UK investors are in mean mood in early trade on Thursday after sell-offs overnight on Wall Street and Asian markets, and a smattering of corporate news disappointment. The benchmark FTSE 100 index slides around 17 points, or 0.25%, to 6,333.
Builders merchant Travis Perkins (TPK) leads the blue-chips lower, its 7% slump to £18.23 topping the Footsie loser board as management confirm ongoing weak trading that will see full year EBITA at the lower end of market expectations.
Investors remain split over wind power group Infinis Energy (INFI). Its shares leap 40% to 185.75p as the group agrees to a recommended cash acquisition by Monterey Capital II, run by Guy Hands' Terra Firma private equity company. While some will see this as a cause for celebration it is worth noting that the 185p per share offer is pitched at a 29% discount to the 260p price at which Hands sold substantial stakes in the group at IPO.
A profit warning from roofing and insulation specialist SIG (SHI) sees shares in the £812.9 million cap tumbling 22% to 139.9p. Lower than anticipated level of demand in the UK RMI market and poor sales in Europe see the group informing the market that full year profit before tax would come in at around £85-£90 million for 2015, almost 20% below previous estimates.
BHP Billiton (BLT) spin-off South32 (S32) finally grabs the market’s attention after nearly halving in price since becoming a separately-listed company in May 2015. The shares rise 6.1% to 71.38p on a solid coal and manganese production update and news that net debt is rapidly declining.
Positive read-across from US industry peer sends FTSE 100 equipment rental group Ashtead (AHT) up 3.2% to 980.5p. United Rentals (URI:NYSE) last night announced third quarter results that beat forecasts, implying strong market conditions.
Estate agency Foxtons (FOXT) is down 5.4% to 209.5p on the recovery in central London sales being slower-than-expected following the general election due to rising prices and higher stamp duty charges. Revenues were 1.6% higher at £114.5 million in the nine months to 30 September.
Social care provider Cambian (CMBN) is one of London’s largest fallers on Thursday plummeting 23.4% to 207.1p after issuing a profit warning. It will miss expectations this year thanks to a higher than anticipated spend in expanding its portfolio.
News the Wressle oil discovery in Lincolnshire will be fast tracked after successful testing is taken positively by the three listed companies participating in the project. With a target of first oil in the second half of 2016 at a rate upwards of 500 barrels of oil per day Egdon Resources (EDR) gains 2.4% to 10.75p, Europa Oil & Gas (EOG:AIM) 61.% to 3.08p and Union Jack Oil (UJO:AIM) 5.4% to 0.22p.
Aussie unconventionals play Falcon Oil & Gas (FOG:AIM) is up 9.8% to 5.77p as it announces that a second successful horizontal well on its Beetaloo asset means it is bringing forward horizontal drilling by a year and will drill in the coming weeks with a multi-stage fracking programme likely to follow in 2016. Shares looked at the story in detail here.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD) soars 4.7% to 105.8p after demonstrating decent progress in its plan to ramp up its digital offering, with revenues in the digital division up 6.4% in the three months to 30 September. Group EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) is down 57% to £14.3 million due to tough comparatives from last year's football World Cup and higher taxes. Revenue in UK retail and European retail are down 1% and 8.5% respectively.
Department store Debenhams (DEB) rises 3.2% to 83.75p on the delivery of better-than-expected finals, reflecting 'good progress against our strategic priorities', as well as a reasonably positive outlook statement. The heritage British brand also announces that Michael Sharp will be stepping down as CEO in 2016 following a five year stint in the hot seat.
Mother and baby products purveyor Mothercare (MTC) is marked up 8.1p (3.65%) to 231.1p as investors focus on the positives from a mixed second quarter trading update. UK like-for-like sales were up 6.5% in Q2, supported by strong online sales and less discounting, though international markets 'remain volatile' with foreign currency still 'a significant headwind'.
Premium motor dealer Inchcape (INCH) accelerates 3.4% higher to 790.5p on a reassuring third quarter trading statement highlighting 10.1% like-for-like growth. With a high emerging markets focus, Inchcape reassures it is on course for a robust full-year performance.
Letting agency franchiser MartinCo (MCO:AIM) improves 1.5% to 168p on a 64% rise in the core management service fee to £4.6 million in the nine months to 30 September, putting it on track to meet full-year expectations.
Cancer and neurological disorder-focused drug developer Evgen Pharma (EVG:AIM) has not enjoyed a positive start to life as a listed company. A day after shares started trading they fall 10.3% to 31.5p.