Demand for cleaner cars which filter harmful sooty pollutants out of exhaust fumes has helped chemicals business Johnson Matthey soar.
Sales in the clean air division were up 11 per cent, well ahead of global vehicle production, helping its revenue climb 10 per cent to £7.1billion in the six months to September.
Chief executive Robert MacLeod also said the batteries division was gearing up for growth, and was on track to make its new low-cost battery material widely available soon.
A move into batteries should sustain Johnson Matthey as drivers shift towards electric cars, which will remove the need for the anti-pollution catalysts the company has focused on.
Sales in Johnson Matthey’s clean air division were up 11 per cent, well ahead of global vehicle production, helping its revenue climb 10 per cent to £7.1bn in the six months to September
Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘The ball’s rolling on commercial production, but we’ve still got years to wait before it’s at scale.’
In the meantime, stricter global rules around air pollution and an economic boom in the US, which has boosted the use of heavy duty vehicles, has kept the clean air division ticking over.
Shares climbed 13.1 per cent, or 364p, to 3141p.
As the tech sell-off eased on Wall Street, Britain’s own software giant Sage Group edged higher.
The company, which has formerly been famous for providing businesses with software to organise their payroll, is hoisting the ‘For Sale’ sign over that division. Through partly or fully selling a number of unwanted divisions, it hopes to raise around £350million.
Stock Watch – Ubisense
London-listed Ubisense is soon to change its name, after selling one of its divisions and the Ubisense brand to Bahrain-based investor Investcorp for up to £35million.
It sold its Smartspace business, which connects industrial machines over the internet and tracks activities to allow efficiency to be assessed.
Renaming itself IQGeo, the firm will keep the MyWorld business which allows companies to track all their systems and machines. Shares shot up 14.9 per cent, or 9p, to 69.5p.
It now wants to focus on its cloud business, where clients use its software over the internet and Sage continues to manage the service and provide assistance. This means Sage can charge customers a continuing subscription, rather than a one-off charge.
Sage said it would spend a hefty £60million to improve its cloud technology and persuade more firms to use the service.
Chief executive Steve Hare, who took over from Stephen Kelly this month, said: ‘The renewed focus on high-quality subscription and recurring revenue has generated momentum as we exited the year.’
Revenue climbed 7.6 per cent to £1.8billion and profit lifted 16.4 per cent to £398million, causing shares to nudge up 2.2 per cent, or 12p, to 548.2p.
United Utilities, which provides water to the north-west of England, also crept up 2 per cent, or 15.4p, to 778p, as revenue climbed 4.6 per cent to £916million.
Although profit sank from £341.8million to £339.1million in the six months ending September 2018, it rose when taking out the impact of extreme weather and United’s shake-up efforts.
With more positive notes struck at a number of FTSE 100 companies, investors in Britain’s blue-chip index received some respite. It ended higher for the first time since last Thursday, up 1.5 per cent, or 102.31 points, to 7050.23 points.
Challenger bank Paragon provided some buoyancy, climbing 8.2 per cent, or 33.8p, to 445.2p.
The mortgage, savings and business loans specialist said profit jumped 25.3 per cent to £181.5million, as it grew mortgage lending by 10.8 per cent to £1.6billion.
While several builders have raised concerns that Brexit could affect the market, Paragon said it was looking to avoid uncertainty by taking a ‘robust approach’ when it valued properties.
It has hired its own in-house team to conduct valuations, in the hope that they will not overprice houses and leave the bank vulnerable in the event of a slump.
Waste company Biffa was rubbished by investors, as China’s crackdown on imported foreign garbage hurt.
China says it poses environmental and health risks, and Biffa has had to find other countries to export its recycled waste to. Revenue climbed 4.2pc to £501.8m, while profit after tax slumped 19.8pc to £19m.