London equities recover from declines posted at the market open to rally modestly with miners reversing early falls despite commodity prices acting as a drag on the sector. The start of the UK government's £2.1 billion share sale of its stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is another big issue that will be closely watched by investor on Tuesday.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index manages to nudge around 10 points higher in early trade, while midcaps are firmer, the FTSE 250 adding about 30 points to 17,699.
Among the bigger movers, a three-year fertiliser trading agreement sends African Potash (AFPO:AIM) up 24.6% to 0.38p. It has partnered with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, a free trade area with 20 member states.
A collapse in profits sends zinc producer Griffin Mining (GFM:AIM) down 10.7% to 33.5p. It has suffered from higher charges relating to processing and increased regulatory, environmental and social security costs in China.
Investment firm Armour (AMR:AIM) collapses by more than 30% to 3.25p as its shares are suspended. The £3 million microcap has been unable to complete an acquisition that would have constituted a reverse takeover under AIM rules.
Elsewhere, motor retail giant Pendragon (PDG) accelerates 4.2% to 40.63p as news full-year profits will beat market expectations drives earnings upgrades. This follows a fantastic first half in which pre-tax profits sped 23% higher to £40.3 million, driven by strong performances in profitable used cars, new car sales as well as aftersales.
Online takeaway food portal Just Eat (JE.) jumps 10.8p (2.5%) to 448.6p as half-time figures show strong growth across key metrics including sales, earnings and orders. CEO David Buttress guides annual sales estimates higher too, reflecting an expected boost from investments in Brazil and Mexico as well as in technology and marketing.
Motor and home insurer Direct Line (DLG) climbs 2.3% to 374.5p on a 48.7% rise in pre-tax profit to £315 million in the six months to the end of June. Lower costs and claims were behind the rise as premiums were flat at around £1.5 billion. The FTSE 100 insurer hiked its dividend by 4.5% to 4.6p a share.
Asset management-focused life insurer Standard Life (SL.) falls 3.5% to 438.5p on expectations that annuity sales will fall by up to £15 million this year as the pension freedom laws hit the industry.
Testing kit-maker Immunodiagnostic Systems’ (IDH:AIM) woes continue into 2015. Revenues were 15% down on the same period last year as competition continues to bite. The stock falls 6.9% to 270p following the update.
An 80% first half pre-tax profit slump to £6.2 million sends residential services group LSL property Services (LSL) 5.8% lower to 352.8p. Falling house sales were to blame as buyers put off moving until after May’s General Election. The board expects a stronger second half, believing that full-year expectations will be met.
Motor engineer Rotork (ROR) gains 4.4% to 225p as it releases an in-line trading statement which shows earnings per share in the six months to June fell 7% to 5.4p because of pressure among its oil and gas-focused customer base. It is also buying solenoid valve manufacturer M&M from Spirax-Sarco for an enterprise value of €9.7 million (£6.8 million).
Indian unconventional gas play Oilex (OEX:AIM) is up 4% to 1.95p as it urges shareholders to support a $23 million share issue. Announced in July the fundraise is intended to finance horizontal, fracked wells on the Cambay field but a lukewarm response to the rights issue saw existing shareholder Zeta Resources (ZER:ASX) take up a sizeable portion of the rump. This requires changes to the resolutions on which shareholders will vote at an upcoming EGM (12 Aug).
Strong first half results at building supplies giant Travis Perkins (TPK) has prompted some profit-taking and shares have slid 2.7% to £21.98. The group's plumbing and heating division saw revenues fall 0.7% while group revenues overall were 7.8% higher than the same period last year at £2.94 billion. The group also raised its dividend by a fifth.
Two contract wins and a 6% rise in underlying first-half profit before tax sees defence and engineering outfit Meggitt (MGGT) advancing 5.4% to 489.4p. A stronger than expected performance in its military markets offset difficult conditions in the group's energy markets.