MARKET REPORT: Aston Martin investors hit eject over £100m losses

Shares in Aston Martin hit a record low as losses ballooned to more than £100million and its finance boss quit.

James Bond’s favourite car maker plunged 9 per cent, or 35.2p, to 355.8p after the latest dire update since it joined the stock market 18 months ago.

It also warned that there could be a huge slump in demand for its luxury cars in China as the outbreak of the coronavirus ground the country to a halt.

James Bond’s favourite car maker Aston Martin plunged 9 per cent, or 35.2p, to 355.8p after the latest dire update since it joined the stock market 18 months ago

Finance chief Mark Wilson will step down by the end of April after revenues fell by 9 per cent, or almost £100million, to £997million last year.

Wilson’s departure following the disastrous results comes as part of a wider board clearout that will also see chairman Penny Hughes step down and be replaced by Formula 1 billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who will kick off a restructuring and cost-cutting drive.

A consortium led by Stroll, which includes Lord Bamford, the billionaire boss of digger group JCB, took a 17 per cent stake in the group in return for a £182million cash injection. 

Although Aston plans to raise another £318million from investors – offering them 14 new shares for every 25 they own at the discounted price of 207p – this leaves the consortium in control of 22 per cent of the firm.

Stock Watch – Ashley House 

Affordable housing provider Ashley House is desperately trying to secure cash.

It warned that if it doesn’t, it will go bust, but said the need to raise money ‘would not be quite so urgent’ if two debtors coughed up the more than £1million it claims they owe the firm.

In a chock-a-block update, the firm announced it will also delist from Nex Exchange as it is not necessary to be listed both there and on AIM.

Shares sank 34.4 per cent, or 0.8p, to 1.55p.

Losses rose to £104million last year from £68million the year before, on the back of lower sales and a £39million cost from hitting the pause button on its first electric car.

Aston has now lost 81 per cent of its value since it went public in October 2018, when its shares listed at 1900p and it was worth £4.3billion. Last night it was valued at a fraction of this – £811million.

There was more panic on global markets as more people tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, Japan closed all schools until April and Saudi Arabia banned pilgrimages to Mecca.

The FTSE 100 fell 3.5 per cent, or 246.07 points, to 6796.40. And the FTSE 250, which is more exposed to companies focused on the UK, fell by more, shedding 4.1 per cent, or 839.5 points, to 19,783.45.

The latest coronavirus losses overshadowed a super Thursday results bonanza, with more than a dozen major British companies posting results. 

Rentokil was killing it as the pest controller swung to a profit of £339million after making a loss of £114million the year before, sending shares up 1.7 per cent, or 8.4p, to 504p.

Drug maker Hikma Pharmaceuticals (up 4.6 per cent, or 84.5p, to 1910p) and coach operator National Express (which revved up 0.8 per cent, or 3.4p, to 416p) both posted profit rises – with the latter also pledging to scrap diesel buses in the UK by 2035.

Oil rig equipment provider Hunting rallied 13.2 per cent, or 38.6p, to 331p despite profits plunging 10 per cent, after it outperformed forecasts and unveiled a share buyback plan.

But tiles specialist Topps Tiles was battered, falling 24.9 per cent, or 19.6p, to 59p, as it warned a drop in time Britons spend doing DIY means profits will fall ‘materially’ during the first half.

Shake-ups to regulation and tax hikes shaved 38 per cent off profits at Paddy Power and Betfair-owner Flutter Entertainment (down 6.8 per cent, or 600p, to 8226p), while car insurer Hastings revealed that profits slumped 47 per cent as costs soared and repairs got pricier. Its stock fell 3.7 per cent, or 6.3p, to 166.2p.

But credit lender Provident Financial – down 3.6 per cent, or 16.4p, to 434.7p – was out of favour with investors, even though its profit rose 1.6 per cent and it hiked its dividend by 150 per cent.

Away from results, the Competition and Markets Authority watchdog published a letter from JD Sports, which fell 5.4 per cent, or 42p, to 741.8p, where the retailer shot down the regulator’s proposal that it should sell Footasylum.


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