London’s index of blue chip stocks is trading largely flat at 7,030 despite a number of upbeat comments from Britain's high streets. Fashion giant Next (NXT) nudges 3.2% higher to £73.95 on a better-than-expected first quarter trading update, including news the clothing titan will pay a further special dividend of 60p in August. We outlined Next's 'Perfect Share' characteristics in a recent cover story here.
Value coffees-to-sandwiches seller Greggs' (GRG) unstoppable run continues, up 23p to £10.99 on another positive update, further upgrades and confirmation it will pay a 20p (£20 million cash return) special dividend.
Unloved plus-sized fashion retailer N Brown (BWNG) bounces 4.4% higher to 336.05p on relief full-year results contain no new nasty surprises. Following a disappointing year and several profit warnings, the JD Williams-to-Jacamo brand owner issues an upbeat strategy update.
Argos-owner Home Retail (HOME) is marked up 2.5% to 171.5p as finals come in at the top end of market expectations, triggering forecast upgrades. Both Argos and Homebase contributed delivered positive like-for-like sales and profit growth for the second year on the spin.
Elsewhere, Barclays (BARC) slips 0.6% to 259.8p on statutory pre-tax profits falling 26% to £1.3 billion in the first quarter year-on-year. The bank has put an additional £800 million for the ongoing probe into its role in the foreign exchange rate rigging scandal, while an extra £150 million will be spent paying PPI mis-selling fines.
Ormonde Mining (ORM:AIM) jumps 6.1% to 3.13p after flagging significant risks with a takeover approach from Almonty Industries. It doesn’t believe the suitor can get the cash to fund the deal. The comments coincide with news that it has finalised project financing to build a mine in Spain.
FTSE 100 copper miner Antofagasta (ANTO) falls 2.2% to 784p after downgrading its full-year production guidance by 15,000 tonnes, implying annual output of 695,000 tonnes. This shouldn't be too much of a surprise given recent disruption from heavy rains and a mine blockade by local protesting over environmental concerns.
There’s trouble in the housing market as estate agency Countrywide (CWD) dips 2.1% to 513.7p on house sales 13% lower in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2014. The update blamed people delaying buying decisions until after next week’s Generate Election.
Audio equipment manufacturer Focusrite (TUNE:AIM) gains 2.7% to 168.5p following a strong set of maiden first half results with revenue up 17.5% to £23.8 million and profit before tax up 21.6% to £3.5 million. Chairman Philip Dudderidge says he is confident in the company's prospects for the second half of the year.
Diversified food business Real Good Food (RGD:AIM) rebounds 31.25% to 42p on news of the £34 million sale of struggling sugar distribution arm Napier Brown to Tereos, the world's fifth biggest sugar group. Earlier this month, the small cap warned year-to-March earnings would weigh in significantly below expectations, as we outlined here.
Insurance outsoucer Xchanging (XCH) gets a boost from the long-awaited regulatory clearance for its £64 million acquisition of Agencyport. Shares gain 1.5% to 121p.
Animal-focused biotech Benchmark (BMK:AIM) is London’s largest faller plummeting 28.7% to 79p after issuing a profit warning. Further details can be read here soon.