Government plans to revitalise the rail franchise system have failed to excite investors in the UK-quoted transport companies. Of the main players, only Go-Ahead (GOG) showed any positive movement, rising 0.7% to £14.55 with National Express (NEX) down 0.7% to 210.2p. Stagecoach (SGC) was flat at 312p and FirstGroup (FGP) level at 197.7p.
The government wants to stagger the franchise start dates so deals are not let at the same point in the economic cycle. Extensions will be granted to most of the existing franchises. The competition is now underway for the East Coast franchise which has been in public hands since 2009 when National Express lost the contract. Virgin is seen to be a likely bidder for the route with the successful candidate starting in February 2015.
Having last month flagged a large drop in the dividend and likely write-downs (click here for our story from February on this event), Kazakhmys (KAZ) has further disappointed investors today with its full-year results. It is taking a $2.2 billion hit on the value of its 26% stake in ferrochrome producer Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC). Investec says this has a knock-on effect of increasing the group's tax rate to over 68% as there is no tax relief on the impairment in Kazakhstan. The shares slumped 10.5% to 396.9p on the news.
Shares in the world’s third biggest home improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF) jumped 2.2% to 289.6p on publication of its full-year results. As we discuss in detail here, the drop in pre-tax profit is old news; investors are today focusing on better-than-expected cash flow and a rise in the dividend.
Catering giant Compass (CPG) dipped 1.4% to 823p despite an upbeat trading statement triggering earnings upgrades by analysts. Investec has increased its price target from 800p to 900p, highlighting strong trading in North America and double-digit topline organic growth in emerging markets.
Wolseley (WOS) fell 2.3% to £31.36 on its interim results. Conditions are mixed in Europe with the UK flat and the mainland described as 'very weak'. Analysts reckon investors should take profits after a strong rally since last summer.
Bellway (BWY) continued its strong rally since last June, adding a further 28p to £12.20 on the back of half-year results. The housebuilder has reported a 47.5% rise in pre-tax profit to £59.9 million and raised the dividend by 50% to 9p.
Identity verification specialist GB Group (GBG:AIM) jumped 8% to 97.5p after saying that full-year results would beat market expectations. It will provide a more detailed trading update in the week commencing 14 April, ahead of results in early June.
After a slow start, Polish consumers are starting to get a taste for Domino's Pizza. The franchise owner, DP Poland (DPP:AIM), has today seen its share price rise 10.7% to 24.5p after reporting strong progress with sales. Although the business is still loss-making, investors applauded its efforts to expand the business which will this year include its first sub-franchise pilot store.
Hazardous waste specialist Augean (AUG:AIM) was flat at 34.5p despite declaring its maiden dividend and doubling full-year pre-tax profit to £2.8 million. While it sees growth opportunities, parts of the business continue to struggle.
Property franchiser Belvoir Lettings (BLV: AIM) was unmoved at 136.5p on its full-year results. Adjusted pre-tax profit of £1.9 million was marginally below analyst forecasts of £2.1 million. It received fewer franchise income than expected but management services fees exceeded forecasts.
Shares in ceramic products play Churchill China (CHH: AIM) put on 5p at 340p on the delivery of solid annual numbers showing taxable profits up 15% to £3.1 million and news of a positive start to 2013. The Stoke-on-Trent-based business also pleased with a return to a progressive dividend policy, raising the total payout for 2012 from 14p to 14.2p after four years of a flat payment.
Shares in Russian oil firm Ruspetro (RPO) gushed up 30.9% to 26.5p after it announced chief executive officer Donald Wolcott had bought more than £140,000 worth of shares. The stock is still down more than 80% on it January 2012 IPO, dogged by production delays and financing issues.