Market report: Codemasters races ahead as sales rise

What happened to the FTSE, pound and UK companies on the markets today?

Codemasters has benefited from a surge in demand for its games during lockdown 

Lockdown drove many sofa speedsters to discover their inner Lewis Hamilton, sending sales zooming upwards at racing game developer Codemasters.

The firm – which makes titles including the F1 racing series – rose 17.5p to 375p after saying its trading was “strong” during the six months to the end of September.

The Warwickshire-based group anticipates revenues of approximately £80.5m for the period, compared with £39.8m for the first half of 2019.

Video games have proven hugely popular over recent months, with many people turning to virtual distractions amid job furloughs and lockdowns.

New titles, including F1 2020, drove sales, with the franchise growing as Formula 1 racing attracts ever more fans in the United States. Back-catalogue sales also remained strong as the group expanded its digital offering.

Small-cap Codemasters’ next major launch is the racing game Dirt 5, which should arrive to coincide with the launch of a new generation of games consoles. Shore Capital’s Katie Cousins said gamers’ adoption of digital downloads was progressing more quickly than had been expected, “resulting in attractive margin progression” for the group.

It was a thin day for corporate news, with Tesco the only major company to offer results.

The supermarket’s shares initially rose after it reported a surge in profit driven by high food sales, but flattened to end the session down 1.4p at 212.6p.

The FTSE 100 spent another session on its belly, barely moving in either direction as gains for miners and banks offset losses for asset managers, energy groups and property developers. The blue-chip index closed the day off 3.7 points at 5,946.3.

Drinks giant Diageo rose 18p to £26.98 after analysts at Jefferies said it was time to buy beverage companies as global demand pulled back towards pre-pandemic levels.

Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon moved in opposite directions, as the former replaced the latter as Credit Suisse’s top pick among UK house builders.

Analyst Emily Biddulph said she was “increasingly conscious” that Persimmon had held on to a premium rating despite sector rivals showing stronger recovery potential, adding that Taylor Wimpey looked “oversold”.

Persimmon fell 50p to £26.15, while Taylor Wimpey’s shares rose 2.3p to 116.3p.

The FTSE 250 was also flat, although Firstgroup notched up solid gains, rising 4.5p to 46p after Citi said the firm had an opportunity to gain market share as student transportation businesses recovered.

Analyst Sathish Sivakumar warned that general passenger volumes were likely to remain depressed, with journeys for shopping remaining under pressure. National Express – which also drew praise – closed up 6.7p at 158.7p.