After being hit by profit taking in May, a trading update has revived the rally in books-to-newspaper distributor Smiths News (NWS), sending the shares up 7.5% to 167.75p as the company said it was on track to hit consensus forecasts for the year to 31 August. We're slightly surprised at the market's upbeat reaction given that its growth driver, the education supplies arm, reported a 1.5% drop in revenue. Yet we can understand why investors have bid the shares up – this is a relief rally. Some analysts were braced for a dip in earnings given the closure of several high-profile magazines which suggested wider problems in the media industry where Smiths is a key service provider.
Computer-aided design specialist Aveva (AVV) jumped 8.9% to £24.69 after reporting strength in oil and gas markets. It's business as usual elsewhere, although its Everything3D suite has made a strong start, with 20 customers on board in three months.
Financial services provider Henderson (HGG) advanced 7.4% to 172.9p on an unexpected trading update. It flags £57 million of performance fees, greater than forecast by analysts. Yet it warns such fees will be substantially lower in the second half.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) ticked up 0.9% to £22.39 after promoting refining boss Ben van Beurden to the role of chief executive officer. Incumbent boss, Peter Voser, will step down on 1 January 2014.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) improved 0.6% to £17.39 after management filed a new combination submission for approval in the US. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is looking at a supplemental application for the combined use of GSK products to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.
Shares in Robinsons and Tango maker Britvic (BVIC) fizzed 9p higher to 529.5p and A.G. Barr (BAG) cheapened 1.5p to 530p, after the Competition Commission formally cleared the mooted merger between the soft drinks pair on the grounds a deal wouldn't substantially reduce competition. IRN-BRU maker A.G. Barr, which says it will 'actively reconsider' a merger with what appears to be an increasingly-dismissive rival, now has until until 30 July to make another offer or walk away from the deal.
Second-quarter production results from Ferrexpo (FXPO) beat expectations, sending its shares up 7% to 148.4p. The Ukraine-based iron ore miner achieved more than 2.5 million tonnes of pellets in a quarter for the first time.
Premium-end pubs operator Young & Co's Brewery (YNGA:AIM) was flat at 877.5p despite maintaining a robust performance in its new financial year. It has achieved a 6.8% rise in like-for-like sales in a 13-week period. You could argue that the market had already priced in a good result, given a steady rally in the stock since full-year results in May which flagged a good start to its new financial year.
Professional services platform supplier Blur (BLUR:AIM) continued to please investors with rapid-fire growth across its key performance indicators in its second quarter to June. Hopes of a profits breakthrough in 2015 from Blur sparked a 13.5% hike to 230p.
Power conversion kit maker XP Power (XPP:AIM) has reached break-even at its Vietnam factory, potentially bolstering future operating margins. That, plus a 43% cut in net debt, had investors chasing the stock over 7% higher to £13.17, a near two-year high.
The market's appetite for new issues continues to build, Keywords Studios the latest to pull off a fundraising ahead of joining Aim on Friday (12 Jul). The Multi-language computer games translation/conversion specialist has raised £28 million of new cash.
An improvement in iron ore grades helped to push up Ferrex (FRX:AIM) by a nominal 1.7% to 1.48p. Investors haven't got carried away by the Gabon exploration update and rightly so. The higher grade material has only come from three drill holes. The small cap will need to report a lot more top-grade results before we can reconsider our long-standing 'sell' rating. To date, Ferrex's iron ore drill results haven't matched the quality implied by management's commentary in its stockmarket announcements.
After being dragged down by a falling gold price, shares in Condor Gold (CNR:AIM) staged a small recovery, up 3.9% to 92.5p on a positive drilling update. The Nicaragua-based miner hopes to publish a new resource statement in the next few months. VSA Capital commented: 'We remain interested in this story because, despite the political risk which will always play a part, the asset itself appears to be quite good.'