It is a quiet start to the week with the FTSE 100 down 21 points to 6,561. Insurer Prudential (PRU) is one of the few FTSE 100 stocks recording decent share price movement as it releases bullish half-year results. We look at the numbers in more detail here, explaining why the shares are up 3.5% to £12.26.
Sirius Minerals (SXX:AIM) advances 3.9% to 13.5p after tapping a US investor for cash. While that addresses short-term fundraising concerns, there's bigger problems clouding the stock as we discuss in detail here.
Private equity investor SVG Capital (SVI) firms 5.5% to 411p on encouraging first-half figures. A recovery in the valuations of its underlying portfolio companies drove a 23% advance in the net asset value to 480p and investors also cheered confirmation of a return of a further £267 million of capital over the next two to three years.
News that investors are once again putting money into gold-backed exchange traded products has taken the precious metal price to its highest level this month, trading at $1,333.94 per ounce. This price strength is taking gold mining stocks along for the ride; Centamin (CEY) rises 7.6% to 37.4p and Petropavlovsk (POG) is up 5.3% to 89.5p.
The gold price is also helping the rally in Vatukoula Gold Mines (VGM:AIM), although the bulk of its 14.3% advance to 8p is down to a $40 million finance agreement. China's Zhongrun is to provide cash in two tranches, upon which its stake in the business will increase to 66%.
There's little meat in a trading update from support services provider Mitie (MTO), despite the £1 billion cap saying it has made a positive start to the year. The lack of new information leaves investors disappointed, the shares slipping 3.6% to 265.9p.
Telecoms and medical networking kit supplier BATM Advanced Communications (BVC:AIM) sees interim revenues hold up well despite bad debt threats and components shortages in June. Gross margins improvements add an extra $1 million to $20.1 million gross profts, although overheads are rising thanks largely to increased R&D. The shares inch up 1.7% to 15p.
Firestone Diamonds (FDI:AIM) has got lucky with its new chief executive officer as the small cap woos Stuart Brown from De Beers, the world's biggest diamond company. Brown takes over from Tim Wilkes who will remain with Firestone in an executive capacity. But the share price remains flat at 2.5p as the dial is unlikely to move until it secures funding for a new processing plant, the key to unlocking the true potential of its main project in Lesotho.
Heavy construction specialist Aukett Fitzroy Robinson (AUK) leaps 56.5% after a trading statement reveals group profitability for year to September 2013 'will be comfortably higher than previous expectations' on the back of new contract wins and improving conditions in the UK services sector.
Pawnbroker H&T (HAT:AIM) continues to lose its sparkle, dropping another 15% to 145p on worse-than-expected half-year results and a warning second-half profits will be 'materially below' the first half's disappointing haul. With the company's earnings strongly correlated to the depressed gold price, the £63 million cap reports a slump in taxable profits to £4.6 million (2012: £7.5 million) on sales down 25%, with gold purchasing profits down 32% year-on-year.
Computer-aided design and manufacturing software specialist Delcam (DLC:AIM) rises 25p to a record £16.57 as investors continue to appreciate this reliable growth story. A half-year revenue rise of 9% to £25 million is in part thanks to tough markets weeding out lesser competition, and with a third of that recurring, investors are increasingly confident of hitting Numis' raised £51.6 million target for the 12 months to December. There's also a 30% dividend hike for shareholders. Shares has been a fan of Delcam for several years, flagging the growth potential way back in September 2011 (see page 18 of PDF) at 447.5p, a 270% gain in less than two years.
Another microcap rallying strongly is Proactis (PHD:AIM), the e-procurement platform operator. The £7.1 million cap is three years into a full Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing shift and it's paying off, with £1.3 million earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) confirmed on £8 million of sales for the year to 31 July, news that sparks a rush for the stock, driving a near 22% hike to 22.5p.
Provider of technology solutions for internet TV, PeerTV (PTV:AIM) jumps 7.7% to 3.5p on the back of a bullish trading update. There's news of an increased order from an Israeli customer which is a supplier of advanced medical and control systems.