A sharp drop in the gold price and a brutal research note on precious metal producers from Citi has taken the shine off a host of gold and silver miners. One of the bank's key 'sells', FTSE 100 constituent Fresnillo (FRES), saw £400 million wiped off its valuation as the shares dropped 3.3% to £16. Citi says there is no reason for the South American silver and gold producer to trade on 23 times forecast earnings when the diversified mining sector trades on a mere 10.4 times forecast earnings.
US hedge fund investor George Soros has also turned bearish towards gold as its Soros Gold Management Fund reduced its holding in the SPDR Gold Trust exchange traded product. The gold price has today (15 Feb) fallen to a six-week low of $1,629 per ounce.
As a miner with a broad interest in commodities, Anglo American (AAL) wasn't caught up in the precious metals onslaught. Its shares are on the move upwards after declaring a 15% hike in its full-year dividend. Click here for the full story.
Greencore (GNC) has fallen foul of the horse meat scandal after admitting it provided products to supermarket group Asda that contained traces of horse DNA. Three other Greencore products have been withdrawn. The food producer slumped 13% to 88.75p despite saying that the annualised revenue of these affected products represents less than £1 million, a fraction of the group's £1.1 billion turnover in the past financial year.
A profit warning took Darty (DRTY) down 6% to 46.75p, a fortnight after appointing a new chief executive officer. Activist investor Knight Vinke is unhappy at Darty's slow progress in restructuring its business and today says it will take up its right to a seat on the board. For the full story on the profit warning click here.
Another stock under fire is North Sea oil firm Ithaca Energy (IAE:AIM). It ticked down 2.6% to 130.25p after major shareholders requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting to add two independent directors to the board. Activist investor JEC Capital Partners and Anthion Master Fund, which own a combined 7% of Ithaca, are concerned about a deterioration of shareholder value and believe the company should put itself up for auction. Ithaca has rejected the proposal saying the desired board additions have no energy industry experience.
Streamlining the trading systems of big financial institutions is a market in which Ffastfill (FFA:AIM) is rapidly growing. That success has not gone unnoticed as shares in the back-to-front office software and systems supplier jumped 30.6% on a takeover bid. Global trading system group Ion has offered 20p per share and will probably seek to merge Ffastfill with Patsystems, the distressed specialist it bought in 2011. While being part of a much bigger group will help smooth cashflow of its cloud transition and open the door to a much bigger potential customer base, this looks a short-sighted move given the price. Analysts at FinnCap were confident of Ffastfill shares hitting 20p under their own steam within 12 to 18 months.
Lombard Medical Technologies (LMT:AIM) jumped 30% to 232p following the news that Aorfix, its flexible stent graft, has secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the US. This has triggered a £14.1 million milestone payment which will be used to bring the product to a market during the second half of the year that is worth $600 million and growing by some 8% annually. The device is expected to be rapidly adopted in the US and will bring the company to the attention of larger players, analysts at Canaccord Genuity predict.
After a large fall in early trading, the decline has since been scaled back to a 'mere' 6% to 5.85p for Mwana Africa (MWA:AIM) after an accident at its Freda Rebecca gold mine in Zimbabwe. Two leach tanks have been damaged, forcing the small cap to halt operations. It hopes to restart the mine within five days.
Continuing its rapid descent is Snacktime (SNAK:AIM), today down 40.9% to 6.5p after a profit warning, leaving its shares trading at a fraction of the 57p level seen in March 2012. House broker Westhouse tried to find positives in its morning commentary on the situation but conceded that there was less immediate upside for the share price, slashing its target from 50p to 20p.
The ongoing bid war for serviced officer provider MWB Business Exchange (MBE:AIM) has reached a new chapter. Pyrrho Investments has made a £65 million cash offer for the business, significantly higher than the £40 million Regus (RGU) offered to pay two months ago. MWB Business Exchange jumped 59% to 98p in response to the latest move.
And finally, it may be farewell to £99 million market cap technology group Sandvine (SAND:AIM) which wants to delist from Aim and concentrate solely on the Canadian investment market. The shares were marked down 11.4% to 117p in response to the proposal.