London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3% to 7,097 by midday as shares in UK insurer Aviva (AV.) were lifted by the arrival of activist investor Cevian, while the index shook off an issue involving several major websites, which were down thanks to a problem at cloud computing firm Fastly.

With little on the economic agenda apart from US job openings and trade figures, investors are keeping their powder dry until the US inflation figures later in the week.

ACTIVIST BUILDS AVIVA STAKE

In company news, Aviva rose 2.75% to 422p after Europe’s largest activist investor Cevian revealed that it had built a 5% stake in the insurer. Cevian is pressing the FTSE 100 company to make deeper cost cuts and return £5 billion to shareholders.

Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) climbed 6.8% to £23.04, a record high, after the alternative asset manager posted a 19% jump in its annual third-party assets under management.

British American Tobacco (BATS) gained 1% to £28.01 after it raised its annual revenue growth forecast to more than 5% at constant currency as the cigarette maker’s focus on newer products like e-cigarettes and tobacco-heating devices pays off.

Cocktail bar owner Nightcap (NGHT:AIM) jumped 8.5% to 24.95p on announcing that its bars had notched higher-than-expected sales since they reopened last month.

Nightcap’s revenue for the three full weeks since the reopening of indoor hospitality, being 17 May to 6 June inclusive, grew 92% compared to the equivalent weeks in the 2019 calendar year.

Veterinary drugs company Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) added 3.2% to £42.88 on guiding for full-year revenue ahead of current market expectations.

Dechra cited a completion of a UK pre-Brexit inventory unwind and a further easing of lockdown restrictions for the upbeat forecast.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE MARKET

High-tech product supplier Oxford Instruments (OXIG) fell 4% to £20.60 despite reporting a 35% rise in annual profit, as sales edged higher and cost cutting helped fatten margins.

Oxford Instruments declared a full-year dividend of 17p per share, compared to zero payment year-on-year, comprising final and interim payouts of 12.9p and 4.1p, respectively.

Wagamama owner Restaurant Group (RTN) gained 2% to 132.4p following news that chairman Debbie Hewitt would stand down at the end of 2021 to become chairman of the English Football Association.

Restaurant Group said it had commenced a formal process to recruit a successor, led by senior director Graham Clemett.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking (PAG) ascended 10% to 563.5p having reported a 69% rise in first-half profit, buoyed by an improved interest margin and lower loan provision losses.

Paragon Banking declared an interim dividend of 7.2p per share, up from zero payout year-on-year. The interim dividend was 50% of 2020's final dividend, in line with company policy.

Property portal OnTheMarket (OTMP) rallied 7.7% to 113.1p as it swung to its first ever full-year profit after it boosted sales and trimmed costs.

OnTheMarket’s pre-tax profit for the year through January amounted to £1.14 million, compared to year-on-year losses of £11.7 million. Revenue rose 22% to £23.0 million.

Payments group PCI-PAL (PCIP:AIM) climbed 5% to 92.9p as it upgraded is annual guidance, following a rise in revenue it said had eaten into expected losses.

Language services group RWS (RWS) fell 1.8% to 633p having posted a 7% fall in first-half profit, partly owing to acquisition costs, though its underlying performance improved and it hiked its dividend 14% to 2p per share.

Media technology provider Amino Technologies (AMO) firmed 5.1% to 156.6p on guiding for first-half revenue ‘significantly’ ahead of the prior year.

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Issue Date: 08 Jun 2021