High Street bellwether Marks & Spencer (MKS) is marked down 1.8% to 436.2p as investors fret ahead of Thursday's (9 Jan) third quarter trading statement covering the crucial Christmas period. The Sunday Times claims festive trading was dismal, with deep discounts failing to arrest sliding sales with clothing and homewares revenues reversing up to 1.5% to heap further pressure on chief executive officer Marc Bolland.
Troubled insurer RSA (RSA) improves 5.7% to 97.4p ahead of the results of an investigation into its Irish business on Thursday. The group issued three profit warnings and the CEO quit in late 2013 following concerns over the high level of injury claims in its motor business.
Shipping broker Clarkson (CKN) rises 7.3% to £21.44 after saying full-year results, to be published on 10 March, will beat market expectations. We highlighted the potential upside for Clarkson last month given trends seen in the Baltic Dry Index.
Investors seem unimpressed with Clear Leisure's (CLP:AIM) plans to build up a restaurant business that it can potentially spin off as a separately-listed entity in time. The shares are flat at 2.1p as it buys 51% of Lasagnette, a restaurant concept that has the rights to use the images of cartoon character Garfield, a well-known lasagne fan. Clear Leisure's food offering is minimal at present with merely an Italian sushi business.
Recruitment agency Staffline (STAF:AIM) rises 2.6% on a robust trading update to 565p. The running Shares Play of the Week will report full-year results on 29 January. There is a potential risk, nonetheless, as Labour has indicated that, if it won the next election, it would stop companies being able to exploit cheap foreign labour by removing a loophole where agency staff get paid less than the equivalent full-time worker. Staffline specialises in blue-collar workers.
Meat retailer Crawshaw (CRAW:AIM) racks up a near-15% gain at 19.38p on a tasty Christmas trading update. Like-for-like sales rose 21% and at improving margins in the 7 weeks to 29 December and the £11.4 million cap now expects full-year results to smash market forecasts. Shares flagged the Rotherham-headquartered counter as a momentum trade in October.
High purity stevia specialist PureCircle (PURE:AIM) rises 2.5% to 627.5p on a positive first-half trading update. With sales surging 31% to $34.7 million in the six-month period, the food producer predicts a move into positive operating profit. Shares weighed up PureCircle's vertiginous rating and growth prospects in a recent Under the Bonnet article.
Video marketeer Rightster (RSTR:AIM) soars nearly 30% to 64p after The Sunday Times included the stock in its share tips for 2014.
Cloud telecoms supply minnow Coms (COMS:AIM) rises 3.4% to 4.52p after unveiling nearly £2 million worth of new contracts for the year ahead. The shares have doubled since June as chief executive David Breith cranks up the acquisitions engine.
Antennas designer MTI Wireless Edge (MWE:AIM) jumps close on 20% to 8.5p after sealing a $1 million order for delivery this year. It also tells the market that revenues will beat current market expectations for 2013. It made $12.7 million in 2012.
Sports marketing services specialist Chime Communications (CHW) fails to respond to an upgrade from Canaccord Genuity. The broker moves its stance from 'hold' to 'buy' ahead of what it expects to be a busy 2014 for the firm connected to the World Cup in Brazil with a 383p target price against an unmoved share price of 346p.
Self-storage concern Lok’nStore (LOK:AIM) improves 1% to 198.5p after buying a new site in Bristol. The deal comes with permission to build a 50,000 square foot centre taking its number of sites to 26. This is its first site acquisition in years and, according to Panmure Gordon, highlights its confidence in the market.