, driven by solid phone and car-part sales and improved factory utilisation.

Intrum Justitia was up 6.9 per cent after the Swedish debt collector’s fourth quarter operating profits came in above market expectations.


The S&P technology index’s fall led the decliners, weighed down by Qualcomm and Alphabet . Qualcomm fell 5.1 per cent to $54.04 after the chipmaker reported a lower-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue. The stock was the biggest drag on the two indexes. Alphabet, which was scheduled to report results after the bell, was down 0.7 per cent at $852.16.

Verizon Communications fell 1.1 per cent to $49.20 after the Wall Street Journal reported the company is exploring a combination with cable company Charter Communications. Charter was up 8.9 per cent at $338.17. –

Additional reporting: agencies