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STOCKS TO WATCH: Can Tesco shares start to simmer?

STOCKS TO WATCH: Can Tesco shares start to simmer?

Expect plenty for Tesco shareholders to chew over in this week’s trading update after a baptism of fire for boss Ken Murphy, who had to contend with l

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Expect plenty for Tesco shareholders to chew over in this week’s trading update after a baptism of fire for boss Ken Murphy, who had to contend with last-minute Covid restrictions during his first Christmas in charge.

The good news is that Britain’s biggest retailer will likely report stonking sales – thanks in part to the shutdown of restaurants driving shoppers to supermarkets.

However, the lack of festive get-togethers and the latest lockdown is hurting Tesco’s Booker division, which supplies caterers. Any indications of annual profits will be examined after Tesco agreed last month to repay £585 million in business rates relief to the Government.

Analysts at Barclays argue that, after an underwhelming year for the shares, Tesco has brighter prospects in 2021

Analysts at Barclays argue that, after an underwhelming year for the shares, Tesco has brighter prospects in 2021

Analysts at Barclays argue that, after an underwhelming year for the shares, Tesco has brighter prospects in 2021 

Analysts at Barclays argue that, after an underwhelming year for the shares, Tesco has brighter prospects in 2021 with sales trends likely to improve and Brexit uncertainty lifted.

Can Murphy make this the year Tesco’s stock finally begins to simmer?

Admiral boss is swift to act 

The City gave a sharp salute to Admiral’s first female boss, Milena Mondini de Focatiis, who took over at the insurer this month.

She’s quickly seen shares reach a record high after the £500 million sale of Confused.com’s owner to Uswitch parent company ZPG, a deal struck by her predecessor David Stevens.

What’s more, lockdowns have aided car insurers as claims have dropped with drivers staying home.

But hedge funds – including Brexit backer Sir Paul Marshall’s Marshall Wace – are betting against the stock with nearly 2 per cent of the shares out on loan. Marshall is estimated to be worth £630 million, so worth listening to if he’s called the peak after a buoyant, decade-long run for the shares.

Are investors right to buy British for better times after lockdown? 

It’s probably been the gloomiest start to a year for as long as many can remember. 

So what happened? The UK stock market jumped, of course. Contrary as this may seem, there is some logic to investors buying into the hope that better times lie ahead. 

On this podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look at what the fresh lockdown means for the economy and why investors are choosing to look straight through it and develop a new appetite for buying British. 

 Press play above or listen (and please subscribe if you like the podcast) at Apple Podcasts, Acast, Spotify and Audioboom or visit our This is Money Podcast page 

Marshall Motor boss upbeat 

Marshall Motor chief Daksh Gupta is in an alarmingly chipper mood. The AIM-listed car seller, which runs 113 franchised dealerships, has had to shut showrooms in the lockdown. 

But Gupta says trade is surprisingly strong for servicing, repairs and click and collect sales.

And the acquisition addict is ready to expand. Since taking charge in 2008 Gupta has struck 167 deals – buying and selling small chains and large groups of forecourts.

With £30 million of cash on its balance sheet, the firm looks well-oiled amid troubled peers. Gupta says: ‘Businesses that went into this weak are in the weakest position. We’re well positioned as an acquisitive business and keen to strengthen, particularly in the South-East.’

Next finance boss sells some shares 

It is testimony to Next’s popularity in the City that the retailer’s shares are now back above their pre-pandemic levels – surging 124 per cent from April lows – despite the Covid shutdown of its physical stores.

Finance chief Amanda James has certainly noticed the stock’s revival, selling £225,000 of shares for personal reasons. Time for some online shopping.

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This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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