London's FTSE 100 is broadly flat in early dealings, up 1.56 points to 6,732 as it consolidates Friday's gains and reflects steady Asian markets in the wake of soothing policy comments from finance ministers at the weekend's G20 meeting in China.
Bookmaker William Hill (WMH) rises 8.7% to 340.8p on news that 888 (888) and Rank (RNK) are considering a joint approach to facilitate a three-way merger. A formal offer has yet to be tabled, but it is interesting to note that Rank's boss Henry Birch used to run William Hill's online business. The Financial Times says Birch is on the shortlist to replace James Henderson who stepped down last week as William Hill's chief executive following a series of profit warnings.
Ryanair (RYA) rises 5.7% to €11.52 as its first quarter profits rise 4% to €256 million and the budget carrier maintains guidance that full year profits will rise by roughly 12% to 'a range of €1,375 million to €1,425 million', though the airline also cautions that 'post Brexit there are significant risks to the downside during the remainder of the year.'
After years of big spending on its mines in South Africa and Tanzania, the end is in sight for Petra Diamonds (PDL) to start producing positive free cash flow. It is coming to the end of a large capital expenditure project which bodes well for having the firepower to accelerate debt repayments and potentially start paying more generous dividends in the near term. The 6% average drop in its selling prices over the past year was not as bad as feared by analysts and the miner has now upgraded its production forecasts for the next few years. The news sends its shares up 1.9% to 121.75p.
Convenience food maker Greencore (GNC) fattens up 2.9p to 322.1p on the £15 million acquisition of The Sandwich Factory from pork processor Cranswick (CWK), a bolt-on deal extending Greencore's presence in the high-growth food-to-go category outside of its core business with the grocers.
Sausages, bacon and pasties seller Cranswick puts on 32p or 1.37% at £23.66 as it combines news of the sale, part of its strategy to focus on the core protein business, with a positive first quarter trading statement, revenues reportedly up 11% in the quarter to June.
Rises in premiums, investment returns and profits send non-life insurer Hiscox (HSX) 1.7% higher to £10.87. Pre-tax profits improved by 52.4% to £206 million in the six months to 30 June, thanks to a strong retail performance, while the company benefited from favourable currency movements.
Gift packaging-to-stationery manufacturer IG Design (IGR:AIM) cheapens 3.5p to 186.5p on news it has raised £5.25 million through a placing at 175p, a funding which will enable management to move quickly on growth opportunities.
Veterinary services provider CVS (CVSG:AIM) bounds 2.4% higher to 728.5p as it says sales and adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the year to June will come in 'modestly ahead' of market expectations.
Franchise Brands says it will target admission to London’s AIM market in the third quarter of the year, giving investors a chance to own part of a multi-brand international franchise business specialising in cleaning and repair firms. Its brands included vehicle bumps and scratches fixer ChipsAway and cooker scrubber Ovenclean.
E-learning specialist NetDimensions (NTED:AIM) sinks 27% to 43p on a 150 word trading statement which says sales are running in line with last year but short of management expectations.