Resumption of dividends at fund manager Liontrust Asset Management (LIO) propelled the stock forward 3% to 186p in a declining market. Investors took resumption of a payout – the first since 2009 – as an endorsement of the firm’s turnaround strategy implemented since the loss of two key fund managers in 2009. Their departure prompted the loss of two thirds of its assets under management within six months.
ITV (ITV) has announced a further production acquisition to build on its studios business as the firm seeks to decouple from the economic cycle and cyclical advertising revenues. The small $30 million initial consideration for Thinkfactory Media was insufficient to move the shares, flat at 138p.
Berkeley (BKG) surged 3.5% to £22.35 after the housebuilder reported a 26% rise in pre-tax profit to £270 million. Operating margins rose to 20.4% in a period when the group invested a £314.6 million in adding a further 3,021 residential plots to its land bank. Chairman Tony Pidgley said the growth in earnings was a direct result of sustained investment since early 2009. We featured Berkeley on 13 June as Shares Play of the Week.
UK graphics to processor chips designer Imagination Technologies (IMG) advanced 1.7% to 310.5p as investors took heart from full-year royalty rates. Yet an underlying 23% slump in new licences is a worry, capping immediate market enthusiasm after its recent profit warning.
Investors chased the Micro Focus (MCRO) cash machine 8% higher to 699p on increased chances of more special payouts this year. Cash generation remains exceptional, throwing off $195 million last financial year, while long-run declining revenues are also showing promising signs of a growth return. Number crunchers at Numis and Canaccord Genuity have 800p-plus price targets on the shares.
Spirit Pub (SPRT) dipped 2.2% to 66.5p on its third quarter trading update. Rather than report the 12-week period as a whole, the pub operator has craftily sliced the period into two, showing a 3.8% drop in like-for-like sales in the first six weeks and a 2.6% rise over the second six weeks.
The long-awaited feasibility study has finally arrived on Coal of Africa's (CZA:AIM) Makhado coking coal project in South Africa. The magic number for analysts and investors is a 30.1% internal rate of return (IRR) which is a good result. The big challenge is to now get $406 million to build the mine. Analysts expect the miner to sell a stake in the mine to a strategic investor. The market welcomed the news, sending the shares up 7.1% to 11.25p. Yet this is off a low base as a steady fall in the coal price has obliterated coal miner equity valuations over the past few years.
Blood monitoring device specialist Deltex Medical (DEMG: AIM) improved 1.4% to 17.7p following positive results from a pilot study in the US. Patients monitored by Deltex’s machines during surgery experienced speedier recovery times and saved the participating hospital $5,000 compared to those operated on without the machinery.
Struggling electricals retailer Darty (DRTY) was a non-mover at 62.5p after delivering in-line results for the year to April. Against a backdrop of weak European consumer demand and a structural spending shift online, Darty reported a 44% drop in adjusted taxable profits to €43.4 million, although the total dividend was held at 3.5 cents per share.
Diversified agricultural supplies-to-specialist retail firm Wynnstay (WYN:AIM) cultivated a 17p gain at 513p on record half-year figures. Over the six months to 30 April, taxable profits grew an impressive 15% to £5.2 million on sales 12% ahead at £216.1 million, giving Wynnstay confidence to up the dividend 9% to 3.1p. Driving the strength of the numbers was a combination of store expansion, strong raw material and feed sales as the cold snap extended the normal feeding season, as well as rising seed and fertiliser volumes. We highlighted Wynnstay as a Shares Play of the Week on 25 April.