Markets are steady at the start of the new week with sterling rising against the euro and US dollar. The FTSE 100 advances 19 points higher to 7,039.2 led by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.), which are lifted by a stronger oil price.

Belfast-based IT business Kainos (KNOS) sparks up 7.8% to 458p on the very welcome news results for the year to March will be ahead of market expectations. The Brendan Mooney led concern continues to see ‘very strong momentum within its core markets’ and in particular, is enjoying rapid growth in its digital services business and seeing ongoing demand for both its digital transformation and workday services across government and commercial clients.

Also in demand is Allied Minds (ALM), marked up 6% to 66.8p on weekend reports activist investor Crystal Amber (CRS:AIM) has built a secret stake in the technology incubator backed by Neil Woodford. Richard Bernstein, Crystal Amber’s aggressive fund manager, is understood to have bought just under 2% of the start-up technology investor once dubbed London’s ‘best-kept secret’.

Budget carrier Ryanair (RYA) cheapens 3.7% to €11.1 on news it swung to a €20m third quarter loss as lower ticket prices weighed and a warning from the low-cost airline that the risk of a no-deal Brexit remains ‘worryingly high’.

Removing some uncertainty is the news CEO Michael O’Leary has extended his contract by another five years and Ryanair sticks to its recently downgraded full year net profit guidance of between  €1bn and €1.1bn, although this could yet be changed should there be further cuts in airfares. Ryanair also announces 11% growth in January traffic to 10.3m customers.

Elsewhere in the airlines sector, Wizz Air (WIZZ), the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, takes on 7p to trade at £31.09 on news passenger numbers grew 10% to approaching 2.6m for January.

Consultancy firm RPS (RPS) improves 7.2% to 149.4p as investors applaud the £17.8m acquisition of Corview, an Australia-based transport advisory consultancy that marks the first major acquisition under the tenure of CEO John Douglas. There’s also a robust trading update for the 2018 calendar year from RPS, which performed in line with expectations and whose conversion of profit into operating cash flow ‘was again strong’.

Outsourcing group Serco (SRP) firms 0.3p to 112.8p after signing a £560m contract with Bupa to support the Australian Defence Force.

Swiss-headquartered iron ore company Ferrexpo (FXPO) slumps 5.3% to 248.3p as auditors Deloitte say the accounts of Blooming Land, a Ukrainian charity established to co-ordinate the group’s CSR programme, contain ‘as yet unexplained discrepancies’.

Ferrexpo has decided to conduct a comprehensive independent review into the emerging scandal; it donated US$9.5m to Blooming Land in the first half of 2018 but has not made any further donations since May 2018.

Oxfordshire-based sensor systems supplier Transense Technologies (TRT:AIM) surges 15% higher to 50p on the exciting news licensee GE has been selected by the US Army to provide new engines for its Boeing AH-64 Apaches and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks. The T901 engine incorporates a Transense Technologies surface acoustic wave sensor and GE will pay a perpetual sales royalty to Transense for each unit that uses the technology.

Private company financing specialist Duke Royalty (DUKE:AIM) ticks 4.4% higher to 42.4p after acquiring key competitor Capital Step in a deal that more than doubles its royalty portfolio.

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Issue Date: 04 Feb 2019