Forecast-thumping full-year results had investors clamouring for Xaar (XAR), sending the laser printing technology designer 13% higher to 393p. The market is impressed by revenues storming 26% and pre-tax profits 74% ahead, beating some analysts expectations by close on 10%. A dividend hike of 33% to 4p per share, again above even the most optimistic best guesses, underscores the Cambridge-based firm's growth and income attractions.
Much of that growth is being driven by Xaar's P3 laser printer lines, particularly into the emerging ceramics space. Expansion into faster growth markets such as China (where about 50% of ceramic tiles are made), India and Latin America puts Xaar at the crucible of the next generation printing hotspot. So great are its future growth hopes that Xaar is planning to fling the doors open on a 33% capacity expansion push at its Cambridge base this year.
The somewhat surprising news that Warren East is to retire as chief executive of UK chip champion ARM (ARM) after his 12 year stint has caused a minor market stir. The shares edged 2.7% lower to 894.7p on the planned departure of the man behind ARM's emergence as one of the mobile technology world's true star companies. Its microprocessor designs are the engine inside over 90% of the world's smartphones. President Simon Segars will assume the ARM hotseat from July.
Cigarette filter specialist Filtrona (FLTR) is trying to raise £133 million to help fund the £160 million acquisition of Contego Healthcare. The target provides print, packaging and support services to the European pharmaceutical and healthcare markets. The shares advanced 1% to 669p on the news.
Social housing repair group Mears (MER) dipped 0.6% to 371.25p on its full-year results. Analysts have called for the service group to sell its care business, yet Mears is sticking with the unit as we discuss here.
Home shopping-to-education supplies firm Findel (FDL) surrendered 1.3% at 7.6p, despite announcing the disposal of its healthcare division NRS to private equity player LDC for £24 million in cash. The disposal of the ill-fitting healthcare operation will allow the £132 million cap to focus on the turnaround of businesses including direct mail order unit Express Gifts, sports merchandise retailer Kitbag and network marketing firm Kleeneze. Subject to shareholder approval at a forthcoming General Meeting (which will also include a vote on a share consolidation), the sale seems a positive development which will enable Hyde-headquartered Findel to reduce its sizeable debts by £21.6 million. Alongside the disposal news Findel, whose turnaround under chief executive Roger Siddle continues to make positive strides, flagged group sales 8.3% ahead for the 49 weeks to 8 March.
FTSE 250 oil play Cairn Energy (CNE) was down 0.2% at 288.6p despite reporting significantly-narrowed losses for 2012 at $194.2 million and revealing a healthy balance sheet. The Edinburgh-based group had net cash of $1.6 billion (£1bn) as of 31 December 2012.
Fayre & Square-owner Spirit Pub Company (SPRT) dipped 1.1% to 66.25p after reporting a 1.1% decline in like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to 2 March.
The pressure on regional print shows little sign of abating following finals from publisher Johnston Press (JPR), down 3.8% at 12.8p. It revealed that advertising revenues had fallen 15.6% in the first ten weeks of 2013. News that the rate of decline moderated over the 10-week period, with an improved trend in March on February which itself was better than January will do little to calm fears about the future of regional print and the prospects of heavily indebted Johnston to cope with the changes.
Small cap digital marketing specialist dotDigital (DOTD:AIM) was down 6.6% at 14.3p on news it is to wind down its search engine optimisation activities. The £42 million cap has decided it does not have sufficient resource to keep up with changes Google (GOOG:NDQ) makes to its search algorithms and will now focus on e-mail marketing. Not a great endorsement of firm's buy-and-build ambitions as the value of goodwill acquired Netcallidus, from which dot took its search capabilities, is written down.
Mobile payments play Bango (BGO:AIM) fell 5.1% to 251.5p after revealing the financial pain of its potentially-exciting land grab. The Cambridge-based technology play's 'one-click' platform is available to over one billion smartphones worldwide through several app stores, yet revenues are proving slow to build. Added to a transition away from legacy revenues, nine month topline figures halved to £7.4 million. As we explained in last week's Griller interview with chief executive Ray Anderson, none of this is hugely surprising to us.
Independent investment group Shore Capital (SGR:AIM) was up 4.8% to 22p on announcing its finals for 2012. The firm revealed revenues up 11.2% to £32.8 million, from £29.5 million last time. Profit before tax, at £3.7 million, compared to £0.4 million last time.
Optimal Payments (OPAY:AIM) nudged up 1.4% to 169.25p after full-year results beat expectations. Canaccord Genuity has subsequently upgraded its earnings forecasts by 21% for 2013 and by 18% for 2014. The online payments provider is on the acquisition trail and has identified six targets.
Barcodes specialist Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) met stiff resistance to its four month trading update, its shares declining 3.2% to 677.5p. The market is worried about delays to the roll out of its Ten Media egg printing food safety arm which needs a fresh cash injection.
India-based IT services supplier Datatec (DTC) has trimmed revenue expectations yet again. The £700 million cap now sees top line hitting roughly $5.2 billion to $5.3 billion, below even the $5.4 billion cutback made in January. That'll squeeze taxable profits below $90 million after original hopes for $104 million.
After an initial rise, Herencia Resources (HER:AIM) retreated 10% to 1.08p on a progress report with its Paguanta metals project in Chile. Investors didn't like the news that the asset's feasibility study has once more been delayed. Managing director Graeme Sloan pushed back the study last year as he wanted to prove that the Patricia section of Paguanta could initially be mined from above ground. Today's announcement suggests there could be a three-year open pit before moving underground. Herencia says the final study should be released by May, whereas Sloan had previously guided March at the latest.
Oil explorer Fastnet Oil & Gas (FAST:AIM) ticked up 1% to 25.9p after announcing a contract with CGG Veritas to acquire $18 million worth of 3D seismic data across its Celtic Sea acreage offshore Ireland. This is the largest ever survey conducted in the area; the group also revealed it has initiated the farm-out process over the assets and said the first expressions of interest have been received.
Energy minnow Northern Petroleum (NOP:AIM) fell 6.4% to 51p, the market apparently underwhelmed by a root and branch review of the company, confirming the possible sale of its operations in the Netherlands alongside a significant upgrade to its Cygnus prospect in Italy. The group also announced its entry to Canada, with the acquisition of 5,300 acres in Alberta and indicated one of the two offers for the Netherlands assets encompasses the UK business.
Shares in mechanical and electrical contractor T Clarke (CTO) fell 0.5% to 55p after the group posted a fall in pre-tax profits to £1.2 million in the year to December 2012, compared to £4.9 million gain in the previous year. On the upside, the group's forward order book rose from £190 million to £230 million. The dividend has been maintained at 3p for the financial year.