Holiday Inn-to-Staybridge Suites owner InterContinental Hotels (IHG) dips 4.9% to £19.47 despite full-year results beating expectations. A 9% hike in the dividend is pleasing yet investors may be put off by 2014 capital expenditure guidance of $350 million which is approximately 20% higher than analyst forecasts. This is being partly funded by the sale of a hotel in San Francisco for $120 million. Given that asset sales have previously helped to fund special dividends, the market may now be speculating there won't be another payout beyond the regular dividend for a while.
Discount retailer and austerity winner Poundland confirms it will join the stockmarket next month with a London main market flotation giving US private equity firm Warburg Pincus a partial exit. We take a closer look at the investment case here.
British Gas-owner Centrica (CNA) drops more than 3% to 307.9p as analysts at investment banking giant UBS issue a 'sell' rating on the stock. The group is seen as a likely target for both sides of the political divide as Labour and the coalition look for vote-winning push points, and energy bill rises are unlikely to stay out of the news.
Popular insurance outsourcing business Quindell (QPP:AIM) rises 2.5% to 40.75p after unveiling substantial new business wins, more in the pipeline and deals to take greater ownership of its Himex and Ingenie business partners. That takes the market cap to more than £2.2 billion for a business that reaffirms plans to join the main market in the next couple of months. Shares has flagged the story many times over the past 18-months, most recently at 21.5p last month.
Diversified miner-to-petroleum giant BHP Billiton (BLT) nudges ahead 0.2% to £19.16 after its half-year results beat forecasts. Headline numbers include underlying profit of $7.8 billion and a huge increase in free cash flow, helping to bring net debt to $27.1 billion versus analyst expectations of $32 billion.
Car dealer Pendragon (PDG) decelerates 6.2% to 32.13p as investors take profit following publication of its full-year results. Adjusted pre-tax profits accelerate 21% to £44.2 million as Pendragon's new like-for-like car sales speed 18% higher in a buoyant UK market. Chief executive officer Trevor Finn flags strong online, used car and aftersales performances as well as 35% net debt reduction to £140 million, enabling a 300% hike in total dividends to 0.4p. The share price doubled in 2013.
Buy-to-let funder Paragon Group of Companies (PAG) improves 2.9% to 378.4p as it launches a banking arm. The lender has started offering loans and savings with £12.7 million capital after the regulator gave its consent.
Oil services group Wood (WG.) jumps 5% to 710p as investors breath a sigh of relief that full-year results meet (downwardly-revised) expectations and that its 2014 guidance remains unchanged following December's profit warning.
Keywords Studios (KWS) rises 6.5% to 156.5p after making a 'materially earnings enhancing' acquisition. The video games translation group is buying technical services expert Babel Media, bringing operational synergies, a greater position in function testing and a move into the Indian market. We've flagged Keywords' potential many times since it floated last July and the share price is up 48% since we laid out the investment case in our in-depth griller interview from October.
Mobile gaming developer Probability (PBTY:AIM) has finally thrown in the towel as an independent, agreeing a 50p per share takeover by lotteries business Gtech. Probability has tried for several years to grab scale but has consistently struggled despite becoming the white label supplier to the mobile gaming businesses of several major bookmaking groups. The deal looks cheap considering that the shares traded at 78p just three months ago.
Near-field communication (NFC) technology microcap Proxama (PROX:AIM) rises nearly 7% to 4.35p after striking a development partnership with Weve, the mobile payments platform joint venture between Vodafone (VOD), O2 and EE. NFC technology has been slow to get off the ground in the UK and Proxama's shares have also made slow progress since joining Aim in August last year at 4p.