Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror (TNI) has attracted positive attention for its second-quarter trading update that revealed improving trends and a successful implementation of self-help measures. The counter jumped 13.5% to 105.25p after reporting a moderation in the rate of decline in advertising sales which dropped 12% between March and April versus a 14% decline between January and February. The decline in circulation numbers moderated from -13% to -3% over the two periods whereas the £239 million cap revealed net debt had fallen to £132 million at 28 April and that the firm was on course to meet its target to deliver £10 million of cost savings this year.
An impressive trading update from Dixons Retail (DXNS) has ignited the share price, rising 8.1% to 39.46p. It says pre-tax profits for the year to 30 April are expected to be at the top end of expectations and the business has moved into a net cash position. Click here to read our story on today's announcement.
Travis Perkins (TPK) advanced 4.7% to £15.53 despite a poor trading statement. It revealed a 1.8% drop in like-for-like sales for the first four months of 2013. Investors took comfort in the news that performance in April and early May has improved and that the board still expects full-year earnings to meet expectations.
Insurer Aviva (AV.) advanced 8.1% to 349.3p following a positive first-quarter update. During the period the value of new business increased 18%, driven by its UK life and Asian businesses, while net asset value improved 9% to 302p. Its debt fell by £300 million while it reduced its operating expenses by 10%. There was no change in its combined ratio from the fourth quarter of 2012, which remained at 96%.
Eye scanner device manufacturer Optos (OPTS) plummeted 16.1% to 134.25p following disappointing results in the six months to April. Its revenues and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) are set to fall this year after it made a below-forecast US$400,000 pre-tax profit at the interim stage compared to US$3.5 million a year earlier. This comes at a time when the Scottish company’s net debt increased to US$55.8 million from US$47.9 million after sales were hit by management having to update the software of its Daytona retinal scanner.
Broadband and calls supplier TalkTalk (TALK) jumped 5.4% to 239.2p after unveiling rapid early take-up of its YouView TV bundled services. It has signed up 150,000 new customers in the last three months of the year to end March, taking its TV bundled subscribers to 230,000, although overall annual revenues fell 1%. But competing for new customers could get much tougher after chief rival BT (BT.A) effectively sparked a price war with its free Premier League football offer via its newly launched BT Sports channel to broadband subscribers (read Shares' view here).
The market was disappointed with half-year results from pub operator-to-brewer Marston's (MARS), sending the shares down 3.6% to 146.9p. Liberum Capital said earnings were marginally below its expectations and reckons that the top range of consensus forecasts may need to be trimmed today.
Jordanian pharmaceutical group Hikma (HIK) increased 1% to £10.01 after management raised its guidance for the year. Its branded and injectables business, for which it rejected several takeover offers earlier this year, have performed well. Management now expect revenue growth for the year of 13%, compared to its earlier 10% forecasts. Its revenues totalled US$1.1 billion in 2012. Click here to read our recent 'griller' interview with the company.
Full-year results from industrial automation group Invensys (ISYS) barely moved the share price needle, dipping 1% to 389.7p, after confirming that it sees little catalyst to change the current stiff macro headwinds. Last year, the £3.2 billion cap sold its rail business for £1.74 billion, sparking a £625 million shareholder cash return, and while Invensys sees promise in nuclear projects in China, the market clearly needs more convincing.
Investors piled into oil firm Afren (AFR), which has assets in the Middle East and Africa, after it announced strong numbers for the first quarter with a 14% year-on-year increase in production. The shares gained 3.2% to 138.5p.
Shares in oil explorer Heritage Oil (HOIL) managed a partial recovery, up 7.2% to 143.7p, after revenue increased more than ten-fold in the first quarter reaching $236.2 million from $2.3 million a year ago.
Printer-to-database expert St Ives (SIV) has increased its online marketing capabilities with the £10.7 million purchase of digital marketing agency Branded3. The deal is expected to enhance St Ives' earnings in the current financial year, news that helped push up the share price 4.6% to 158.5p. Click here to read our recent look at the £190 million cap (published last week).
Ongoing weakness in coal prices has forced Czech Republic-based miner New World Resources (NWR) to put its coke operations up for sale and cut salaries across its entire workforce by 10%. The market initially liked the news that New World was taking action to protect its finances, with the shares rising in early trade. However, it was down 1.8% to 125.9p in late afternoon. The stock has more than halved in price this year. To read our previous stories on the miner's problems, click here (article published 21 Feb) and click here (article from 4 Feb).
Agricultural feeds-to-oil haulier NWF (NWF:AIM) jumped 5.5% to 125p after saying that its full-year results would be 'significantly ahead of current market expectations'. Click here to read our story on the small cap from February.
Shares in logistics specialist Stobart (STOB) rose 5% to 93p after the £308.2 million cap reported a 10% increase in annual operating profits from continuing operations to £44.9 million. Underlying profit before tax came in at £32.5 million compared to £35.4 million last year, while the total dividend was held at 6p.