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Wednesday
Jan142015

 
Past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future, returns are before the application of Titan’s fees, tax legislation can change and you should always take independent advice in relation to your own financial circumstances.
Monday
Sep012014

Monday's Stock Market report featuring Barclays, WPP, Perform, Shanta Gold and Benchmark Holdings 

The Markets

Confidence has fallen in the UK manufacturing sector as the August PMI for the sector dropped to 52.5 from 54.8 in July. This is the lowest level since June 2013 and it has been speculated that geopolitical concerns and the poor European economic outlook are causing a drag on sentiment in the industry. Markit Economist Rob Dobson said that “it is also becoming increasingly evident that UK industry is not immune to the impacts of rising geopolitical and global market uncertainty, especially when they affect economic growth and business confidence in our largest trading partner the eurozone. It is noticeable that where export orders were reported to have risen, companies mainly linked this to demand from North America, Asia and the Middle East, as opposed to our European partners”.

New unsecured consumer borrowing rose to over 1.1 billion pounds in July according to data from the Bank of England. This is significantly higher than June’s figure of 655 million pounds. However, monthly figures can be volatile and are often affected by weather. Analysts are unclear on the exact causes and some feel that there could be underlying structural reasons for the increase in borrowing, including Howard Archer, Chief UK Economist at IHS Global Insight. He commented, “it may well be that a significant number of people are borrowing more due to the squeeze on their purchasing power, coming from extended low earnings growth”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 18.88 points to 17,08.45 and the Nasdaq had grown by 16.29 points to 4,082.56.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 5.56 points at 6,825.31 and the FTSE 250 rose by 71.41 points to 15,957.13. The FTSE All-Share had increased by 5.03 points to 3,644.57 while the FTSE AIM Index shrank by 1.43 points to 779.07.

Broker Notes

Banking giant Barclays (BARC) has had its “buy” rating from Shore Capital re-iterated after the firm announced that it had agreed to sell the Retail Banking, Wealth and Investment Management arms of its Spanish business to CaixaBank for a cash consideration of €800 million (630 million pounds). The businesses had operated at a loss in recent years. Shore Capital feels that this disposal does not significantly affect its forecasts and that the firm remains undervalued. Barclays shares dropped by 0.55p to 223.9p.

Beaufort Securities has published a “hold” rating on troubled supermarket Tesco (TSCO) after the second downgrade to profit forecasts in the last two months were published last week. The broker said that this was disappointing, but that recently announced price cuts and the fresh appointment of Dave Lewis as CEO may put wind back in its sails. As a result of the mixed indicators Beaufort has stuck with its current rating. The shares fell by 4.5p to 225.4375p.

Beaufort says that Tesco shouldn’t be reduced to clear

Blue Chips

Advertising and public relations outfit WPP (WPP) announced that it’s majority owned South African digital media agency Aqua has bought Applogix, an ecommerce technology business. This strengthens the firm’s African operations and allows it to offer clients better technical solutions. The acquisition is in line with WPP’s current M&A strategy, which is focused on online and high growth markets around the world. No information was released regarding the size and type of consideration. The shares grew by 4p to 1,267p.

WPP: Aqua deepens digital offering

Mid Caps

Property developer Berkeley Holdings (BKG) is targeting further growth, having a portfolio of new projects with potential attributable gross margins of 1.5 billion pounds over 11,000 plots. Ground rent assets were disposed of in June for a 99.8 million pound consideration and contributed to good operational cashflow in the period between 1st May and 31st August. Management believe that the firm is well placed to meet market expectations for the full year. The shares rose by 2p to 2,400p.

Access Industries has made a new offer of 260p per share for Perform Group (PER) and the board’s recommendation is that shareholders take no action at this time. Management are confident in the digital media company’s standalone potential and continue to believe that it will meet growth expectations. First half revenues were 118 million pounds, 29% higher than the same period last year. The shares climbed by 53.7p to 257.5p.

New stage of Perform acquisition begins

Small Caps

Telephone systems provider IPPlus (IPP) recorded group revenues of 9.12 million pounds in the year ended 30th June, a 13% increase over the prior period. Profits before taxation fell to 212,483 pounds from 345,856 pounds last year, due to lease payments and impairments on intangible assets. Management believe that the coming year will be difficult, as a major contract in the Ansaback division comes to an end and the management team of another division have been replaced, The shares fell by 1p to 15.5p.

Oil & gas exploration outfit Edge Resources (EDG) produced 613 barrels of oil a day over the three months ended 30th June, a 6.2% increase over the same quarter last year. Sales for the period rose to C$3,5 million (1.94 million pounds) and the company generated cash of C$1.1 million (0.61 million pounds) which was largely used to pay down debt. The firm is planning to undertake a new capital investment programme and has recently arranged new loan facilities to help fund it. The shares dropped by 0.375p to 11.875p.

Numismatic traders Avarae Global Coins (AVR) made sales of 1.6 million pounds in the year ended 31st March, a 45% increase on the 1.1 million pounds recorded for the prior year. However, increased costs of sales led to reduced pre-tax profits of 252,000 pounds, a 28.7% decline. Value added to the portfolio via an expert revaluation was below management expectations, but the directors remain positive about the firm’s prospects. The shares declined by 0.125p.to 10.75p.

IT communications firm Castleton Technologies (CTP) has agreed to sell the trade and certain assets of its subsidiary Maxima Information to PDMS for a cash consideration of 752,000 pounds, payable in three installments between today and next March. This has completed the company’s restructuring with the firm now solely focused on developing reservation, ticketing and payroll systems. The proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in the firm. The shares closed flat at 1.35p.

Mining and exploration firm Shanta Gold (SHG) increased production by 10% over the six months ended 30th June to 42,194 ounces, contributing to revenues of $58.3 million (35.07 million pounds) and pre-tax profits of $7.7 million dollars (4.6 million pounds). Management continue to expect full year production of 80,000-83,000 ounces and will begin studies to expand the New Luika mine and extend its working life. The shares rose by 0.625p to 12.5p.

Animal health specialists Benchmark Holdings (BMK) has formed a partnership with HypoPet AG to market a new cat allergy vaccine, which the firms estimate as having a market worth 250 million pounds. Under the agreement, Benchmark will invest funds of up to CHF 12 million (7.9 million pounds) into development and expects the vaccine to be commercialised within 3-4 years. The shares rose by 1p to 85.5p.

Purr-fect partnership for Benchmark Holdings?

Friday
Aug292014

Friday's Stock Market report featuring Debenhams, Tesco, Perform Group, Seeing Machines and Electric Word

The Markets

Nationwide said that UK house prices rose by 0.8% in August, with the annual growth rate increasing from 10.6% in July to 11% this month. The lender said that the average price of a home was now 189,306 pounds, but stated that low mortgage rates have meant that housing affordability on a national level did not appear to be stretched. This growth is at odds with other surveys, including figures from the Office for National Statistics, which have shown prices continuing to moderate this month. Mark Harris from SPF Private Clients said that, “August proved to be a decent month for the housing market, even though it is traditionally a quiet time of year when not much gets done”.

Eurozone inflation fell to 0.3% in August from 0.4% in July according to new data published by Eurostat, meeting analysts’ expectations. Services made the largest contribution to inflation, while energy prices dropped by 2%. Unemployment remained unchanged at 11.5%, with the highest current figures being from Spain, which had a rate of 24.5%. Christian Schulz, Senior Economist at Berenberg, commented that the lower Inflation, “strengthens households’ real spending power, but for the ECB, the distance of actual inflation to the 2% target keeps growing. That is likely to feed into more discussions in Frankfurt about further policy easing. […} Forward-looking indicators continue to fall, raising the risk that the Eurozone recovery may be interrupted for longer”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 10.53 points to 17,117.23 and the Nasdaq had grown by 3.00 points to 4,074.67.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 13.95 points at 6,819.75 and the FTSE 250 fell by 25.14 points to 15,885.72. The FTSE All-Share rose by 5.31 points to 3,639.54 while the FTSE AIM Index grew by 1.53 points to 780.50.

Broker Notes

Insurance and pensions outfit Chesnara (CSN) has kept its “buy” rating from Panmure Gordon after the firm published a strong set of results for the first half of the year. In particular, one of the company’s Swedish businesses that was previously in difficulty appears to have turned around and is materially contributing to the group. The broker anticipates that there will be additional value added to the firm via acquisitions in the coming year. Chesnara shares rose by 7.75p to 332p.

Informa (INF) has been downgraded from “add” to “neutral” by Westhouse Securities as the publishing and events firm outperformed the market by around 6%. The broker now believes that the share price is now within 5% of a fair valuation. Informa’s results did represent positive business momentum, despite ongoing weakness in the Business Intelligence segment, and Westhouse feels that the firm remains a solid medium term investment. The shares fell by 10p to 516p.

N+1 Singer have upgraded Debenhams (DEB) to a “buy” rating ahead of the department store chain’s full year results. The broker believes that the stock is currently oversold and expects that results will be in line with forecasts. N+1 Singer believes that there is much still to do before the firm returns to stable profit growth, but that the shares are likely to recover slightly in August. Debenhams shares grew by 1.2p to 66.45p.

N+1 Singer find a bargain in Debenhams

Blue Chips

SABMiller (SAB) has completed the disposal of the South African hotel and hospitality business Tsogo Sun for net proceeds of ZAR 10.6 billion (0.6 billion pounds). The brewer no longer holds any shares in Tsogo Sun and its representatives resigned from the board yesterday after Tsogo Sun’s purchase of the last remaining equity held by SAB Miller was confirmed. Shares in the company rose by 11p to 3,323p.

In yet another profit warning, troubled supermarket chain Tesco (TSCO) has notified investors that it now expects trading profits for its current financial year to be 2.4 - 2.5 billion pounds. In addition, the proposed interim dividend has been set at 1.16p, 75% lower than last year. Management say that trading conditions have continued to be difficult and that the benefits from its investment programme are not materialising as quickly as had been hoped. Dave Lewis’ starting date as CEO has been brought forward to 1st September. The shares fell by 16.35p to 229.95p.

Every little help needed for Tesco?

Mid Caps

Textiles cleaning and maintenance firm Berendsen (BRSN) recorded a 1% decline in revenues to 517.3 million pounds in the first half of the year, with the company substantially affected by the strength of sterling. Costs associated with UK plant consolidation following recent acquisitions were 1.2 million pounds, but overall profits before taxation rose by 8% 50.6 million pounds. The shares fell by 23p to 1,067p.

Online gambling operation Bwin.party Digital (BPTY) saw declining year-on-year revenues from poker and casino games over the six months ended 30th June, with this outweighing a good performance in the sports betting division as the group loss before tax increased from €9.1 million (7.22 million pounds) last year to €100.5 million (79.79 million pounds). Management intend to make further cost savings and simplify operations to focus on core business areas. The shares rose by 10.15p to 90.3p.

Digital media outfit Perform Group (PER) posted revenues of 118.8 million pounds for the six months ended 30th June, a 29% increase over the same period of 2013. Display advertising performed well, particularly during the World Cup, contributing to a 40.4% increase of website visitor numbers. However, losses before taxation rose to 4.18 million pounds from 2.64 million last year. The share price declined by 9.8p to 203.8p.

Digital media fails to Perform

Small Caps

Vehicle monitoring systems manufacturer Seeing Machines (SEE) increased revenues by 39% to A$17.7 million (9.97 million pounds) million pounds) over the year ended 30th June. Margins were improved due to a more favourable product mix and the disposal of non-core business, but the firm made a pre-tax loss of A$2.7 million due to investment in R&D and expansion into new markets. Management expect commercialisation of the firm’s offering to accelerate in the current financial year. The shares fell by 0.125p to 4.875p.

Research and development organisation Oxford Advanced Surfaces (OXA) posted revenues of 19,000 pounds for the six months ended 30th June, up from 3,000 pounds in the prior year. The company has cash holdings of 2.2 million pounds and had an operational outflow of 0.48 million pounds, down from 0.87 million pounds in the same period of last year and is considering methods of restructuring. Oxford Advanced Surfaces shares dropped by 0.625p to 2p.

Falklands focused oil and gas explorer Argos Resources (ARG) recorded no revenues over the six months ended 30th June and lost $0.7 million (0.42 million pounds). The company is continuing to pursue a number of leads within its license areas and estimates that there may be 3.1 billion recoverable barrels of oil in the most likely cases. The shares closed flat at 12p.

Mineral exploration outfit Beowulf Mining (BEM) lost 1.3 million pounds during the six months ended 30th June and held cash of roughly 0.57 million pounds at the period end. As a result of this, the firm has placed shares and raised funds from shareholders post-balance sheet. Management remain confident in the long term prospects of the firm and are working to secure mining licenses to capitalise on substantial iron deposits that the company has found at its Kallak site. The shares rose by 0.125p to 3.1p.

Business information specialist Electric Word (ELE) increased revenues from continuing operations by 6% to 6.8 million pounds for the six months ended 31st May, as strong results from the gaming and sports divisions and new high yield products lifted the business. The firm’s pre-tax loss fell to 0.46 million pounds and management confidence in the overall growth of the business means that investment in product development will be increased. The shares closed down by 0.025p at 3.6p.

Flooring and carpet specialists Victoria (VCP) recorded revenues of 71.39 million pounds in the year ended 29th March, a 0.6% increase over the prior period with the strength of sterling and worsening Australian performance holding back slightly stronger sales in UK markets. Management are confident of improved performance as UK housebuilder and consumer confidence improve. The shares grew by 17.5p to 197.5p.

Flooring firm Victoria steady

Thursday
Aug282014

Thursday's Stock Market report featuring WPP, Melrose Industries, Playtech, Hays and Vmoto

The Markets

The US economy grew by 1.05% over the second quarter of the year, according to the Department of Commerce’s second estimate for the period. This was driven by greater that expected consumer spending, imports and business investment and would mean an annualised figure of 4.2%, ahead of the anticipated level.. Paul Hales from Capital Economics said that, “the upward revision was due to faster business investment growth and a smaller drag from net trade more than offsetting smaller positive contributions from inventories and government spending. The alternative gross domestic income (GDI) measure suggests that the economy was even stronger in the second quarter, growing by 4.7%. What’s more, the upward revision to the growth of real personal disposable income (4.2% vs. 3.8%) bodes well for consumption growth in the second half of the year”.

The Financial Conduct Authority has fined Deutsche Bank 4.7 million pounds for misreporting 27 million transactions between 2007 and 2013. In a statement, the FCA wrote that there was “simply no excuse for Deutsche’s failure to get it right”. The transactions in question revolved around Contracts for Difference and the regulator said that other firms should be aware of a continued focus on the issue. The fine had been reduced by 30% due to the bank agreeing to settle at an early stage in proceedings.

Broker Notes

N+1 Singer kept to its “sell” rating on specialist pharmaceutical firm BTG (BTG) and continues to see the shares as over valued despite the recent approval of one of the company’s chemotherapy products for the Chinese market. The analysts had already factored this into existing forecasts, but if it is commercialised more quickly than anticipated, there may be room for an update in the expectation for FY2017. The shares dropped by 16.5p to 644.5p.

Westhouse Securities feels that advertising and PR giant WPP (WPP) remains undervalued and has a “buy” recommendation. The FTSE 100 firm recently published interim figures that showed strong constant currency growth across all segments and regions, as well as a number of large new billings that had been won in bids against major competitors. The broker continues to believe that the long-term outlook at the firm is positive, with it being a major beneficiary of structural disruption in the industry. The shares rose by 8p to 1,266p.

Diamondcorp (DCP) has retained its “buy” rating and 19p target price from Panmure Gordon after it published interim figures showing that operating expenses have almost been halved to 0.87 million pounds. The gemstones producer made sales of 0.55 million pounds from tailings production as it continued to prepare the underground section of its mine. The broker expects the next year to be exciting as the firm moves into the production phase in earnest. The shares grew by 0.125p to 7.25p.

Panmure finds a Diamondcorp in the rough

Blue Chips

Melrose Industries (MRO) recorded revenues of 780.9 million pounds for the six months ended 30th June, a reduction of 11% from the same period of 2013. However, profits before tax improved by 8.5% to 69.6 million pounds as costs of sales and operating expenses dropped sharply. The company is looking for new acquisition targets and management view the uneven economic recovery as creating potential opportunities for growth. The shares fell by 2.7p to 276p.

Melrose manufactures improved profits

Mid Caps

Oil & gas equipment manufacturer Hunting (HTG) improved on a disappointing first quarter to deliver revenues of $687.5 million (414.2 million pounds), a 4.8% improvement on the group’s performance in the prior year. Strong demand from Asia and the Gulf of Mexico made up for slowing activity in the North Sea and the negative effects of severe weather conditions in the United States. Management expect full year results to be in line with prior expectations. The shares increased by 17.5p to 912p.

Recruitment specialists Hays (HAS) earned net fees of 724.9 million pounds over the year ended 30th June, a 1% increase on the prior period. The firm was significantly affected by the increased strength of sterling, but overseas incomes still contributed substantially to improved operating profits. Overall pre-tax profits rose by 12% to 132.3 million pounds. The company has continued to trade strongly in the current period. Hays shares rose by 2.4p to 131.8p.

Online gaming software firm Playtech (PTEC) posted total revenues of €214.4 million (170.3 million pounds) for the six months ended 30th June, a 21% increase on the same period last year due to the roll-out of a number of major projects for firms such as William Hill and Coral. The group also signed new deals with major companies in the UK and the Netherlands. Management are confident that full year performance will exceed market expectations. Playtech shares grew by 49.5p to 712.5p.

Playtech hit the jackpot?

Small Caps

X-ray imaging organisation Kromek (KMK) made a pre-tax loss of 4.29 million pounds in the year ended 30th April, a worsening of its result from the prior year due to the full integration of loss-making acquisitions, investments in marketing and sales, and higher interest charges. Revenues grew to 5.97 million from 2.69 million in the prior year. However, the firm has received a number of contracts after the period end and retains a good sales pipeline. The shares dropped by 0.5p to 50p.

Gold production outfit Amara Mining (AMA) made a loss before taxation of $11.5 million dollars during the six months ended 30th June. The company’s ongoing mining operations in Burkina Faso will be abandoned by the start of 2015 and operated at a loss during the current period after making a profit in the prior year. Management are conducting studies at a number of potential new sites throughout Africa. The shares rose by 1.125p to 25p.

Procurement consultants Inspired Energy (INSE) posted revenues of 5 million pounds for the six months ended 30th June 2014, an increase of 41% over last year’s performance during the same period. Both the corporate and SME divisions performed well and pre-tax profits rose 44% to 1.15 million pounds. Management expect further growth in the full year results. The shares fell by 0.125p to 12.875p.

Premium electric scooter seller Vmoto (VMT) produced 33,705 units in the six months ended 30th June, a 33% increase on the prior year that contributed to a 62% rise in revenues. The firm expanded its distribution network further in to key Chinese, Brazilian and Indonesian markets and DHL Hong Kong trial are currently testing Vmoto scooters. Profits before taxation for the continuing operations were $210,000 (126,500 pounds). The shares fell by 0.05p to 2.25p.

Technology and intellectual property group Tekcapital (TEK) expanded its marketing team and opened three new offices in the six months ended 31st May. The firm raised 2 million pounds in its April IPO, The company’s pre-tax loss for the period, excluding IPO costs, was 230 thousand pounds. Management believe that the firm has meaningfully expanded its service offering in the current period, with new acquisitions and the company expects substantial net client growth this quarter. The shares grew by 0.625p to 22p.

Healthcare facility operator Circle Holdings (CIRC) treated 21,520 day cases and inpatients during the six months ended 30th June, a 6% increase on the same period of the prior year. Group revenues rose by 11.4% to 48.9 million pounds. However, the operating loss only fell by 5.3% to 10.01 million pounds. The company is reconsidering it’s plans to expand in to Manchester and is intending to restructure and rebuild its partnership incentive scheme. The shares declined by 2.5p to 63.5p.

Circle Healthcare still in treatment?

Wednesday
Aug272014

Wednesday's Stock Market report featuring Manchester United, Darty, 888 Holdings, Tyratech and David Lenigas 

The Markets

German consumer confidence has fallen for the first time since January last year as escalating geopolitical pressures and the weakening Eurozone economy contributed to increasing uncertainty. The poll carried out by DfK found evidence of a “collapse” in economic expectations as both “willingness to buy” and “income expectations” have dropped by significant amounts, although both figures retain relatively high levels at the current time. The pollsters concluded that, “Consumers are increasingly taking the intensified geopolitical situation into consideration in their assessment of how the German economy will develop over the coming months. […] A decline of this magnitude in just one month has not been recorded since the survey began in 1980. Consequently, virtually all improvement in the economic expectations indicator over the past year has been negated in one fell swoop.

UK food prices rose at the lowest rate for ten years during the 12 weeks to the end of August, with costs rising by 0.8% over the period, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. Prices of staple goods were particularly subdued, with growth of just 0.2% as supermarkets engaged in a battle for market share. The data agency believes that discounters such as Aldi and higher end retailers like Waitrose have been outperforming the wider market.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 10.53 points to 17,117.23 and the Nasdaq had grown by 3.00 points to 4,074.67.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 4.45 points at 6,827.21 and the FTSE 250 rose by 22.88 points to 16,020.88. The FTSE All-Share increased by 3.01 points to 3,647.51 while the FTSE AIM Index grew by 8.44 points to 778.76.

Broker Notes

Panmure Gordon reiterated its “buy” rating on defence business Chemring (CHG) as the situation in the Middle East intensifies and as NATO has said that troops will be deployed to new Eastern European bases to counter potential threats from Russia. The broker believes that the munitions and equipment manufacturer is well placed to benefit from any emergent conflict and therefore expects EPS growth in 2015 and 2016 to exceed the market consensus view. The shares fell rose by 0.75p to 229.75p.

Software developer Publishing Technology (PTO) had its “buy” rating retained by Westhouse Securities after the firm signed a deal with the Chinese academic and trade publisher Zhonghua Book Company via its joint venture in the country. No financial information on the deal has been released. The firm will adapt its existing online platform to allow Zhonghua Book Company to publish and manage its back catalogue on the web. Westhouse believes that this deal will help Publishing Technology advance further into potentially lucrative Chinese language markets. The shares grew by 15p to 192.5p.

Electronics retailer Darty (DRTY) has also held onto its “buy” rating, from N+1 Singer, ahead of the firm publishing its interim results. The analysts feel that while the last set of revenue figures disappointed, a combination of strong margins and the World Cup having a positive effect on demand for electronics will lead the company to low single figure growth in the core French, Belgian and Dutch markets. The broker continues to see significant further growth potential. The shares increased by 1.25p to 82.25p.

N+1 Singer still feeling Darty

Blue Chips

Exploration and liquefied natural gas firm BG Group (BG) has announced that a second drill-stem test in the Mzia block off the southern coast of Tanzania provided further support for a hub project to supply a potential onshore LNG project. Management said that the “results from this latest drill-stem test further reduce reservoir risk, a critical factor as we progress design of the upstream production facilities and infrastructure. Also, the Mzia-3 DST, along with previous appraisal activities, supports our efforts to optimise the value of a development across our Block 1 discoveries”. The shares grew by 4.5p to 1,205p.

Football club Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) fell by $0.17 (12.8p) to $17.49 (1,325p) on the back of a shock early exit from the Capital One League Cup. No brokers have given updates at the current time, but GECR said that “the performance was not encouraging, as regarding the possibility of next year’s chances for Champions League football, but we can not neglect the experience of the management team and the ongoing possibility of a quick improvement in fortunes”. The team has made significant investment in players and hope last season’s lowest finish in a generation will not translate into ongoing financial malaise.

Devils looking to end deeper in the red?

Mid Caps

Steel and vanadium outfit Evraz (EVR) posted revenues of $6.8 billion (4.1 billion pounds) in the six months ended 30th June, a 7% decline from the $7.3 billion (4.4 billion pounds) earned in the same period of last year. Sales volumes fell by 4% in the firm’s core steel business and revenues from the division dropped by 8% due to global overcapacity in the industry. Management have implemented cost reduction strategies to maintain competitiveness in the face of continuing pressure on margins. The shares fell by 0.5p to 113.4p.

Online gaming firm 888 Holdings (888) increased its first half revenues by 13% to $225.1 million (135.8 million pounds) with a 40% increase in the outfit’s business to business sales. However, profits before taxation fell by 4% to $34 million (20.5 million pounds) due to foreign exchange fluctuations. The company had a strong World Cup performance and management are confident heading in to the rest of the year. The shares dropped by 2.25p to 128.25p.

Marine services provider James Fisher and Sons (FSJ) recorded revenues of 216.1 million pounds during the first half of 2014, an 8% improvement over the same period of prior year despite adverse currency effects. The group’s performance was driven by a number of major contract wins, particularly in the offshore oil division, which recorded a profit increase of over 30%. Overall profits before taxation were 20.79 million pounds. The shares rose by 15p to 1,370p.

James Fisher nets new contracts

Small Caps

Life sciences firm Tyratech (TYR) has announced that Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores will stock the company’s range of head lice treatments from September, in addition to previously announced arrangements with Superdrug and Boots. The products have successfully launched in the US and are carried in over 4,000 stores in the country. The firm had total revenues of $1.4 million (0.84 million pounds) in 2013, but expects to significantly improve its performance this year. The shares rose by 1p to 10.125p.

David Lenigas is stepping down from the board of his eponymous exploration firm Leni Gas & Oil (LGO) as well as African explorer Polemos (PLMO) to focus on developments at Rare Earth Minerals, AfriAg and other companies where he holds directorships. Mr. Lenigas said that he remains committed to the firms’ success, but that it was time to “put the big lads in charge”. Share in Leni Gas & Oil closed down by 0.025p at 3.5625p and shares in Polemos dropped by 0.035p to 0.125p..

Meanwhile, Rare Earth Minerals (REM) itself further progressed its Mexican lithium project during the six months ended 30th June, with ongoing testing increasing the estimated reserves and confirming 99.5% lithium carbonate purity. The company recorded no revenues, but the management remain confident in the long term value of the held assets and believe that current trends in the lithium market could be extremely beneficial to the company. The shares rose by 0.125p to 1.58p.

Ultrasound training and education solutions business Medaphor Group (MED) has raised 4.7 million pounds via the issue of new shares at a placing price of 50p. The proceeds of the fundraising will principally be used to fund the expansion of the company’s sales network and the development of new applications for Medaphor’s training platform. The shares were admitted to trading on AIM this morning and closed at 55p.

Real estate developer Rose Group (RGI) increased revenues twelve times over in the six months ended 30th June, with sales of $140 million (84.4 million pounds) compared with $11 million (6.6 million pounds) in the same period of 2013. The increase came due to the completion of a major Russian construction project and the firm expects to have sold all 1,193 apartments in the development by the end of the year. However, there are difficulties at two other projects as the group’s partners have failed to fulfill their obligations and legal action is underway, leading the management to book a $48 million (28.9 million pound) impairment on the developments. The shares rose by $0.05 (3p) to $1.83 (1.1p).

Ceramics manufacturer and distributor Churchill China (CHH) announced that revenues in the first half of the year were 20.9 million pounds, an increase of 6% over the same period of the prior year. Profits before tax rose 0.3 million pounds to 1.4 million pounds on the back of improved sales, manufacturing efficiency and product mixtures. Management expect growth to moderate in the second half due to stronger comparatives, but believe that full year results will be strong. The shares rose by 17.5p to 460p.

Fruit and vegetable outfit Fyffes (FFY) grew revenues to €592.8 million (471.4 million pounds) in the six months to 30th June. While production rose this was largely offset by a drop in prices. Profit before taxation rose by 7.4% to €22.2 million (17.65 million pounds). Management remain committed to a merger with peer Chiquita and estimate that such a deal would lead to annual cost savings of $60 million (36.2 million pounds). The shares increased by 3.5p to 78.5p.

No slip-ups at Fyffes