Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) falls 4.85% to £27.68 on a mixed pre-close trading statement. Earnings per share (EPS) for the year to 13 September will be ahead of last year, with strong performances in groceries and at budget fashion chain Primark, where like-for-like sales grew 4.5% and margins improved, offsetting lower sugar profits and currency headwinds. However, news of 'much weaker' sugar selling prices to EU customers, more subdued like-for-like growth at Primark in the fourth quarter, as well as a lack of material upgrades, conspire to cause profit taking following a strong run.
Fears that Scotland’s voters may opt for independence in next week’s referendum (18 Sept) has hit investor confidence, with a poll over the weekend putting the 'yes' vote ahead for the first time. Nervousness ahead of the vote sends Lloyds Banking (LLOY) 2.7% lower to 72p, while Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) drops 2.5% to 338.3p and Edinburgh-based insurer Standard Life (SL.) falls 2.8% to 404p. Glasgow headquartered engineer Weir (WEIR) is also a victim of the Scots sell-off, down 1.7% at £27.62.
De La Rue (DLAR) rises 26.5p or 3.6% to 769.5p after it is named preferred bidder in the tender process for a 10-year Bank of England (BoE) note printing contract, due to start in April 2015. De La Rue serviced the previous contract, which began in 2003, at the BoE’s facility in Debden, Essex. The Bank of England will continue to perform due diligence checks before the final contract is awarded.
Toys and games designer Character (CCT:AIM) edges up 1.65% (3.5p) to 215p on a reassuring year-end trading update. Results for the year to August will meet market forecasts, driven by UK and overseas sales growth. Character, whose ranges include Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and Doctor Who, also announces its appointment as the global Master Toy Partner for the Teletubbies brand.
Branded retail products innovator LiteBulb (LBB:AIM) sparks up 4.9% to 0.97p. The microcap has been appointed as a creative partner by US rights management group Epic and also finalised an order with Viacom-owned cable channel Nickelodeon, agreements that should collectively boost the top line by 'at least' £500,000 annually 'with further potential upside'.
Ambitious franchised car retailer Cambria Automobiles (CAMB:AIM) accelerates 4% to 52.5p on news results for the year to end-August will beat expectations. Cambria's new car sales grew ahead of the market and its order book for September, a key month for motor traders, is ahead year-on-year. Shares flagged the likelihood the upgrade cycle had further to run in our small caps section here in July.
Consumer healthcare specialist Futura Medical (FUM:AIM) gains 3.6% to 57.5p on news it has signed an exclusive licensing deal with Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical (009290:SE), which will sell Futura's erection-enhancing condom in South Korea.
Stockbroker and corporate advisory specialist Charles Stanley (CAY) falls 8% to 310p as it warns profitability in the half-year to September is running below market expectations due to falling commission income and margin pressure, caused by low transaction volumes and the increased costs associated with rolling out a direct-to-client proposition.
Kazakh oil explorer Roxi Petroleum (RXP:AIM) slumps 16.8% to 16.1p as investors react with disappointment to the news its BNG discovery will not be flow-tested until the middle of the fourth quarter.
A record $5 million contract with the Angolan National Oil Company lifts geophysical data specialist Getech (GTC:AIM) 12.3% to 64p. The Leeds-based firm expects much of the income to be recognised in the current financial year and reiterates full-year guidance.
William Cain wrote the paragraph on De La Rue and is a shareholder in the company.