Positive news on results leads ISEQ higher

IRISH Life & Permanent (IL&P) was one of the strong climbers on a generally good day for the ISEQ yesterday, on the back of a better-than-expected set of interim results and a determined outlook on potential acquisition activity.

The ISEQ was up by over 1.3%, its best daily showing in recent times, while IL&P finished the day at €1.45, up by over 4.3%, wiping out its previous day’s losses.

At its half-year results announcement IL&P said it cut its first half operating losses by 80%. It also confirmed that it had made a formal takeover proposal for the EBS Building Society and expected to gain some clarity on the progress of that move some time next month. It is currently thought that IL&P will be on a short-list of two potential buyers by then, ahead of a final outcome to the EBS takeover story by October or November.

IL&P’s management also said yesterday that the group is excited by the amount of consolidation opportunities — beyond EBS — in the Irish marketplace, adding that it was provisionally interested in elements of businesses like Bank of Ireland Asset Management, AIB Investment Managers, New Ireland Assurance and ICS Building Society.

“Ireland will have less banks, but still needs strong banks,” remarked IL&P chief executive Kevin Murphy.

Elsewhere on the ISEQ, yesterday, AIB clawed back earlier losses by stabilising at 77c and Bank of Ireland reached the same closing price following a 3c gain on the day. The other main Irish-quoted financial services company, IFG saw its share price remain stable, at €1.15, after reporting a profit decline but a cut in its debt levels

Outside of the financials, food group Kerry — on the back of its own set of strong interims — gained €1.32, to close at just under €26.

Overall, the ISEQ was up by 1.3% to 2,704 points — despite downbeat news from a poll of economists, conducted by news agency, Reuters. The poll showed that economists have cut their economic growth forecasts for Ireland for the next three years and said that growth will be slower than the Government’s forecasts.

The economy, according to the poll, should now grow by 0.7% — on a GDP basis — this year and by 2.7% next year; marginally lower than official Government estimates.


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