Mobile and online payments network Monitise (MONI:AIM) collapses by 27% to 31p as US credit card giant Visa (V:NYSE) reveals it is mulling its strategy of its 5.5% stake in the fast-growing but still loss-making business. Sister entity Visa Europe also owns a near-6% stake in Monitise.
Fashion designer and retailer French Connection (FCCN) falls 11.2% to 62.13p despite delivering improved financials for the third half year on the spin, signposting further turnaround progress. Reduced pre-tax losses of £3.9 million (2013:£6.1 million) are overshadowed by a 6.6% sales fall caused by currency swings and the shuttering of stores, while boss Stephen Marks' outlook strikes a cautious tone for the second half, given some tough like-for-like sales comparatives.
Shares in budget airline Easyjet (EZJ) take-off after the Luton-based carrier says it is upping its dividend payout ratio to 40% from next year. That's up from the previous one-third ratio it previously paid out to investors. Shares add 2.3% to £13.69.
Alton Towers-to-Legoland operator Merlin Entertainments (MERL) nudges ahead 0.9% on a reassuring trading statement. Investment in sites in parts of Europe and the US are paying off, helping to offset lower promotional gains from the Lego Movie now that hype around the blockbuster film dies down.
Financial services group Just Retirement (JRG) advances 2.6% to 142.5p on pre-tax profits jumping 19% to £92.8 million in the year to July. However, the new rule on retirees no longer having to buy an annuity was introduced in its four quarter and its premiums fell 13% as a result.
Global payments platform operator Earthport (EPO:AIM) dips a modest 3.5% to 42.5p despite tapping investors for £26.6 million of fresh funding. The 40.85p placing price by the running Shares Play of the Week was pitched at a modest 8.75% discount to yesterday's 44p close, and brings in New York-based Oppenheimer Funds as a new 8.6% stake owner. We last updated on Earthport in May.
Ten-pin bowling group Essenden (ESS:AIM) rises 6.7% to 64p on well-received half-year results. Adjusted pre-tax profit is up 13.1% to £2 million and it has decided not to pursue 'transformational acquisitions', having previously flagged an intention to move into holiday camps.
PVCu replacement windows and doors seller Safestyle UK (SFE:AIM), a running Shares Play of the Week, locks in a 5.4% gain at 174.5p. Interim figures reveal a 13% taxable profits push to £8.8 million, reflecting further market share gains, while boss Steve Birmingham also flags a bulging order book.
Discount greetings card retailer Card Factory (CARD), floated on the Main Market in May at 225p, clips 4.5p (2.1%) higher to 215p as strong maiden interims please. Like-for-like sales were in positive territory, underlying profits on an upwards trend and debt levels reduced, though the shares are still below their 225p offer price.
Food wholesaler Booker (BOK) edges 3.6% higher to 120.5p on a solid second quarter trading statement. Non-tobacco like-for-like sales, excluding the Makro business, grew a healthy 3.1% and CEO Charles Wilson highlights progress with Makro's turnaround. Shares highlighted the cash-generative attractions of the cash and carry operator here recently.
Canary Wharf-focused property investor Songbird Estates (SBD) gains 3% to 251.5p on net assets growing 9% to £2.9 billion in the six months to July.
Electronics supplier Premier Farnell (PFL) eases 2.3p (1.2%) to 186.3p in a volatile early trade after reporting revenue and operating profit fell slightly in the half year to 3 August. Analyst Andy Brown at N+1 Singer says the results were in line with expectations but expects the stock to remain under pressure until there is a pick-up in its North American business, which makes up 30% of profit.
Demand for rented vans and pick-up trucks looks robust, according to an update from fleet hire specialist Northgate (NTG). Around 89% of its UK vehicles were out on hire in the three and a half months to end-April, compared to 88% for the same period last year, despite adding more vehicles to its fleet. The stock trades down 7p (NTG) at 511p.