Unilever shares are one of the day's biggest fallers on the FTSE 100, which is down 0.2% at 7,041 at lunchtime.
Investors seem underwhelmed by the consumer goods giant's trading update, which saw sales rise - but below analysts' consensus. The stock is down 1.5%.
All eyes are on the maker's of Marmite and Dove soap following this month's U-turn on moving out of London.
“The numbers highlight the pros and cons of Unilever’s
significant emerging market exposure," says Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst George Salmon.
"It’s encouraging to see underlying sales move in the right
direction, with both volumes and pricing contributing to performance. However,
while these results are solid enough, they’re not quite the stellar showing
investors would have been looking for.”
FTSE 100 starts lower
The FTSE 100 has started a little lower, down 6 points at 7,047.
Unilever is down 0.8% after its trading update.
Rank Group is 2% lower after reporting falling sales.
FTSE dragged lower
Airlines weighed heavily on the FTSE 100, with Easyjet closing down 5% and British Airways-owner IAG down 2%.
They were casualties of a profit warning from smaller rival Flybe, whose shares sank 13% after the airline said a higher pound and rising costs were starting to bite.
It also hit tour operator TUI, down 3.2%, while mid-cap
peer Thomas Cook tumbled 7.7%.
The FTSE 100 had been in positive territory earlier in the day, but gradually erased the gains. The index ended almost 0.1% lower at 7,054.6 points.
Builder Crest Nicholson has tumbled 10% after it warned over profits.
Aim listed fashion retailer Asos, is up 10% after its trading update was well received.
Merlin: Legoland slowdown a worry
Merlin Entertainment, which operates that Legoland theme parks, among many other attractions, has seen its shares slump today.
Hyett, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown has these thoughts:
revenues might be moving in the right direction, but under the surface Merlin
is struggling to get customers through the gates.
"The worrying thing in these numbers is that the
previously strong Legoland business seems to be joining the slump.
Movie 2, due for release early next year, should provide a boost in 2019. But
it’s far from ideal.
rising cost base is making matters worse, particularly in the UK where business
rates and the National Living Wage are both putting pressure on margins.
would be a mistake to lose sight of Merlin’s long term strengths... but the group is undeniably going through a rough patch.”
Merlin: A 'jam tomorrow' company
So why are investors so negative about Merlin Entertainments today? Richard Hunter from Interactive Investors has these thoughts:
"The terrorist attacks in London and poor weather
which led to a profits warning a year ago have thankfully not been duplicated.
Even so, a return to normality in visitors to London is a long time coming,
whilst Merlin’s strategy to build up other parts of the operation to provide
diversification comes at an inevitable cost, with net debt at £1.2 billion, as
mentioned at the half-year numbers in August.
"For the moment Merlin
remains a “jam tomorrow” stock, and the share price is likely to remain in the
doldrums until some prolonged stability is seen."