Following a profit warning earlier this year, retinal diagnostics specialist Optos (OPTS) has today soared 20.2% to 144.2p following a solid third quarter update. The company is on course to hit revised expectations after generating $40 million in revenue during the quarter and cutting its debt by $10 million. No reason was given as to why Chief financial officer (CFO) Louisa Burdett is stepping down in September after little more than a year in the role. Group director of finance Robert Kennedy then takes over as interim CFO.
Retail champion Sports Direct (SPD) sprinted ahead by a further 5% to 630p on strong full-year results to 28 April showing pre-tax profits 40% ahead at £208 million. Looking like it could soon qualify for the FTSE 100, the £3.6 billion cap said trading is ahead of expectations for the first quarter, prompting analysts to nudge up their numbers.
The world's largest marketing services group by sales, WPP (WPP), was up 3.3% to £12.06 following strong second-quarter numbers from French peer Publicis (PUB:PA) which revealed strong second-quarter sales of 5% and ahead of expectations.
After trebling in price over the past year, investors are taking profits in Speedy Hire (SDY) after it reported a 0.8% drop in first quarter revenue. The previous year was helped by infrastructure spend ahead of the Olympics which makes tough comparative numbers to beat. We remain positive on the stock – read our Griller interview from March – but acknowledge that the shares may pause for breath until there's proof of stronger earnings.
Further delays to getting a Yorkshire-based potash project approved by the authorities has knocked Sirius Minerals (SXX:AIM), down 14% to 18.5p. The miner has asked the planning committee to defer its decision, expected on 29 July, as it wants to ensure outstanding environmental queries are properly addressed.
Continuing the trend for miners to rebound on strong production reports, London Mining (LOND:AIM) jumped 5.7% to 92.5p on its second-quarter update. Freight costs were higher than expected but the benefits of hedging meant income didn't suffer too much from falling iron ore prices. As we discussed in March, the challenge for the miner is to bring down costs.
Specialist foundry and engineering business Chamberlin (CMH:AIM) took some heat from shareholders, down 15.7% at 73.8p, after warning first-half profits would be below market expectations. In January the group issued a profit warning for the year to 31 March 2013.
Ukraine and Russia based oil firm JKX Oil & Gas (JKX) gushed up 3.4% to 53p after announcing the successful recompletion of its NN-71 well. Essentially recompleting means producing from a different part of the sub-surface on an existing well.
Industrial conveyer belt manufacturer Fenner (FENR) moved up 5% to 338.4p after reiterating guidance for its August 2013 financial year. If achieved this would represent a return to growth after the group was hit by unusually low demand in North American markets last year.
Agricultural supplies-to-specialist retail firm Wynnstay (WYN:AIM) was a non-mover at 506p despite flagging up a potential acquisition. The £85 million cap, a running Shares Play of the Week, is in 'advanced discussions' to acquire agricultural inputs supplier Carmarthen & Pumsaint Farmers.
Luxury motor dealer H.R. Owen (HRO) accelerated 2p higher to 132.5p as investors bet on further bid excitement. The £30.6 million cap has rejected yesterday's 130p cash offer from shareholder Berjaya on the grounds its 7.4% premium is 'inadequate and at a level which materially undervalues the company.'
Secure Trust Bank (STB: AIM) fell 2.3% to £23.15 after interim pre-tax profit halved to £6.2 million. While last year's figures benefited from an £8.9 million fair value gain from the acquisition of Everyday Loans, it is worth noting that this year's figures have been hit by bad customer debts rising from £3.1 million to £7.6 million. Secure Trust argues that such impairment levels remain below original expectations. Underlying pre-tax profit grew by 37% to £10.3 million. Read our recent article on the stock.
London and Southeast real estate investment trust (REIT) McKay Securities (MCKS) improved 2.6% to 146.6p after management said the group enjoyed a good first quarter where rental income from new leases was 3.5% higher than expected. It also announced the acquisition of a warehouse in Farnborough for £2.9 million, which generates 11.1% of the acquisition cost in rent each year. McKay is a running Shares Play of the Week.
The announcement of a contract extension with Yorkshire Water saw heavy construction specialist Galliford Try (GRFD) add 0.2% to £10.01. The deal, a joint venture with AECOM Design Build, is worth at least £110 million to Galliford Try and means the £816 million cap will continue as contractor for the water company's AMP6 framework.
Breedon Aggregates (BREE) rose 1.9% to 27.25p after the group posted strong results for the six months to 30 June which saw underlying profit at the aggregates business leap 69% to £5.3 million. Read our recent story on Breedon.