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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.
Thursday
Oct232014

Thursday's Stock Market report featuring Lloyds, Tesco, Ladbrokes, IDOX and advfn

The Markets

The Chamber of British Industry has warned that demand for UK exports flagged in October, suggesting that the economic recovery may not be as secure as had been hoped. Currency conditions and global geopolitical problems are hampering firms’ ability to sell overseas and as a result 3rd quarter growth is forecast to slip to 0.7%. Manufacturing companies are also reporting falling orders and Paul Hollingsworth, UK Economist at Capital Economics, said that, “the latest survey provides further evidence that the UK’s economic recovery is likely to receive little support from the manufacturing sector in the near term. Accordingly, it is up to the dominant service sector to ensure that the recovery retains its momentum”.

UK retail sales dropped by 0.3% in September, a larger drop than analysts had forecast due to warm weather putting shoppers off winter clothes ranges. Consensus expectations were that sales would drop by around 0.1% from August’s figure. Year-on-year, shoppers are spending 2.7% more but low wage growth and declining house prices are impacting expenditures. Alan Clarke from Scotiabank was relatively undisturbed, commenting that, “there is probably a little more cooling off to come, but it is just that – cooling off not an arctic chill”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 246.70 points to 16,708.02 and the Nasdaq had grown by 66.23 points to 4,015.82.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up 19.42 points at 6,419.15 but the FTSE 250 shrank by 34.07 points to 15,135.99. The FTSE All-Share increased by 7.93 points to 3,432.71 while the FTSE AIM Index dropped by 0.42 points to 708.88.

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Broker Notes

Explorer Chariot Oil & Gas (CHAR) has been rated as a “buy” by Northland Capital after the firm announced that it will give up some of its licences off the coast of Namibia when they come up for renewal at the end of the month. A well had been drilled unsuccessfully in 2012 and the site had never been sufficiently de-risked for further exploration. Chariot wrote down the asset by $33 million (20.5 million pounds) in the first half and the next phase would require significant capital. The shares fell by 0.25p to 11.25p.

Shore Capital has kept its “buy” rating on Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) after the Financial Times reported that the firm is planning to cut around 9,000 jobs and shut “hundreds” of its 2,250 branches. The broker expects that these moves will form part of next week’s strategy update, alongside new digital plans and overall cost cutting measures. Numis Securities also recommended a “buy”, while Deutsche Bank issued a similar view yesterday. The shares rose by 0.425p to 76.325p.

Infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty (BBY) is viewed as a “sell” by Westhouse Securities, as delays and technical problems at the company’s London Olympic Stadium conversion work have incurred an additional 36 million pounds of costs. It has been been reported that Balfour Beatty was pushing for 50 million pounds and if, this is the case, then it may be assumed that the missing 14 million pounds makes this job now a break-even project for Balfour Beatty and indicates that further cost escalation will not be tolerated by the client. The shares fell by 0.8p to 161p.

Balfour Beatty not getting gold at Olympic Park

Blue Chips.

Consumer goods firm Unilever (ULVR) saw conditions slow in emerging markets during the third quarter, particularly in China where there was substantial de-stocking over the period. The company’s European arm also faced difficulties from price deflation and macroeconomic weaknesses, but North American markets have started to improve. Management expect no major shift in conditions by the end of the year, but believe China will begin to recover in 2015. The shares fell by 94p to 2,440p.

Miner Anglo American (AAL).increased iron ore output by 37% in the three months ended September 30th after the adoption of more efficient policies, but platinum production was down by 14% due continuing effects of strike action in South African. Diamonds, nickel and metallurgical coal were all growth areas and the firm. Broker Canaccord Genuity reiterated a “buy” rating on the company with a target price of 1,720p. The shares dropped by 16.5p to 1,340p.

Revenues at troubled supermarket Tesco (TSCO) were 34 billion pounds for the six months ended 23rd August, a 4.4% decline from the same period last year, with net profits plunging by 91% to 112 million pounds. The company has completed its investigation in to past wrongdoings, and is focused on the current difficult trading environment and deflationary pressures in the UK grocery market. It was also announced that Chairman Sir Richard Broadbent is to leave the firm. Tesco has cancelled it’s prior full year guidance, but will not issue new forecasts at this time. The shares dropped by 12p to 171p.

Tesco further in the red than expected, but investors stay in the dark

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Mid Caps

Department store Debenhams (DEB) increased like-for-like sales by 1% during the year ended 30th August on its way to revenues of 1.9 billion pounds. The firm has refocused its marketing on own brand products, increasing full price sell through, but profit margins have dropped by an average of 60 basis points through the year despite recovering later in the period. Management remain cautious, given that the economic recovery has not yet translated into increases in disposable income. The shares rose by 0.6p to 63.4p.

Meat firm Cranswick (CWK) has bought chicken producer Benson Park for an undisclosed consideration. The Benson Park acquisition helps Cranswick to expand beyond its core pork business, while also being immediately earnings enhancing and providing a pathway to new customers in the takeaway market. The present management will remain in place. The shares grew by 2p to 1,305p.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD) surged down under in the 3rd quarter as the firm more than doubled its active Australian userbase. As a result, group revenues gained 13% and operating profits almost doubled from 17 million pounds in 2013 to 33 million pounds this year. The UK over-the-counter, Belgian and Spanish operations also posted good results. The shares declined by 7.9p to 121.1p.

Ladbrokes racing ahead down under

Small Caps

Software developer and supplier IDOX (IDOX) has acquired Berlin-based compliance systems provider Digital Spirit GmbH for an undisclosed sum from Infinitas Learning. The purchase will be funded from IDOX’s existing cash and the business, which made a €0.8 million (0.63 million pound) loss in 2013, is expected to be earnings enhancing from 2016 and will expand the reach of the existing Public Sector Software division. The shares remained flat at 39.375p.

International payment solutions firm Earthport (EPO) increased revenues by 161% over the year ended 30th June to 10.8 million pounds after the company acquired Baydonhill. Like-for-like growth for the period was 67% and the pre-tax loss dropped from 8.13 million pounds to 6.33 million pounds, despite administrative costs rising by more than 5 million pounds. The shares dropped by 0.25p to 45p.

Manufacturing and retail sector IT services provider Sanderson Group (SND) has met expectations for the year ended 30th September, with revenues in excess of 16 million pounds and operating profits at least 20% ahead of last year. One iota, which was acquired in October 2013, has been successfully integrated into the firm and received its largest ever order in September with a value over 400,000 pounds. The shares rose by 4p to 65.5p.

Exploration and production operation Victoria Oil & Gas (VOG) reversed its output woes and increased gas supply by 60% over the year ended 31st May. The firm is transitioning towards being a utility company, selling gas and electricity directly to end users in Cameroonian markets . The loss before tax dropped sharply to $4.7 million (2.93 million pounds), less than a third of the prior period’s deficit. The shares fell by 0.075to 1.325p.

Marketing and public relations firm Porta Communications (PTCM) won 15 new clients over the three months ended 30th September, including a global contract to promote investment in Mauritius. The Asian and Australian businesses are performing very well and management are considering additional acquisitions in the UK market to supplement the existing London office. The shares climbed 0.625p to 8.375p.

Financial data outfit ADVFN (AFN) remained in the red for the year to June, posting a 454,000 pound net loss. Despite a 20% increase in sales revenues, gross margins plunged 600 basis points to 88%, with a 7% rise in administrative expenses forcing the company to once more post an operating loss. ADVFN has now racked up an accumulated deficit of 12.5 million pounds and since listing on AIM in March 2000 the shares have lost almost 95% of their value. The shares ended the day flat at 80.5p.

Internet bubble stock fails to impress, again

Wednesday
Oct222014

Wednesday's Stock Market report featuring William Hill, Royal Dutch Shell, SuperGroup, Plus500 and Fitbug

The Markets

Sterling has fallen after the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee published minutes for its October meeting, which showed that the rate-setting body remained opposed to a prompt rise in interest rates. Two members of the committee continued to vote in favour of an increase, for the 3rd month in a row. David Tinsley, an Economist at UBS, said that “the minutes shift the recent MPC discussion a little, in highlighting the downside risks on activity, and the downside news on inflation”.

US consumer prices were static in September, with a minor rise in food prices balancing out falling energy costs, so say the latest figures from the Bureau for Labor Statistics. Officially, inflation was 0.1% for the month up from negative 0.2% in August, and will increase pressure for the Federal Reserve to act in the markets. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said that the central bank should consider delaying plans to end its bond-buying programme at the end of this month to maintain inflation expectations. .

At the London close the Dow Jones had fallen by 28.07 points to 16,586.74 and the Nasdaq had grown by 8.18 points to 3,979.57.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up 27.40 points at 6,399.73 and the FTSE 250 grew by 145.09 points to 15,170.06. The FTSE All-Share increased by 17.44 points to 3,424.78 while the FTSE AIM Index rose by 4.15 points to 709.30.

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Broker Notes

Northland Capital rates W Resources (WRES) as a “buy” after the tungsten miner exceeded €470,000 (371,000 pounds) in monthly revenues for the first time in October and September production significantly exceeded the broker’s forecasts. The firm is planning to increase efficiency via investment in electrostatic separators and is currently assessing options for producing tin concentrate from the start of 2015. The shares rose by 0.95p to 0.62p.

Panmure Gordon, Beaufort Securities and Shore Capital all have a “buy” stance on bookmaker William Hill (WMH) after the company increased revenues by 23% in the most recent quarter. This came after a strong World Cup performance offset the closure of 82 betting shops. However, Barclays has stuck with an “equal weight” view, while Canaccord rates the shares as a “hold”. The shares fell by 3.3p to 360p.

Pub firm Spirit Group (SPRT) has been downgraded from a “buy” to a “hold” by Shore Capital after the firm published quarterly results that were in line with expectations. The broker said that this news had been overshadowed by the recommendation of Greene King’s latest offer for the firm, which it thinks offers clear upside over the current price and forecasts. The shares rose by 1.25p to 102.25p.

Do brokers have the measure of Spirit?

Blue Chips.

British American Tobacco (BATS) saw revenues fall by 9.6% over the nine months ended 30th September, as cigarette volumes declined by 1% and the firm was heavily impacted by currency movements. In constant currency terms, revenues would have risen by 2.4%. Slight volume growth in the Asia Pacific region was offset by larger drops in the European and American markets. The shares fell by 91.5p to 3,375p

Natural resources operator BHP Billiton (BLT) increased group production by 9% over the three months ended 30th September, achieving record output levels in four commodity categories. Full year forecasts are unchanged and the firm is on track to meet its 16% growth expectations. However, aluminium, copper and nickel production fell against the same period last year. The shares dropped by 25p to 1,664,5p

Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) has found a significant gas column 145 kilometres off the coast of Gabon with around 200 metres of net pay. The company and its partners will undertake additional analysis to assess resource volumes. Shell holds a 75% interest in the field and this find follows other recent successes in the Gulf of Mexico and Malaysia. The shares, upon which broker Credit Suisse has a 2,625p target, grew by 22p to 2,185.5p.

Offshore oil play found by Shell

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Mid Caps

Fashion retailer SuperGroup (SGP) has appointed Euan Sutherland, who is currently a non-executive director at the firm, as it’s new CEO with immediate effect. Mr Sutherland has significant retail experience from past roles at the Co-operative Group and Kingfisher. Current CEO and founder Julian Dunkerton will move to the new role of Product and Brand Director. The markets didn’t like the news, sending the shares down by 54p to 975p.

Electronics manufacturer Laird (LRD) saw revenues rise by 6% in the third quarter as currency changes ate into gains from a 15% rise in dollar denominated trading. The expansion of 4G/LTE infrastructure and strong smartphone sales have benefited the firm’s performance materials and wireless communications materials and Laird has opened new plants in China and Brazil to capitalise on the opportunities presented. The shares rose by 15.3p to 310p.

Online gambling software outfit Playtech (PTEC) doubled sports betting revenues on its way to a 28.6% year-on-year increase to group income over the three months ended 30th September. The firm renewed contracts with major operators such as William Hill, while expanding into new markets, with significant deals seen in Italy and Finland. Management believe that full results will exceed current market expectations. The shares rose by 35.5p to 737.5p.

Do Playtech have a winning formula

Small Caps

CFD trading platform provider Plus500 (PLUS) saw its shares rise by 49p to 530.5p after it posted revenues of $162.4 million (101.1 million pounds) for the nine months ended 30th September. This was a 154% increase over the same period of 2013 as the firm added over 47,000 new customers, with over 85,000 clients active on the site during the period. Management expect to trade strongly in the last quarter of the year despite the average cost of customer acquisition having risen sharply in recent months.

Polymer cleaning researcher Xeros Technology Group (XSG) continued to expand its customer base over the year ended 31st July, with the firm now counting 4 of the world’s 5 largest hotel operators among its clients and actively targeting new sectors via an expanded sales forces. Net outflows rose to 7.2 million pounds from 3.2 million pounds in the prior year due to continued development expenses. The shares climbed 0.5p to 124.5p.

Spread betting outfit London Capital Group (LCG) posted revenues of 13.9 million pounds for the nine months ended 30th September, a 29.5% decline from the prior year due to challenging market conditions and a period of losses before a recent change in management. Reported pre-tax profits surged by a more than sixfold however, to 10.7 million pounds, mainly due to a goodwill impairment of 8 million pounds related to the UK financial spread betting and contracts for difference business.

On the bright side, conditions are said to have improved towards the tail end of the third quarter and management believe that investment in staff and technology will provide the best path to future growth. The shares closed the day flat at 28p.

Mobile services outfit Bango (BGO) has signed a global agreement with smartphone market leader Samsung to provide carrier billing services for digital content purchased on the Samsung Galaxy Apps store. The roll-out will begin immediately and further updates will be given in due course. This follows on from the firm winning Amazon’s smartphone billing business last month. The shares rose by 5.5p to 101p.

Shares in personal health firm Fitbug Holdings (FITB) surged by 1.25p to 1.62p after the firm announced that its wearable products will be stocked by Sainsbury’s in the UK and in Target stores in the US from 9th November. These two distribution agreements represent Fitbug’s biggest deals to date and will place products in over 2,000 additional retail locations. The news comes after Fitbug recently announced a 98% rise in sales for the six months to June.

Not doing quite so well was medical devices manufacturer Surgical Innovations Group (SUN). The firm has reviewed its balance sheet, resulting in exceptional charges of around 1.6 million pounds that will be recognised in the current year. These are mainly related to a write down of trade receivables and costs associated with recent redundancies carried out as part of the group’s cost savings programme. Revenues will also be reduced by around 0.6 million pounds for the year due to sales returns and a significant loss before tax is forecast. The shares, which were trading at 5.875p in July, plunged by 1p to 1.375p.

SUN setting?

Tuesday
Oct212014

Tuesday's Stock Market Report featuring Ophir Energy, Whitbread, Go-Ahead, ASOS and Stratmin Global Resources  

The Markets

Chinese economic growth hit a five year low in the third quarter of this year, with the rate of expansion dropping to 7.3% from 7.5% in the previous three month period. This exceeded market forecasts for a 7.2% increase but is still the country’s worst result since March 2009. Industrial output beat expectations by growing 8%, but sluggish retail sales and investment performances dragged GDP growth down. The results could have a significant impact elsewhere in the world, with Bill Adams, Senior International Economist at PNC Financial Services, commenting, “as long as China keeps trending slower like this, it will be difficult for global commodity prices to rise, a persistent headwind for commodity producers like Brazil and Australia”.

UK Government borrowing in September was 10% higher than in the same month last year, as the Exchequer’s debt rose by 11.6 billion pounds, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. This is more than 1 billion pounds higher than consensus analyst forecasts as spending growth outpaced tax receipts. Rob Wood of Berenberg Bank said that, “weak wage growth along with the Chancellor’s decision to increase the amount people can earn tax free has hurt income tax receipts and means borrowing stubbornly refuses to decline”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had increased by 166.40 points to 16,566.07 and the Nasdaq had grown by 70.04 points to 3,940.12.

In London the FTSE 100 closed up by 105.26 points at 6,372.33 and the FTSE 250 grew by 269.00 points to 15,024.97. The FTSE All-Share had increased by 56.19 points to 3,407.34 while the FTSE AIM Index rose by 12.75 points to 705.15.

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Broker Notes

Oil & gas explorer Ophir Energy (OPHR) has reported positive results from its Fortuna-2 test drill site, leading Westhouse Securities to reiterate its “add” rating. The success of this test well may mean fewer development wells are required to reach production capacity, but while the broker rates this as positive news its long term-nature means that there will be no adjustment forecasts at this point. The shares rose by 10.5p to 200.5p.

Investec has maintained its “hold” rating on minerals giant BHP Billiton (BLT) despite ongoing weaknesses in the iron ore price and downside risks from oil and copper values. The broker feels that these market developments validate BHP’s conservative cash management strategy, which has been criticised in the recent past. The shares grew by 31p to 1,690p.

Intercontinental Hotels (IHG) has been rated as a “sell” by Shore Capital despite revenue growth and occupancy rates exceeding expectations in the three months to September. The broker views the Chinese market, where revenue per available room was up by 0.8% in the third quarter, as a key part of the investment case. However, Shore sees the current price/earnings ratio of 23.9 times for 2014 as being full. Rival brokers Panmure Gordon and Numis Securities both reiterated “hold” ratings on Intercontinental today, with Panmure Gordon saying that the Holiday Inn division was dragging down the firm’s performance. The shares grew by 1p to 2,250p.

Intercontinental’s Holiday Inn causing lost sleep at brokers

Blue Chips.

Hospitality outfit Whitbread (WTB) recorded revenues of 1.29 billion pounds in the six months ended 28th August, a 13% increase over the same period last year due to strong growth in the firm’s core Premier Inn and Costa Coffee brands. Profits before tax were 241.8 million pounds, up by 20%, and the interim dividend was hiked by 15.6% to 25.2p per share. Strong momentum has continued into the second half and management are confident that the firm will meet full year expectations. Broker Shore Capital has a “hold” stance on the shares, as it believes that a full recovery in hotel yields is already factored into the price. Whitbread finished down by 28p at 4,200p.

Engineering firm GKN (GKN) has traded in line with expectations since its half year statement, with robust demand in key markets despite a sharp fall in demand for agricultural products. The company remains on track to meet targets as organic trading has lead to profits of 160 million pounds for the 3rd quarter. Management expect the final quarter to show modest growth. The shares were up by 11p at 313p.

Microprocessor specialist ARM Holdings (ARM) made revenues of 195.5 million pounds over the three months ended 30th September, a 6% increase over the same quarter in the prior year despite currency pressures. Profits before taxation were 101.2 million pounds as high-royalty licensing revenues continued to grow. Sales in the current quarter are expected to be in the region of $350 million (216 million pounds). The shares fell by 45.5p to 806p.

ARM Holding steady despite currency pressure

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Mid Caps

Exhibition and academic specialist Informa (INF) continues to experience strong growth in its conferences division and the publishing segment remains robust, but restructuring plans for the business intelligence unit have been accelerated as it suffered an organic revenue decline of 7.1% over the first nine months of the year. There has so far been only a limited impact on the global events business from healthcare concerns, but Informa continues to monitor the situation. The share price increased by 31.4p to 479p.

Passenger transport services firm Go-Ahead Group (GOG) met management expectations for the three months to 20th October as it began operations on the GTR rail franchise and a direct award contract for the Southeastern franchise. Revenues in the bus division rose by 5% despite flat customer numbers. Management maintained full year forecasts and said that the firm continues to be strongly cash generative. On the back of the update broker Investec reiterated its “buy” stance on the firm but raised its target price from 2,670p to 2,750p. The shares rose by 56p to 2,502p.

Transit firm getting ahead with new rail contracts

Small Caps

Shares in Madagascar based graphite production and exploration company Stratmin Global Resources (STGR) surged by 3.625p to 8.125p after the firm agreed terms on an offtake agreement with a major graphite buyer. The deal covers all output from Stratmin that falls within certain technical specifications and the buyer has first option on the remaining product. The arrangement will run for five years and prices will be set in advance on a rolling basis for the six months ahead.

Internet fashion firm ASOS (ASC) recorded revenues of 975.47 million pounds over the year ending 31st August, a 27% increase over the prior year as UK retail sales rose by 35%. The performance was also delivered despite a severe fire at the firm’s Barnsley warehouse in June. However, gross margins declined by 210 basis points, leading pre-tax profits to drop to 46.9 million pounds from 54.6 million pounds in the previous year.

ASOS also revealed that Nick Beighton, Chief Financial Officer, is to become Chief Operating Officer with immediate effect. The move will free up time for CEO Nick Robertson to focus on strategy, with the firm looking to put in capacity to service 2.5 billion pounds in sales in the coming years. ASOS shares, upon which broker Numis has a “buy” stance and 3,000p target, finished the day up by 316p at 2,260p.

Oil exploration outfit Northern Petroleum (NOP) has been producing roughly 140 barrels of oil a day from its initial three wells in Alberta, Canada, with the company on track to reach its target of 200-250 barrels a day by the end of the year. Management expect cash reserves to be around $12 million pounds at the end of the year, down from $22 million at the end of June. However, with all the Canadian wells tied in by the end of January, production is forecast to be between 500 and 650 barrels a day, which is expected to provide sufficient monthly operating income to make the firm cashflow positive. The shares rose by 2.625p to 16.125p.

Travel operator Minoan Group (MIN) has agreed to purchase a 20% stake in travel business Miles Away for an undisclosed consideration. The purchase provides synergies with Minoan’s existing Scottish travel business, with the two firms targeting similar demographics. The combined total transaction value of the two entities is expected to be circa 100 million pounds in the coming financial year. The shares declined by 0.125p to 10.875p.

IT recruitment specialist Interquest (ITQ) has begun a formal sale process, reviewing the available options to provide best value to shareholders. The firm believes that, while net fee income has grown by 34% in the first half of the year and profits before taxation are up by 82%, it is necessary under current market conditions to invest and develop a large scale platform and it is this that has lead management to start this process. The shares rose by 11p to 121p.

Shares in Stellar Diamonds (STEL) rose by 0.175p to 1.45p after the West African miner published test mining results from its Guinean Baoulé site. The trial has recovered 196 carats from Kimberlite ores at higher than expected average grades. Over 50% of the recovered stones have been classified as gems and the firm expects positive cash flow from the test mining run after its first diamond sale towards the end of 2014.

Stellar finds Diamonds in rough test

Monday
Oct202014

Monday's Stock Market report featuring McBride, Shire, BBA Aviation, President Energy and Lok'n Store

The Markets

The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that the UK mortgage market has plateaued. Gross lending fell by 1% in September to 17.8 billion pounds, but remained 10% higher than in the same period of 2012. Elsewhere, a report from the Bank of England showed declining confidence among house buyers, leading Howard Archer, Economist at IHS Global Insight, to comment, “the CML data and comments, and the Bank of England survey, do little to dilute belief that housing market activity has lost momentum compared to the early months of 2014. However, there is the possibility that the markedly increased likelihood that the Bank of England will not lift interest rates before mid-2015 will provide a near-term lift to housing market activity and perhaps prices as well”.

Elsewhere, businesses and consumers have faced delays in carrying out transactions after the Bank of England’s Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) suffered technical difficulties. CHAPS processes around 277 billion pounds worth of large transactions each day and the delay has also affected house buyers, with some completions being held up. Mark Hayward, Managing Director of the National Association of Estate Agents fears a “cascading effect” as “it is likely any payments will now be held up for a day or more as money takes time to transfer, which also means a delay for those hoping to move”.

At the London close the Dow Jones had decreased by 34.56 points to 16,345.85 and the Nasdaq had grown by 26.07 points to 3,841.54.

In London the FTSE 100 closed down by 43.22 points at 6,267.07 and the FTSE 250 shrank by 1.65 points to 14,755.97. The FTSE All-Share finished up by 18.44 points at 3,351.15 while the FTSE AIM Index rose by 3.31 points to 692.44.

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Broker Notes

Household products firm McBride (MCB) has kept its “sell” rating from Shore Capital, but the 80p target price has been placed under review after the company indicated that it had been trading solidly since 1st July and that it had returned to modest, currency constant, growth. While the broker views this as a positive move, Shore continues to view McBride as being dependant on factors outside of its control for success. The shares rose by 3.75p to 84p.

Westhouse Securities reiterated its “buy” rating for Genel Energy (GENL) after San Leon Energy and Serica Energy published positive drilling results from the Sidi Moussa block off the coast of Morocco, Genel is the operator of the block and holds a 60% working interest, placing it to benefit from any commercial hydrocarbon operations in the area. The shares fell by 23.5p to 690.5p.

Russian resources firm Trans-Siberian Gold (TSG) has been rated as a “buy” by Cantor Fitzgerald following an operational update detailing output from the Asacha gold mine. Gold production is 6.4% higher than the prior quarter, despite a drop in processing volumes caused by equipment maintenance, and the company believes that the gold grade will improve further in the rest of 2014 and 2015. The shares grew by 3.5p to 13.25p.

Trans-Siberian on track, say Cantor Fitzgerald

Blue Chips.

In a quiet day for the blue-chips, pharmaceutical firm Shire (SHP) announced that its Interim CFO James Bowling will be stepping down at the end of the first quarter of 2015 to take up the role of CFO at utilities giant Severn Trent. Shire will begin the search for a new CFO immediately. The departure follows the withdrawal of AbbVie’s takeover bid last week and the firm now faces questions about its future development. The shares dropped by 30p to 3,750p.

Bowling out at Shire

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Mid Caps

Merchant banking group Close Brothers (CBG) has sold its German securities business Close Brother Seydler Bank to Oddo & Sie for a cash consideration of €46 million (36.4 million pounds). The business generated profits after tax of 5 million pounds in the year ended 31st July and the group plans to reinvest the proceeds of the disposal in its core UK businesses. The shares declined by 6p to 1,341p.

Aircraft support services provider BBA Aviation (BBA) announced that it will purchase the fixed-base operator (FBO) assets of Wiggins Airways for $16.2 million (10.6 million pounds) subject to customary approvals, expanding the firm’s reach in the New England area. Wiggins holds an FBO lease for the Manchester-Boston airport for the next 19 years and the deal is expected to be earnings enhancing from the first full year of ownership. BBA shares rose by 6.3p to 329.2p.

BBA fuels up via US acquisition

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Small Caps

Shares in outsourcing and recruitment specialist Servoca (SVCA) surged by by 1.875p to 13.375p after the firm revealed that its results for the year ended 30th September will be significantly ahead of market expectations. This was helped by the group’s education division performing very strongly in September, with profitability also rising significantly in the firm’s healthcare segment. Full results will be published in early December.

Also rising strongly were shares in oil and gas explorer President Energy (PPC) which announced that it has made a conventional light oil discovery in the Paraguayan Chaco, the first ever oil find in the region. Management believe that it will be commercially operable and the firm will continue drilling to reach its original target depth. First production may be possible in 2015, contingent on further tests. President Energy closed up by 13p at 30p.

Emulsion fuels developer Quadrise Fuels (QFI) made no revenues during the year ended 30th June and the firm’s loss before tax deepened to 5.6 million pounds from 5 million pounds. The company is continuing to work towards a commercially viable proposition and expect to install a number of production units in refineries during 2015. Management retain a positive outlook. The shares decreased by 1.25p to 31.75p.

Exploration and production outfit UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) has completed the purchase of Northern Petroleum’s (NOP) UK production licences for a total consideration of 1.5 million pounds. These include a number of positions in the Weald Basin and an offshore block west of the Isle of Wight, which produced an average 20 barrels of oil per day in 2013. Shares in UK Oil & Gas grew by 0.125p to 1p, while those in Northern Petroleum slipped by 0.75p to 13.5p.

Self storage services firm Lok’n Store Group (LOK) recorded revenues of 13.91 million pounds for the year ended 31st July, a 7.2% increase over the prior period as occupancy rose by 12.4% and unit prices grew 5.8%. Profits before tax fell to 0.36 million pounds due to impairments on development assets in the firm’s land bank. Management believe that sound fundamentals will allow Lok’n Store to continue growing. Broker finnCap has a 293p target on the shares, which increased by 14.5p to 216p.

Storage firm Lok’n in new customers