A ugly picture of the jobs market was painted by SThree (STHR) as it reported a 9% drop in second-quarter gross profit, far worse than the 3% decline in the first period. Fees are falling from contractors in more mature markets and the banking sector. The service group is also suffering margin compression as it prioritises work for larger multinational clients, where it places greater emphasis on contract lifetime values over upfront margin percentage and gross profit per day rates. The market hated the announcement, sending the shares down 7% to 330p.
Pubs operator Fuller, Smith & Turner (FSTA) reported a solid set of full-year results together with news of a 7% rise in like-for-like sales in the first nine weeks of its new financial year. Investors toasted the company's success with a 1.7% rise in the share price. We look at Fuller's numbers and interesting new growth initiatives in more detail here.
Investors chased north of England telecoms supplier KCOM (KCOM) hard, the shares jumping 9% to 83.8p on its renewed 10% a year dividend growth aims. But the market's response comes as a surprise to Shares which we'll discuss in a story later today.
Edinburgh-based audio chip designer Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) tumbled 11.6% to 178.5p after key customer Samsung was criticised by JPMorgan Chase. Analysts have taken their red pens to forecasts for the Korean electronics manufacturer, largely due to perceived slowing sales of its latest Galaxy S4 smartphone. Wolfson is a key technology supplier for this product.
Shares in housebuilder Bellway (BWY) rose 2.8% to 1,352p after an encouraging interim management statement which saw reservations up 31% year-on-year, attributed in part to the launch of the government's Help to Buy scheme on 1 April. The group also reported that the average selling price of reservations had increased because of changes in product mix, resulting in the average selling price of reservations taken since 1 February rising by 5% to £200,300.
A new licence win for 2D to 3D conversion tech play DDD (DDD:AIM) caught the market's eye, lifting the shares over 2% higher to 18p. The deal was struck with Chinese tablets maker Hampoo, which hopes to launch the world's first 3D glasses-free mass market tablet computer. Shares last week flagged DDD's growing pipeline in an interview with chief executive Chris Yewdall.
News that Central Rand Gold (CRND) had broadly hit its production tonnage target was enough to send its share price up 7.7% to 0.35p. Yet the serial disappointment is running out of money once again. Its cash position is down to $2.1 million, more than half its piggy bank balance at the start of the year.
An £80 million, six-year contract win failed to excite investors in Serco (SRP) as its shares slipped 0.7% to 591p. The service group has secured a new transport management deal in Hong Kong, extending its long-term relationship with the country's Transport Department.
Transense Technologies (TRT:AIM) has won a major contract with miner Anglo American's (AAL) Kumba Iron Ore subsidiary. Yet the shares collapsed by 22.7% to 8.5p as the small cap is raising new funds at a significant discount to yesterday's share price. It is offering new stock at 7.5p to try and raise up to £4.25 million through a placing and open offer.