Print Published 13th Mar 2018, 00:35

Sector share prices: 12 March 2018

Share price movements in the marketing sector were somewhat erratic in the month to 12 March, with roughly half of the shares making significant gains while most of the others made significant losses.

The sector’s MSFI Index lost a mere 0.51% in the month while the FTSE All-Share Index did little better with a rise of 1.13%.

Leading the upward surge were St Ives (up 22%) and Huntsworth (up 21.4%).  St Ives’ share price climbed on news that it had sold its loss-making sales promotion businesses after incurring a further £14 million impairment charge in the latest half year that accounted for a large part of the £29  million loss recorded in the period (see St Ives profit dented as it sheds sales promotion businesses). Shares in St Ives have risen by 71.3% in the past year.

Huntsworth’s shares responded positively to the sizeable turnaround in its fortunes from a £18.3 million loss in 2016 to a £15.7 million profit last year.  The company’s shares have recovered even more impressively than those of St Ives, recording a 111.2% rise year-on-year.

Among the most disappointing share performances were those of Ebiquity (down 25.4%), Reach4Entertainment Enterprises (down 22.1%) and Porta Communications (down by 17.5%).

The stock market seemed under-impressed by Ebiquity’s sale of its profitable advertising intelligence unit to Nielsen Market Research at a loss (see Ebiquity incurs loss on selling profitable unit for £26m).

Shares in Reach4Entertainkent lost ground after announcing that Gate Ventures – headed by Lord Michael Grade – would be selling its entire 23.5% stake (see Gate Ventures to sell 23.5% stake in Reach4Entertainment).

Enthusiasm for shares in Porta Communications also waned after investors digested its trading update that had intimated it might report a profit until Marketing Services Financial Intelligence suggested that it was unlikely to do more than break even and would probably report a loss after taking account of finance costs and amortisation (see Porta may have broken even after 10% income growth).

WPP’s shares also continued to decline, losing 7.3% of their value in the month (they had fallen 29.7% year-on-year) after predicting a flat performance in 2018 and relying on abnormal items to boost a static underlying performance in 2017 (see Abnormal gains disguise WPP’s flat performance in 2017).