Shares in ASOS (ASC: AIM) advanced 6.4% to £33.09 on a strong second quarter trading update ahead of next month's (30 Apr) interims. For the 3 months to 28 February, the global online fashion store reported total retail sales up 37% to almost £186.5 million, ahead of consensus expectations of a 35% rise and meaning first half retail sales rose 34% to £352 million. The £2.6 billion cap's revenues rose strongly in the UK, up 28% year-on-year, while international sales surged 45% higher to represent the best part of 60% of the topline total.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Wayne Brown upgraded his recommendation on ASOS from 'hold' to 'buy' and increased his price target from £26 to £34. 'Our previous Neutral stance was on valuation grounds only', he writes. 'Whilst it is difficult to value a business which is achieving super-normal rates of growth, we feel ASOS is perfectly positioned to see these rates of growth accelerate, not slow over the next few years.'
Bakery retailer Greggs' (GRG) share price softened by 6% to 492.5p as the iconic British brand posted downbeat figures for 2012 and served up news of a poor start to 2013, as we discuss in detail here.
Ferroalloy producer Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC) fell 3.1% to 303p after unveiling bigger-than-expected impairments worth $1.5 billion. Most came from its aluminium division but there was also a surprise onerous contract provision of $328 million for its contract with Rusal to supply alumina. The final dividend was scrapped.
Plans to build a gold mine in Liberia can now be realised after Aureus Mining (AUE:AIM) raised the final slug of money to fund construction of its New Liberty deposit. Its shares advanced 2.6% to 39p after securing project finance from two African banks. Production is set to begin at the end of 2014.
A large project to install collection lockers for online retailer Amazon and rising demand from lawyers to archive important documents has helped Restore (RST:AIM) report a solid set of full-year results. Its shares jumped 3% to 119p after unveiling a 25% rise in pre-tax profit to £1.5 million and a 50% hike in the dividend to 1.5p.
Retinal imaging device manufacturer Optos (OPTS) fell 14.43% to 172p after management admitted the company’s performance in the second quarter has been slower than expected. Debt is expected to increase due to rental demand outweighing sales. No figures were reported but analysts were quick to revise their full-year forecasts. Charles Weston at Numis cut his pre-tax profit forecast to $17.5 million from $27.7 million, while Canaccord Genuity’s Julie Simmonds lowered her adjusted pre-tax profit estimate by 20% to $23.3 million.
Lonrho (LONR) retreated 1.9% to 5.55p despite opening its first 'easyHotel' in Africa.
Vatukoula Gold Mines (VGM:AIM) slumped 8.6% to 16p after continuing its long-running trend of reporting significantly high operating costs. Investors are losing patience which is reflected in the share price having fallen 93% since December 2010.
Hungry punters chased Real Good Food (RGD: AIM) almost 14% higher to 41.5p on an upbeat trading statement. The diversified food group, whose portfolio of companies includes Europe's largest non-refining sugar distributor Napier Brown, cheered with news of a positive fourth quarter to March as well as falling debt levels.
The market did not take kindly to news that internet advertising specialist Phorm (PHRM:AIM) has once again raised funds, this time via a placing of convertible secured loan notes with a new investor. The £3 million worth of notes will pay the investor a 20% annual coupon. The £17 million cap last raised money in November via a £6 million share placing at 60p to fund working capital requirements. It was down 2.6% in early trade at 19p.
Shares in cash shell Zoltav Resources (ZOL:AIM) - part-owned by the eldest son of Roman Abramovich Arkadiy - fell 2.2% to 4.5p after it announced plans to buy CenGeo Holdings, owner of the Koltogor oil discovery in Siberia. The $26 million deal is being funded through the issue of new Zoltav shares.
Oil services firm Wood Group (WG.) ticked up 0.8% to 864.5p after securing $240 million worth of new contracts in Africa. Meanwhile, shares in North Sea-focused energy play Trap Oil (TRAP:AIM) fell 4.1% to 15.5p after the group announced it would plug and abandon the unsuccessful Magnolia exploration well.
Latin American oil explorer Geopark Holdings (GPK:AIM) was up 3.8% to 662p after announcing successful results from two new oil wells in Colombia.
Investors flung valuation out of the window as they made a beeline for Lo-Q (LOQ:AIM) shares, up 15.5p to 672.5p on its latest queue-buster deal. The company's four-year contract to supply US firm Accesso's members with an eCommerce store front for Florida's major attractions follows new deals at Pennsylvania Park and Dollywood already this year.
Cloud video editing suite supplier Forbidden Technologies (FBT:AIM) stormed 16% higher to 27.25p after securing an important reseller agreement. The deal with Burbank-based Key Code Media puts Forbidden's FORscene platform right in the heart of Tinseltown. The UK microcap clearly hopes this will act as a springboard into the heavyweight US broadcast TV and movie-making industry.