Takeover speculation drives up media giant ITV (ITV) 7% to 196.6p, despite the assumed predator stating it won't make a bid. The activity stems from British Sky Broadcasting's (BSY) sale of a 6.4% stake in ITV to Liberty Global for £481 million. The announcement includes the line 'Liberty Global confirms that it does not intend to make an offer to acquire ITV.' That may apply to the present, but investors are clearly speculating over a move longer-term. Investec comments: 'is it happy at just 6.4%? Given recent Liberty Global M&A appetite, we see speculation of further M&A as almost inevitable mid-term implying ITV shares are likely to be valued more on a take-over basis.'
Mother and baby products purveyor Mothercare (MTC) crashes 9.7% to 252.4p on a mixed first quarter trading statement. Though the struggling UK business generated positive like-for-like growth in the 15 weeks to 12 July, the recent bid target cautions unfavourable currency swings have dampened international sales on translation.
US onshore oil producer Nighthawk Energy (HAWK:AIM) falls 11.1% to 11.77p as a production update comes in south of expectations and two wells disappoint. Production in June averaged 2,062 barrels of oil per day, slightly lower than Westhouse's estimate of 2,300 bopd, and the Knoss 9-20 exploration well and Snow King 12-33 failed to deliver.
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct (SPD) sheds 10.5p to 703p, despite the value-for-money sports retail powerhouse dashing in with record full-year figures. During the year to 27 April, Sports Direct accelerated its European expansion and grew online sales 27%. Launching in Australia and New Zealand through a partnership with fashion site MySale (MYSL:AIM), Sports Direct says trading since year-end has met expectations though some stronger weeks have been offset by England's disappointing World Cup matches.
Fuel cell power systems developer AFC Energy(AFC:AIM) leaps nearly 12% to 28.5p as it unveils a supply deal in South Korea. The agreement could be worth up to $15 million if expanded to its full potential.
Cakes-to-speciality breads maker Finsbury Food (FIF:AIM) bakes in a 7.3% gain at 58.5p on a strong pre-close trading statement. Cardiff-headquartered Finsbury says full-year profits will beat expectations thanks to success with topline and efficiency initiatives, highlighted by Shares in February. CEO John Duffy also cheers with news he plans to hike the total dividend from 0.75p to 1p.
Web-based electrical appliances seller AO World (AO.) cheapens 0.7p to 243.2p after rising early on following an encouraging first quarter trading statement. Like-for-like sales grew 30% in the quarter to June and AO says preparations for a launch into the German market are running smoothly. Shares has been bearish on the retailer and recent IPO on valuation grounds.
Healthcare software supplier EMIS (EMIS) rises more than 3% to 700p as it completes the small but significant £3.7 million acquisition of Indigo 4 Systems, a provider of clinical and administrative messaging solutions to healthcare organisations. 'While this is a small purchase for EMIS, adding just £2.5 million in revenue, it is significant in that is advances the company’s connected healthcare agenda,' says Ian Spence of IT consultancy Megabuyte. Shares flagged the digital health opportunities for EMIS in May.
Serial IT entrepreneurs Ian Smith and Tony Weaver are cranking their IT investment venture MXC Capital, effectively reversing into AIM cash shell Broca (BRC:AIM), the former 2ergo disaster. Broca is raising £8.5 milion, designed to allow MXC to make significant minority investments in growth technology businesses, and is being personally supported by IT venteran Richard Holway. Both Smith and Weaver have been part of AIM companies Redcentric (RCN:AIM), Redstone (RED:AIM) and IT security business Accumuli (ACM:AIM), a running Shares Play of the Week. Trading in Broca shares has been suspended at 1.48p pending completion.
African oil services provider Africa Oilfield Logistics (AOL:AIM) slips 3.7% to 9.7p as announces a £7 million placing at 9p to support an expansion of its operations - including a new logistics hub in Kenya and expanded civil engineering team.
The UK's largest independent aggregates business Breedon (BREE) is up 1.9% at 39.5p on the back of an impressive set of half year results. THe figures show revenues 25% higher and underlying profit before tax up 77%.
Eye-scanner maker Optos (OPTS) jumps 6% to 185.5p on sales growth of 13% to $114.7 million in the nine months to July. The Scottish company, flagged in Shares in May, also cut net debt to $19.5 million.
European non-life insurer Gable (GAH:AIM) improves 1.7% to 87p having underwritten £10 million of annual commercial cover for small UK businesses. This follows its partnership with broker RiskAlliance, part of a growth strategy revealed by Shares last month.