London’s FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 skip higher on Tuesday, up 23.5 points to 7,218 and 68.5 points to 19,553 respectively, as investors put aside growing geo-political tensions over Syria to focus on a softening tone from China over its trade dispute with the US.
Budgets gifts-to-greetings cards seller Card Factory (CARD) improves 5.8% to 201p on news of a decent start to the new financial year, buoyed by record performances on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. Results for the year to January are broadly in line with expectations, underlying profit before tax falling 5.5% to £80.5m due to rising wages and sterling weakness, yet there’s relief as Card Factory confidently raises the total dividend by 2.2% to 9.3p and flags a 5p-to-10p special dividend to follow later this year.
Card Factory reiterates any EBITDA growth for the current year is likely to be limited. Broker Liberum Capital is sticking with its ‘buy’ rating but reduces its price target from 240p to 210p to reflect ‘the broader challenges around footfall dynamics and pressures in the broader retail market.'
Elsewhere, recruiter Robert Walters (RWA) rises 10p to 710p on news of a strong start to the year with gross profit (net fee income) up 17% to £88.5m in the first quarter to March. CEO Robert Walters says his charge is growing across regions and assures current trading is in line with market expectations.
Also in demand is sector peer Hydrogen (HYDG:AIM), which sparks up 12.3% to 36.5p after reinstating the dividend and stating that trading in 2018 is significantly ahead of 2017.
Banknote printer De La Rue (DLAR) firms 7p to 507p following a Sky News report that activist investor Crystal Amber (CRS:AIM) is building a stake in the Basingstoke-headquartered concern.
Petra Diamonds (PDL) perks up 2.6% to 64.7p on relief it has agreed banking covenant changes with its lenders, giving the diamond producer financial breathing space as it emerges from a heavy investment phase.
Indonesian palm oil producer M.P. Evans (MPE:AIM) cultivates a 12p gain to 756p as chairman Peter Hadsley-Chaplin heralds a record year for crops, production and profit. For the 2017 calendar year, operating profit surged 72% higher to US$34m and Hadsley-Chaplin expects M.P. Evans’ crops to continue rising, notably from its projects in East Kalimantan, Bangka Island and South Sumatra.
Cadmium-free quantum dots maker Nanoco (NANO) may be making encouraging progress, yet the stock cheapens 2.9% to 36.8p as first half results reveal a drop in sales from £820,000 to £260,000 and a chunky £4.8m loss before tax.