Bombed-out grocer Morrisons (MRW) is marked up 3.75p (2.1%) to 180.35p on relief its interim results statement contains no further nasty surprises. The UK's fourth biggest supermarket chain confirms full-year guidance of a slump in taxable profits to between £325 million and £375 million after unveiling poor first-half figures. These show a 7.4% decline in like-for-like sales amid the UK supermarkets price war and a better-than-expected 51% drop in profit before tax to £181 million. Morrisons also pleases by hiking the half-time dividend 5% to 4.03p, allaying fears of a cut, and confirms the year's total dividend will not be less than 13.65p.
Online supermarket Ocado (OCDO) rebounds 7% to 333.7p as CEO Tim Steiner confirms the continued steady growth of the business in a better-than-expected third quarter update. Despite testing grocery market conditions over the 12 weeks to 10 August, retail sales were up 15.5% to £218.5 million and the number of average orders per week improved 17.4% to 163,000.
Part-state owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) gains 1.5% to 347.4p as investors welcome the Edinburgh-based bank’s plan to move to England if Scotland opts for independence in next week’s referendum (18 Sept).
Copiously cash-generative high street fashion giant Next (NXT) sheds 2% to £70.20 on profit taking, as strong interims come in slightly light of ambitious market forecast. A lack of further upgrades disappoints and there's a rather cautious fourth quarter outlook given tough prior year comparatives too.
Argos-to-Homebase owner Home Retail (HOME) cheapens 5.3% to 177.65p on a mixed second quarter trading statement. New CEO John Walden flags a ninth consecutive quarter of positive like-for-like sales progress at Argos, though the growth rate is below expectations and Homebase's margins disappoint.
Homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM), a running Shares Play of the Week, adds 4p at 854.5p after delivering in-line final results. There's also surprise news of the resignation of CEO Nick Wharton after only four years at the helm. He's already been replaced by Will Adderley, the deputy chairman who resumes his role in the hot seat. We examine the news in more detail here.
East African oil plays Aminex (AEX:AIM) and Solo Oil (SOLO:AIM) gain 16.7% to 1.4p and 10.8% to 0.77p respectively as the companies reveal their Ruvuma block onshore Tanzania could contain 2.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This represents a material increase on their previous estimate of 1.9 tcf and operator Aminex, whose recovery hopes we flagged in May, also believes there is liquids potential.
European non-life insurer Gable (GAH:AIM) drops 4.4% to 75.5p as investors take profits following a 23% rise in interim pre-tax profits to £4.9 million. The company also announces an underwriting agreement that could see it add £100 million of UK commercial cover to its books in the next three years.
Ricardo (RCDO), the 99-year-old engineering and environmental consultant, rises 2.9% to 635p after reporting an increased order book and confirming its markets are in good shape. Underlying earnings per share rose 9% in the year to 30 June and the order intake for July and August was £39 million this year versus £40 million last year, according to CEO Dave Shemmans.
Increasing market volatility is impacting profitability at emerging markets asset manager Ashmore (ASHM), off 5.5% at 326p. Basic earnings per share was down more than a third in the 12 months to 30 June at 19p, while assets under management fell slightly to $75 billion (£46 billion) from $77.4 billion at the same time last year.