Mr Kipling-to-Hovis bread and cake maker Premier Foods (PFD) says its 2013 trading profit will be at the top end of market expectations. The news excites the market, sending the shares up 6.5% to 90.5p as full-year upgrades look inevitable. While the restructured food producer is trumpeting a 50% rise in closely-watched 'trading' profits to £47.4 million, Premier actually made a £23.5 million loss before tax (2012: £45.8 million loss) after restructuring and finance costs. The business remains encumbered with the best part of £900 million net debt.
Consumer products giant PZ Cussons (PZC) is in demand, skipping almost 4% higher to 403p on robust annual numbers to end-May. The £1.7 billion cap personal care products play has reported a 16.5% rise in taxable profits to £107.5 million, driven by growth in the UK, Indonesia and Nigeria. Investors also like news of a swing from £17.9 million net debt to £3.4 million net funds and a 10% hike in the shareholder reward to 7.39p, marking the 40th consecutive year of dividend growth.
Shares in carpet and floor coverings retailer Carpetright (CPR) are 16p cheaper at 665.5p as analysts downgrade their numbers. The Essex-based retailer's first quarter trading update reveals a good start to the year has been undone by the July heatwave, with overall sales down 3.5% over the 12 weeks ended 20 July. Like-for-like sales in the UK fell 1.9%, impacted by unhelpful warm weather in a traditionally quiet quarter, while same-store sales slumped 10.6% across the Netherlands, Belgium and Southern Ireland. We flagged the risks at Carpetright last month in Shares.
Property and casualty insurer Beazley (BEZ) is down 3.4% to 234.4p after a fall in investment income saw its pre-tax profits drop 27% in the first six months of the year to $82.3 million. Yet its net earned premiums rose 8% to $758.8 million while its combined ratio dropped to 89% from 91% year-on-year. Management remain upbeat for the remainder of the year and will pay a 7% higher interim dividend at 2.9p per share.
First a large shareholder tries to oust executive chairman Peter Kennedy from Bglobal (BGBL:AIM), now the smart meter expert has slipped into a loss-making position. Investors are understandably annoyed, given that the shares are down a further 16.7% to 3.75p on the news, a considerable distance below the 14p trading level enjoyed in late 2012.
There's also shareholder action at Canada-focused travel agent Travelzest (TVZ:AIM). A day after calls by a large shareholder to remove chief executive officer Jonathan Carroll, his contract has now been terminated. No reason has been given and the shares stay flat at 1.38p.
A 6% rise in first-half gold production has brought a shine to Russia-based Petropavlovsk (POG), lifting its shares 4.2% to 100p. Yet there's still the problem that it has $1.15 billion net debt versus a $288.8 million market cap.
Surveillance expert Synectics (SNX:AIM) – a running Shares Play of the Week – advances 7.2% to 445p after winning more than £2.5 million of contracts on a liquid natural gas project in Australia, most benefiting the current financial year's numbers. Half-year results are published tomorrow (24 July).
FTSE 100 service giant Babcock International (BAB) – the focus of our outsourcing article yesterday (22 July) – is buying a Brazilian facilities management expert in a deal capped at £22 million. While this is only a small acquisition, Babcock sees the purchase of Conbras as a good way to exploit a new potential growth region, enough to push the shares up 0.3% to £12.02.
Real estate investment trust Shaftesbury (SHB) is up 0.8% to 648.5p as it flags strong demand for central London property, driving its rental growth since April. It has 3.8% of property by value left to rent, 2.4% of which is under offer. Its refurbishments in Foubert’s Place, Soho and Kingly St, Carnaby are progressing well and will generate £1.5 million of rental income when they complete next year. Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald estimate the company will achieve 7.4% net asset value growth this year to 535p.
Minnow oil explorer Wessex Exploration (WSX:AIM) is down 26.5% to 0.9p after the GM-ES-4 well offshore French Guiana (in which it had a 1.25% stake) failed to yield a commercial discovery.
Also in the consortium of explorers chasing barrels off the coast of the Central American country is Tullow Oil (TLW), down 7.6% at £10.30. The FTSE 100 firm also announced a disappointing result from its Cachalote-1 well offshore Mozambique.
Industrial chain maker Renold (RNO) is flat at 29.5p despite announcing a 3.5% year-on-year decline in revenue in its first quarter running to 30 June. This represented a moderation in the rate of decline in the three preceding quarters.
Chinese unconventional gas play Leyshon Resources (LRL:AIM) gushes up 8% to 11.9p as drilling gets underway on its ZJS7 well. This is the first of three wells planned for 2013 as the group aims to prove up the potential of its Zijinshan project.
Debt advisory specialist Fairpoint (FRP:AIM) is up 0.5% to 102p on news of a reassuring half-year trading update with the company reported that trading is in line with management expectations.
Mobile money specialist Monitise (MONI:AIM) shows how far and deep into this exciting space it has progressed as a trio of acquisitions and £100 million fund raise aid a near doubling of full-year revenues to £70 million. But the shares dip 2% to 37.75p with some investors impatient for the delayed profits breakthrough. Shares got on this story early, first flagged by us at 20p, way back in March 2011 (page 11). (Warning: opens as a pdf document).
The underlying full-year results story at healthcare software supplier Allocate Software (ALL:AIM) looks better as the transition to recurring revenues will add vital transparency and predictability down the line. Cloud and software-as-a-service is being embraced, although the shares stay flat at 83p.
Chemicals giant Croda (CRDA) is down 4.4% to £24.55 despite reporting a 6% increase in pre-tax profit to £133.1 million for the six months 30 June. While the results are in line with expectations, Croda has struggled to improve profits owing to its exposure to a torpid European auto market as well as lower sales at its crop care operation.