UK stocks are generally weaker this morning after US stocks drifted lower overnight ahead of the G20 meeting in Japan this week.

The FTSE 100 large-cap index gives up 0.4% to 7,390 due to weakness in banks, food retailers, industrial transportation and oil services companies. The FTSE 250 mid-cap index gives up 0.3% to 19,230 meanwhile.

The big corporate news is in France where software and consulting firm Capgemini is buying engineering consultancy Altran for €3.6bn, a 22% premium to its market value. Altran is not dissimilar to RPS (RPS) which we profiled here. RPS shares buck the weaker trend, adding 1% to 169p.

In oil services, shares in FTSE 100 firm Petrofac (PFC) slip 4% to 416p despite the company reporting in-line trading in the six months to the end of June and an average realised oil price of $69 per barrel against $56 per barrel a year ago.

Instead investors are homing in on annual margins in the engineering and construction business being at the lower end of the range of estimates.

Infrastructure group Costain (COST) announces it has won a five-year maintenance contract from United Utilities (UU.) worth £35m per year with the potential to extend the agreement to 10 years.

The deal sends Costain shares, which last week were plumbing three-year lows, up 3% to 311p.

Floor-covering specialist Carpetright (CPR) is one of the biggest gainers, up as much as 19% to 21p after announcing results for the year to 27 April which are in line with earlier guidance and contain no ‘nasties’.

During what it calls a ‘transitional year for the business’, revenues were down 13% to £386m and operating profits were down 59% to £2.9m although it was very much a tale of two halves with a sharp dip in the first six months and a strong recovery in the last six months.

Encouragingly like for like sales in the first eight weeks of the new financial year are up 8.5% in the UK and 4.3% in Europe.

Online instrument-seller Gear4Music (GFM:AIM), which has also been through a trying last 12 months, is faring less better after publishing its full year results.

Despite a 37% increase in revenues in the year to 28 February and a 53% increase in active customers, shares sink by 9% to 200p on fears over margin pressure due to increased competition.

Van-hire firm Northgate (NTG) announces a 6% increase in full year turnover to £745m and an 11% increase in underlying operating profit to £76m driven by double-digit growth in vehicles on hire and an increase in group margins. Shares add 1% to 325p.

Shares in newly-listed foreign exchange provider Argentex (AGFX:AIM) join the AIM market today and are trading at 131p, a 23% premium to their float price of 106p, giving the company a market value of £120m.



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Issue Date: 25 Jun 2019