Argos-to-Homebase operator Home Retail (HOME) rises 4.6% to 214.5p as a strong year-end trading statement triggers earnings upgrades from the analyst community. The home and general merchandise seller says pre-tax profit for the financial year ending 1 March will 'slightly ahead' of the £111 million top end consensus estimate following a good final eight weeks of the year. Argos, whose transformation into a digital-driven business saw mobile sales account for 18% of last year's sales, and Homebase, both generated like-for-like sales growth throughout the year, though gross margins remain pressured.
Embattled Morrisons (MRW) spooks the entire supermarkets sector with a number of chunky write-downs and news it will invest heavily in slashing prices. Shares in the Bradford-based grocer slump 6.5% to 217.95p as it guides that profits will collapse, triggering yet another wave of downgrades. We look at the news in more detail here including analyst reaction.
Investors take encouragement from stellar start to 2014 for Quindell (QPP:AIM), pushing the shares nearly 3.5% higher to 38.25p. But there's other interesting strands to pull from today's announcement, which we spell out in this article. Quindell remains a running Play of the Week having flagged the stock in January at 21p.
Slow components demand drags on pre-tax profits profits and operating margins at electronics kit supplier TT Electronics (TTG), although investors draw positives from restructuring that will cut costs and bring efficiency benefits. The shares remain roughly flat at 222p although this reflects the 18% share price run since late December.
Trinity Mirror (TNI), which is also a running Play of the Week, rises 1.5% to 221p as the market applauds full-year results. Net debt has been reduced by a third to £97 million; pre-tax profit is up 2.6% to £101.3 million and current trading is in line with expectations.
Branded soft drinks business Nichols (NICL:AIM), a successful exporter to Africa and the Middle East, nudges 2.5p north to £11.61 on another strong set of numbers. The Vimto-to-Sunkist producer grew pre-exceptional taxable profits 10% to £22.5 million for calendar 2013, driven by a focus on value over volume. Buoyed by another year of copious cash generation, Nichols hikes the total dividend up 13% to 19.62p.
Technology commercialisation specialist Imperial Innovations (IVO:AIM) improves 8.9% to 425p after its stake in allergy drug developer Circassia (CIR) is valued at £82.1 million. Circassia joins the stockmarket today at 310p.
Northgate (NTG) has managed to push through a small increase in van hire rates but utilisation rates marginally retreat in the UK. It's the opposite in Spain. Investors are disappointed there isn't stronger growth in the business, sending the shares down 2.6% to 567.75p.
Jubilee Platinum (JLP:AIM) has abandoned its takeover of troubled miner Platinum Australia more than a year after first announcing the deal. The transaction has been dogged by debt issues. We looked at Jubilee's own problems in this article from March 2013. Investors welcome today's decision with the shares rising 1.5% to 2.03p, albeit still a fraction of the price at which they were trading three years ago.
Document management specialist Restore (RST:AIM) reports a 61% rise in adjusted pre-tax profit to £10 million and a 27% hike in the dividend. A long-running favourite at Shares – read here and here – the £142 million cap reports good progress across most of its divisions. The records management arm is struggling with new customer growth but Restore says a change in the sales force should help to fix the problem. The stock nudges ahead 0.3% to 186p.
Dementia testing specialist Cambridge Cognition (COG:AIM) drops 9.6% to 65.5p as its pre-tax losses almost double to £2.9 million. It ended the financial year in a stronger cash position with £3.2 million in the bank up from £600,000 in 2012.
European non-life insurer Gable (GAH:AIM) rises 1.6% to 79.5p on forming an agreement with Kinetic Insurance and CHJ Management to underwrite specialist commercial surety bonds. The deal will see Gable write £5 million of premiums a year.
A supplier deal in Mexico with Mercedes-Benz gets the thumbs-up by Incadea (INCA:AIM) investors, the stock adding 3.5% to 110p.