By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
A downgrade of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline weighed on the U.K. top stock market index on Thursday.
GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK -0.85% /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK -2.69% shares fell 1.7% as Barclays cut its rating to underweight from equal-weight, saying 2020 is shaping up to be an investment year.
Barclays said it is expecting a slight decline in earnings per share alongside zero like-for-like sales growth this year.
Glaxo’s drug for multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, “looks challenged” in the context of data on rival products from Celgene /zigman2/quotes/202415610/delayed CH:CELG -2.24% and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/203149337/composite REGN +5.51% , Barclays said. The broker said its forecast is 57% below the consensus estimate for 2023.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.61% more broadly declined 0.41% to 7611.49, with European stock markets also in the red following the signing of the preliminary U.S.-China trade accord.
Pearson /zigman2/quotes/204954587/delayed UK:PSON +2.28% weakened 7.2% after a downbeat outlook as the publishing company reported declining revenue in U.S. higher-education courseware. Pearson, for the first time, forecast adjusted 2020 earnings per share, targeting 44 pence to 52.5 pence, compared with the FactSet-compiled broker estimate of 50.5 pence per share, and it announced the departure of Chief Financial Officer Coram Williams. Pearson also announced a £350 million share buyback.
Whitbread /zigman2/quotes/207954631/delayed UK:WTB -0.45% lost 4.3%, as the Premier Inn owner said the U.K. political and economic environment remains uncertain. Like-for-like revenue per available room fell 3.6% in the U.K. during the fiscal third quarter ending November 28. It was hurt by its performance outside of London, though it said the start of the fourth quarter has been more positive for regional hotels.