High street bellwether Marks & Spencer (MKS) jumps 8% to 437.1p as investors are relieved that half-year results aren't as bad as feared. Pre-tax profits of £268 million are ahead of the £252 million consensus and there's improved full-year guidance on gross margin and costs. General merchandise like-for-like sales continue to underperform, with clothing sales hit by warm September weather. We've long flagged the company's turnaround potential, hence why it is a running Shares Play of the Week. This view is supported by today's market reaction, together with news of improved cash generation and a 3% hike to the dividend.
Resources firms involved in the Horse Hill exploration well near Gatwick Airport are taking a dive on the news it has failed to find gas in its deeper targets. The well had already uncovered a 3 million barrel oil find but the market was clearly hoping for more. AIM-quoted stakeholders in the project include UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG:AIM) (-35% to 0.57p), Stellar Resources (STG:AIM) (-35.9% to 0.38p), Solo Oil (SOLO:AIM) (-23.7% at 0.6p), Doriemus (DOR:AIM) (-44.6% at 0.08p), Alba Minerals (ALBA:AIM) (-51.7% at 0.35p) and Regency Mines (RGM:AIM) (-29% to 0.22p).
Trouble in John Menzies’ (MNZS) baggage and cleaning operations at Heathrow Airport send shares in the distribution and aviation business plunging. Revenue in the aviation unit was up 8% in constant currencies but margin pressure means profitability will be ‘materially below board expectations’. The shares shed 110p, falling 23% to 377p.
Central European branded vodka producer Stock Spirits (STCK) slumps 15.2% to 254.8p as it says a profit warning could be on the horizon if trading doesn't pick up in the fourth quarter. The beverages group has been hit by a price war to secure distribution deals with customers.
Egypt-based gold miner Centamin (CEY) falls 8.5% to 47.83p after downgrading its full-year production target. The £519 million cap should have lowered guidance on 9 October when quarterly numbers disappointed for the second time in a row, yet it was convinced the final quarter would be strong due to higher gold grades and greater plant throughput. It now admits these catalyst won't be achievable.
Profit margins continue to fall at pubs operator JD Wetherspoon (JDW), triggering a 7% slump to 774p. It blames higher costs of staff salary and energy, together with some suppliers putting up their charges.
Bezant Resources (BZT:AIM) soars by 115% to 8.88p after a new report on its Mankayan copper/gold project in the Philippines finds a way to reduce construction costs by $307 million. A previous study in 2011 said the deposit would require $1.2 billion capital investment over the life of the project. The small cap hopes the new figure will help secure a buyer or joint venture partner for the asset.
Non-life insurer Lancashire (LRE) slips 1.5% to 641.2p despite confirming a 75p a share special dividend. Higher claims limited pre-tax profit growth to $36 million, the bottom of the consensus range.