Discouraging Kantar figures and a run of disappointing results had prompted some seriously gloomy predictions ahead of the release of Morrisons half-year results on Thursday.
Although hardly cause for popping Champagne corks, the results released on Thursday at least exceeded analyst expectations. Like-for-like sales were down 0.9%, when some had forecast a fall of 1.5%, and the Bradford-based grocer managed to squeeze out a small increase of 1% in underlying profits to £445m.
Management’s decision to scale back expansion plans and reduce capex for the year by £200m was also widely welcomed by analysts.
Shares rose by 3% to 288p in morning trading, marking a welcome change of direction for investors. Since the start of the year, shares have fallen 12% - crashing the hardest in January after some disappointing Christmas trading figures and the knock-on effect of a profit warning from Tesco.
After growing faster than rivals, Sainsbury’s is the only listed supermarket to be in a better position now than at the start of the year - shares have increased 4% to 324p.
News that Britvic and AG Barr were in merger talks - already advanced enough for it to have been agreed that Britvic shareholders would own 63% of the new group and AG Barr shareholders the remaining 37% - sparked some of the biggest share price movements of the week.
The prospect of significant cost savings and economies of scale sent the shares of both companies rocketing on Wednesday. AG Barr shares jumped by 8% to 450p and Britvic shares leapt even more, by 12.5% to 370p.
It represents a dramatic change of fortune for Britvic investors after the Fruit Shoot recall caused the shares to nosedive in July - collapsing 22% in less than two weeks to 260p. Opportunistic buyers would have enjoyed a 42% gain in under two months from that low.
McBride shares slumped almost 10% to 120p on Tuesday after the maker of own-label household and personal care products reported a 2% increase in adjusted operating profits to £29.5m for the year to 30 June.
This was slightly better than expected, but the board’s decision to cut dividends from 6.8p to 5p depressed shares.