Life insurer Phoenix (PHNX) climbs 2.7% to 765.7p after increasing its interim dividend by 27% to 26.7p per share. This came despite the Jersey-registered company’s taxable losses widening to £41 million from £3 million year-on-year. Phoenix, a running Shares Play of the Week, is funding its shareholder returns from the £416 million cash made in the six months to July. Management expect to generate up to £750 million cash in the full-year which, along with a fund raising and debt re-terming that shaved 7% off its gearing to 48%, puts it in a position to buy more closed-life funds. Phoenix continues talks over a possible merger with Swiss Re's Admin Re business.
Investors are lapping up interims from specialist engineer IMI (IMI) – up 3.2% to £14.54 – with the operating margin increasing from 16.6% to 16.8% year-on-year and the dividend hiked 8% to 12.8p. We look at the numbers in more detail here.
The market does not appear too concerned about the exit of F&C Asset Management (FCAM) chairman Edward Bramson following his restructuring of the group in the past three years, with the counter up 1.7% to 105p. Read our latest thoughts on F&C here.
Fashion retailer SuperGroup (SGP) is in vogue, strutting another 15p higher to £11.80 on excitement surrounding Turkish expansion. The £935 million cap – also a running Shares Play of the Week – has inked an exclusive five-year franchise deal with luxury and lifestyle fashion brands retailer Demsa, which will now open at least eight Superdry stores in the fast-developing country.
Stationery, books and magazines seller WH Smith (SMWH) skips ahead 3.3% to 840p on a soothing trading update, reassuring results for the year to 31 August will match market expectations. New chief executive officer Steve Clarke highlights a good performance from the cash-generative retailer's travel division, clinching new business in the UK and overseas. The structurally-challenged high street arm eked out a solid result with the help of gross margin gains and ongoing cost-cutting.
Another running Shares Play of the Week, construction group Costain (COST) rises 2.1% to 286.75p despite a sharp fall in pre-tax profit and net cash in the first half. Investors focus on a 20% increase in the order book to £2.9 billion and 3% rise in underlying operating profit. Net cash is falling due to changes in the mix of work and working capital pressures. Its infrastructure operations are strong but the natural resources arm moves into a loss. Liberum Capital comments: 'We continue to like Costain’s exposure to civil infrastructure, customer focus and the increasing breadth of offering. It is also a potential acquisition target.'
Copper producer Kazakhmys (KAZ) sneaks ahead 0.6% to 303.4p as higher revenues helped to offset increased costs during its first-half period. The miner is set to receive $875 million net cash from the looming takeover of Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC), of which it is a major shareholder. The proceeds will fund a share buyback. Despite this expected cash injection, Kazakhmys isn't paying an interim dividend and analysts are worried that costs are likely to rise in the second half.
Sierra Leone-based iron ore producer London Mining (LOND:AIM) advances 4% to 111p as half-year results show good revenue gains and lower costs. But the business is still loss making.
The market likes decisive action to cut costs by New World Resources (NWR), the shares rallying 8% to 80p. Yet its half-year results do not make for pleasant reading. Costs are up, revenue is down and there's lots of red flags over risks to repaying debt and bonds. Today's rally is likely to be fueled by short positions being covered, yet we reckon the business continues to look very fragile.
Mid-market private equity buyout specialist HgCapital (HGT) falls 5.3% to £11.81 amid profit taking following the £465 million cap’s strong run, rather than a reaction to today’s interims. While net asset value fell 2.2% since 31 December to £11.77 this was due to a decision to write down the value of underperforming businesses with the core portfolio continuing to increase in value.
Bus manufacturer Optare (OPE:AIM) falls 1% to 0.28p despite securing a £3.5 million order from Yorkshire operator Go North East.
Mid cap oil firm Premier Oil (PMO) sinks 4.4% to 341.2p as it warns a full-year production target of 63,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) is dependent on the Huntington field's performance in the second half.
Microcap Alecto Minerals (ALO:AIM) rises 2.2% to 1.15p after buying West African gold interests from African Mining & Exploration (AME:AIM) and grabbing its chief executive officer, Mark Jones, to run the business.