Good news comes in fours at FTSE 250 life and pension fund consolidator Phoenix (PHNX) which is sloshing in cash. During 2012 profits and dividends increased, management reduced gearing while generating cash at the top end of its targets, sending the shares up 6.9% to 647.5p. Phoenix made a £410 million operating profit, up from £395 million a year earlier, and generated £690 million cash. This helped fund a 27% increase in the final dividend to 26.7p, up from the 21p management paid for 2011. Gearing fell to 48% from 57% following an equity raising and re-terming its debt.
Further weakness in its UK operations sent Homeserve (HSV) tumbling 8.1% down to 205p. The Financial Services Authority still hasn't concluded its investigation into possible mis-selling of emergency repairs policies, leaving investors nervous over the health of the business.
Mulberry (MUL) has issued its second profit warning in six months, dragged the shares down 17% to £10.25. Burberry (BRBY) dipped 4% to £13.32 in response to market concerns about the state of the luxury goods sector, as we discuss in detail here.
Energy giant BP (BP.) slicked up 2.1% to 459p after announcing an $8 billion share buy-back programme. The programme is expected to return to BP shareholders an amount equivalent to the value of the company's original investment in Russian joint venture TNK-BP.
Property company Songbird Estates (SBD) improved 4.38% to 143p after returning to profit. The company, which controls Canary Wharf Group, made £201.5 million pre-tax profit, compared to a £212.8 million loss a year earlier. This was the result of re-valuations and lower financing costs. Its adjusted net asset value was also up, improving 10.5% to 210p.
Shares in Moss Bros (MOSB) put on 1p at 67.5p following strong annual results from the men's formal wear specialist. The £62.6 million cap suit hire and retail firm's taxable profits surged up by £2.1 million to £3 million in the year to 26 January, during which like-for-like sales grew in both the hire and retail operations. Although chief executive officer Brian Brick cautioned that sales in the opening seven weeks of the current year are 'slightly below' last year's, revenues are being won with improved gross margins. Drawing confidence from £25.7 million of cash in the year-end coffers, Moss Bros increased the total dividend by 125% to 0.9p.
Given the 6% RPI-linked dividend yield on offer, it shouldn't come as a surprise that UK wind farm investor Greencoat UK Wind managed to raise its targeted £260 million. The fund is likely to take its option to acquire additional interests in the six wind farms already earmarked for investment, adding 24.5 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the 100MW it has already contracted to buy from SSE (SSE) and Germany's RWE (RWE:DE). The counter will be admitted to the Official List next Wednesday at which point its shares will begin trading on the Main Market.
Shares in Plymouth-based Sutton Harbour (SUH:AIM) fell 6% to 23.5p after the waterfront regeneration and destination specialist said the BBC would not be relocating its South West headquarters to the East Quays site at Sutton Harbour. The 1.25 acres site had been earmarked for a BBC move but continued delays to the development meant that the Corporation has opted to remain in its current location, having recently been granted planning permission to refurbish its Seymour Road site in Plymouth.
Despite the 2.6% retreat to 906p, investors should not be too disheartened by the pre-close trading update from Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM). The missive, covering the half-year period to 31 March, revealed numbers in line with consensus forecasts, albeit conditions do remain challenging with sales for the six months set to show a headline decrease of approximately 1% on 2012.
Sirius Minerals (SXX:AIM) dipped 1.1% to 22.75p on drill results from its potash project in Yorkshire. Liberum reckons the results pave the way to a resource upgrade. The big news for the stock remains the planning decision for the mine, expected by 21 May.
Beacon Hill Resources (BHR:AIM) jumped 4.7% to 3.35p after a major stock overhang was cleared. Renaissance Finance has finally exited the Mozambique-based miner with Pelham Investment picking up the shares at 3p each, giving it a 19.6% stake in the small cap.
AIM-quoted oil & gas play Enegi Oil (ENEG:AIM) rose 2.4% to 10.9p. The group has acquired the 3D seismic data which will allow it to assess the feasibility of drilling a well on the Phoenix discovery in the North Sea.
Stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons (SGI: AIM) gave up 1.5p at 278.5p despite delivering full-year results. The £79.6 million cap's taxable profits grew 11% to £6 million during a year in which sales from its website surged 55% higher. Investors were also treated to an 8% hike in the dividend to 6.5p.
The market did not like insurance run-off investor Tawa’s (TAW) full-year results. The company fell 7.4% to 31.5p after reporting a $22.5 million loss. This was caused by its Bermudian-based QX Re subsidiary, which was £14.3 million in the red. Investment in acquisitions and new projects were also blamed. Its net assets per share fell to 98p from 113p in 2011.