The Most Followed report is a summary of the most interesting corporate stories of the day, including the most popular stock exchange statements, the hottest topics on message boards, the biggest movers of the day as well as rumours and speculation.


Pearson story closely monitored as it says 2012 profits will be flat

January 21 2013, 9:59am
Pearson story closely monitored as it says 2012 profits will be flat

Education specialist and FT owner Pearson (LON:PSON) was one of the most hotly followed stories today as it revealed it would report flat profits in 2012 after tough trading in the final quarter.

The group said market conditions remained weak for higher education, consumer publishing and corporate advertising and though 2012 overall will see good revenue, operating profit will be broadly level at approximately £935mln and adjusted earnings of 84p per share.

Shares fell 2.58% to stand at 1,206 pence as investors took flight, making the shares one of the biggest losers on the Footsie.

It was among the most read statements on RNS and on Google Finance as a new week of trading began.

Also prompting trader interest was FTSE 250 oil explorer Afren (LON:AFR), which revealed it expected to report record financial results for 2012 after bolstered production and exploration success.

Shares were lifted 2.37% in early deals as investors welcomed the statement.

Afren said last year had seen record production and financial performance combined with significant exploration success in Nigeria and the Kurdistan region of Iraq and that it planned to grow its reserves in 2013.

Full year net production was in line with guidance at 42,830 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).

It is forecasting full year production in 2013 to average between 40,000 boepd and 47,000 boepd.

Also on the radar, one of the most-read regulatory statements came from Serica Energy (LON:SQZ).

It says it has enough funding for its 2013 exploration programme and is confident it can raise more to finance the North Sea Columbus field development.

Serica said the final approvals are expected at Columbus and construction is projected to commence on schedule in 2013 with a target to achieve first gas production mid-2015.

Serica shares fell 7.34% to stand at 25.25 pence.

One of the most followed AIM stocks today was Nyota Minerals (LON:NYO), which assigned an ‘in-house’ inferred resource estimate of 1.1mln ounces of gold to the feeder zone to its Tulu Kapi project in Ethiopia.

The company estimates the additional resource has the capacity to add between 15,000 and 45,000 ounces a year to production.

December’s definitive feasibility study suggested Tulu Kapi’s annual output could be in the order of 105,000 ounces a year, though at that point a contribution from the feeder zone had not been incorporated into those estimates.

Also making it onto the top ten most popular RNS statements was Atlantic Coal (LON:ATC), whose shares rose 3.57% to stand at 0.29 pence.

It has exercised its lease option over the Pott & Bannon coal mine in Pennsylvania, it told investors today.

The firm reckons the addition of the property, which is just 25 miles from the firm’s Stockton colliery, could treble the company’s existing reserves.

Traders were also eagerly tapping their keyboards for news on Craneware (LON:CRW) -  the software solutions provider focused on the US healthcare market, which saw first half revenue grow in line with expectations.

Revenue of US$20.1mln in the first half of the current financial year was up from US$18.8mln in the first half of last year.

Asset financing specialist 1pm was the most actively traded stock - with around 62.2 million shares changing hands.

Hot stocks on the bulletin boards included potash project developer Sirius Minerals (LON:SXX) and oil group Xcite Energy (LON:XEL).


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