Plans by Whitbread (WTB) to launch compact hotels failed to excite the market, the shares down 5p to £31.55. It plans to open five 'hub by Premier Inn' sites over the next three years and have 40 compact hotels opened or 'in the pipeline' by 2018. The initiative has been widely expected by the leisure industry but the lack of financial details and arguably slow roll-out programme could explain the muted investor reaction.
Textile rental group Berendsen (BRSN) nudged ahead 2.8% to 786.5p after reporting an improvement in operating margins and strong cash conversion.
Power can be a big challenge for mining companies which operate in remote places. It is therefore understandable to see investors welcome a move by FTSE 100 copper miner Antofagasta (ANTO), up 2.1% to 850p, to secure energy supplies for its Los Pelambres project in Chile. Antofagasta is buying 40% of a business that will build and run two hydroelectric power stations, together with power purchase agreements.
Amara Mining (AMA:AIM) dipped 1.8% to 13.5p as investors worried how it would raise $151 million to build its Baomahun gold mine in Sierra Leone. The project economics have been released today and show a profitable operation at $1,350 per ounce. That's fine if you believe the gold price will rise. The issue is that gold trades today at $1,262 per ounce which makes the project look marginal, at best. The miner reckons that costs will come down across the mining industry so it is worth building. Amara also reckons there's a good chance it will get most of the construction money from strategic partner, Samsung.
Shares in asbestos removal-to-demolition expert Silverdell (SID:AIM) were suspended pending an announcement about its financial position.
Persimmon (PSN) dropped 2% to £12.15 despite an upbeat trading statement which revealed increases in visitor rates; up 13% in the first half, completions rose by 7% and the average selling price also added 5%. As of 30 June, forward sales were 19% ahead of the same period last year and worth £920 million with private sale forward revenue around 24% ahead of last year while the value of housing association forward sales rose by about 10%.
Paving specialists Marshalls (MSLH) slipped 0.6% to 134p after the group's interim management statement revealed that revenues fell 4% to £157 million in the six months to 30 June. Outlook for the sector remains gloomy and the Construction Products Association has forecast that UK market volumes will shrink by 2.1% while growth of 1.9% and 3.9% is forecast for 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Anite (AIE) dipped 1% to 137.6p after announcing plans to buy network testing products distributor Genetel for €1.5 million and reporting full-year results. The latter saw the company move from £16.9 million net cash to £900,000 net debt over the 12 months to 30 April because of acquisition expenditure. Pre-tax profit jumped 23% to £34.3 million.
InternetQ (INTQ:AIM) fell 4.2% to 305p after raising £10 million through a share placing at 290p. The money will be used to buy Atlas Germany, a mobile billing and content distributor, and to accelerate organic growth.
Amid a flurry of excitement about a strategic partnership with Morrison (MRW) supermarket and the possibility of other licence agreements, the hype surrounding Ocado (OCDO) has finally crashed back to earth. Interim results today show £3.8 million pre-tax loss. Quite a feat given the market values the stock at £1.9 billion.
Medical property investor Primary Health Properties (PHP) improved 0.2% to 325p after adding 11 purpose-built premises to its portfolio. The company has bought Primary Health Care Centres for £26.8 million, funded by last month’s £68.5 million share placing. The acquired assets, which are let to the NHS, GPs and pharmacies, boost PHP’s annual rental income by £1.7 million to £41.3 million and provide a 6.2% annual return of the acquisition cost.