There is a future in Argos, after all. That's the message from today's results by parent group Home Retail (HOME) which said the catalogue shopping group had grown sales for the first time in five years. But it wasn't enough to get the share price moving, slipping 2% to 153p. Home Retail still has a lot of work ahead in fixing Homebase whose operating profit halved to £11 million. The parent group itself reported 10% drop in pre-tax profit to £91 million.
A strong first quarter production update has returned strength to copper producer Antofagasta's (ANTO) share price, rising 4.1% to 934p. The stock had previously been sold down amid a weakening copper price.
A robust trading update from Weir (WEIR) failed to excite the market, with its shares 4p lower at £22. Investec reckons there is 'little for the bears to feed on', following last summer's profit warning in Weir's oil and gas arm. Chairman Lord Smith is stepping down at the end of the year, having been in the role since July 2002. He will be replaced by Drax's (DRX) chairman, Charles Berry.
Telecoms testing kit supplier Spirent (SPT) confirmed its grim start to the year, effectively adding a bit more meat to the contract delays sandwich of last week (read Shares' view here). Analysts remain largely upbeat on the long-term but views remain mixed on the length of this particular sticky patch. Unsurprisingly, the shares stayed flat at 129.4p.
Branded cookers company AGA Rangemaster (AGA) warmed up 0.5p to 79p on a trading update for the first 4 months of 2013. The £54.3 million cap pleased with news orders are picking up after a slow start to the year, during which the company was able to increase profits despite a slight fall in sales, with trends in North America extremely positive.
A reassuring trading update from surveillance expert Synectics (SNX:AIM) has prompted house broker Westhouse to upgrade its price target from 450p to 545p. It says the stock justifies a premium rating to its peer group given its 'much stronger growth prospects and the forecast improvement in margins'. The shares added 1.5p to 447.5p today. Synectics is a running Play of the Week in Shares, click here to read our story.
Less than two months since gambling provider Sportech (SPO) won a court battle to reclaim tax on its 'spot the ball' game – potentially worth £80 million to the group – the tax man has fought back. Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has indicated it will appeal against the award, sending shares in Sportech down 1.5% to 97p.
Gas mask-to-dairy liners maker Avon Rubber (AVON) advanced 4.8% to 440p on half-year results. Its Protection & Defence arm is doing well, helping to offset weaker dairy markets where investments for growth have also reduced profits. A 20% rise in the dividend indicates the management's confidence in future trading.
There's a air of optimism that has been long-missing over IT services supplier Kofax (KFX) thanks to a welcome first quarter licence sales bounce-back. That saw the shares rally 3% to 330p, marking a 26% run since early February. Investors should beware making mountains out of improvement molehills. Most of the progress seems to be from a single $4.8 million contract win, rather than showing the broadly-based recovery desired by shareholders.
Analysts have upgraded earnings forecasts for pre-clinical contract research organisation Cyprotex (CRX:AIM) after it won a contract with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company leapt 18.5% to 4p after securing a $10 million, five-year deal to analyse the EPA’s toxicology library. ‘We have left 2013 unchanged, as we anticipate work commencing towards the end of the year, with some modest upgrades in 2014 and 2015,’ said analysts at N+1 Singer.
Gene-based therapy specialist Oxford Biomedica (OXB) shot up 15.1% to 1.9p after signing a production agreement with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis (ADR). The deal will see Oxford BioMedica produce clinical trial material for a leukaemia programme. The agreement is worth between £2.5 million to £4 million to the small cap in the next 12 months.
Peter Richardson has lasted barely eight months in the top job at CHP (combined heat and power) boiler firm Energetix (EGX:AIM), his departure a sign of boardroom battles over strategy. Commercial director and former Atlantic Energy boss Tony Stiff steps into the CEO shoes. Yet even that news pales into the background alongside mounting losses reported in full-year 2012 figures, unit volumes roll-out delayed by a year and the inevitable need for fresh funding. That little lot sparked a share price collapse, the stock diving over 23% to 17.5p. Click here to read our detailed story on the events.
Micro-cap kitchens and furniture retailer John Lewis of Hungerford (JLH:AIM) surged 41% higher to 0.82p. Investors chased the shares higher on half-year results to February showing a 25% increases in like-for-like sales to £3.1 million and a swing from £244,000 losses to a small £18,000 profit.