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Ocado (OCDO) has announced a 13.1% rise in gross retail sales in the fourth quarter, which represents a slowdown on its annual growth of 13.6% for the 12 months to 27 November 2016.

Average orders per week grew by 17.6% in the fourth quarter to 241,000, while average order size decreased by 2.9% in the period to £105.61 due to “industry-wide price deflation” and further take-up of its “smart pass” which has led to smaller, more frequent shops.

Total gross group sales were up 14.5% to £436.8m, while gross retail sales were up 13.1% to £351.8m.

Retail sales growth stood at 13.6% in the third quarter.

Ocado CEO Tim Steiner said: “We are very pleased with the financial performance achieved this year. The strong growth in sales and order volumes reflects the attractiveness of our retail offer to customers.

“During the period, we were also pleased to announce that we have commenced operations at our Andover CFC. This is the first of our CFCs to use our new proprietary infrastructure equipment solution and software, which will support the ongoing growth of our business.”

Ocado shares have fallen 4.1% to 266.4p this morning as its sales growth undershot expectations.

Morning update

FTSE 250 packaging firm DS Smith (SMDS) has announced its financial results for the six months to 31 October.

It saw organic volume growth of 2.9% in the period, reflecting continued growth in the pan-European fmcg and e-commerce sectors.

Group revenues increased by 21% to £2.36bn, boosted by organic growth, a “substantial” positive currency translation effect of £243m and a significant contribution from acquired businesses.

On a constant currency basis, revenue increased by 7% with the net effect of acquisitions and disposals being £102m and £59m of organic growth.

Adjusted operating profit increased 23% to £226m, while on a constant currency basis adjusted operating profit growth was 9%.

Group CEO Miles Roberts commented: “This half year has been another period of consistent delivery across the whole business. Volumes have grown as our high quality, innovative service has continued to delight our customers, particularly those who require a pan-European approach.

“This, combined with strong results from businesses acquired last year, the benefit of our global procurement platform, and the continued roll-out of performance packaging, has resulted in another period where we have delivered against all our financial KPIs. The business has continued to demonstrate momentum and has performed well despite the challenging market, which is a demonstration of the strength of our business model.”

Due to the strong first half results and the board’s confident outlook for the business, it has increased its dividend payment to shareholders by 15%.

On the markets this morning, Ocado apart, its been a solid start to trading with the FTSE 100 up another 0.1% to 6,911.2pts.

DS Smith is up 4% to 411.7p following its half year results this morning. Other early risers include PayPoint (PAY), up 2.3% to 966p, Britvic (BVIC), up 2.4% to 534.5p, Glanbia (GLB), up 2% to €15.48 and Majestic Wine (WINE), up 1.5% to 297.5p.

Greencore shares are down 18.9% to 219.4p after shareholders approved a rights issue to fund its acquisition of Peacock Foods in the US.

Other fallers include Nichols (NCLS), down 1.9% to 1,561.6p and PureCircle (PURE), down 1.4% to 212p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 gained 1.8% yesterday to end trading at 6,902.2pts after the best day of trading for three months.

UK shares were pushed higher by a weakening of the pound as weak UK manufacturing and industrial production data sent the pound 0.6% lower against the dollar back to $1.26.

The weakening pound provided a boost for the some FTSE 100 fmcg multinationals, with Diageo (DGE) up 2.3% to 2000.5p and Associated British Foods (ABF) up 1.6% to 2,616p.

But the sector’s biggest risers were retailers, led by a 4.6% share price jump by Ocado ahead of its fourth quarter trading update issued this morning.

There were also strong rises from Morrisons (MRW), up 3.3% to 225p, Sainsbury’s (SBRY), up 2.6% to 240.6p, SSP Group (SSPG), up 3.8% to 375.2p, Markets & Spencer (MKS), up 2.5% to 338.4p and Tesco (TSCO), up 1.3% to 213.3p.

Amongst the day’s other risers were Britvic (BVIC), up 3.1% to 539.5p and PureCircle (PURE), which jumped 10% to 215p.

Wednesday’s fallers included Greencore (GNC), down 2.2% to 270.4p, PayPoint (PAY), down 1.4% to 944p and PZ Cussons (PZC), down 1.1% to 294.2p.