Supermarkets giant Tesco (TSCO) ticks 3.7% higher to 296.8p, despite delivering disappointing annual figures to 22 February with taxable profits down 6.9% at £3.05 billion. Losing share to the hard discounters and other rivals in a polarising market, UK like-for-like sales at Britain's biggest retailer fell 1.4% excluding VAT and petrol, a decline that isn't as bad as many analysts feared. Worried by poor trading trends and a weak fourth quarter, broker Shore Capital warns it is likely to downgrade profits forecasts for the embattled grocer, still reeling from the resignation of its long-serving finance director, once again.
Luxury goods leader Burberry (BRBY) edges up 13.5p (almost 1%) to £14.36 on a solid second-half trading update. Investors focus on the FTSE 100 constituent's 13% retail sales growth to £928 million for the six months to March and shrug off news currency moves will crimp reported profits.
Also facing foreign exchange headwinds is consumer goods colossus Reckitt Benckiser (RB.), which rises 56.5p to £49.09 on reassuring first quarter results leaving the Durex-to-Dettol owner on track to hit full-year targets. Like-for-like sales, stripping out the pharma division which is under the hammer, grew 4% to almost £2.2 billion at the health, hygiene and home products powerhouse.
Inkjet printing technology designer Xaar (XAR) rallies 2.3% to 848p after dispelling Chinese New Year upheaval fears and reaffirming its balance sheet strength in a trading update. The shares have slumped 25% since mid-February on slowing growth worries yet we last month flagged the emerging opportunities in new markets in Shares.
Risk management software supplier Lombard Risk Management (LRM:AIM) jumps 8.5% to 11.12p after revealing forecast-beating revenues last year to end March. The trading update also implies on target pre-tax profits for the year just closed, with consensus forecasts pitched at about £3.75m, implying about 1.3p of earnings per share.
Insurance claims outsourcing specialist Quindell (QPP:AIM) issues an upbeat first quarter update, claiming to be its 12th consecutive that meets or beats market expectations. The shares rally 4% to 38.5p after revealing adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) up 22% year-on-year to £65.9 million on an expanded margin of 40.5%. We recently updated our Play of the Week, and also flagged emerging telematics opportunities in Shares.
Defence giant BAE Systems (BA.) drops 2.9% to 380.5p as JP Morgan reiterates its underweight recommendation on the stock and price target of 350p. The company is next due to update on trading alongside next month's AGM (7 May).
Oil services firm Hunting (HTG) slips 3% to 826p as it warns trading in the first quarter of the year has been slower than expected, though it remains comfortable with the full year outlook. The weak performance in the first three months of 2014 is attributed to the extreme weather in the US and project delays in Asia-Pacific - Numis notes this could have a negative read-across to Wood Group (WG.) which also has a significant American footprint.
Measurement while drilling (MWD) specialist Enteq Upstream (NTQ:AIM) sinks 15% to 36p as house broker Investec aggressively downgrades forecasts despite today's in-line trading update. MWD is used by companies in the unconventional oil and gas space but a shift in strategy from buy-and-build to organic growth sees Investec slash estimated earnings per share for the March 2015 financial year by 54% to 4.2 cents and for March 2016 by 35% to 6.4 cents.
Non-life insurer Lancashire (LRE) falls 3.2% to 679.5p as chief executive officer (CEO) and founder Richard Brindle announces his retirement at the end of the month. Chief underwriting officer and UK CEO Alex Maloney will replace him.
Residential landlord Grainger (GRI) improves 2.7% 222.4p after striking a deal to buy a portfolio of properties in Knightsbridge and Chelsea for £160 million. Shares published a Griller interview with chief executive officer Andrew Cunningham in December.
Doncaster-based pipemaker Polypipe Group (PLP) adds 1.4% to 261.7p on its first day of trading, giving a market valuation of about £497 million. The company said in March that it would go public on the London Stock Exchange.