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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.
Wednesday
Sep172014

Wednesday's Stock Market report featuring boohoo, Chemring, JD Sports, Pennant and Sierra Rutile

The Markets

UK unemployment fell to its lowest level since 2008 during the three months to 31st July, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. According to the labour force survey data, 2.02 million people remained out of work, meaning that the unemployment rate dropped to 6.2%, from 6,4% in the prior period. Under the claimant count method, there were 975,000 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. John Philpott, director at Jobs Economist, said that, “although the UK labour market continues to improve, there are tentative signs in the latest figures that the balance between job creation and pay growth may have started to shift”.

Consumer prices in the US fell in August for the first time since April 2013. The rate of inflation fell from 0.1% in July to -0.2% in the last month driven by a 4.1% drop in fuel costs. However, overall prices have risen by 1.7% year-on-year and food prices rose by 0.2% due to the ongoing effects of drought in California. The unexpected drop is likely to influence monetary policy and Paul Dales of Capital Economics said that, “the further softening in US price pressures evident in August’s CPI data ease the pressure on the Fed to amend its “considerable time” rate pledge at today’s policy meeting”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 8.96 points to 16,996.47 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 42.17 points to 4,027.06.

In London the FTSE 100 closed down by 11.34 points at 6,780.90 and the FTSE 250 fell by 16.33 points to 15,576.72. The FTSE All-Share had decreased by 5.62 points to 3,610.73 while the FTSE AIM Index fell by 1.71 points to 763.64.

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Broker Notes

Shore Capital initiated coverage of boohoo.com (BOO) with a “buy” rating and 47p target price, with the broker feeling that there is still good upside available from the fashion outfit despite the shares’ recent strong performance. Online fashion is a growth sector, according to the broker, and Shore feels that Boohoo possesses significant technological advantages relative to key rivals yet continues to be undervalued relative to the industry. The shares rose by 2.5p to 50p.

Westhouse Securities continue to recommend a “sell” on defense equipment Chemring (CHG) after quarterly results showed revenues were down by 29.9% year-on-year, suggesting an organic decline on top of challenging currency conditions. Chemring said that full year expectations were unchanged, but current revenue performance will make Westhouse’s second half forecast of around 223 million pounds difficult to meet. The shares rose by 2p to 238p.

Market research and marketing outfit Cello (CLL) has retained its “buy” rating from N+1 Singer after the firm published its latest set of interim results showing higher than expected profits before tax of 4.4 million pounds. The broker expects organic growth to continue in the current period and through the next year, as Cello continue to invest in product development. The shares grew by 1p to 93.5p.

Cello hits all the right notes for N+1 Singer

Blue Chips.

Technology firm Smiths (SMIN) posted revenues of 2.95 billion pounds for the year ended 31st July, a 5% decline, substantially caused by the strength of sterling. Commercial difficulties in the detection arm of the business also put pressure on the group’s results, as the division faced difficult trading conditions and one-off charges of 30 million pounds. Pre-tax profits declined by 11% to 446 million pounds. Management remain broadly optimistic, but have concerns regarding the defense and healthcare industries where government financing is likely to become tighter in coming years. The shares fell by 81p to 1,268p.

Smiths detects problems in detection

Mid Caps

Processor technology outfit Imagination Technologies (IMG) traded well from 1st May to date, with licencing activity and royalty revenues meeting management expectations. Despite improvements in the royalty rate from last year, the ongoing currency situation has had an adverse impact on revenues. Performance is expected to improve in the second half of the year due to the normal seasonal weighting of business. The firm continues to expect 10% revenue growth over the full year and costs are being subject to tight controls. The shares rose by 10.5p to 199.5p.

Drug manufacturer Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) has completed the acquisition of Ben Venue Laboratories. The purchase includes four manufacturing sites in the United States that are currently inactive and the firm will move certain equipment from these facilities to improve capacity at other plants in North America and Europe. An R&D facility was also part of the deal and management believe that this will significantly improve the firm’s research capabilities. The shares declined by 8p to 1,608p.

Revenues for the six months ended 2nd August at clothing retailer JD Sports Fashion (JD) rose by 27% to 721.4 million pounds, but gross margins fell by 120 basis points to 47.6% due to increased activity in lower margin online business. Despite the weakened margins profits before tax rose by 170% to 16.4 million pounds and management fell that the upper ends of full year market expectations are achievable. Broker N+1 Singer has a “buy” stance and 500p target on the shares, which closed the day up by 17.1p at 425.1p.

JD sports improved revenues

Small Caps

Logistics and data services providers Pennant (PEN) has won a new contract with the Canadian Government to provide software support to the Department for National Defense. The initial contract has a maximum value of CA$7.9 million (4.4 million pounds) over two years and the option for the the contract to be extended until 2019 and the maximum value increased to CA$19.7 million (11.0 million pounds). The shares rose by 4p to 89p.

Business software developer EG Solutions (EGS) recorded revenues of 3.9 million pounds over the six months ended 31st July, a 78% increase over the 2.2 million pounds achieved in the same period of last year. Substantial margin improvements have occurred as investments made in the prior period have borne fruit and the firm made a profit before tax of 621 million pounds. The shares grew by 5.5p to 80p.

Digital marketing agency XLMedia (XLM) made revenues of $19.9 million (12.2 million pounds) over the six months ended 30th June, a 24% increase over the prior year due to accelerated growth in newer territories. In the current period, the firm has made three new acquisitions and is in the process of integrating these operations with its existing business. The share price decreased by 5.5p to 55p.

Sierra Leone focused exploration and mining firm Sierra Rutile (SRX) produced 56,060 tonnes of Rutile in the first half of 2014, 8% above the same period last year but revenues fell due to $64.1 million (39.2 million pounds) due to reduced market prices outweighing a 34% increase in sales volumes. Losses before taxation were $3.8 million (2.3 million pounds), a major decline from last year’s $3.7 million (2.2 million pounds). The shares fell by 0.5p to 32.5p.

Monitoring and measurement equipment manufacturer Transense Technologies (TRT) posted sales of 3.6 million pounds for the year ended 30th June, a 138% increase over those in the prior period. The company’s loss before tax fell by over 50% to 1.1 million pounds. With some product classes moving into profit, management are confident that the remainder will follow over the current period, with strong growth expected in 2015. The shares declined 0.25p to 5.125p.

First half revenues at water treatment and monitoring firm Modern Water (MWG) were 1.51 million pounds, an increase from the 1.48 million pounds earned in the same period of last year. The firm has made progress in reducing overheads, but the loss before tax grew to 2.47 million pounds from 2.31 million in the first half of 2013. The group retains cash holdings of 8.8 million pounds. The shares fell by 1.25p to 27.75p.

Cash flows out at Modern Water

Tuesday
Sep162014

Tuesday's Stock Market Report featuring Aveva, AstraZeneca, ASOS, Thomas Cook and Rightster 

The Markets

UK inflation fell to 1.5% in August, a decline of 10 basis points from July according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. Falls in the cost of food and fuel were the largest contributors to the drop, which was partially offset by rising prices for clothing and alcohol. The decline moves inflation further away from the Bank of England’s 2% inflation target and may reduce the likelihood of interest rates being increased in the near future. Howard Archer, Chief Economist at IHS Global Insight, said he suspects “low inflation, current very weak earnings growth, and the increased downside risks to economic activity coming from heightened geopolitical tensions and stuttering eurozone economic activity will cause the Bank of England to hold off from acting until February”.

New official figures show that house prices hit record highs in six regions of the UK in July. The East Midlands, West Midlands,South West of England, South East of England and London have now all exceeded the prior peaks from before the financial crisis. Across the country, house prices rose by 11.7% in the year to 31st July, with the average price having now reached 272,000 pounds. Chris Williamson, Chief Economist of Markit, said that the continued high rises “add to worries that the property market poses a key risk to financial stability”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had decreased by 86.51 points to 17,117.65 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 19.44 points to 4,049.32.

In London the FTSE 100 closed down by 11.97 points at 6,792.24 and the FTSE 250 fell by 56.18 points to 15,593.05. The FTSE All-Share had decreased by 7.79 points to 3,616.24 while the FTSE AIM Index fell by 7.51 points to 765.17.

Broker Notes

Engineering services outfit Babcock International (BAB) has been rated “hold” by Shore Capital in light of ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Scottish referendum. Shore believes that Babcock will retain its contract to service the UK’s nuclear deterrent regardless of the result, but has concerns about the costs of any potential relocation for other staff and services, as well as questions regarding the firm’s pension scheme. However, the company’s international prospects should be unaffected. The shares rose by 20p to 1,060p.

Software and service group Aveva (AVV) has been upgraded from “neutral” to “add” by Westhouse Securities, but the broker has simultaneously cut its forecasts for the firm’s 2015 pre-tax profits by 20 million pounds to 68 million pounds. Westhouse believes that a number of Aveva’s problems may right themselves in the second half of this year, particularly those relating to the timing of payments and the strength of sterling, and expects that the firm’s current financial woes will prove temporary. The shares fell by 44.00p to 1,533p.

N+1 Singer has reiterated its “buy” rating and 585p target price on N Brown Group (BWNG) after the online retailer published a trading statement for the second quarter. Like for like sales were 3.2% lower than the same period last last year, but the broker feels that this is part and parcel of the strategic changes being carried out by the firm. N+1 Singer believe that margins have been improved and that the number of new customers is encouraging for the firm’s long-term success. The shares fell by 19.6p to 385.4p

N Brown still in fashion at N+1 Singer, despite drop in sales

Blue Chips.

Pharmaceutical firms AstraZeneca (AZN) and Eli Lilly have announced that they will jointly develop and commercialise an enzyme inhibitor that may have potential as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Phase 1 trials have been positive and the treatment will now more to registration trials with Eli Lilly providing up to $500 million (309.1 million pounds) in development and regulatory milestone payments and half of the commercialisation costs in exchange for a share in net global revenues from the product. The shares fell by 33.5p to 4,511.5p.

AstraZeneca hopes enzyme partnership will catalyse returns

Mid Caps

House building outfit Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) traded well over the period between 1st May and 5th September, according to the firm’s latest trading update. All reservations required for the firm to meet it’s full year completions target have been made and it is expected that volumes will end up being 15% higher than the prior year. The sales environment has slowed down in recent months and returned to more normal seasonal trends as the energy from the launch of Help to Buy dissipated. Results for the year ending 31st October will be published in January. The shares fell by 10.9p to 326p.

Also in the house building sector, Galliford Try (GFRD) posted group revenues of 1.76 billion pounds for the year ended 30th June, a 21% increase over the prior year, driven by increased volumes and sales prices. Profits before taxation rose by 28% to 95.2 million pounds and the firm will increase its dividend 43% to 53p. Management believe that the sector will continue to perform well through 2015, with over 34% of target sales for the year already arranged. The shares dropped by 27p to 1,211p.

Management at travel agent Thomas Cook Group (TCG) are encouraged by the group’s progress towards strategic targets, particularly with underlying earnings before interest and tax, which is expected to increase by between 39% and 48% over the prior year. Online sales have been particularly notable and the recent downturn in German consumer confidence. Shore Capital stockbrokers continue to rate Thomas Cook as a “buy” and have a target price of 130p. The shares fell by 8p to 122p.

Thomas Cook still en route to meeting targets

Small Caps

Online fashion retailer ASOS (ASC) recorded sales of 240 million pounds over the three months to 31st August, a 15% increase over the same period last year despite considerable currency headwinds. The strongest growth was in the UK and the EU also performed well, but revenues from the US were flat and sales declined elsewhere in the world. Gross margins fell by 640 basis points compared to 2013.

The firm stated that profit before tax for the year to August will be in line with market expectations, but only after adjusting for insurance proceeds from the fire at the firm’s Barnsley warehouse earlier in the year. ASOS said that lost sales during the quarter attributable to the fire were between 25-30 million pounds, with a retail gross margin impact of c.200 basis points. Broker N+1 Singer called the year an “annus horribilis” for ASOS, it having a “hold” stance, a 3,000p target and advising to switch into smaller rival boohoo.com. ASOS shares fell by 215p to 2,207p.

Tracking solutions provider Ubisense (UBI) posted revenues of 17.3 million pounds for the six months to 30th June, a 4.9 million pound increase over the first half of 2013 as market traction for the firm’s B2B offerings strengthened. However, the loss before taxation deepened to 2.01 million pounds due to high amortisation on intangible assets. The shares closed flat at 172p.

Recruiter Hydrogen Group (HYDG) saw net fee income fall by 8% to 14.6 million pounds over the half year ended 30th June. Management believes that the firm’s cost saving measures are already generating visible improvements, as administrative costs are 2% lower than last year, but the firm made a pre-tax loss of 1.1 million pounds, which compares poorly with the 1.3 million pounds profit from the same period of 2013. Broker Shore Capital said that, “…the valuation remains attractive relative to its peers.” The shares fell by 1p to 85.5p.

UK and Norway focused oil and gas explorer Ithaca Energy (IAE) has completed a flow test at a new development well on the Stella field, achieving a flow rate of 12,005 boepd. This is the 4th well on the field with a net reservoir of 1,658 feet and it was forecast that the field as a whole is capable of producing 30,000 boepd, Management view this test as a significant step in realising the field’s value. The shares rose by 1p to 130p.

Online video services firm Rightster (RSTR) posted net revenues of 1.9 million pounds in the six months ended 30th June, over 350% higher than the prior year as monthly views more than doubled. The firm’s pre-tax loss shrunk slightly to 7.2 million pounds from 8,5 million pounds in 2015, and the firm retains cash of 16 million pounds after a successful placement of 75 million shares was made in the close period. The shares ended the day flat at 54p.

Sports management and marketing agency TLA Worldwide (TLA) reported revenues of $10 million (6.1 million pounds) for the six months ended 30th June, which represents a 7% rise over the same period last year due to strong growth in the sports marketing division. Profits before tax were $1.2 million (0.7 million pounds), a turnaround from last year’s $1 million (0.6 million pound) loss due to improved revenue and good organic margin performance. The shares closed flat at 38.125p.

Has baseball marketer TLA hit a home run?

Monday
Sep152014

Monday's Stock Market report featuring Brewin Dolphin, TUI Travel, Investec, Distil and Paragon Diamonds

The Markets

US industrial output fell by 0.4% in August, the first monthly drop since January this year, driven by a decline in the automobile sector. Car manufacturers’ output dropped by 7.6% for the month after an exceptionally strong performance in July. The figures are below market expectations, with analysts having predicted a 0.3% rise in production. Other than the fall in car production, the trends were largely positive, with Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit, saying that “if we can be persuaded to look though the volatility of the official data, it’s evident that the U.S. economy has continued to grow strongly in the third quarter”.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has reduced growth forecasts for advanced economies over geopolitical concerns and the effects of sluggish growth in the Eurozone. GDP growth in the currency union is now expected to be 0.8% for the year, down from 1.2% in May, while the US forecast has been reduced from 2.6% to 2.1%. The organisation has called on the European Central Bank to start a quantitative easing programme to encourage activity in the Euro area.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 8.96 points to 16,996.47 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 42.17 points to 4,027.06.

In London the FTSE 100 closed down by 2.75 points at 6,804.21 and the FTSE 250 fell by 62.62 points to 15,649.23. The FTSE All-Share had decreased by 3.71 points to 3,624.14 while the FTSE AIM Index fell by 4.26 points to 772.68.

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Broker Notes

Investment manager Brewin Dolphin (BRW) has had its “buy” rating and 324p target price reiterated by N+1 Singer, with the broker commenting that the shares continue to be oversold. The firm has underperformed relative to peers in recent periods, but trading has been positive and a good Q4 performance could well lead to the firm outperforming N+1 Singer’s full year expectations. The shares grew by 1.1p to 278p,

Cannaccord Genuity has maintained its “buy” rating and 48p target price for medical firm EKF Diagnostics (EKF), after the company published interim results that were broadly in line with the broker’s expectations. Revenues in the first half of 2014 were 12.6% higher than the prior year, with underlying organic growth contributing 3.4%. Cannaccord feels that the firm is trading at a 26% discount to its peers in the global diagnostics sector, despite the molecular diagnostics division not yet contributing to EBITDA. The shares fell by 2.75p to 22p.

Insurance outfit Novae Group (NVA) has retained its 620p target price and “add” rating from Westhouse Securities after the firm announced that it would set up a Bermudan platform to reinsure its Lloyd’s syndicate, which will allow the company to expand its operations. It is expected that this platform will become operational next year and the broker sees no need for the firm to redomicile in order to reduce its corporate tax rate. The shares rose by 5p to 542p.

Broker says Novae a stellar Buy

Blue Chips.

The independent directors of holiday operator Tui Travel (TT) have agreed on the terms of a recommended all-share merger with TUI AG, which will be implemented via a scheme of arrangement of TUI Travel. The new group will be domiciled in Germany but its primary listing will be on the LSE. Current TUI Travel shareholders will receive 0.399 New TUI AG share for each share they hold at the scheme date. The shares rose by 5.6p to 365.7p.

Has Tui Travel reached its final destination?

Mid Caps

Specialist banking and asset management group Investec (INVP) has reached an agreement to sell Start Mortgage Holdings to an affiliate of Lone Star Holdings, subject to regulatory approval. Upon completion, Investec’s outstanding funding line to Start of 270 million pounds will be repaid. It is estimated that this transaction will lead to a 2p increase in adjusted EPS for the current financial year. The shares fell by 7p to 551p.

Software developer Micro Focus International (MCRO) has agreed terms for a merger with the Attachmate Group. Micro Focus will acquire Attachmate and issue new shares equivalent to 40% of the expanded firm. This will constitute a reverse takeover under UK listing rules and requires shareholder approval from both firms. The board believes that the deal will add value to the firm and expects completion to occur in November. The shares rose by 129p to 971.5p,

Technology diagnostics firm Spirent Communications (SPT) has acquired Mobilethink A/S for a cash consideration of $20 million (12.3 million pounds) funded from current resources. Mobilethink is a Danish outfit specialising in mobile device management solutions that allow virtual network operators to run a range of usage schemes and payment plans for their clients. The shares dropped by 1.2p to 103.8p.

Spirent Communications widens mobile offering

Small Caps

Oil palm and rubber growers M.P. Evans (MPE) recorded a pre-tax profit of $5.6 million (3.45 million pounds) for the six months ended 30th June, significantly below the $8.5 million (5.23 million pounds) earned last year. While the average market price for palm oil has been higher than in 2013, production has been lower due to long dry spells in areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. The shares fell by 8.75p to 463.625p.

Premium spirit producers Distil (DIS) announced a profits warning after its deal with two US distributors for Blavod Vodka, Blackwoods Gin and Blackwoods Vodka have seen regulatory approval delays. Management had expected permissions to be granted in August, but as of this morning no permits had been issued. It is not anticipated that the authorities will deny the request, but the delay means that full year results will be significantly below current market expectations. The shares declined by 0.2p to 0.8375p.

Action Hotels (AHCG) increased reported revenues by 28% to $19.5 million (12 million pounds) over the six months ended 30th June, driven by increased occupancy rates and revenue by room. Losses before taxation dropped from $1.79 million (1.1 million pounds) to $47,000 (28,927 pounds), as lower finance and foreign exchange costs outweighed higher administrative fees. The Middle East based hotelier also announced a maiden interim dividend of 0.72p per share. Action Hotels finished the day up by 1p at 69.5p.

Exploration and mining firm Paragon Diamonds (PRG) continues to aim at starting production at its Lephame pit in Lesotho in 2015, with initial target revenues of $9 million (5.54 million pounds) from the first active year. Paragon has secured a 10 year mining licence for the site and is actively developing verticals to allow for a more profitable journey from extraction to sale. The shares dropped by 0.1875 to 3.72p.

Oil and gas development firm Frontera Resources (FRR) has completed drilling at its latest well at the Mtsare Khevi complex in Georgia. Twenty metres of objective pay sands were found at the site, which are capable of producing 700 Mcf of gas a day, and the well is being connected to Frontera’s gas infrastructure. Drilling at the next site is expected to begin in September and the company is continuing to survey the area for additional opportunities. The shares rose 0.1p to 0.875p.

Kazakhstan-based construction materials producer Steppe Cement (STCM) sold 709,459 tonnes of cement in the 30th June, 26% higher than the same period last year, Turnover in local currency was 12% than the prior year, but due to foreign exchange movements it fell by 5% to $51.8 million (31.8 million pounds). Group losses before tax were $6.4 million (3.94 million pounds) for the period, a significant fall from the $3.8 million (2.3 million pounds) profit last year. The shares fell by 0.5p to 38p.

Cement firm Steppes up production, but profits fall

Friday
Sep122014

Friday's Stock Market Report from UK-Analyst featuring boohoo, Fresnillo, JD Wetherspoon, AVEVA and Naibu Global 

The Markets

The EU and US have strengthened sanctions on Russia to maintain pressure on the Russian government over Ukraine. As expected, five major Russian banks and three oil firms have been barred from EU finance markets, with these moves later being supported by the US. Russia has warned that it will retaliate against any sanctions, which could have significant negative effects on the already sluggish EU economies.

Argentina’s Congress has approved a new law to bypass the US Court ruling that it must pay holdout bondholders in full. The law was passed via an expedited process in an attempt to avoid fresh default on the 30th of August as the country’s next wave of debt payments fall due, and would allow the Government to pay locally rather than in the US as the original bonds promised.

At the London close the Dow Jones had decreased by 19.71 points to 17,049.00 and the Nasdaq had shrunk by 2.32 points to 4,092.64.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 7.34 points at 6,806.96 and the FTSE 250 rose by 90.50 points to 15,711.85. The FTSE All-Share had increased by 6.68 points to 3,627.85 while the FTSE AIM Index rose by 0.87 points to 776.94.

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Broker Notes

Sirius Petroleum (SRSP) has had its “buy” rating from Westhouse Securities reiterated after the long stop date on the firm’s $20 million (12.3 million pound) conditional placing was extended from 15th September to 7th November to allow for alternative funding discussions. The company still expects to start production from the Ororo field at the beginning of 2015. The shares fell by 0.33p to 2.6p.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.com (BOO) has had its “buy” rating re-iterated by N+1 Singer after the firm’s first half trading update suggested that sales were still growing strongly. The broker believes that since margins have been maintained and operating expenses are down, full year profits before tax could end up being 5-10% ahead of last year’s levels. The shares rose by 3.75p to 44.75p.

Cruise operator Carnival (CCL) has been upgraded from a “hold” to a “buy” by Shore Capital, as the company starts to target the rapidly growing Chinese market and implements a new strategy to grow revenues in the more mature Caribbean markets. The broker believes that the wider industry may be stabilising and that Carnival is well placed to benefit. The shares rose by 3p to 2,378p.

Broker says plain sailing ahead for Carnival

Blue Chips.

Precious metals mining outfit Fresnillo (FRES) has entered a binding agreement to acquire Newmont Mining’s 44% share in the Penmont Joint Venture for a cash consideration of $450 million (276.73 pounds). Following the completion of the deal, Fresnillo will fully own the venture and the purchase would be immediately earnings accretive while also offering future upside from exploration opportunities. The shares fell 1.5p to 817.5p.

Fresnillo on track for revenue growth after expanding stake

Mid Caps

Computer software and engineering services firm Aveva (AVV) expects revenues to be substantial below forecast levels for the first half of the financial year. Currency effects and the timing of rental renewals already had an effect on the first quarter, as the firm noted in a July statement. In addition, reorganisation of regional sales teams has had disruptive effects in South America and some Asian markets. As a result of these issues, revenue expectations have been reduced to 84-90 million pounds. for the first half of the year. The shares fell by 518p to 1,650p.

Housebuilding outfit Galliford Try (GFRD) has won a contract worth 430 million pounds through one of its joint ventures. The deal is with Southern Water and Galliford Try will be providing infrastructure services. The firm’s share of the contract value amounts to 250 million pounds, which will be spread over the five years to 2020. The shares rose by 1p to 1,237p.

Revenues at public house operator JD Wetherspoon (JDW) rose by 10% to 1.4 billion pounds over the year ended 27th July, with like-for-like sales up 5.5%, Profits before tax were 37.1% ahead of last year. The increase in sales was driven by a 12% rise in food purchases, while gambling machine income fell and drinks sales rose by a more modest 2.7%. Outspoken Chairman Tim Martin was once again keen to highlight the pub industry’s VAT disparity with supermarkets and is supporting Jacques Borel’s VAT Club on Tax Equality Day (24th September) to publicise this. The shares grew by 8p to 770p.

Drinks all round at Weatherspoon after strong results

Small Caps

Food and retail warehousing outfit Norish (NSH) saw revenues and pre-tax profits decline over the six months ended 30th June, due to the ongoing impact of last year’s horse meat scandal on some of the firm’s major clients. The company is looking to sell two sites and believes that the deals will complete by the end of 2014, but management believe the firm is in position to hit full year expectations. The shares fell by 1.5p to 36.5p,

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (CFU) has successfully installed its 500th unit and logged a cumulative 5 million operating hours on its commercially installed power cells, making CFU the first fuel cell firm outside Japan to achieve these milestones. Over 100 further cells have been sold and are awaiting manufacturing and fitting. Management believe that this shows the firm’s market leading position in Europe. The shares rose by 0.045p to 0.65p.

Oil and gas explorer President Energy (PPC) posted revenues of $5.8 million (3.57 million pounds) for the six months to June, a 1.9% increase over the same period last year driven by increased average group production of 389 barrel of oil equivalents a day for the period. The firm is focused on a drilling project in Paraguay, where President has earned a 59% interest by fulfilling its farm-in obligations. The shares rose by 0.375p to 20.25p.

Satellite communications firm Avanti Communications (AVN) has signed a new contract with Orange Telkom Kenya, the national operator with 2.8 million customers. Avanti will work with Orange to provide high speed data services to government and enterprise customers in Kenya. Management hope that the scope of the deal will expand to offer their full range of products. The shares fell by 3p to 183.25p,

Exploration and mining operation Savannah Resources (SAV) made an operating loss of 630,877 pounds in the six months ended 30th June, as the firm stepped up activity at prospects in Oman and Mozambique. The firm had no revenues during the period, but management are confident in the commercial prospects on the areas where they hold licenses. The shares fell by 0.125p to 5.25p.

Chinese sporting goods manufacturer Naibu Global International (NBU) recorded revenues of RMB 1.02 billion (103 million pounds) in the six months to 30th June, 8.4% higher than the same period last year. However, profits before tax fell by RMB 8.3 million (0.8 million pounds) to RMB 206.5 million (20.7 million pounds) and the firm has adopted a more cautious stance, cutting back its expansion plans for stores as well as deciding against beginning production at its Quangang production facility. Naibu also scrapped its interim dividend to focus on capital investment. The shares fell by 21p to 31p,

Trainer manufacturer Naibu beginning to wear out?