Friday 23 August 2019

Takeaway firm Just Eat promoted to FTSE 100 Index

The online takeaway firm has seen shares jump 37% over the past year.

JustEat profits
JustEat profits

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

Just Eat has jumped into the top flight and Merlin Entertainments has been relegated to the second tier in the latest reshuffle of the FTSE Index.

The online takeaway firm has seen shares jump 37% over the past year, with relentless revenue growth and a string of deals keeping its stock in demand.

Investor appetite for the company has helped push its stock market value beyond supermarket giant Sainsbury’s.

Promotion to the top flight is another bright spot for the firm after seeing its £240 million takeover of rival Hungryhouse given the green light by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier this month.

Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director, said: “Online food order and delivery service Just Eat’s arrival in the UK’s corporate elite is all the more remarkable as it was only floated in April 2014.

“The shares have stormed from a flotation price of 260p to north of 800p since then, to give the firm a market cap of £5.6 billion, bigger than each of Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

“This shows how the internet places a focus not just on price but on service and Just Eat’s success is testimony to its ability to harness the power of both technology and consumer satisfaction.”

In a contrast of fortunes, Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments has been demoted to the FTSE 250 after enduring a stock price slump and weaker trading following a series of UK terror attacks.

The group behind Madame Tussauds and the London Eye has seen visitor numbers tail off in response to the heightened UK threat level, with the blame also being pinned on poor late summer weather across the UK and northern Europe.

Merlin, which dismissed takeover talks with SeaWorld last month, has seen its share price sink since it peaked at 537p in May this year.

Mr Mould added: “Legoland operator Merlin has lost some of its magic this year and October’s profit warning pretty much sealed its fate so far as FTSE 100 membership was concerned as the shares joined the ‘down-10%-in-a-day’ club.

“The company had done well to bounce back from the hit to customer visits to Alton Towers after a terrible accident there in summer 2015 but a spate of terror attacks across several major cities, including London, has taken its toll and profits are now expected to drop slightly in 2017.”

Defence firm Babcock International and ConvaTec Group make up the trio of demotions to the second tier, with health and safety sensor maker Halma and packaging firm DS Smith leaping into the premier index.

The changes will be enforced on December 15 and take effect from December 18.

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