Equipment hire stocks are in focus on a busy Friday for corporate updates and macro news as aerial platforms specialist Lavendon impresses with half-year results and Speedy Hire enjoys gains after offloading its heavy plant rental division.
Investors are also eyeing a speech by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen for more clues on the direction of US interest rates, scheduled for 10 am Eastern Time (2pm BST).
Results at Lavendon spark a rebound in the stock as half-year results show investment in new equipment drove underlying revenue and profit 13% higher in the six months to 30 June, to £134.2 million and £12.6 million, respectively. Statutory results show a drop in profit as exceptional items totalling £2.9 million and other non-cash charges weighed on reported performance. Lavendon took the charges as it takes its UK logisitics back in house and restructures its Germany division.
Speedy Hire gains as it responds to criticisms from activist investor Toscafund, headed by Martin Hughes, by offloading a low-returning unit. Chief executive Russell Down says the £14.4 million sale of Speedy’s large mechanical plant fleet will improve returns on capital, one of Toscafund’s key criticisms, and deliver a profit on disposal.
Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito and Coast to Coast brands operator Restaurant Group's recent share price revival continues, the shares bid up 3% to 419.5p as the company maintains full-year guidance and confidently holds the half-time payout at 6.8p. A review of the troubled business is now underway under new management – 'we have a detailed action plan to improve trading at Frankie & Benny's' says the company' – while investors also like news of a slight pick up in trading in recent weeks.
Construction and infrastructure products outfit Marshalls puts on 4.0% to 327p after chief executive Martin Coffey says the business has seen no impact on trading following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Coffey’s comments are included in a half year results update which shows revenue grew 2% to £202.1 million and profit-before-tax expanded 21% to £25.1 million.
Half-year results at publisher Independent News and Media (INM) are in-line with expectations, according to investment bank Davy, with revenue at €161.6 million (£138 million) and operating profit of €17.6 million. Shares trade flattish at 0.142p.
Of the main businesses reporting results, only Computacenter (CCC) is in the red as it reveals a 13% decline in adjusted profit-before-tax to £25.3 million. The sell-off looks harsh given an outlook statement from chief executive Mike Norris which flags a potential return to growth in 2017 and anticipates a record net cash position at the year-end. Balance sheet cash at 30 June 2016 was £96.6 million, up from £44.9 million a year earlier. Shares trade 1.5% lower at 755p.