Investor news is dominated by falling stock markets around the world amid escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine. That's hit countless stocks with exposure to the regions, as we detail in this article. Elsewhere, there's plenty of corporate announcements yet limited share price movement due to the bearish backdrop.


Heading the fallers is Smiths News (NWS) where weak trading in its books business sends the share price down 12.4% to 180p. It says profits will be below last year in the Bertrams arm because of price competition, lower margin sales and delays in seeing the benefits of investment into the business. We looked at the risks facing the stock in last week's issue of Shares – you can read that article here.


Acquisitive car dealer Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) adds 1.4% at 64.88p on a strong pre-close trading statement. The UK's sixth biggest automotive retailer, a long-standing Shares favourite, flags better-than-expected year to February profits, as it benefited from buoyant market conditions and acquisitions. We take a closer look at the news here.


The UK’s second largest drug maker AstraZeneca (AZN) falls 2.4% to £39.84 despite the US regulator approving Bydureon Pen, a drug that improves glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes suffers. The news comes two months after another of its diabetes drugs, Farxiga, was approved in the country (13 Jan).


There's impressive earnings growth from recruitment consultant Robert Walters (RWA) yet the shares look up with events, triggering mild profit taking from investors as the shares fall 1% to 354.25p. The big negative in the results in a large increase in the tax bill, due to a greater proportion of sales coming from Japan where tax rates are punitive.


Chocolatier Thorntons (THT), a running Shares Play of the Week, sweetens up 1.4% to 155.63p on better-than-expected half-year results confirming further turnaround progress. Taxable profits grew by more than 47% to £7.2 million in the half to 11 January on sales up 4.5% to £139.7 million. The market likes news that sales in the fast moving consumer goods division, the key growth engine going forwards, exceed retail division sales for the first time.


Malaysia-focused palm oil play Asian Plantations (PALM:AIM) cultivates a 4.7% gain to 225p after confirming it is in talks 'with a number of parties' over a sale of all or part of the company. Shares has previously flagged the likelihood of a takeover given the attractions of the group's strategic assets.


Cable fastening manufacturer HellermannTyton (HTY) rises 5.2% to 330.8p on a bullish management commentary in its full-year results.


Heavy construction specialist Keller (KLR) drops 7.1% to £11.80 as investors take profit following full-year results which show 70% rise in pre-tax profit.


Transplant technology specialist Lifeline Scientific (LSI:AIM) jumps 10.5% to 157.5p as it secures a human organ transport contract in France. The financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.


Contamination and hygiene specialist Tristel (TSTL:AIM) rises 4.8% to 43p after making £700,000 pre-tax profit in the six months to January, compared to a £600,000 loss a year earlier.

Issue Date: 03 Mar 2014