On a relatively-quiet day for corporate news, the FTSE 100 advanced 12 points higher to 6,472. Among the big risers were resource stocks including the first day's trading from the newly-merged copper-to-coal producer Glencore Xstrata (GLEN), up 3.9% to 343.95p.
The market latched onto improved performance from Man’s (EMG) flagship AHL fund, with the stock up 9.3% to 116p, helped by a positive response to debt restructuring plans. Despite a fall in funds under management to $54.8 billion at 31 March the AHL Diversified portfolio was up 4.2% in the quarter.
Industrial kit suppliers have been under pressure from fading customer spend of late so Renishaw's (RSW) third quarter update is pretty reassuring (read our recent take on Spectris (SXS) here and Spirent (SPT) here). The £1.2 billion cap's largely flat trading showed metrology down a bit, healthcare up a bit with Renishaw's management following the trend of blaming Far East manufacturers. The shares edged up 9p to £16.63, but watch out for future cost expansion as the group bears up for future growth opportunities.
Barely a day passes without claims management software supplier Quindell Portfolio (QPP:AIM) pulling some sort of news rabbit out of the bag, but its move into property claims intelligence looks very interesting. Quindell is upping its stake in 360GlobalNet from 19% to 60% in an all-share deal worth £11.5 million. 360GlobalNet has built a system that uses an array of technologies (video, unmanned flying drones, van mounted cameras, etc.) to provide data and analytics to insurers and physical asset managers aimed at preventing fraud and drive compliance monitoring among others thing. But the market appeared sceptical, the shares drooping 4.6% to 13p, suggesting Quindell needs to prove the long-term significance of this Big Brother-style deal.
A first quarter trading update from machine-to-machine (m2m) technology developer Telit Communications (TCM:AIM) led the shares up 0.5p to 85p, but the market seems to be missing important progress at Telit's fairly new m2mAir arm. The £87.5 million cap is effectively on track to match market expected 20% top line growth to a rough $156 million this year, but m2mAir has already added $1.2 million in sales and built a 550 customer base, not bad from a standing start just nine months back (read Shares' July story here, page 7). This could be a big grower as Telit could potentially leverage recurring data revenues on top of its core technology kit. We'll have more on this story later.
Insurer Direct Line (DLG) reported a 33% rise in operating pre-tax profits in the first three months of the year to £108 million. Alas, the shares fell 1.7% to 200.2p after blaming a tough motor insurance market on its £885 million net earned premiums falling below the £921 million consensus. Some good news came from its combined ratio, the size of its premiums compared to its pay-outs, which improved to 98% from 99.2% in 2012.
There was better news from Phoenix (PHNX), which improved 1% to 646p after a strong first quarter signalled it is on track to meet financial targets for the year. These include the insurer reducing its gearing while increasing cash. The company’s dividend looks secure this year after it had £410 million cash during the period compared to £6 million in the first three months of 2012.
Real estate concern Capital & Counties (CAPC) increased nearly 1% to 310.4p after demand in central London saw new lettings and renewals agreed at 10.3% above December’s estimated rental value (ERV). Its debt fell to £343 million from £348 million at the end of December, but so did its cash to £145 million from £185 million.
Commercial property provider Workspace (WKP) fell 0.3% to 377.1p despite securing planning permission to develop apartments and a business centre in Deptford. The company is planning to redevelop two factories into almost 50,000 square foot of space for small businesses and 148 residential apartments.
Engineer to the oil and mining industries, Kentz (KENZ) jumped 2.8% to 409p after reporting a 'very positive start' to 2013 with several new contract wins. Bucking the trend for weakness in the commodities arena, Kentz said that as of the end of March, it had secured around 80% of its 2013 target revenues.
KBC Advanced Technologies (KBC:AIM) advanced 4.7% to 67p after winning a $16 million, seven-year software contract with a large oil and gas services group.
Fastnet Oil & Gas (FAST:AIM) has secured a new licence option off the coast of Ireland. Stockbroker Finncap says the licence award complements its existing acreage but says securing a farm-out deal is 'crucial' in driving a higher share price. The stock moved 2% higher at 25.62p on the news.