The market didn't like news of a 1% drop in like-for-like sales at Tesco (TSCO), sending the shares down 2% to 357.35p. The decline in sales was worse than expected by analysts. The supermarket giant blamed a poor performance in frozen foods and chilled convenience meals. There was also a weak show from non-food sales apart from clothing.
Menswear specialist Moss Bros (MOSB) also reported good clothing demand as its like-for-like sales grew by 0.3% in the 18 weeks to 1 June. Its new website is providing popular with strong growth in e-commerce sales.
A major contract deferral and lower-margin work in its remediation arm has troubled investors in Silverdell (SID:AIM), sending the shares down 4.2% to 14.12p. We look at the company's inability to communicate its working capital requirements in detail here.
Trend followers struggle during choppy markets and therefore it is little wonder that UBS has sounded a warning about the performance of Man’s (EMG) flagship trend-following process AHL, cutting its rating on the group from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’. The stock dropped 12.5% to 102p.
Social housing-to-care services group Mears (MER) was flat at 360p despite saying that turnaround efforts for recently-acquired facility services group Morrison are ahead of schedule. It expects the business to hit break-even at the half-year results.
Full-year results from Findel (FDL) were well received, sending the share price up 6.3% to 170p. Having sold its healthcare arm in April, Findel is now focussed on home shopping and education supplies.
Service group Synergy Health (SYR) advanced 2.5% to £10.98 after reporting a 19.6% rise in pre-tax profit for the financial year to 31 March. Investec says Synergy's move into the US 'looks to have been very timely', helping to offset Dutch linen pressure. Synergy has today announced $31 of US contract wins. Investec says there is scope for earnings upgrades in the future if these new contracts go to plan.
Ironveld's (IRON:AIM) pre-feasibility study on a prospect in South Africa looks interesting. The study says the mining group could achieve a 28.8% internal rate of return on a 25-year, 1 million tonne per year pig iron operation. The cost of development is $938 million. The market liked the potential returns on offer, sending the shares up 18.9% to 7.88p. This means the stock has risen by 153% since Shares highlighted Ironveld last summer (see Commodities section, 30 August 2012 'buy' at 3.12p).
Thomas Cook (TCG) fell 9.3% to 129.1p after the group's capital re-organisation saw 496.6 million new shares admitted to the market, raising £425 million for the tour operator's business revitalisation plans. Thomas Cook shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of a £1.6 billion refinancing plan to pave the way for a dividend at their general meeting on Monday (03 June).
Professional services exchange Blur (BLUR:AIM) has hit 2,000 projects just nine months after surging past the 1,000 mark, worth over $26 million. The October 2012 IPO, at 82p, also flagged a 'strong start' to the year, which is not surprising since nearly 1,000 new businesses are plugging into its platform every month. A recent $11.5 million fund raising provides financial muscle and N1 Singer analysts flag its first mover advantage in this potentially large space, and the market seemed to agree, pushing the shares up nearly 7% to 166p.
Insurance outsourcing business Quindell (QPP:AIM) struggled to make headway, the shares largely flat at 8.9p, despite unveiling another contract win. This comes just days after signing a deal with Japanese car maker Honda's UK arm.
A largely flat overall first-half performance from business telecoms supplier Alternative Networks (AN.:AIM) is indicative of the difficult UK market, resulting in a 4% drop in the share price to 340p. Mobile growth is being offset by the ongoing fade in fixed line services, making upside hard to see. But cash generation is typically robust, equating to a 10% hike in the interim dividend, plus a 4p per share special payout.
Manufacturing and retail enterprise software microcap Sanderson (SND:AIM) jumped 2% to 48p on remarkably robust half-year figures. Against a dreadful trading environment, single-digit growth is impressive, implying excellent management execution. The £21 million cap continues to look for acquisition opportunities, although some market watchers believe a sale is more likely, with its future best served as part of a larger business.