LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) finished the day down 46 points, or 0.73%, to 6,277, partly weighed down by two of the large companies we're looking at today. Other than that, there's been no sea change in economic sentiment, with the index of top U.K. stocks still pretty close to its recent 52-week high of 6,355 and set to end January up about 400 points, or 6.6%, for the month.
So what depressed the FTSE today? Here are three companies whose share prices fell.
Shell (LSE:RDSB) (NYSE:RDS.B)
Shares in Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest company in the FTSE 100, dropped 2.9% to 2,294 pence, even though the oil and gas giant lifted its full-year dividend by 4.7%. Underlying full-year earnings, excluding some exceptional items, came in 2% up at $25 billion (on a constant-cost-of-supplies basis), with fourth-quarter earnings up 15% to $5.6 billion.
The company reiterated its commitment to its current strategy, with chief executive Peter Voser saying, "With the first year of our 2012-2015 growth targets completed, Shell is on track for plans we set out in early 2012, despite headwinds last year."
AstraZeneca shares slumped by 3.2% to 3,053 pence this morning after the pharmaceutical company released disappointing results for the year to December. We saw a 15% fall in revenue (at constant exchange rates) to $28 billion, with pre-tax profit crashing 35% to $7.7 billion. The poor performance was blamed on the loss of exclusivity on several brands, including Seroquel IR -- a known problem for pharmaceuticals companies reliant on blockbuster drugs.
The board did lift its full-year dividend to $2.80 per share. But does a combination of rising dividends and falling profits make for a sound long-term strategy?
Scancell Holdings saw its share price drop as much as 2.7% today after releasing a report for the six months to Oct. 31. The firm recently got a boost from the first phase of trials of its SCIB1 anti-cancer therapy, which was found to produce an immune response in cancer patients that may have a clinical benefit. The recruitment stage of the next phase is now under way.
At this stage, the company's financials aren't of much use in valuing its long-term potential, with an operating loss for the six months of 990,000 pounds versus 940,000 pounds at the same stage last year. Scancell still has 2.6 million pounds in the bank.
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