FTSE 250 food wholesaler Booker (BOK) cooks up a 3.2% rise to 137.5p on a strong second quarter update. As well as news that like-for-like sales growth accelerated to 3.5% in Q2 with a summer weather boost, Booker flags improved trading trends at acquired business Makro and a strong cash performance, finishing the first half with net cash of £123 million (2012: £70 million).
Shares in global online fashion store ASOS (ASC:AIM) are in vogue, swaggering 7.3% higher to £51.86 on forecast-busting fourth quarter figures and news that full-year profits will beat expectations. We look at the news in more detail.
Profit takers emerge for oil explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP:AIM), down 4.1% to 208.75p on broadly in-line interim results. The stock has risen sharply since last week's (10 Sep) successful outcome from a long-running litigation battle over the ownership of its assets in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. There may be some concern over the fall in the company's cash pile from $141.2 million to $101.2 million between the end of June and 16 September.
Retail investors are shocked at the resignation of Harry Adams as chief executive officer of EMED Mining (EMED:AIM). The shares fall 4.5% to 8p as he was deemed the essential driving force for getting permits to reopen a copper mine in Spain. Adams says the company needs someone with a different skill set now that there's progress in getting permits. We always thought this would happen – but not until the permits have actually been granted. EMED has been trying since 2008 to restart the Rio mine, yet it still doesn't have the permits. We've lost count of the amount of times permits were supposed to be granted, so today's resignation leaves the company looking very vulnerable. Yes, there's a team of people working on the permit application – not simply Adams – but he has been the public figure of the company. This now looks a very risky stock.
Completing the finishing touches to its 3.0 services commerce platform has got investors chasing Blur (BLUR:AIM) almost 10% higher to 473.5p. Shares flagged further upside just two weeks ago at 301p. The extra analytics and 'scalability' of the platform continues to ignite investor excitement, either that or its recent HQ move to the Exeter tech hub.
A telematics contract worth up to £3.6 million has got investors in Quindell Portfolio (QPP:AIM) excited. With the insurance claims outsourcer flagging similar deals before year end, the shares jump 6% to 17.5p, matching the record highs first set last November. Quindell also unveiled extra investment in its telematics Ingenie business. A private investor Marmite stock, Shares flagged the potential for a short-term bounce last month at 13p.
Epi-wafer developer IQE (IQE:AIM) dips 2.5% to 29.75p despite half-year figures showing that its RFMD and Kopin acquisitions are paying off. They are part of a drive to expand into and consolidate a power base in wireless and solar materials tech. But investors seem still worried over possible cheap silicon competition to its gallium arsenide technology and management's comments about short-term visibility.
Water supplier United Utilities (UU.) edges up 5.5p to 697p after issuing a surprise-free trading update that confirms an on track performance, and with its regulatory business plan submission. The sector has been excited by takeover talk for months but it's the 5.2% yield that investors are eyeing here.
Electronic components distributor Premier Farnell (PFL) advances 2% to 233.1p despite reporting a 4.5% drop in adjusted pre-tax profit to £37.9 million at the half-year stage.
Latin American oil producer Global Energy Developments (GED:AIM) sneaks up 1% to 99.5p as it announces a 241% year-on-year increase in first-half pre-tax profits to $4.1 million. We flagged the improved profitability in May. Investors continue to await news on a farm-out of its key Bolivar licence.
Animal feed specialist Anpario (ANP: AIM) rises 2.1% to 194.5p as management predict growth in the second half will be as strong as in the six months to July. Pre-tax profits increased to £1.5 million at the interim stage, up from £896,000 a year earlier, while it generated £2.2 million cash from its operating activities. The company has a £5.6 million cash pile to fund further growth, a strategy we analysed in May.
Diagnostic and monitoring device maker Sphere Medical (SPHR: AIM) improves 1.4% to 34.5p after almost halving its losses. The company was £2.8 million in the red in the first half of the year, down from £4.3 million at the same stage in 2012. During the period the company’s cash fell from £8.3 million to £2.6 million.
Accsys Technologies (AXS) rises 7.4% to 14c after the wood hardening specialist revealed that group revenue increased by 91% to €13.6m in the five months to 31 August 2013 compared to the same period last year. But there is some bad news. Dispute licencee Diamond Wood has served a notice of arbitration against Accsys subsidiary Titan Wood with proceedings to be conducted in London and expected to conclude in 2014. We explored the problems with Diamond Wood in last week's Griller article.
Department stores minnow Beale (BAE) bombs the best part of 11% to 10.25p on a gloomy trading update. The £2.3 million cap reports like-for-like sales slumps of 7.7% and 7.3% for the 19 and 45 week periods to 14 September respectively, blaming extreme weather patterns as well as the avoidance of promotions for its poor same-store metrics.