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Ocado nabs spot in FTSE 100 as traditional retailers shrink

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Ocado nabs spot in FTSE 100 as traditional retailers shrink
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By Helen Reid

LONDON (Reuters) – Online grocer and technology company Ocado entered Britain’s index of biggest companies on Wednesday in a quarterly reshuffle of the FTSE 100 which clearly showed the zeitgeist in a disrupted retail industry.

Ocado <OCDO.L> was promoted from the mid-cap FTSE 250 to the FTSE 100 in a quarterly reshuffle by index provider FTSE Russell that also saw bookmaker GVC <GVC.L> promoted.

Ocado’s shares rocketed 44 percent on the day the firm struck a major deal with U.S. supermarket Kroger <KR.N>. The stock is up 124 percent year-to-date thanks to a string of distribution deals cheered by the market.

A new environment for retail, with consumers shopping online for everything from clothes and groceries to baby accessories, was the clear driver behind this quarter’s reshuffle, which was based on the companies’ market capitalisation at the close of trading on Tuesday.

Ocado’s market cap has ballooned to 6.1 billion pounds, overtaking that of several FTSE 100 companies and triggering the promotion.

Getting into the FTSE 100 can often fuel further demand for a company’s shares, since funds that track the FTSE or invest in the index can then add that stock to their portfolio, while the inverse is true if a company falls out of the FTSE 100.

High street retailer Marks & Spencer <MKS.L>, whose shares are down 5.5 percent this year with a market cap of 4.86 billion, escaped demotion from the index by a whisker.

Ocado had overtaken it in terms of market capitalisation, but M&S was saved from the brink by security company G4S <GFS.L> and South African private healthcare provider Mediclinic <MDCM.L>, whose smaller size meant they were relegated instead.

Gambling company GVC <GVC.L> also got the call-up to the FTSE 100. Last week its shares hit a new record high after it upped its forecast for cost synergies from its 4 billion pound acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral.

“The potential opening up of the U.S. sports betting market has significantly cushioned the blow of the UK government’s clampdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.


Early ages retailer Mothercare <MTC.L> and fashion chain Moss Bros <MOSB.L> were both relegated from the FTSE All-Share to the FTSE Fledgling index after their market value shrank.

Both have issued profit warnings this year, bruised by British shoppers’ desertion of high street stores, and Mothercare is in the throes of a restructuring effort.

Mothercare and Moss Bros shares are down 48 percent and 46 percent respectively since January.

In another sign of the times, oil exploration and production companies were among those promoted to bigger indices thanks to a surge in crude prices helping drive their market value up.

Energean Oil & Gas <ENOG.L> and Premier Oil <PMO.L> rose into the mid-cap index, along with investment services firm Integrafin <IHPI.L>.

Strain on retail was again visible with pub chain Marstons <MARS.L> and specialised pet retailer Pets at Home <PETSP.L> relegated from the mid-caps. Woodford Patient Capital Trust <WPCT.L> and Purecircle <PURE.L>, were also demoted.

Shares in Woodford Patient Capital Trust, a fund managed by star UK fund manager Neil Woodford, are down 13 percent year-to-date.

The stock suffered a 10.9 percent drop just a day after its biotech holding Prothena <PRTA.O> failed a drug trial in late April.

The index changes will be effective after the market close on June 15, that is, from start of trading the following Monday June 18.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, additional reporting by James Davey and Alistair Smout, Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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