London shares hit multi-month highs as the market opens up in the wake of yesterday's terror attacks in Brussels, which left about 34 dead and roughly 250 wounded. Leisure stocks enjoy an uptick as value hunters chime in, with risers otherwise a mixed bag but managing to offset a handful of damaging profit warnings.
Pay-TV giant Sky (SKY) gains 2.8% to £10.42 as it takes a minority stake in independent production company Sugar Films. The new production house has been founded group of senior television professionals, alongside Discovery Channel president Mark Hollinger who will act as chairman.
UK bookmaker William Hill (WMH) tumbles 11% to 329.3p after warning its operating profit in 2016 will be between £260 million and £280 million, down from £291.4 million the previous year, as a result of a weaker than expected online performance. The number of time-outs and self-exclusions - where players ask the bookie to limit their gambling time - has accelerated following new regulations and it suffered 'the worst Cheltenham results in recent history'. Read SHARES exclusive web story here.
Mike Ashley's indiscreet utterances on trading force Sports Direct (SPD) to cough up a clarification statement, effectively another profit warning. The shares soften 3.3p to 375.9p on news full-year earnings will come in 'at or around the bottom' of the £380-£420 million lowered guidance given with January's profit warning.
Student bar operator Eclectic Bar (BAR:AIM) gains 3.8% to 54.5p after it swings from a pre-tax loss of £525,000 to a profit of £276,000 in the six months to 31 December, driven by a 28% reduction in head office costs and a greater focus on profitable trading nights. Revenue is down 11.6% to £10.7 million.
Video games developer Frontier Developments (FDEV:AIM) rises 2.5% to 207.5p on news it has released the first Alpha build for Planet Coaster, its second major self-published franchise, ahead of its full release in the fourth quarter.
Mr. Kipling cakes-to-Bisto gravy maker Premier Foods (PFD) surges 43% higher to 45p on takeover excitement. The food producer has received and unanimously rejected two bids from US spices and condiments maker McCormick & Co (MKC:NYSE), pitched at 52p and 60p per share respectively, on the grounds they 'significantly' undervalue the company and its prospects. Highlighting its growth ambitions as a stand-alone business, Premier also flags a cooperation agreement with Japan's Nissin Foods (2897:T), inventor of the world's first instant noodles, as it looks to increase product distribution overseas.
B&Q-to-Screwfix brands owner Kingfisher (KGF) clips ahead 2.5% to 359.5p on better-than-expected finals boosted by a strong final quarter; there's also an encouraging update on its ONE Kingfisher restructuring plan.
Fashion-to-home furnishings firm Laura Ashley (ALY) cheapens 5.2% to 23p as second interims for the 52 weeks to 30 January show lower taxable profits amid tough times for its franchising and licensing business in Japan. There's also a downbeat outlook, trading 0.4% down like-for-like in the seven weeks to 20 March.
Upholstered furniture leader DFS (DFS) drops 6.1% to 305.2p despite delivering record half-time figures and a positive growth strategy update, investors homing in on losses in the Netherlands and a bit of EU referendum nervousness detected in the outlook statement.
Estate agent M Winkworth (WINK:AIM) gains 8.1% to 133p despite pre-tax profits falling 1% to £1.9 million in 2015 on rising costs. An upbeat outlook cemented by a 1.8p a share special dividend is pushing shares higher.