Egypt-based gold miner Centamin (CEY) nudged up 0.9% to 54p despite saying it will produce less gold this year than previously targeted. The company expects to produce 320,000 ounces of gold at $700 per ounce cost. Although this is lower than previous guidance, the miner says it is only now able to give an accurate forecast.
Centamin previously guided 367,000 ounces for 2013 within its five-year mine plan in May 2012. A spokesperson for the miner says today's lower guidance is a result of having more accurate information on the ore grade. As part of a requirement within its Canadian listing, Centamin was last year forced to announce an optimised open pit mine plan with five-year projections. It says the 2013 figures at that time were based on fewer facts than it now has on the orebody.
Stage four of Centamin's expansion plan has suffered delays and won't start operating until the second half of the year. This delay, together with general cost inflation, has pushed up the expansion bill by 13% to $325 million. Canaccord Genuity says a court case surrounding Centamin's licence for Sukari – its flagship mine – should reach conclusion on 20 March. 'Although we continue to expect this to be resolved in Centamin's favour, this creates an overhang and will add to share price volatility in the near term,' says the broker. It is worth noting that the court date has regularly been pushed back in the past and there is no guarantee that the event will happen on 20 March.
Education software specialist Tribal (TRB) advanced 4.6% to 136p after impressing with full-year results. It had already flagged the numbers would be good in last week's trading update (6 Mar) where the pre-tax profit guidance for 2012 was even greater than forecast by analysts for 2013. Today's results confirm a 27% rise in pre-tax profit to £12.8 million. The dividend has gone up by 25% to 1.25p.
Argos-to-Homebase-owner Home Retail (HOME) skipped 10.5% higher to 146.7p on a better-than-expected fourth quarter trading statement. The £1.1 billion cap reported 5.2% like-for-like sales growth, albeit against easy comparatives, over the eight weeks to 2 March. Chief executive officer Terry Duddy also guided investors towards annual pre-tax profits of around £90 million, well ahead of consensus estimates of £84 million. Today's update also reveals a third consecutive quarter of positive like-for-like sales growth at structurally-challenged catalogue retailer Argos, seeking to transform itself into a digitally-driven business, as well as industry outperformance for DIY-to-garden products chain Homebase.
Panmure Gordon is sticking with its negative stance on Home Retail. The broker points out that Argos's profits have slumped from £376 million to less than £100 million since 2008 and Homebase's profits are but a third of those 2008 levels. 'Our fundamental view remains unchanged', says Panmure. 'With a long and uncertain road to recovery, we remain sellers.'
Profits takers moved on Trinity Mirror (TNI) with the stock down 8.5% at 110p, despite the finals reassuring of the company's ongoing recovery potential. After a one-year run of 208% it is entirely understandable that some investors have sought to lock-in gains, but those hanging on will be encouraged by a 2.5% increase in operating profits to £107.1 million. The company revealed structural costs savings of £25 million, £10 million ahead of the target set at the beginning of the year. These savings meant that the worst impacts of a £54.2 million fall in sales to £706.5 million were mitigated with the firm reporting earnings per share growth of 10.7% to 27p.
Full-year results from online and mobile gaming software designer Playtech (PTEC) had investors bidding the shares over 3% higher at 593p. Beating many analysts forecasts with 53% revenue growth and €170.6 million of pre-tax profits, the real interest, however, is in how the company will use its near £500 million cash war chest post the sale of its William Hill Online stake.
Electronic sensors and components manufacturer TT Electronics (TTG) is in demand, the shares rising 3.8% to 170.75p after demonstrating promised operating margin progress. Margins jumped by 60 basis points in 2012 to 6.2%, putting the Weybridge-based £260 million cap on track to hit its 8%-10% target, a stellar showing against stiff business and economic headwinds.
A big connectivity theme is emerging. High-tech cabling and kit manufacturer Volex (VLX) jumped nearly 8% to 102.5p as word seeped across the market of more director share buying, this time by chief executive Ray Walsh. His 32,286 purchase at 97p means over 160,000 worth of stock has been snapped up by board members since the company's trading update last month (13 February). Connects and controls components microcap Elektron Technology (EKT:AIM) nudge up 2% to 13.5p after confirming the sale of its Total Carbide unit for £2.3 million. The buyer is electronics components company Versarien, itself planning an Aim IPO. The sale is another step towards Elektron's plans to streamline the business after being hit by rising raw material prices.
Shares in food wholesaler Booker (BOK) continued their good recent run, bouncing 7% higher to 124p on news the Competition Commission has 'provisionally' decided to approve its acquisition of Makro. Having looked at the deal in detail, the competition authorities don't see the cash and carry firm's takeover of Makro lessening competition at a national or local level.
Debt solutions group Fairpoint (FRP:AIM) was up 4.7% in early trade at 107p after revealing strong profits growth. Adjusted profits before tax were 87% higher at £7.6 million versus £4 million in 2011. This advance was achieved on a 15% growth in adjusted revenues to £29.9 million with claims management sales performing particularly well.
Shares in US onshore oil & gas play Nighthawk Energy (HAWK:AIM) were unchanged at 4p, investors apparently unmoved by the company setting up a $5 million short term loan and promising to drill two new wells on the Smoky Hills project in the second quarter of 2013.
Shares in North Sea oil firm Ithaca Energy (IAE:AIM) ticked up 0.43% to 120.8p after investors who were seeking to have two directors voted on to the board withdrew their requisition for a shareholder meeting, they have also agreed not to object to the proposed acquisition of Valiant Petroleum (VPP:AIM).