FTSE 100 copper mining giant Antofagasta (ANTO) and gold and silver player Fresnillo (FRES) today kicked off a busy reporting week for the mining sector, with their respective share price performances reflecting differing financial fortunes, as we discuss in detail here. Antofagasta proved the best-performing FTSE 100 constituent, with its 4.5% gain at £11.44 reflecting better-than-expected profits for 2012 and analyst expectations that this year's bumper distributions will be repeated next year. However full-year figures from Fresnillo disappointed, reflecting pressure from a lower silver price, lower grades and higher depreciation of exploration expenditures. A total 57.9c of dividends, representing a substantial cut to last year's 103c, also soured sentiment towards the shares, which fell 2% to £14.61.
Property investor British Land (BLND) surrendered 3% at 561p after announcing a placing at a discount to pull in £500 million to fund acquisitions. Investors headed for the exits following news of the placing, which coincides with the £5.1 billion cap's sale of Ropemaker Place in London for £472 million, with analysts at Espirito Santo pointing out the transactions will lead to 'stunted dividend growth for the foreseeable future'.
In the life insurance sector, St James's Place (STJ) fell almost 4% to 516p on news Lloyds (LLOY) has placed 20% of its holding at £5.10 in a move raising £520 million and strengthening the bank's balance sheet. Lloyds' decision comes less than two weeks after St James's Place upped its full year dividend by a third to 10.64p.
Also in reverse gear were shares in international premium car dealer Inchcape (INCH), which fell 9.5p to 520.3p despite the delivery of strong full-year results and a rise in the dividend payout ratio from 30% to 40%. Investors took profits following a good run since late last year, with the shares having surged north from 350p. See our take on the story here.
Information management specialist SDL (SDL) is tanking this morning, the shares slumping 12.5% to 436.8p, as full year 2012 results put meat on the bones post January's lowered hopes. The figures show a two-speed business with language services revenue up 56% offset by squeezed technology arm, and over pre-tax profits showing a 19% fall. The Maidenhead-based £350 million cap plans to plough fresh investment into business expansion and new products, but market concerns will focus on net cash slashed from £70 million to £6.3 million.
Better news comes from UK microchip designer Imagination Technologies (IMG). The £1.4 billion company talked up strong royalty revenue growth and wheeled out a host of new licensees, including Intel (INTC:NDQ) and MediaTek (2454:TW). It also flags growing opportunities in 'smart TVs' as new LG (003550:KS) and Sony (6758:T) models hit the shops.
In the small cap tech space, manufacturing and retail enterprise resource planning (ERP) software firm K3 Business Technology (KBT:AIM) is taking a hammering as its profits evaporate. The shares slumped 5% to 94p as the company unveiled half year pre-tax profits down from £4 million to just £185,000 and spooked investors with a gloomy reading of the current retail space. That would seem to be at odds with last month's comments from peer Sanderson (SND:AIM), although it failed to escape the market read-across, its shares also marked 5% down at 46.5p.
2D-to-3D technology specialist DDD (DDD:AIM) rallied 3% to 25.25p after breaking word that Chinese electronics maker Lenovo (0992:HK) has renewed its TriDef3D licence ahead of a new products spree. The Hollywood-based UK techy also flags big opportunities in China as 3D demand for 3D games and movies gathers pace.
Over in the resources sector, shares in North Sea oil explorer Trap Oil (TRAP:AIM) slipped 0.4% to 14.2p despite the company announcing the £1.5 million acquisition of a further 45% interest in the Orchid discovery - taking its total stake to 60%.
Fellow North Sea play Lochard Energy (LHD:AIM) remained in demand – up 8.2% to 4.6p. In the last month the shares have advanced 14.4%, helped by interim results at the end of February (28 Feb) which revealed the group had made strides in addressing legacy issues including litigation, unaffordable drilling commitments and expensive financing costs.
Small cap engineer Hill & Smith (HILS) fell 3.8% to 445.4p after it warned of a slow start to 2013 trading alongside its 2012 results. The numbers themselves revealed a 37% increase in pre-tax profits to £35.2 million.
Among the market minnows, Tyman (TYMN: AIM) put on 3.38p at 186.5p after the supplier of building products to the door and window industry posted a near-17% increase in underlying earnings per share to 10.45p for calendar 2012. Investors also responded positively to a 29% dividend hike to 4.5p and news of a dramatic 59.5% reduction in net debt to £37 million.