One of Monday's star turns emerged from the technology space, where betting platform developer Playtech (PTEC) saw its shares rally 12p, or over 2%, to 563.5p, after unveiling the expansion of its agreement with bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD). The new deal will help power the bookie's digital expansion and include launching a new 'Vegas' tab on its online and mobile platforms. Running for five year, the new deal will kick-start from 1 May, this is a timely shot in the arm for Playtech after William Hill (WMH) recently triggered its option to buy the online and mobile betting software firm's 29% stake in William Hill Online.
Also in demand was online gaming firm 888 (888), up 2.25p at 160.75p on news of a US joint venture that excited investors. The £553.8 million cap has formed a joint venture with investment outfit Avenue Capital called All American Poker Network (AAPN), which will launch 888's brands into the US market once it is regulated.
Going the other way with gusto was telecoms testing specialist Anite (AIE), spooking the market with a slow third quarter. While this is a typically quiet spell for the FTSE 250 company some investors are inferring that full year consensus pre-tax profits of £32.7 million could be a stretch, sparking a 12.5% share price sell-off to 135.5p. This illustrates the low visibility in the testing business, although analysts at broker Canaccord point out that Anite remains well-placed in the industry-wide 4G migration. Read our take on the story here.
Elsewhere, Thomas Cook (TCG) rose more than 8% to 82p ahead of an expected trading update on Wednesday, in which the £675 million cap will give a brief update on the progress of its business transformation and new strategy. The travel company, which is keeping its French business following a strategic review whilst closing 195 stores in the UK, is expected to highlight a continuation of more encouraging first quarter trading trends.
Gushing profits and the promise of a dividend helped FTSE 250 oil play Soco International (SIA) gain 2.4% to 386p. The group said it expected to start making payouts to shareholders this year after a ramp up of oil production at a key Vietnamese field helped it post a 181% increase in pre-tax profits to $445.6 million.
Tangent Communications (TNG:AIM) is up 4.1% at 9.6p. News its online retail website, www.printed.com, is partnering with Avios and British Airways Executive Club to offer customers the option to earn Avios, previously known as air miles, is a major endorsement. But perhaps the bigger story is this morning's news Publicis (PUB:PAR) has further built on its Indian presence with the acquisition of online search specialist Convonix.
Tangent is well positioned to capitalise on liberalisation of India's retail sector and the move by Publicis', the globe's third biggest marketing communications (marcom) group by sales, underlines the opportunity as Western retailers increase presence in the country, consolidate and transform the sector.
St. Ives (SIV) received a welcome boost this morning, up 4.7% to 127p following news of its acquisition of marketing and technology consultancy Amaze to further drive the group's transformation from printer to marcom group. Numis forecasts that the firm's marcom operations will generate half of earnings within two years, making St. Ives an exciting rerating proposition as the market is yet to appreciate this.
In the resources sector, oil explorer Bahamas Petroleum (BPC: AIM) surged 37% higher to 6.5p after The Bahamas government gave an effective green-light to exploration drilling, as we discuss in more detail here.
Commodity and energy markets trading platform specialist Brady (BRY:AIM) added 2% to 93.5p on full year 2012 results showing an acquisitions-fuelled 47% hike in revenues. Sales of £28.1 million delivered a 39% jump in pre-tax profits to £3.37 million, before one-offs, thanks to 20% EBITDA margins. However, investors will now expect Brady to produce organic growth that justifies its £33 million of new cash raised in the past year.
Cardiff-based compound wafer maker IQE (IQE:AIM) rallied over 2.5% to 29p after getting the OFT OK for its Kopin Wireless acquisition. Worries that the deal could have been plagued by a merger enquiry have helped drag the share price lower in recent weeks, so shareholders doubtless see today's news as a weight off their minds.
Shares in Plant Health Care (PHC: AIM) wilted 8% to 77.25p despite the specialty chemicals company announcing a multi-year distribution agreement with Dalgety Agra Polska to market the group's patented, synthetic growth compound Myconate. The agreement is expected to generate revenues in the current financial year, with the board also anticipating good growth in partnership revenues in 2014, although at lower levels than current market forecasts.
Cambria Automobiles (CAMB: AIM) clicked into gear, revving up 8.6% to 22p on news trading in the first half to February was 'considerably stronger' than last year. The £19 million cap motor dealer benefited from a stronger domestic new car market, with new car sales up 13.4% across premium and volume brands, as well as strong growth in after sales which were 15% ahead year-on-year.
Moscow-focused real estate concern Raven Russia (RUS) was up 6% to 69.3p after stating that a series of acquisitions helped increase its rental income by 49% to $136.5 million last year. Pre-tax earnings hit $34.7 million, up from $8.1 million a year earlier, while management increased the dividend 25% to 3.75p. The company has been working on expanding its portfolio and is set to complete two new extensions by July. N+1 Singer’s Ian Wild predicts Raven's development programme will increase earnings by 77% in the next two years.
Speciality pharma firm Clinigen (CLIN:AIM) improved 6.9% to 272p as management delivered on its promise to add a new drug to its portfolio within six months of the £210 million cap's listing on Aim. The company has secured the European rights to Vibativ, a treatment for pneumonia caused by MRSA, from US firm Theravance. Charles Weston at Numis expects sales to commence in the first half of 2014 and expects the treatment to generate up to £6 million a year.
Grants totalling £1.2 million pushed ReNeuron (RENE: AIM) up 1.20% to 2.95p. The funding from the UK Biomedical Catalyst will help management develop its core stem cell therapies to treat Limb Ischaemia, a lack of blood flow to a limb, and eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa.