April 26, 2018 / 10:08 AM / 25 days ago

Shell's cash flow disappointment weighs on FTSE

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE underperformed most European peers on Wednesday, failing to join a global bounce as a missed cash flow forecast from Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) disappointed investors and weighed heavily on the blue chip index .

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The FTSE .FTSE closed up 0.57 percent at 7421.43 points, slightly below the 0.94 percent of the pan-European STOXX 600 boosted by encouraging corporate results and a positive start on Wall Street.

Despite a 42 percent rise in first-quarter profit on stronger oil prices, shares in Shell (RDSa.L), a FTSE heavyweight, fell 1 percent as cash flows fell short of investors’ strong expectations.

“The focus for the big oils in recent months has been the return to free cash flow, particularly given how strong Q1 (first quarter) normally is seasonally for the group,” analysts at Barclays said ahead of the opening of the stock market, expecting shares to retreat.

The negative surprise meant the British major did not benefit from a rise in oil prices like its French rival Total (TOTF.PA), which was up 1.5 percent and whose earnings beat analysts’ expectations.

The disappointment about Shell didn’t rub off either on rival BP (BP.L), which rose 2.1 percent after it announced that Helge Lund, a former head of Norway’s Statoil, would be its next chairman.

    There was also some disappointment regarding the earnings at Barclays (BARC.L), which despite better than anticipated first quarter pretax profit, lost 1.4 percent as fines and legal costs from historic misconduct issues marred the bigger picture.

    “Barclays is not out of the woods yet, and that shows from it booking yet another statutory loss as costs linked to past misconduct obliterated profits again,” Ken Odeluga, a market analyst at City Index, commented.

    Shares in Britain’s third-largest builder Taylor Wimpey’s shares (TW.L) were down 1.5 percent after it said poor weather conditions in the first few weeks of March had had an impact on sales and build rates.

    “The group has lost several days of build due to bad weather, and while housebuilders get the blame for many things, even their fiercest critics don’t blame them for the weather,” Jefferies analysts commented in a note.

    On the other hand, Britain’s biggest pizza delivery firm Domino’s Pizza Group (DOM.L) saw its shares rise 2.6 percent after first-quarter sales rose 18.3 percent with strong trading around the New Year and Easter and online orders.

    Editing by Mark Heinrich

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