Having cemented its place at the top of the pay-TV market, British Sky Broadcasting (BSY) is now on a quest to boost its broadband presence. It is paying £180 million to buy the UK broadband and fixed line businesses of Spain's Telefonica. This will give Sky more than half a million customers who use the O2 and BE brands for their home phone or broadband. Its shares added 0.5p to 851p.
BSkyB is clearly positioning ahead of increased competition from Virgin Media following the latter's acquisition by cable giant Liberty Global last month. It will now command the number two position in the UK broadband market, behind BT, grabbing a 25% market share and overtaking Virgin. Analysts expect some cost synergies but reckon the deal is primarily about securing a large customer base and therefore a greater opportunity to cross sell its pay-TV products. City analysts suggest British Sky Broadcasting may now seek to buy EE's broadband business which has nearly 700,000 customers.
Lloyds Banking (LLOY) retreated 7.8% to 50.17p after publishing its full-year results. The government needs to decide when to sell its stake in Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), as we discuss here.
FTSE 100 miner Glencore (GLEN) dipped 3.7% to 373.3p after pushing back the date to complete its £50 billion takeover of Xstrata (XTA) for the third time. Full-year results are due next week (Tuesday 5 March) where investors will demand to know why it is taking so long to seal the deal.
William Hill (WMH) advanced 7.1% to 433.5p after confirming plans to buy out online partner Playtech (PTEC) for £424 million. A rights issue and the purchase price are bigger than expected by analysts, as we discuss in detail here.
A 3.1% correction in FTSE 250 events group UBM (UBM) is profit taking rather than a reaction to any nasty surprise in the full-year numbers published today. The £1.9 billion cap has rallied hard in anticipation of the disposal of its data services businesses and now that has happened the investment case is more a long-term story of building up its events operations, with particular exposure to emerging markets.
The finals confirm that UBM's events operations are performing in line with expectations with 11.9% organic revenue growth versus a long-term target of 12% to 14% and in line with analyst expectations. United believes it can grow events in the low single digits by expanding into emerging markets and a reported 18.1% jump in emerging market revenues is encouraging from this perspective.
Rightmove's (RMV) finals see it further deepen penetration into the UK property marketing space. Rather than driven by market share gains, a 23% increase in revenues to £119.4 million was propelled forward by increased average revenue per advertiser, up 19% to £529 per month. Its shares advanced 1.9% to £17.56.
Life insurer Old Mutual (OML) advanced 1.1% to 204.8p after reporting full-year earnings and dividend ahead of expectations. It made an operating profit of £1.6 billion for 2012 and will pay a 7p per share dividend, versus consensus of 6.5p.
One of the biggest stocks on Aim, Songbird Estates (SBD:AIM) jumped 2.3% to 143p after the £1 billion cap bought the long leasehold interest in 7 Westferry Circus in London's Canary Wharf. It paid £46.6 million for the eight-storey office and retail building, which generates £6.9 million annual rent, a yield of 14%.
Stagecoach (SGC) dipped 0.6% to 295.7p after flagging that bad weather in the US and the ongoing cost of building its North American intercity coach business would lower the division's shor- term operating profit expectations. Overall profitability expectations for the group as a whole remains unchanged as US travails have been offset by continued good trading in its UK businesses and lower finance charges.
Rising housing demand has fuelled the rally in Taylor Wimpey (TW.), rising 1% to 81.9p on the back of positive full-year results. The housebuilder has doubled in price since June 2012. It today reports a 44% rise in operating profit to £230.1 million for 2012. Management are cautiously optimistic about trading conditions this year.
Cleaner of Tesco uniforms-to-door mats for office buildings, Berendsen (BRSN) advanced 1.8% to 695p on the back of full-year results. It continues to grow operating margins and generate lots of cash. Pre-tax profit has jumped 20% to £94.9 million and shareholders are getting a 9% higher dividend. The shares have risen 50% in value since last summer.
Full-year results nudged up £661 million cap component maker Laird (LRD) 0.4% to 248.9p. Underlying pre-tax profit has jumped 17% to £60.7 million. That offsets lower-than-expected revenues of £520.2 million. It will pay 10p dividend for the year, putting the stock on a 4% yield. Investors are likely to see slow start to 2013 but an accelerating trend is possible as strategic rethink action starts to pay off.
Car dealer Vertu Motors (VTU: AIM) clicked into gear, revving up 4.5% to 42p on a strong pre-close trading update. The £80 million cap says full-year results will beat consensus with Vertu enjoying like-for-like volume growth ahead of the market in both new and used cars and benefiting from improved operating margins. Vertu says new car orders for March are ahead of last year, 'reflecting a continued recovery in the retail market for new cars'. Investment bank Espirito Santo upgraded its full-year profit forecast by £100,000 to £8.1 million. Sticking with its 'buy' rating and 62p price target, it says: 'There is scope for material margin expansion and earnings upgrades as acquired businesses continue to be turned around.'
Athens-based Goldenport (GPRT) shed 5.3% to 36p after the £35.4 million cap shipping services group cautioned over cash flow visibility. Chief executive John Dragnis has bemoaned a lack of liquidity in the ship finance market during 2012, mainly driven by the exit of a number of shipping banks from the sector. Full-year results from Goldenport will be announced on 21 March.
Talent management software supplier NetDimensions (NETD:AIM) has made an interesting move with a $3.5 million (£2.3 million) eHealthcareIT acquisition. Its shares advanced 3.5% to 43.5p on the news which looks a savvy move to provide career planning, training and incentives to top doctors and nurses across hospital organisations across US and overseas.
Continuing its long run of impressive exploration success, Indonesia-based gold producer Archipelago Resources (AR.:AIM) nudged up 4.9% to 54p after its latest drilling results were published. Analysts are getting excited about a resource update due by the end of the month, given the string of high-quality drill results on land around its Toka Tindung mine which will either help to extend the mine life or give Archipelago confidence to increase its production rates.
A sponsorship deal with Blackthorn Cider failed to move shares in Rangers International Football Club (RFC:AIM), flat at 79.5p. It reports half-year results on Monday (4 March).
Uranium explorer Forte Energy (FTE:AIM) dived 20.9% to 1.4p after scrapping an undisclosed corporate transaction, thought to be the purchase of land next to its Mauritanian prospect.
News of an acquisition fired machine gun maker Manroy (MAN:AIM) up 2.1% at 57.2p. The £10 million market cap agreed to pay £800,000 in cash for private UK production engineering businesses Base and RJL.
Shares in North Sea oil explorer Valiant Petroleum (VPP:AIM) were up 27% to 440p after agreeing to a £203 million cash and paper takeover offer. The acquiring company Ithaca Energy (IAE:AIM), which is being targeted by activist investor JEC Capital, fell 9.9% to 115.5p