(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on
the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon, see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)
Adds closing prices)
* FTSE 100 up 0.15 pct
* Whitbread sinks on weak sales, tougher outlook
* Carpetright shares dented by slowing sales growth
* Healthcare stocks rise on European dealmaking
By Helen Reid
LONDON, April 25 British shares edged higher on
Tuesday as a strong Europe-wide market rally after the first
round of the French election dissipated and investors focused
on corporate results which indicated tougher times ahead for
consumer goods stocks.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended up 0.15 percent,
with financials, energy and healthcare stocks supporting gains.
The FTSE's rise on Monday had been modest compared to
European and French benchmarks, with investors flagging
obstacles ahead for the UK market.
"The UK has its own esoteric risks at the moment, with its
own election and the bigger ongoing Brexit issue," said Laura
Foll, Henderson UK equity income and growth manager.
Restaurant and pub owner Whitbread and
floor-covering retailer Carpetright were the top
blue-chip and small-cap fallers after their results were hit by
slowing sales growth, adding to evidence of deteriorating UK
Whitbread scored its worst day since the Brexit vote last
June, ending down 7.2 percent after it indicated a tough market
ahead, predicting a dip in consumer confidence this year.
Its Costa Coffee chain saw like-for-like sales fall, and
margins down 0.8 percentage points year-on-year due to a rise in
the minimum wage.
"[The valuation] feels fairly full to us, reflecting
embedded value within Whitbread's core two brands, but with
waning UK consumer dynamics likely to cap near-term growth
prospects," Panmure Gordon analysts said.
Small-cap Carpetright, Britain's biggest floor
covering retailer, fell 8.1 percent after the firm said
full-year profit would be at the lower end of market
expectations, also citing tougher trading conditions.
Some of the stocks that rallied most on Monday fell back on
Tuesday, with Kingfisher, whose French exposure made it
more sensitive to the post-election rally, down 3.2 percent.
Miners Antofagasta, Anglo American and Randgold Resources
fell 0.3 to 2.6 percent, holding back the blue-chips.
Goldman Sachs cut Anglo American to neutral in a broader
downgrade of the mining sector, citing the commodity price
Healthcare stocks Hikma and Shire were top
gainers, up 3.4 and 1.4 percent respectively, tracking gains in
the Europe-wide pharma sector after Fresenius
picked up the pace of dealmaking with its acquisition of U.S.
Akorn Inc and an arm of Merck.
The mid-caps touched a new record high in early
trading before reversing course and end down 0.1 percent.
Chemicals firm Elementis jumped 5.2 percent after
its trading update showed strong growth in personal care and
energy business sectors, and it reiterated aims to grow
operating profit across its three segments this year.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Additional reporting by Danilo
Masoni; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Richard Lough)