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Trending tickers: Centrica, Coinbase, Airbus, Close Brothers

The latest investor updates on stocks that are trending on Thursday

Annual profits at Centrica-owned British Gas leapt from £72m to £751m in the space of a year. (Justin Paget via Getty Images)

Centrica (CNA.L)

Centrica revealed on Thursday that annual profits at British Gas leapt from £72m to £751m in the space of a year — soaring nearly tenfold.

The earnings increase comes after the regulator Ofgem hiked the energy price cap and allowed the company to recoup some of the costs of having to sell energy below wholesale price to its 10 million customers during the energy crisis.

Suppliers were forced to protect households from a spike in prices, which rose as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing dozens of companies to fail.

As a whole, Centrica’s pre-tax profit climber to £6.5bn last year, compared with a loss of £240m in 2022. But allowing for bespoke adjustments, the company said profits fell 17% to £2.8bn for the year to December.


It also announced another £144m payout to shareholders. The final dividend brings Centrica’s one-off payouts to investors to £217m this year.

Read more: Stocks that are trending today

The group said it was also voluntarily putting aside £40m to support customers, on top of the £100m spent in 2023.

“We are pleased to report that this strong underlying operational performance has continued into early 2024,” said chief executive Chris O’Shea.

“As you would expect, sharply lower commodity prices and reduced volatility will naturally lower earnings in comparison to 2023 as we return to a more normalised environment.

“Our performance over the past year has reinforced our confidence in delivering against our medium-term sustainable profit ambitions and continuing to create value for shareholders.”

Coinbase (COIN)

Coinbase stock advanced more than 6% in pre-market trading on Thursday, following a 14.2% rise the session before, as it is set to report strong revenue numbers for its fourth-quarter earnings.

It comes after an uptick in crypto trading volume towards the end of last year.

FactSet consensus estimates Coinbase's revenue increased to $826.1m (£658m) from $674.1m in the previous quarter. Earnings per share (EPS) are also expected to have picked up.

“We expect Q4 to be a strong quarter for the company as volumes returned to the space and interest income held up,” John Todaro, analyst at investment bank Needham, said, who has a buy rating on the stock.

It comes as Bitcoin (BTC-USD) surpassed the $52,000 mark on Thursday, propelled by increased allocations from fund managers like BlackRock (BLK) and Franklin Templeton (BEN) into multiple exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Read more: UK falls into recession as economy stagnates with shrinking GDP

The price of the cryptocurrency has increased 16.3% in the past seven days, according to data from Coinmarketcap.

Meanwhile, competitor trading platform Robinhood (HOOD) posted an overall revenue increase in the fourth quarter, also due to a jump in crypto trading revenue. Robinhood’s fourth quarter revenue was up 24% year-on-year.

Airbus (AIR.PA)

Airbus, the world's largest commercial planemaker, reported mixed results for the fourth quarter of 2023, beating revenue expectations but falling short on earnings.

Adjusted earnings before interest and tax rose 4% to €5.8bn as revenue climbed 11%, buoyed by demand for jetliners despite a fresh €200m charge at its space business.

It also announced plans to pay shareholders a special dividend on top of the regular dividend, reflecting growth prospects and a strong balance sheet including a cash pile that rose 14% to €10.7bn.

Thomas Toepfer, chief financial officer, said Airbus had chosen the special dividend to act quickly and to signal that it was sticking to its pledges on distributing cash.

“The company’s adjusted grew by only 3% year-on-year, due to higher costs and charges in its commercial and defence and space segments, while its helicopters segment performed well," Jarek Pominkiewicz, equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, said.

Read more: What is a recession and why is the UK in one?

"Airbus also issued a lower-than-expected guidance for 2024, reflecting the uncertainty and challenges in the aviation industry. However, Airbus rewarded its shareholders with a surprise special dividend of €1 per share, although some investors may have hoped for a share buyback as well.

“Despite the disappointing results, we remain optimistic about Airbus’ long-term prospects, as it continues to increase its deliveries, avoid costly new aircraft programmes, and benefit from Boeing’s (BA) ongoing troubles.”

Close Brothers (CBG.L)

Close Brothers Group slumped a further 28% on the day as the lender said it would not pay dividends for the current financial year.

It comes as the stock has already been trading at a record low price throughout the week on the back of an investigation.

Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced it would review historic claims of unfair costs on discretionary car finance commissions, and ensure consumers receive compensation if it uncovers evidence of widespread misconduct.

City analysts have already warned that the hit to providers of car finance loans could be between £2bn and £8bn. Close Brothers could face up to £200m in compensation payouts, according to latest analysis.

“While there is no certainty regarding any potential financial impact as a result of the FCA’s review, the board recognises the need to plan for a range of possible outcomes,” the company said.

“The board considers it prudent for the group to further build capital strength, while supporting its customers and business franchise.”

Its banking division generated around £112m of adjusted operating profit in the six months to 31 January 2024.

Watch: How does inflation affect interest rates?

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