One of Thursday's star turns was Domino's Pizza (DOM), whose shares baked in an 8% gain at 616p on a better-than-expected first quarter update. For the 13 weeks to 31 March, the £933 million cap reported 6.6% growth in UK like-for-like sales, ahead of expectations and despite snow-related disruption in the early part of the quarter. New products including the Domino's Hot Dog Stuffed Crust, as well as short-term promotions, underpinned the strong performance. In the smaller markets of Ireland, Germany and Switzerland, the expansionist pizza delivery play served up like-for-like growth of 8.1%, 40.3% and 9.3% respectively, while investors were also wowed with news of 38.4% online sales growth to £82.5 million.
As well as facing food cost pressures, Domino's is up against very challenging second quarter comparatives, having increased UK like-for-like sales 8.1% last year. This reflected the wettest 'Q2' on record, as well as the benefits of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Euro 2012 football championships. Liberum Capital warns this year's second quarter like-for-likes could even slip into negative territory, due to the aforementioned tough comparative and lack of any major events.
In the oil equipment and services sector, engineering and consultancy giant AMEC (AMEC) advanced 34p or 3.2% to £11.13 on an upbeat first quarter update. The £3.2 billion cap reassured the market it has performed in line with expectations in the first three months of the year, with new contract wins boosting activity in the North Sea in particular. Deal-hungry AMEC, with a £3.7 billion order book at the end of March, also flagged up a good pipeline of further acquisitions too.
Specialist healthcare company BTG (BTG) put on 5.6p at 364.2p after beating its revenue forecasts for the year to 31 March. The company said it generated £230 million turnover last year, comfortably ahead of management’s previous expectations of between £205 million and £215 million. Driving this growth were a bonus payment from pharma giant AstraZeneca (AZN) on the terminated snake anti-venom CytoFab programme as well as strong performances from the £1.2 billion cap's specialty pharmaceuticals and licensing and biotechnology businesses.
Property behemoth British Land (BLND) moved 6p or 1.1% higher to 554p on news it has become sole owner of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre in Canada Water after buying Tesco’s (TSCO) 50% shareholding for £48 million. Under the terms of the deal the vendor has increased the length of its lease. British Land intends to spend £38 million upgrading and extending the 300,000 square foot centre next year. The £4.9 billion cap has also pleased with an update on progress with the redevelopment of the 14.6 acre Harmsworth Quays printing works site. In a key milestone for the development, Southwark Council has given its approval for the Daily Mail General Trust (DGMT) to assign its leasehold interest in the site over to British Land.
Lower down the market cap ranks, shares in wholesaler Booker (BOK) eased off by 0.4p to 122.4p despite a good fourth quarter update. Over the 12 weeks to 29 March, the cash and carry company's total sales, stripping out last year's (4 Jul) Makro acquisition, rose by 2.3%, with a 4.3% rise in non-tobacco sales more than offsetting a 0.8% decline in tobacco revenues. Following a prolonged period of pondering, the Competition Commission is expected to rubber stamp Booker's acquisition of Makro by 24 April.
Hard-pressed European electrical goods and domestic appliances retailer Darty (DRTY) danced up 12.4% to 47.75p on news it is closing down its loss making operations in Spain. The structurally challenged £225 million cap, which posted a profits warning in February, is seeking to turn around its fortunes amid testing European markets and today's news follows on from the recent disposal of Darty Italy. Click here to read more.
Logistics group Wincanton (WIN) accelerated 17.2% to 52.75p as investors responded positively to the £55 million cap's soothing year-end trading update. Forthcoming (13 June) results for the year to March will meet market expectations and Wincanton highlighted good performances and new business wins within its contract logistics and defence businesses.
Queuing technology supplier Lo-Q (LOQ:AIM) falls back over 5% to 544p as investors mull the stock's hefty rating. A run of upbeat newsflow, the latest Tuesday's (2 April) AGM update, has seen the shares jump 68% since early December putting the price/earnings multiple of 2013 at over 35.
The technology microcap space is littered with the after effects of old news. Business solutions supplier Imaginatik (IMTK:AIM) jumps nearly 20% to 0.16p as investors pin hopes to the company not de-listing. Going the other way, little healthcare software company Avia Health Infomatics (AVIA:AIM) plunges 9.5% to 4.75p on repercussions of last month's (1 March) damaging profits alert continue to be felt.
Finally, flexible workspace company Serviced Office (SVO: AIM) skipped more than 4% higher to 3.12p on news of a swing from £8.8 million losses to £4.3 million taxable profits for 2012, a result of rising fee income and debt refinancing. The £20 million cap behind 22 business centres, mainly in London and the South East, as well as an IT division offering technology and infrastructure to smaller companies, grew sales more than 30% to almost £16 million last year.