Ocado continued its good run on the stock market this week after reporting a small full-year loss.
The online grocer continues to divide opinion and its detractors frequently point to its failure to turn a profit. However, its losses have shrunk significantly - the £600,000 loss for the year to 2 December, reported on Thursday, is just a quarter of the £2.4m loss reported last year.
Its shares responded accordingly, rising 7% on Thursday morning to 111.8p. They have almost doubled from less than 60p in early November, boosted by a successful refinancing deal and equity issue, good Christmas trading figures and the appointment of Sir Stuart Rose as chairman.
However, the shares are still some way off the 180p level they floated at. With a new distribution centre in Dordon, Warwickshire, due to start taking orders later this month, many analysts see 2013 as a make or break year. Goldman Sachs analyst Rudolf Dreyer said the new centre “will be key as proof of concept” and Barclays analyst James Anstead said it should become clear over the coming year whether the facility “unleashes pent-up demand” or just adds to costs.
Premier Foods has had a tumultuous fortnight since CEO Michael Clarke quit. On Monday, just hours after his replacement - former Cable & Wireless CEO Gavin Darby, arrived for his first day in charge - it was announced that COO Geoff Eaton was leaving with immediate effect having only joined in October.
The upheaval caused its shares to drop from 120p on 25 January to 89p on Thursday - in stark contrast to the last half of 2012 when they more or less doubled. “Time is emphatically not on this company’s side and a fresh leadership drama was the last thing it needed,” said Investec analyst Martin Deboo, who downgraded the shares from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’.
Own-label household and personal care group McBride reported a 13% increase in adjusted operating profits for the last six months of 2012. The news nudged its shares up 1% to 136p on Thursday morning.
“McBride should be well-positioned to deliver significant earnings growth in full-year 2014,” said Panmure analyst Damian McNeela, pointing to its improved margins and a major programme of product launches over the coming months.