As London’s FTSE 100 ticks up by a modest 14.69 points to 7,155.4, insurer and Lloyd’s syndicates manager Beazley (BEZ) is among the early risers, bid up 9.2% to 446.1p as CEO Andrew Horton reports a good performance ‘across the board’ for 2016.
Beazley generated improved taxable profits of $293.2m (2015: $284.0m) on gross premiums up 6% to almost $2.2bn last year, despite more challenging underwriting conditions for many lines of business. On top of a total dividend hike to 10.5p for the year, there’s also a 10p special dividend to cheer investors.
Homeserve (HSV) trades 19.5p higher at 619p after spending £37m accelerating the development of its digital presence. The home repair and improvements play has taken a 40% stake in popular website Checkatrade, which enables the public find tradesmen like electricians and plumbers, and made a similar investment in a Spanish equivalent service called Habitissimo.
Nanomaterials group Haydale Graphene (HAYD:AIM) cheapens 7% to 166.5p on a warning full year sales will fall short of market expectations, commercial sales under its major deal with chemicals giant Huntsman (HUN:NYSE) having been pushed to the right. This disappointing news overshadows a mooted £3.3m strategic investment into Haydale by New York-based investment company Everpower in return for a 9.9% stake.
Newspaper publisher Johnston Press (JPR) improves 0.25p to 16p after assuring it expects 2016 results to be in line with forecasts, despite difficult trading in the summer prompted by Brexit-related uncertainty. Fourth quarter trading improved with revenues 1% up year-on-year, driven by a strong performance from the ‘i’ newspaper.
Utility metering assets manager Smart Metering Systems (SMS:AIM) skips 4.5p higher to 570.5p as CEO Alan Foy says full year results will be in line with forecasts. Continued investment in its gas and electricity metering portfolio saw the total number of assets under management rise by about 28% to 1.25m in 2016.
Ireland-based mobile marketing minnow Zamano (ZMNO:AIM) slumps 26.3% to 3.5p as it says it will wind down its existing business, hard-hit by ongoing regulatory changes in the industry, to conserve as much cash as possible to return to shareholders.
Petrol forecourt retailer Applegreen (APGN:AIM) sours 0.1% to 402.5p on the news well-regarded finance director Paul Lynch, a key figure in managing the company’s summer 2015 IPO, will leave in the summer.