A trio of companies make their stockmarket debut a week before Christmas, led by Martin & Co (MCO:AIM), one of the UK's largest residential letting businesses. It has raised £10.4 million at 100p and the shares jump 17% in opening trading to 117p. Animal health specialist Benchmark (BMK:AIM) has raised £45.1 million, of which £27.5 million is through issuing new shares and the remaining funds going to existing shareholders who are selling down their holdings. Its shares rise 15.6% to 74p. The runt of the litter is mobile commerce group MoPowered (MPOW:AIM) which falls 6% to 94p on its market debut.
Insurance claims outsourcing supplier Quindell (QPP:AIM) confirms more than £100 million of contracted revenues have been signed up since its update last month, as it reports an 'extremely positive' third quarter. The shares rise 3% to 17.25p as investors latch on to hints that it could beat expected 4p per share earnings in 2014.
A significant discovery in the Gulf of Mexico by BP (BP.) has been overshadowed by a $1,080 million write-off after its Pitanga well on Block BM-CAL-13 failed to find commercial quantities of oil or gas. The bulk of the write-off relates to the acquisition of Devon Energy which was the source of the BM-CAL-13 lease. BP nudges ahead 0.3% to 466.55p.
The rally continues in electrical and white goods retailer Darty (DRTY). The shares rise 4.3% to 105.88p as half-year results show the benefits of significant restructuring. Adjusted pre-tax profits surge 44% higher to €9.4 million, reflecting a good performance in France, while news of the agreed disposal of its Turkish operations to local tech retailer Bimeks is well-received by the market.
Amid the grocery heavyweights, there's weak share price performances at Tesco (TSCO), off 3.5p at 321p, Sainsbury's (SBRY), heading 8.8p south to 369.8p and Morrisons (MRW), 1.8p cheaper at 254.9p. Investors are skittish towards these stocks given the rise and rise of hard discounters Aldi and Lidl nibbling away at the market share of the established supermarket groups in the crucial Christmas run-in.
Ophir Energy (OPHR) has farmed out its interest in several blocks in Gabon to OMV, triggering a 2.4% share price rise to 313.4p. Fastnet Oil & Gas (FAST:AIM) also reveals farm-out details, securing a deal with Korea's SK for half of its interest in the Foum Assaka Contract Area offshore Morocco. Fastnet dips 0.9% to 13.62p as investors are perhaps disappointed at the $200 million price tag given earlier hype over the asset.
Reassurance that trading is in line with expectations is enough to send Bwin.Party (BPTY) up 1.8% to 117.8p. The online gambling group has experienced several setbacks this year so steady trading is welcomed by investors. It achieved the largest poker market share in the newly-opened US market of Jersey.
European newspaper publisher Mecom (MEC) does some catching up, 3.7% higher to 84p despite no news. There could be read-across from Trinity Mirror (TNI) as investors begin to catch on to the potential of Mecom, another once highly indebted newspaper play on a recovery trajectory.
Online content specialist Perform (PER) remains a volatile trade, down 6.7% to 228p, as investors continue to assess whether last week’s profit warning (12 Dec) betrayed a fundamental weakness in the business model or was more the result of a one-off failure of communication.
Hong Kong-based CCTV equipment supplier UniVision Engineering (UVEL:AIM) reports a significant rise in interim pre-tax profit to £286,000 compared with just £15,000 a year ago, on revenues up a third to £4.4 million, driving the shares more than 7.4% higher to 0.72p.