Recruitment bellwether Michael Page (MPI) is not having a good time in Asia Pacific where third quarter gross profit, on a constant currency basis, fell by 4.3% to £27.3 million. This region accounts for just over a third of group profit. Against that disappointment is news of a 16.9% gain from the Americas region, a welcome performance but not enough to offset the Asia Pacific weakness. Overall the group suffered a 0.2% fall in third quarter gross profit. Chief financial officer Andrew Bracey has resigned after less than two years in the job. He was previously at Ocado (OCDO). Michael Page expects the fourth quarter to be another 'challenging' period, news that sends the shares down 4.7% to 471.45p and hurts the rest of the sector. Hays (HAS) retreats 2% to 119.15p and Robert Walters (RWA) falls 2.3% to 317.5p.
Prospective gas supplier Gasol (GAS:AIM) jumps 6.1% to 19.5p on news it is part of a consortium (Electrogas Malta) which is the preferred bidder on a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-to-power project in Malta. We look at the announcement in more detail here.
Earnings upgrades brighten the outlook for self-storage concern Lok’n Store (LOK: AIM), as we discuss in more detail. It rises 4.3% to 180.5p after consensus-beating figures for the 12 months to August highlight a 27.2% discount to net asset value (NAV).
Royal Mail (RMG) advances another 1.5% to 461.75p, continuing last Friday's impressive market debut. The shares go 'unconditional' tomorrow, meaning retail investors will be able to freely trade the stock.
Specialty chemicals group Johnson Matthey (JMAT) jumps 4% to £29.34 after an upgrade from JPMorgan Cazenove which switches from 'neutral' to 'overweight'. Its price target goes from £28 to £40.
Cadium-free quantum dots technology developer Nanoco (NANO:AIM) is gearing up nicely for a volume drive into 2014. The shares rally 2.5% to 161p despite £4.4 million of full-year losses, explained by test volumes ahead of commercial scale-up. Analysts at Liberum have a 260p price target on the stock we analysed in September.
Market jitters hit compound wafer specialist IQE (IQE:AIM) as the market fears 'near-term headwinds', according to Liberum analysts. The shares dive 5% to 28.75p after weak unit sales in September by a pair of key comparative companies – VPEC and Win Semi. The former saw six month sales to September crash 37%, while Win Semi, one of IQE’s top five customers, reported September sales 44% lower than May. This news comes after solid half-year figures from the UK Epi-wafer maker last month showing that its RFMD and Kopin acquisitions are paying off.
We recently flagged up a series of imminent announcements from Ncondezi Energy (NCCL:AIM) that could benefit its share price and several have been delivered today. Heads of terms have been agreed with the Mozambique state utility, EDM, to sell power from Ncondezi's proposed plant near Tete. That sends Ncondezi's share price up 1.2% to 11.38p, more of a muted rise than we expected. Investors may be cautious until a formal agreement is made. That's expected in the first quarter of 2014.
Balfour Beatty (BB) rises 2.4% to 274.8p after its US infrastructure business was awarded the I-140 Wilmington Bypass project worth £77 million ($124 million).
Paragon Diamonds (PRG:AIM) rises 12.5% to 6.75p after securing a mining licence for its Lemphane project in Lesotho.
Private label shower gels-to-shampoos developer McBride (MCB) eases 2p to 121p despite delivering a reassuring trading update. Sales declined by 3% as a consequence of the planned exit from low margin contract business, although McBride flags strong revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe. Private label sales grew by a disappointing 1% amid ongoing heavy branded promotional activity in the UK, although cost cutting and a healthy product pipeline mean the £223 million cap should still meet full-year forecasts.
Infection prevention and contamination control specialist Tristel (TSTL: AIM) leaps 14.5% to 27.5p after reporting consensus-beating preliminaries, as we anticipated last week in a Shares article. The company’s revenues increased 40% in the second half to generate a £1.7 million pre-tax loss for the year to July and momentum is continuing into 2014.
Wound care specialist Tissue Regenix (TRX: AIM) rises 2.4% to 10.5p as it moves another step closer to accessing the lucrative US market. Its DermaPure skin graft has been successfully reproduced by Community Tissue Services, its US partner, ahead of an expected launch next year.
Middle East and North Africa focused oil and gas company Genel Energy (GENL) ticks up 1.2% to 986p as it reveals a horizontal well on its Tawke field in Kurdistan, northern Iraq flowed at 32,500 barrels of oil per day. We looked at the Genel story in some detail here.
Russian oil firm Urals Energy (UEN:AIM) surges 22% to 9.15p on news of a potential takeover offer at 12.25p cash per share. This follows last month's shareholder revolt by Alpcot Capital and Fire East Corporation which have a combined 31% stake in Urals. The company is convening an extraordinary general meeting for 27 January 2014 to address this revolt, led by ex-TNK-BP man Maxim Barsky who we recently interviewed.
South Africa focused oil play Sacoil (SAC:AIM) slips 9.9% to 1.6p following the resumption of trading on the junior market after a four-and-a-half month suspension. The move follows the appointment of fresh management and a new financing agreement.
Investors continue to play a guessing game over full-year outcomes for marine navigation kit developer Software Radio Technology (SRT:AIM). Half-year revenues fell from £3.5 million to £3.2 million half-on-half, leaving a chunky £12 million to get to match full year £15 million hopes. It'll clearly take more than a £15,000 stock investment by non-exec director Andrew Lapping to convince the market, which marks the shares down 6.9% to 28.88p.