By Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s top shares fell on Monday, lagging major European indexes on a sharp drop in pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca after it rejected rival Pfizer’s higher takeover bid.
AstraZeneca dived 13.4 percent after turning down Pfizer’s 55 pounds/share take-it-or-leave-it offer.
That sharp drop accounted for the entirety of the fall in the FTSE 100 index, which shed 29.91 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,825.90 points.
AstraZeneca had risen over 27 percent in the month since the first Pfizer bid was reported, and traders said that a deal was now unlikely, with Pfizer reluctant to engage in a hostile approach.
“With Pfizer saying they won’t go hostile, it looks like it is pretty much dead,” Will Hedden, sales trader at IG, said.
“The rhetoric from certain government sections about securing jobs in the UK will have been a hurdle and certainly put off AstraZeneca shareholders.”
Recent price moves have left AstraZeneca trading at a forward price/EPS multiple of 19.5, according to StarMine data, compared to 15.5 for GSK and 14.3 for Sanofi, and over double its 10-year median of 9.3.
The FTSE 100 retraced most of the previous week’s 0.6 percent gain, which saw the index touch 14-year highs. On Thursday it came within 0.8 percent of all-time highs set in December 1999.
“With the FTSE 100 close to all-time-high territory, concerns have once again been raised in relation to valuation, which is creating something of a headwind,” said Jeremy Batstone-Carr, analyst at Charles Stanley.
In common with AstraZeneca, the broader market is also trading above long-run average valuations. The FTSE 100 trades at a price to earnings ratio of 13.8, compared to a 10-year average of 11.8, Thomson Reuters Datastream showed.
Top risers were airlines easyJet and International Consolidated Airlines, as expectation-beating results from Irish peer Ryanair buoyed the sector.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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