Football pools provider Sportech (SPO) soared 20.1% to 109p in response to news that it has won a battle against the tax man. A court case ruled that Sportech was wrong to have paid VAT on its 'Spot the Ball' game between 1979 and 1996. It will now get £40 million rebate plus interest which should give Sportech at least £80 million cash. Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has until 30 April to appeal.
Internet-based insurer Esure is set to raise £50 million when it lists in London later this month (27 Mar). The home and motor insurer is looking to emulate Direct Line’s (DLG) successful debut in October and has set a range of between 240p and 310p a share, the middle of which equates to a £1.1 billion market value. This will be enough to put Esure into the FTSE 250 at the next index quarterly reshuffle.
Branded cookers maker and supplier AGA Rangemaster's (AGA) share price warmed up by a penny at 86p on full-year results. Pre-tax profits sparked up 12% to £8.4 million despite turnover off 2.5% at £244.6 million, as AGA, whose best known product is the iconic AGA cast iron cooker, achieved efficiency gains and cut costs amid tough consumer markets. Investors shrugged off the £59 million cap's passing of the final dividend, as this had already been expected, preferring to focus on news of a pick up in trading in February following a slow January. With a 95p target price and 'buy' recommendation on the stock, broker N+1 Singer notes that 'the end to 2012 and Jan 2013 were disappointing as emergent momentum disappeared. However, trading picked up in Feb and core indicators are encouraging in key markets. Housing activity has picked up recently, most notably in the US, and this should combine well with all the self-help initiatives.'
Shares in world-leading photo booth operator Photo-Me International (PHTM) shed 0.5p at 75.5p despite the posting of a strong third quarter update. Profits in the quarter to January, traditionally the company's quietest, were ahead of last year, driven by cost savings and exceptional performances in Japan and Germany. Photo-Me, which has returned £11 million to shareholders via a special dividend today, conceded exchange rate movements had hit profits over the nine months to January, although the company insists it is on course to achieve full-year forecasts.
Advanced Computer Software (ASW:AIM) jumped 6.7% to 95p as investors lapped up its trading update and acquisition of Computer Software Holdings. This strengthens its successful buy-and-build strategy, as we discuss in detail here.
South American gold producer Orosur Mining (OMI:AIM) has parted company with chief executive officer David Fowler. The small cap advanced 1.2% to 32.5p as investors welcomed the prospect of new management following several years of share price declines.
Distributor Acal (ACL:AIM) jumped 7.3% to 235p after raising £6.1 million and buying Myrra, a magnetic electronic products manufacturer.
A near-£1 million investment in company stock by chief executive officer Bill Dobbie has failed to reverse the sell-off in online dating group Cupid (CUP:AIM). Dobbie bought 865,000 shares at 114.11p each.
Investment trust HgCapital (HGT) – which invests in private equity funds run by HgCapital – revealed strong net asset value (NAV) growth at today's finals, with the stock up 1.7% to £11.66. NAV came in at £12.22 at 31 December, up 15.3% on the year.
International provider of media services to the broadcast and entertainment markets Avesco (AVS) surged 12.8% to 216p on confirmation it may be only months away from a major windfall. It has a $60 million interest in a lawsuit being brought by Celador against Walt Disney (DIS:NYSE) which Celador effectively won yesterday (7 Mar).
North sea oil explorer Valiant Petroleum (VPP:AIM), which is subject to an agreed bid from peer Ithaca Energy (IAE:AIM), trickled up 0.3% to 461.2p after securing a farm-out deal with Maersk Oil North Sea over its Isabella prospect
Minnow energy play New World Oil & Gas (NEW:AIM) fell 4% to 3.96p despite doubling its working interest in the Danica Jutland project in Denmark to 25%.