Non-life insurer Directline (DLG) gains 3.9% to 296.2p on paying a 10p a share special dividend and boosting its interim payment 4.8% to 4.4p. The cash return repeats the neat trick of last October when the group paid a 4p per share one-off payment. This time round, disciplined underwriting helped its profits improve 7.8% to £225.1 million in the first half despite competition hitting premiums.
British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) is flat at 330.6p after initially rising, on a long-awaited return to profit. Half-year results show operating profits of €230 million as the airline benefits from restructuring at Spanish airline Iberia and lower fuel costs. Yet stiff challenges remain, as Shares pointed out in May.
Aim minnow Eco City Vehicles (ECV:AIM) crashes 34% to 0.43p as it admits to a funding crunch. The supplier of the Mercedes Vito taxi's has launched a strategic review that could call in to question the company's very survival, with first half sales slumping 33% as competition bits.
Blackpool-based toys maker Casdon (CDY:AIM) is clobbered on a combination of news, collapsing 24% to 41.5p. The company shocks investors with news that it plans to de-list its shares from AIM after 25 years as a public company. A 30% drop in annual profits adds to the grim backcloth for investors.
Healthcare research tool provider Avacta (AVCT:AIM) dives 12.3% to 0.9p as sales of its analytical Optim line in North America miss expectations for the year to August. Adding to the bad news is word that in-clinic diagnostic device Sensipod’s development has been delayed.
A new venture in Mexico lifts oil and gas minnows Northcote Energy (NCT:AIM) and MX Oil (MXO:AIM) up 11% to 0.9p and 3.2% to 3.46p respectively. A ten-year tie up gives Northcote the right to participate with MX in any of its projects in Mexico, with the company taking up to 20% interest. MX, which is raising £2 million through a placing, enters a joint venture agreement with Mexican oil services business Geo Estratos, and alongside this partner due diligence will now get underway for three potential licence acquisitions.
Low-powered semiconductors technology developer Toumaz (TMZ:AIM) falls 5% to 6.88p with investors disappointed at the lack of progress on operating losses. The company ran-up £5.6 million deficit in the first half, unchanged from last year, despite a 32% jump in revenues.
A new £1 million contract to supply LED lighting with a major UK food and clothing retailer lifts energy saving solutions specialist APC Technology (APC:AIM) 4.6% to 39.5p. This follows this week's small acquisition of Green Compliance, taking the company into a new environmental services arena.
Drinks can maker Rexam (REX) ticks up 0.8% to 505p as interims come in slightly ahead of expectations despite the impact of aluminium prices and the strong pound. The football World Cup boosts business in Brazil and underlying pre-tax profit of £166 million - despite being down 1.7% year-on-year - is ahead of the consensus forecast of £156.6 million.
Personal goods powerhouse PZ Cussons (PZC) follows up well-received finals with news of an acquisition. The Imperial Leather soap maker, up 3.1p to 356.5p, is buying high-growth Aussie organic yoghurt brand Five:am for £44.1 million in cash. There's up to £7.7 million extra to follow if the brand hits performance targets.