The big news of the day is a profit warning from Debenhams (DEB), down 13% to 72.35p. It blames poor clothing sales and lower-than-expected online delivery income together with widespread discounting across the retail sector. Most retailers pin their hopes on a surge in sales during late December but this hasn't happened for Debenhams. It flags the need to slash prices to clear stock in January and February. A share buyback programme has been suspended.
The FTSE 100 enjoys a 20 point rise to 6751 in its last trading session of the year, meaning the blue chip index has risen by just over 14% over the course of 2013. This represents one of the best sessions on the stockmarket for several years.
Engineer 600 (SIXH:AIM) falls 18% to 16p after the collapse of takeover talks with Chinese group D&D. The management of 600 reckon an asset sale rather than company takeover would generate better value for shareholders. D&D is now in discussions over cherry picking 600's assets but stockmarket rules prevent it from making a full corporate bid for the next six months.
It's the last day at work for two senior directors at publishing group Informa (INF). The FTSE 250 constituent confirms the retirement of chief executive officer Peter Rigby and the departure of finance director Adam Walker who is joining FTSE 100 engineer GKN (GKN). Both directorship changes had already been announced to the market, so today's news doesn't move the dial for the share price, flat at 564p.
Asbestos-to-demolition group Silverdell (SID:AIM) is to delist on 2 January after encountering financial problems which led to its stock being suspended in July. Stockmarket rules dictate automatic delisting if a company cannot resume trading in its shares within six months of suspension. Debt owner Rcapital is seeking to break up the business but it looks like shareholders will not get any money back. We've followed the company closely over the years and repeatedly probed the management about working capital concerns to which it said there would be no problems accessing the necessary money. It now confesses that 'challenging trading conditions' have resulted in a deterioration of working capital.
Amerisur Resources (AMER:AIM), one of Shares' top picks for 2014, dips 1.4% to 59.63p despite starting work on its Ave-1 exploration well in Colombia. Results from the well are expected in the next month.
The revolving door at Sula Iron & Gold (SULA:AIM) continues to spin furiously as it announces yet more director changes. Out goes non-executive technical director Gareth O'Donovan after just nine months with the company. He's too busy with the day job at mining consultancy SRK where he is a managing director. He's replaced by Andrew Dacey, co-founder of Armenia-based gold explorer Lydian International (TSX:LYD). The market seems impressed with the appointment as the shares rise 13.6% to 3.55p, helped by news of settling a small debt. We calculate that 17% of Sula's announcements to the stockmarket since joining Aim in 2012 have been about director changes.
Green electric scooters maker Vmoto (VMT:AIM) speeds 11.1% higher to 1.75p on a well-received trading update, flagging a profitable November and further retail store expansion in China. Shares recently highlighted the attractions of the £20 million cap, which today confirms it still expects to make a maiden annual profit of between A$300,000 and A$600,000.
Additional reporting by James Crux