Is Countrywide’s plan to rejoin the stock market after a six-year absence a sign that the residential housing market is recovering? It comes less than a week after housebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST) returned to the market. The estate agent is looking to raise £200 million to repay debts and fund growth. Countrywide, which includes Hamptons and Churchills among its brands, was taken private by Apollo in 2007 and is now majority owned by private equity firm Oaktree.
Vodafone (VOD) dipped 0.5% to 162.7p despite securing the biggest slice of the UK's 4G mobile spectrum auction and paying less than expected. It joined BT (BT.A), EE, Hutchison 3G UK and Telefonica in the race to offer next generation mobile broadband which should provide smartphone and tablet computer users with superfast download speeds.
FTSE 100 miner BHP Billiton (BLT) retreated 2.8% to £21.74 after replacing its chief executive officer and imposing a smaller hike in its dividend than rivals Anglo American (AAL) and Rio Tinto (RIO). Marius Kloppers is to step down as the boss in May, to be replaced by Andrew Mackenzie who presently heads BHP's non-ferrous metals division.
A full year results statement from FTSE 100 consumer packaging specialist Rexam (REX) was a box of delights for investors with the shares rising 4.5% to 498p. Volumes in its beverage can business, which accounts for 91% of the group's sales, were up 6%.
Builders' merchant Travis Perkins (TPK) dipped 1.6% to £12.87 after reporting full-year results. The 1.1% pre-tax profit growth for 2012 to £299.9 million hit market forecasts, yet the start of 2013 has not got off to a good start. This triggered a profit warning following a 42% rally since last summer. The weak start to 2013 has raised concerns about B&Q-owner Kingfisher (KGF) which reports fourth quarter numbers tomorrow (21 Feb), as we discuss in detail here.
In the property sector, Invista European Real Estate Trust (IERE) fell 7.91% to 6.40p after reporting a 29.4% quarterly drop in the value of its portfolio. Invista is selling its assets to reposition the company and refinance its €266 million of senior debt. It eventually plans to return cash to shareholders.
Scottish free-to-air broadcaster STV (STVG) jumped 12.7% to 146p after reassuring full-year results with operating profit in line with forecasts at £17.1 million. The group revealed a strong start to 2013 with national revenues up 7% in the first quarter.
Discretionary wealth manager Rathbone Brothers (RAT) revealed funds under management of £18 billion at 31 December 2012, up 13.4% on 2011's £15.9 billion. This represented an outperformance of the FTSE 100's respective 5.9% gain. The shares dipped 2.2% to £14.08.
A profit warning has dragged Printing.com (PDC:AIM) down 12.1% to 27.25p. The business cards-to-flyers printer has blamed weaker demand and higher market expenditure.
Vane Minerals (VML:AIM) jumped 29.6% to 0.88p, albeit from a very low base, after reporting 74% quarterly growth in revenue from its Mexican gold and silver mining operations.
Small cap telecoms provider Pinnacle Technology (PINN:AIM) retreated 16.7% to 0.35p after publishing full-year results. Pre-tax losses widened from £117,316 to £1.1 million and it suffered negative cash flow.
Mwana Africa (MWA:AIM) advanced 0.9% to 5.9p after it restarted the Freda Rebecca gold mine in Zimbabwe following last week's leach tank accident. Mwana is expected to return to full production levels by the end of March. New guidance for 63,000 ounces of gold production for the financial year to March 2013 is 4,000 ounces below analysts' previous models. Costs associated with tank repair and site rehabilitation are expected to be $100,000 to $200,000. Liberum says there is 'negligible change' to its 11p fair value for the shares.
Tyne and Wear-based Tanfield (TAN:AIM) rallied in early trading to 22.88p after receiving several approaches to buy its aerial platform business. The enthusiasm waned though with the shares drifting back to 20p, up just 0.6% on the day.
Oil explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP:AIM) ticked up 0.8% after a mixed drilling statement which confirmed a new find on its Akri-Bijeel block in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, but also revealed the Bijell-3 appraisal well failed to establish commercial flow rates and will be plugged and abandoned.
AIM-quoted energy firm Range Resources (RRL:AIM) has been on a tear of late, up more than 60% since the start of the year. News relating to affiliate company Citation Resources (CTR:ASX) helped extend this advance - the shares rising 18.8% to 5.7p. Citation, in which Range has a 19.9% interest, has been making solid progress on its Atzam number 4 well in Guatemala, with 'unexpectedly strong' oil shows.