With the FTSE 100 broadly flat early on, as the clock ticks down to Thursday's Scottish referendum, funeral services provider Dignity (DTY) gathers up 35p or 2.4% to £14.67 on news the highly cash-generative company plans to return £54 million or £1 a share to investors. This latest capital return, Dignity's fourth since flotation in 2004, will arise following a proposed refinancing that will see Dignity redeem and reissue secured notes and reduce debt service costs.
Branded sportswear-to-fashionwear seller JD Sports Fashion (JD.) skips 4.7% higher to 427p as record interim results and a positive outlook stoke upgrades. Adjusted pre-tax profits doubled to almost £20 million on sales up 27% to £721.5 million, with strong performances from the UK and European sports fascias more than making up for losses in the fashion and outdoor divisions. We'll look at the statement in more detail on the Shares website later.
Recycled packaging play DS Smith (SMDS) gains 4.2% to 284.5p as an update reveals trading since the start of its financial year has been in line with expectations and growth is slightly outpacing its medium-term outlook.
Flat revenues and a 6% fall in underlying full-year profit sees industrial conglomerate Smiths (SMIN) dive 4.5% to £12.88. Profit fell to £378 million in the July 2014 financial year, compared with £486 million in 2013, with management blaming currency headwinds and a poor contribution from its 'detection' business.
Newspaper publisher Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) slumps 6.5% to 762p as it takes an £85 million hit on its RMS(one) risk management software. Initially planned for a launch in early 2014, a simpler version is now expected to go on sale at the end of 2015 with the delays triggering £5 million in additional costs. As a result guidance for the current financial year to the end of September is for operating profit to be at the bottom end of market expectations of £45 million to £50 million.
Office, retail, car parks and residential property investor Town Centre Securities (TCSC) gains 6.3% to 244.5p on news of improved annual profits and a positive outlook statement.
Low volumes and volatility in financial markets flagged in a first quarter update send IG (IGG) down almost 4% to 577p. Earlier this week, IG announced it would diversify into share dealing, offering investors the ability to invest in 4,500 stocks around the world.
Part owned by property mogul Christian Candy, Metals Exploration (MTL:AIM) disappoints with an update on its Runruno gold mine development in the Philippines. The shares fall 10.8% to 7.25p as the small cap reveals delays to commissioning its processing plant due to late delivery of final engineering drawings.
Football pools-to-horse racing betting processor Sportech (SPO) recovers 1.3% to 58.75p after a large fall in its share price yesterday (16 Sep). The shares were hit by news that it must repay the taxman £93 million after HMRC won a court appeal regarding VAT payments.
Flexible workplace provider Avanta Serviced Office (ASOG:AIM) advances 3.4% to 104p as it reports a first half swing from £1 million losses to £1.3 million pre-tax profits.
African crops-to-cattle minnow Agriterra (AGTA:AIM) cultivates a 5.5% gain at 1.05p, as its latest update flags the receipt of a US$5.6 million settlement pertaining to its legacy oil interests in South Sudan.