It can take exceptional performance to warrant earnings upgrades, as two well-known retailers have today found out. Both Halfords (HFD) and Dunelm (DNLM) have turned in solid trading updates yet they weren't good enough to get the City experts to nudge up their numbers. That in turn meant a lacklustre share price reaction to the news.
Car parts-to-bicycles seller Halford's reported 0.3% like-for-like retail sales growth in the fourth quarter versus consensus estimates of a flat performance. Having dipped in early trading, its share price then settled down with a 1% gain at 319.3p. Car maintenance revenues benefited from unseasonable weather, but seasonal outdoor and cycling product sales have gotten off to a slow start.
Cash-generative homewares retailer Dunelm dipped 3% to 823p as investors booked profits after a strong run. The £1.7 billion cap's third quarter update revealed 15.4% growth in overall sales to £177.8 million over the 13 weeks to March with new store openings providing a boost. Like-for-like sales growth of 5.2% was ahead of consensus as Dunelm benefited from the prolonged cold snap, which meant a later end to its winter sale as well as this year's early Easter.
Diversified commodities play Vedanta Resources (VED) advanced 3% to £11.49 on its fourth quarter and full-year production report. It reported production growth in oil, gas, copper, aluminium, lead and silver. Power was deemed good by analysts, helping to offset weaker copper output from its African operations.
Wales-to-the Potteries water and waste supplier Severn Trent (SVT) is losing its head, with news of chief executive Tony Wray's retirement next spring. The shares rose 14p to £16.90, the market evidently heartened by the group's long-term succession planning.
Shares in Tony Hayward-vehicle Genel Energy (GENL) were up 6.6% at 851.5p after it announced a significant oil discovery with the first of five exploration wells it is drilling in Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, this year.
South African-based SacOil (SAC:AIM) gained 8.9% to 2.15p after indicating that $17.6 million of debt and accrued interest provided by investment company Gairloch would be converted into equity. As a result the group is now entirely debt free.
Kazakhstan-based energy play Jupiter Energy (JPRL:AIM) fell 8.8% to 43.6p on disappointing output from its J-53 and J-55 wells – house broker finnCap noting production rates from both are 'well below those achieved elsewhere on the field'. On a more positive note the group expects to announce initial testing results from its J-59 well later this month and unveil an independent audit of its assets in May.
Better-than-expected results from restaurant operator Prezzo (PRZ:AIM) helped to drive up the share price by 4.2% to 87.5p. Margins beat forecasts as a result of lower promotional activity, targeted marketing and the benefits of centralised IT and reservation systems.
Atkins (ATK) nudged up 1.8% to 903p after saying the full-year results will be slightly ahead of market expectations. Stockbroker Panmure Gordon says the good bits (UK, energy, Asia) are better but the not-so-good bits (US construction services arm Peter Brown) are worse.
Investors are overjoyed at news of a maiden 4p per share dividend at business telco Daisy (DAY:AIM), it's been a long time coming. Analysts at broker FinnCap hailed the 'double our forecast' payout, which flags 'welcome visible equity return through income', and the market agrees, pushing the shares up over 5% to 130.15p. Daisy has long been criticised for failing to provide a regular and reliable cash return element to its its investment story, setting it apart from almost every other UK telco in a fairly negative fashion. Promising 15% payout growth ahead too, investors will start to look at the story with different eyes.
Shares in east African oil firm Ophir Energy (OPHR) dipped 1.6% to 443.1p despite announcing a 700 billion cubic feet bump to its resource estimate or the Jodari field in Tanzania to 4.1 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Micro-cap media play MediaZest (MDZ:AIM) soared 190% in early trade to 0.31p on news of a major contract win worth £1 million over the next 18 months. The creative digital out-of-home advertising company did not give any details about the contract apart from that it was with a 'major international brand'. The £1.5 million cap generated sales of £964,000 in the six months to 30 September, versus £1.7 million in 2011. This translated into a loss for the period of £239,000, up on 2011's £151,000 first-half deficit, and prompted a cash call, with a £179,000 placing announced concurrently with the numbers. Until today's rally the counter had lost 90% of its value over three years.
Diagnostic screening and testing product specialist Akers Biosciences (AKR: AIM) jumped 22.4% to 1.5p after management announced it expects to make a profit this year due to cost cutting and sales exceeding forecasts. One highlight was a second order from Chubeworkx Guernsey for 1.4 million disposable breath detectors at $420,000. House broker Daniel Stewart has upgraded its full year pre-tax profit forecast to £500,000 from break even.
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWP: AIM) moved 6.2% to 74.7p after announcing that its MS drug Sativex can be prescribed in the UK without supply and storage restrictions. This follows a government ruling that its treatment has been downgraded under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Irish and African oil explorer Fastnet Oil & Gas (FAST:AIM) slicked up 2.8% to 25.8p after announcing the results of a competent person's report, essentially an independent audit, of its Shanagarry block in the Celtic Sea. This revealed potential resources of 1.29 billion barrels of oil and 1.34 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Boiler efficiency technology company Sabien Technology (SNT:AIM) jumped over 14% to 24p after winning a supply deal with property manager Norland for its M2G kit. Worth close to 10% of last year's £2.47 million revenue, this is clearly good news although will do little to ease investors worries over its hugely lumpy contract pipeline.