Bookie William Hill (WMH) firms 9% to 275.3p as first half results show continuing momentum with wagering growth across all four divisions, despite the lack of a major football tournament. CEO Philip Bowcock says there’s good momentum building in the online business, points to market share gains in the retail operations and is confident about ‘delivering a good outturn in 2017 and beyond’.

Defence giant BAE Systems (BA.) sparks up 3.1% to 626p after a good first half and a confident full-year outlook. Operating profits rose 10% to £865m in the six months to June and BAE confirms guidance that full-year profits would be between 5% and 10% higher than 2016.

BAE’s confidence is underpinned by a growing order book. Order intake rose by £3.6bn to £10.7bn in the first half including the award of a production contract for the initial batch of three Type 26 frigates which takes the order backlog to £42.3bn.

Sausage skin maker Devro (DVO) fattens up almost 4% to 225p on first half figures revealing top line growth of 11% to £125.2m, a 16.7% year-on-year improvement in underlying EBITDA and an upgrade to full year cost savings guidance.

CEO Peter Page’s ‘Devro 100’ programme to accelerate sales and profit growth is progressing well, with Devro growing volume and market share in a range of markets and savings arriving faster than expected.

IRN-BRU-to-Strathmore water producer A.G. Barr (BAG) edges 1p higher to 602.5p on news of a strong first half sales performance, supported by the continued success of new product launches, notably IRN-BRU XTRA and Rubicon Spring.

CEO Roger White flags a ‘moderate impact’ on margins in the half due to investment spend, higher costs and the timing of price increases, although he also flags progress with A.G. Barr’s sugar reduction programme and reassures his charge will achieve full year forecasts.

Cut-price variety discounter B&M European Value Retail (BME) is bid up 3.2p to 362.9p as investors applaud the £152m acquisition of North of England-based Heron Food, providing B&M with a new growth channel in the fast-evolving convenience market.

Johnston Press (JPR) jumps 5.75% to 11.5p as it reports strong growth in digital revenues and the i newspaper which offset the ongoing challenges for print classifieds which are in continued significant structural decline. Adjusted earnings were in line with forecasts and the group remains on track to meet its full-year goals having implemented the next phase of its cost reduction initiatives.

Builders’ merchant Travis Perkins (TPK) cheapens 36p (2.4%) to £14.94. Half year operating profit softened 2.1% to £190m due to tough plumbing and heating market conditions and recent investments in IT and there’s a cautious outlook statement for investors to consider.

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Issue Date: 02 Aug 2017