Aryzta leads shares lower amid worst Iseq20 quarter since Brexit vote

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Aryzta fell almost 45 per cent in the first three months of the year, leading the Iseq20 index lower as it endured its first quarterly decline since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

The embattled Swiss-Irish frozen baked goods maker, which lost about a fifth of its value last year as it underwent a management overhaul following a series of profit alerts over two years, has been out of sorts again in 2018 after management warned last month there was “still a lot to do” to sort out the business and its cost base.

The second-worst performer was Paddy Power Betfair, which lost almost 16 per cent in the first quarter as analysts cut their forecast for the bookmaker after it revealed it was planning to hike its marketing spend to boost its sluggish growth in continental Europe.

Bucking trend
Origin Enterprises, Kerry Group and AIB make up the other three worst performers on the Iseq20 so far this year, falling 16 per cent, 12 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. The index declined by 6.5 per cent, marking its first decline in seven quarters.

Bucking the trend, Smurfit Kappa led advancing stocks, gaining almost 17 per cent, after the cardboard box-making group disclosed that it had received two unwanted bid approaches from US rival International Paper. The Memphis-based company has said it hopes that management at the company will engage, with speculation mounting that the suitor may turn hostile and go directly to Smurfit Kappa shareholders.

Ryanair added 6.3 per cent, recovering some of the ground lost late last year when the budget carrier conceded to recognising labour unions, which led to fears that its cost base would rise.

Bank of Ireland was the only other Iseq20 stock to move higher in the quarter, edging up 0.2 per cent, as the group returned to paying a dividend for the first time since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

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