A string of strong corporate announcements excite investors in early trade on Wednesday, powering UK share prices higher. The benchmark FTSE 100 index rallies more than a 100 points, or about 1.8%, back over the 6,000 barrier to 6,016, while midcaps and smaller companies are also in demand. The strong start to the day's trading matches a fairly robust performance on Wall Street and across Asian markets overnight, positives that spill over into Europe's leading stock markets too.
Among the big corporate stories, rocketing pre-tax profit sparks demand for shares in over-50s lifestyle group Saga (SAGA), the stock rallying 3.3% higher to 207.9p. Rising demand across the group led to a whopping 140% jump £101.3 million in the six months to 31 July, a performance aided by lower costs after IPO fees in 2014.
Unloved supermarkets operator Sainsbury's (SBRY) bounces 12.3% higher to 257.4p as a surprisingly upbeat second quarter trading statement stokes profit upgrades. Though like-for-like sales fell 1.1% for the quarter, CEO Mike Coupe now expects full year underlying profit before tax to come in 'moderately ahead' of the £548 million consensus estimate, with sales and cost savings ahead of expectations year-to-date. Grocery market leader Tesco (TSCO) gains 4.5% at 179.05p on the positive read-across.
Pallet maker RM2 (RM2:AIM) slides 4.4% to 43.5p after its loss after tax widens from $22.2 million to $25.4 million in the six months to 30 June due to a large increase in the cost of sales. Revenue is up from $0.78 million to $1.77 million but full year revenue will be significantly below previous guidance as a result of the company's switch from powder to gel coating. It has issued a placing to raise £30 million in order to be 'viewed as a financially robust counterparty'.
Among the bigger movers, European electricals retailer Darty (DRTY) sparks up 15.5% to 93.5p as French rival Groupe Fnac (FNAC:PA) confirms a takeover bid. The potential all-share offer values Darty at £533 million or 101p a share, a 27.4% premium to yesterday's closing share price and a 44% premium to the the 70.25p at which Shares recommended the running Play of the Week in July at 70.25.
Mass spectrometry instruments minnow Microsaic Systems (MSYS:AIM) has launched a deeply discounted cash call in a growth funds grab aimed at arresting otherwise lacklustre revenues. The £20 million company hopes to raise £3.2 million at 33p to fund product development as half-year revenues more than halve to a paltry £0.29 million. The company may also pull the trigger on an extra fund raise if investors demand surprises on the upside. But considering yesterday's 42p close, there is little shock in today's near-28% share price slump to 30.5p.
Drones play Strat Aero (AERO:AIM) jumps 20% to 5.25p as it agrees to acquire Geocurve, a privately-owned UAV topographical surveys and inspection sepcialist.
Going the other way is electricity generator Rurelec (RUR:AIM) as the company is hit by a £12 million swathe of asset write-downs, impairments and foreign exchange losses. The shares crash 32% to 1.25p, the day's biggest junior market faller.
Elsewhere, managed services IT and comms business Redcentric (RCN:AIM) nudges 3% up to 184p as it flags the strong start to trading noted earlier in the year has continued through the first half. The company talks up significant new contracts and high recurring revenues that tot-up to more than 80% of the total. This will come as little surprise to regular Shares readers, Redcentric a two-time and current Play of the Week that we first flagged at 112p in July 2014.
Retailer Topps Tiles (TPT), another running Shares Play of the Week, rises 0.75p to 148.75p on a positive year-end trading statement, flagging record sales and continued growth in market share, with like-for-like sales 5.3% ahead year-on-year.
Student bar operator Eclectic Bar (BAR:AIM) slips 1.5% to 65p on a 38% drop in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to £1.8 million in the full year to the end of June, with total revenue down 1.9% to £22.3 million. Trading has been tough due to a decline in drinking among students and increasing competition. Eclectic says growth is likely to be through acquisition and a focus on food revenue at some sites.
London-focused acquisitive flexible office and studio provider Workspace (WKP) rises 1.1% to 938.2p as it expands its portfolio by 43,000 square foot as it buys a former Mecca Bingo site in Wandsworth for £26.1 million.