Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom News http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom News RSS feed en Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:05:34 +0000 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Genera CMS action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[Nike signs strategic partnership with Zotefoams to develop footwear technology]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188720/nike-signs-strategic-partnership-with-zotefoams-to-develop-footwear-technology-188720.html Plastic foam materials specialist Zotefoams Plc (LON:ZTC) hot-footed it higher in early deals after announcing a strategic partnership with Nike to develop “footwear technology”.

Zotefoams, a leader in cellular material technology, will supply high-performance foam materials exclusively to Nike, within the footwear industry. The foams, which are designed for footwear, can be formulated to specific customer needs and are superior in performance, consistency, quality and purity to foams produced by other methods, according to Zotefoams.

The shares were up almost 15% to 461p on the news.

 

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:46:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188720/nike-signs-strategic-partnership-with-zotefoams-to-develop-footwear-technology-188720.html
<![CDATA[FTSE 100 - London traders keeping their powder dry ahead of Fed meeting; Ashtead succumbs to profit-]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188703/ftse-100-london-traders-keeping-their-powder-dry-ahead-of-fed-meeting-ashtead-succumbs-to-profit-taking-188703.html The FTSE 100 marked time, rising just two points to 7,502.40, as London’s trading community kept their powder dry ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting kicking off later Wednesday.

A quarter point rise in base rates has already been factored into the market, according to Jasper Lawler, analyst at London Capital Group.

“Investors will be paying more attention to how the Fed views the US economy in 2018 and therefore what the path of interest rate rises could look like,” he explained.

“Given that it is Janet Yellen’s final session as chair, forward guidance could come up disappointingly short.”

Profit-taking affected a buoyant Ashtead (LON:AHT) in the wake of Tuesday’s update. Up 26% in the year to date, shares in the plant hire giant were marked down 3.4% early on.

Builder Berkeley Group (LON:BKG) fell 1.2% after the London arm of the American brokerage Jefferies downgraded the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’.

Annual results from the Anglo-German tour operator TUI (LON:TUI) were met with relief rather than celebration as the stock advanced 1.2% in opening deals.

6.45am...slow start predicted 

The Footsie is seen edging lower on Wednesday following mixed showings overnight on Wall Street and in Asia with all eyes on the last Federal Reserve meeting of 2017 and interest rate hike expectations.

Spread betting firm IG expects the FTSE 100 index to open down around 5 points at 7,495, having gained 46.93 points on Tuesday.

Overnight on Wall Street the Dow Jones jumped over 118 points higher to 24,504, but other US indexes were more cautious and US stock futures fell back after-hours on some political uncertainty for President Trump.

That came after the Republican party's majority in the Senate was cut to two by the narrow victory of Democratic party candidate Doug Jones in Alabama.

On currency markets, sterling held fairly steady versus both the dollar and the euro as traders awaited another big batch of UK economic data, with the latest unemployment and average numbers to be released hot on the heels of yesterday’s above-forecast inflation reading.

Interest rates matters predominant

The increase in the UK consumer price index to 3.1% for November put some pressure on the Bank of England to contemplate another UK interest rate hike, although few commentators expect tomorrow’s BoE Monetary Policy Committee meeting to sanction another move so soon after last month’s 25 basis point increase.

The main interest rate focus today, however, will be on the Fed, which is widely-anticipated to hike interest rates again as the US economy continues to grow, unemployment falls and inflation inches closer towards the 2% target.

In minutes from the Fed’s November meeting, policymakers said another increase in the US central bank’s target range would probably be needed “in the near term” provided the economy remains on track, though they warned that inflation may remain below target for longer than expected.

“The FOMC will almost certainly hike by 25 basis points at the upcoming December meeting,” according to analysts at UBS.

“Minutes for the November meeting and recent Fedspeak show growing concern about inflation among FOMC participants, but not enough to stay their hand at this meeting.”

Strategy update eyed from TUI after hurricanes

On the corporate front, full-year results from TUI AG (LON:TUI) on Wednesday should see the travel giant make good on its pledge to increase full-year underlying earnings (EBITDA) by at least 10%, despite the impact of hurricanes on its Caribbean and Florida operations.

In a trading update at the end of September, the FTSE 100 listed company said its hotel and cruise brands had continued to perform very well.

Meanwhile a tough first half has already been flagged up by FTSE 250 listed electricals retailer Dixons Carphone Plc (LON:DC.) along with its profit warning in August, especially given the timing of one-off gains last year for comparatives.

In a recent note, UBS said it is forecasting the FTSE 250 listed firm to report first half pre-tax profit of £67mln, down over 50% year-on-year, with weaker Phone 8 sales likely to have depressed Dixons Carphone’s second quarter sales.

The analysts pointed out, however, that sales over the Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day Sale peak periods remain significant swing factors, and investors will be very keen to hear how current trading is going.

Housebuilder Bellway PLC (LON:BWY) is also due to give a first quarter update on Wednesday and expectations are pretty lofty.

That’s because fellow housebuilder Berkeley Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) last week upped its profits forecasts for the five years to April 2021, while a recent “breakthrough” in talks between the UK government and the EU has calmed fears of a hard Brexit.

Significant events expected on Wednesday December 13:

Finals: TUI PLC (LON:TUI)

Interims: Dixons Carphone Plc (LON:DC), Cohort PLC (LON:CHRT), OPG Power Ventures PLC (LON:OPG), Purplebricks PLC (LON:PURP)

Trading updates: Bellway PLC (LON:BWY), Serco Group PLC (LON:SRP), John Wood Group PLC (LON:WG.)

Economic data: UK employment, average earnings; US FOMC interest rate decision;; US CPI inflation

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.333.83, down 0.1%
  • Gold: US$1,245.90 an ounce, down O.3%
  • Brent crude: US$57.51 a barrel, up 0.7%

City Headlines:

  • Disney to make £45bn bid for Fox this week: Murdoch family could get a 5% stake in US giant – Daily Mail
  • York becomes third UK city to ban Uber – Daily Telegraph
  • Cineworld faces shareholder revolt over £3bn takeover of US rival Regal – Daily Mail
  • Glencore says it is “best placed” for the electric vehicle revolution – City AM
  • Ryanair faces potential strikes in core markets – Financial Times
  • Balfour Beatty confident it has laid ground for firm recovery – The Times
  • Facebook to stop booking ad sales through Irish HQ – Financial Times
  • Toshiba and Western Digital settle legal dispute – Financial Times
  • Canada takes aim at Boeing over Bombardier tariff row – Daily Telegraph
  • Russia’s Novatek will spend as much as US$47.6bn by 2030 on liquid natural gas projects in the Arctic  - Financial Times
  • ING launches artificial intelligence bond trading tool Katana – Financial Times
  • S&P Global informs staff of post-Brexit jobs shift – Financial Times
  • Sberbank and Alibaba abandon joint venture talks – Financial Times
  • RAC warns petrol could rise by 3p per litre before Christmas as wholesale gas prices hit highest level for six year – The Independent
  • Bitcoin warning: US financial watchdogs warn investors cannot be protected – Daily Express

 

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:37:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188703/ftse-100-london-traders-keeping-their-powder-dry-ahead-of-fed-meeting-ashtead-succumbs-to-profit-taking-188703.html
<![CDATA[Serco expects 2017 profit at top end of guidance range as it signs deal with Carillion]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188719/serco-expects-2017-profit-at-top-end-of-guidance-range-as-it-signs-deal-with-carillion-188719.html Serco Group PLC (LON:SRP) said it expects to achieve profit at the top end of its guidance range in 2017 as the outsourcer announced a deal with struggling rival Carillion PLC (LON:CLLN).

Shares jumped 12.74% to 107.50p in morning trading.

The construction contractor said order intake during the year has been strong at £3.0bn, representing a book-to-bill ratio of over 100% for the first time since 2012.

Order intake includes a deal to build and operate the Grafton prison in Australia, the group's largest-ever contract win.

It also includes new contracts with the Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, the US Army Installation Management Command and US Navy Fleet Readiness Centers.

However, revenue is expected to be just under £3bn, short of its previous expectations, due to the impact of foreign exchange headwinds and the timing of contracts.  

The group also warned that the pipeline of new bid opportunities will be “noticeably lower” by the time it reports results for 2017 at between £4-5bn.

Serco inks definitive purchase agreement with Carillion 

Serco said refilling the pipeline is “unlikely to be a smooth progression” given the effect of the timing and scale of individual opportunities but has signed a definitive agreement to buy a large part of Carillion’s UK healthcare facilities management business that will boost its order book.

A portfolio of Carillion’s UK healthcare facilities management contracts and associated ancillary contracts and assets which relate to fifteen sites will be transferred to Serco on a phased basis.

An agreed proportion of the total consideration of approximately £47.7mln will be payable in instalments on the transfer of each facilities management arrangement to Serco, with the aim of receiving the bulk of the proceeds in the second and third quarters of 2018.

Serco said the contracts have an average unexpired period of around 14 years and are expected to add around £1bn to the order book.

Carillion issued its third profit warning in five months in November and said it was heading towards a breach of debt covenants and would need fresh capital.

Profit and revenue guidanace

Serco expects underlying trading profit at the top end of its previous guidance range of £65-£70mln in 2017, up 10% on the previous year.

In fiscal year 2018 it predicts underlying trading profit will rise to about £80mln on flat revenue of about £2.9bn, including the adverse impact of current foreign exchange rates.

Further afield it estimates “further good growth” in underlying trading profit in 2019, boosted by transformation savings.

Serco said it remains “broadly on track” on costs and onerous contracts, but in some markets – particularly the UK- growth has slowed.

The timing of reaching a long-term goal of 5% to 7% revenue growth will depend on "when demand reverts to trend in our target markets”.

“Beyond 2019, our long term ambitions for margins and revenue growth remain intact, but the timing of achieving these remains subject to seeing improvements in the trading conditions across our markets,” said chief executive Rupert Soames.

“In the meantime, we continue to deliver against our plans and make good progress against our strategy."

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:35:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188719/serco-expects-2017-profit-at-top-end-of-guidance-range-as-it-signs-deal-with-carillion-188719.html
<![CDATA[Faroe Petroleum says Tambar field production has resumed, full year guidance unchanged]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188717/faroe-petroleum-says-tambar-field-production-has-resumed-full-year-guidance-unchanged-188717.html Faroe Petroleum plc (LON:FPM) has announced that production has now resumed at the Tambar field, offshore Norway, following shut-down due to an incident on the Maersk Interceptor drilling rig earlier this month.

A programme of infill and gas lift installation has also resumed, the company said, and additionally it noted that a full investigation into the accident is being conducted by the authorities and the Tambar operator (AkerBP).

Faroe clarified that its production guidance for this year remains unchanged, in a range of 13,000 to 15,000 barrels oil equivalent per day.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:34:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188717/faroe-petroleum-says-tambar-field-production-has-resumed-full-year-guidance-unchanged-188717.html
<![CDATA[Dixons Carphone set to overhaul mobile business as first-half profits tumble]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188718/dixons-carphone-set-to-overhaul-mobile-business-as-first-half-profits-tumble-188718.html UK electronics retailer Dixons Carphone Plc (LON:DC.) is to overhaul its mobile phone business after a weak performance in that division contributed to a slump in first-half profits.

The group – which trades as Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse in the UK – said its electricals business was performing well, with sales in stores open for at least one year up 7% in the six months ended 28 October.

The same couldn’t be said of the mobile division, which saw like-for-like sales drop off by 3% as consumers hold on to their handsets for longer instead of replacing them as frequently as they once did.

On top of that, the delayed launch of the iPhone X this year also affected first-half sales, although they should provide a little boon in the second half.

‘Need to adapt mobile division’

Chief executive Seb James said: “We recognise that the performance of the mobile division needs addressing, and are taking action to adapt our model in order to cement our place in a changing world.

“We will update the market on these developments in due course, but we believe that we can, over time, reduce the complexity and capital intensity of our mobile business model, and increase the simplicity and profitability of what we do.”

Revenues up, profits down

The FTSE 250 firm said group revenues rose 3% to £4.9bn (H1 2016: £4.7bn) in the period, but pre-tax profits plummeted to £61mln (H1 2016: £154mln) partly because of an unfavourable revaluation of network receivables and changes to its insurance contracts.

The fall in profits was in line with what the markets had expected though, following on from a shock profit warning back in August.

Dixons added that full-year profits were likely to come in at the lower end of previous guidance and now expects to turn a profit of between £360mln and £400mln this year, down from its previous forecast of between £360mln and £440mln.

Expect store closures

“For simpler and less capital intensive, read store closures,” said ETX Capital market analyst Neil Wilson.

“With over 700 Carphone stores in a total estate in excess of 1,000 across the group, there is ample opportunity to rationalise the Carphone estate and improve profitability in mobile while still retaining a dominant market position.

“Indeed with the stock trading at such low multiples, as far as the investment case goes one could easily argue that size of the store estate is really an opportunity rather than a problem.

“This ought to go down well with investors, although there remain concerns about how the electricals business will hold up in the face of slowing consumer spending.”

Shares rose 6.2% to 177.8p early on Wednesday.

--Updates for share price and analyst comment--

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:31:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188718/dixons-carphone-set-to-overhaul-mobile-business-as-first-half-profits-tumble-188718.html
<![CDATA[Savannah Resources hits 'some of best grades ever seen in Europe' at lithium deposit in Portugal]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188721/savannah-resources-hits-some-of-best-grades-ever-seen-in-europe-at-lithium-deposit-in-portugal-188721.html Savannah Resources Plc (LON:SAV) has found some of the highest grades of lithium oxide ever seen in Europe from its latest drilling programme in Portugal.

Significant intersections of lithium mineralisation were crossed from a shallow drilling programme at Mina do Barroso, which Savannah now describes as outstanding deposit.

“These intercepts represent some of the best lithium spodumene intersections ever reported for a European deposit,” it said.

Drill results from three deposits, Grandao; Reservatorio and NOA, are now being targeted to confirm the potential.

Grandao returned a mineralised zone of over 100m, with the broadest and most significant results for the project to date.

Grades included 52m in one hole at 1.32% lithium oxide and 71m at 1.06% in another, with a high grade zone of more than 2.1% Li₂O in a third hole.

An additional 16 holes have been added to the drilling programme to help outline the full potential of the Grandao deposit, with geological specialists brought in to help with the development.

Reservatorio also saw lithium oxide grades of more than 1% with a maiden resource expected by the end of 2017

At NOA, the drilling of a further 6 holes has confirmed the presence of lithium mineralisation over a 200m strike length.

David Archer, Savannah’s chief executive said: "We believe these are outstanding results that represent some of the best lithium spodumene intersections ever reported for a European deposit.

“Additionally, they highlight the potential of the extensive pegmatite systems in the northern part of Portugal to host major deposits of lithium.” 

"The results from Grandao are particularly exciting as there are some exceptional widths and high-grades reported and the geometry of what we are seeing suggests that there is potential for a low stripping ratio, open-cut mine development.

“It is important to remember that all of the results are from deposit areas for which we have a granted mining lease.

Archer added Mina do Barroso might be similar to the very successful Australian hard-rock, open cut mine developments which produce highly sought-after lithium spodumene concentrates for international markets.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:30:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188721/savannah-resources-hits-some-of-best-grades-ever-seen-in-europe-at-lithium-deposit-in-portugal-188721.html
<![CDATA[Intertek acquires security certification specialist Acumen]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188716/intertek-acquires-security-certification-specialist-acumen-188716.html Quality assurance services provider Intertek Group PLC (LON:ITRK) is to acquire security certification solutions provider Acumen Security for an undisclosed sum.

Acumen, based in Maryland, USA, provides numerous services including FIPS 140-2 validation – FIPS 140-2 is a US government computer security standard – and common criteria evaluation.

"The acquisition of Acumen, with its end-to-end product security certification and assurance services is in line with our portfolio strategy of investing in fast growing businesses with good margin prospects,” said André Lacroix, the chief executive officer of Intertek.

Shares in the FTSE 100 firm were unchanged on the news.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:27:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188716/intertek-acquires-security-certification-specialist-acumen-188716.html
<![CDATA[Stratex says Thani Stratex resources statement has been tweaked; no change to headline number]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188714/stratex-says-thani-stratex-resources-statement-has-been-tweaked-no-change-to-headline-number-188714.html Stratex International plc (LON:STI) said the resource statement from Thani Stratex Resources for the Anbat gold project in Egypt has been tweaked after being released to the market prematurely.

That said, the inferred mineral resource remains unchanged at 209,000 ounces at 1.11 grams per tonne.

The material change to the original resource estimate relates to the conceptual pit optimisation. The revised statement can be viewed here.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:14:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188714/stratex-says-thani-stratex-resources-statement-has-been-tweaked-no-change-to-headline-number-188714.html
<![CDATA[Chariot Oil & Gas sees historically low deep-water well costs as it looks forward to busier 2018]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188715/chariot-oil-gas-sees-historically-low-deep-water-well-costs-as-it-looks-forward-to-busier-2018-188715.html Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (LON:CHAR) confirmed it is working to take advantage of the current historically low costs for deep-water well drilling, as it advances towards an expected March 2018 spud for the Rabat Deep exploration well offshore Morocco.

“Having previously taken advantage of the low seismic acquisition rates, Chariot is now focusing on the supply and demand dynamics of the deepwater drilling rig market.

“With rig rates at historic lows, Chariot has initiated a process to analyse how the company can benefit from this lower cost environment.”

Chariot added that it continues to have strict capital discipline, it has reduced annual cash overhead for the fourth year in a row, and it said it has a strong cash position and remains debt free.

Chief executive Larry Bottomley said: “Over the last two years, Chariot has been able to capitalise on the low cost base for seismic acquisition and processing, and has consequently been able to mature its portfolio and build a drilling inventory of potentially transformational prospects.

“This readjustment of costs following the oil price fall of 2014 has now affected the drilling market, and the company is looking to capitalise on drilling costs as successfully as we delivered in our seismic campaigns.”

“Looking ahead, we are focused on delivering three exploration wells in the near-term and have established an in-house drilling team to deliver this programme safely, efficiently and cost-effectively.”

At Rabat Deep, where Chariot is partnered with ENI, drilling is due to start in March. The well is targeting the JP-1 prospect which with the potential for 768mln barrels of crude is one of the sectors larger wells in the schedule for the new year.

Chariot highlighted the significant follow-on potential, should Rabat Deep prove successful, as there are six further leads in the same play which will all be de-risked by a discovery.

Separately, also offshore Morocco, Chariot is also advancing the Kenitra where drilling could take place in the first half of 2019. Here, a partnering process is now underway and early pre-drill preparations have started.

Offshore Namibia, a partnering process is also underway for the Central Blocks - blocks 2312 and 2412A – and the company is targeting a well in the second half of 2018, for Prospect S which is estimated at some 459mln barrels.

A further partnering process could get underway in the first half of next year, for the group’s exploration assets in Brazil. It will come after Chariot’s work to date, which has seen an evaluation of proprietary 3D seismic data across four exploration areas.

Chariot said it has identified large structural prospects, with multiple targets. Those prospects will now be assessed independently for a resource estimate and the partnering process will then follow.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:04:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188715/chariot-oil-gas-sees-historically-low-deep-water-well-costs-as-it-looks-forward-to-busier-2018-188715.html
<![CDATA[Ortac moving closer to full ownership of Casa Mining]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188713/ortac-moving-closer-to-full-ownership-of-casa-mining-188713.html Ortac Resources Ltd (LON:OTC) has increased its stake in Casa Mining to 84.7% from roughly 45% at the time it announced its offer last month.

To date, Ortac has issued 66.55mln shares to Casa shareholders, and potentially another 33.45mln could be issued if it ends up with 100% of Casa.

READ Ortac Resources takes controlling stake in Casa Mining, launches offer for whole company

The offer remains open until 10 May of next year.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:58:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188713/ortac-moving-closer-to-full-ownership-of-casa-mining-188713.html
<![CDATA[BAT says it is continuing to perform well, with trading in line with expectations]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188712/bat-says-it-is-continuing-to-perform-well-with-trading-in-line-with-expectations-188712.html British American Tobacco plc (LON:BATS) has said it is continuing to perform well with trading in line with the cigarette maker’s expectations

In a pre-close season trading update, the FTSE 100 listed maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes added that it was confident it would deliver another year of good earnings growth at constant currency as its brands outperformed the industry.

READ: BAT expects revenues from "next generation products" to double to over £1bn next year

BAT said that its markets in Canada, Germany, Romania, Bangladesh and Ukraine were performing well, but that conditions remaining challenging in Russia, the Gulf states, Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia.

The group added that its full year earnings per share will benefit from a reduced currency translation tailwind of 5%.

Away from cigarettes, the firm said the rollout of its glo e-cigarette product in Japan is complete and has continued its excellent performance with its national share now at 2.7%.

It added that glo has also been successfully launched in Canada, Switzerland, South Korea and Russia and is now available in a total of five countries.

BAT also said its vaping share in Western Europe continues to grow and the performance of VUSE in the US remains strong.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:55:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188712/bat-says-it-is-continuing-to-perform-well-with-trading-in-line-with-expectations-188712.html
<![CDATA[OPG Power Ventures hails strong operational performance]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188711/opg-power-ventures-hails-strong-operational-performance-188711.html Interim results from India-focused generator OPG Power Ventures plc (LON:OPG) confirmed what the market had been primed to expect: that a strong operational performance had been offset by higher seaborne coal prices.

It is said its designation as a ‘captive’ producer of electricity to the industrial sector in Gujarat ‘reaffirms’ the company’s business model there and should strengthen its cash flow.

In the same announcement it added it was making significant progress in both Gujarat and Tamil Nadu on receivables and is still hopeful of collecting certain monies it is owed by the end of the current financial year.  

“Healthy operational performance, forecast reduction in coal prices and anticipated tariff increases in Tamil Nadu keep us optimistic about the prospects for the company in full-year 2019,” said Arvind Gupta.

In the six months to September 31, total generation rose to 2.39bn units from 2.37bn in the corresponding period last year. Plant load factor at Chennai and Gujarat were 73% and 81% respectively.

Gearing was 55%, with OPG’s net debt falling £12mln in the period under review.

Dividend 

Investors will receive a 0.72p dividend, with a number taking the payout in shares instead of cash.

Revenues for the six months were flat at around £114mln, giving underlying earnings of £22mln, down from £42.1mln and reflective of that sharp rise in coal prices.

At the pre-tax level, OPG recorded a £2.9mln loss. Chairman Gupta told investors he expects a return to profitability in the next financial year.

Diversifying its portfolio, the company is developing a 62 megawatt solar project at Karnataka, in south-western India, which is due to be commissioned in 2018.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:54:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188711/opg-power-ventures-hails-strong-operational-performance-188711.html
<![CDATA[TUI delivers full year earnings growth on strong demand for hotels and cruises]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188709/tui-delivers-full-year-earnings-growth-on-strong-demand-for-hotels-and-cruises-188709.html Travel operator TUI AG (LON:TUI) delivered growth in underlying earnings in 2017, driven by a strong performance in its hotel and cruise division.

In the year to 30 September 2017, underlying earnings (EBITA) came to €1.1bn, up 10.2% on last year at actual exchange rates or 12.0% at constant currency.  Turnover edged up 8.1% on a reported basis or 11.7% at constant currency to €18.5bn.

The hotels and cruise unit was the star performer with underlying EBITA up 131%, helping to offset the impact of higher than average levels of pilots and crew calling in sick at TUI’s carrier TUIfly at the start of the year and Air Berlin’s collapse.

TUI took a €15mln hit related to receivables for aircraft and crew leased to Air Berlin, which filed for insolvency in August.

Return on invested capital (ROIC) rose 1.7 percentage points to 23.6%.

The dividend was raised by 12.0% to €0.65 each.  

Looking ahead, the group said it continues to expect to achieve double digit annual earnings growth with less seasonality, strong cash conversion and robust return on invested capital (ROIC) performance.

In fiscal year 2018, TUI estimates a 10% increase in underlying EBITA and reiterated its guidance for at least a 10% underlying EBITA compound annual growth rate through to fiscal year 2020.

“We have a clear ambition - strong strategic positioning, strong earnings growth and strong cash generation, with underlying EBITA doubling between FY14 and FY20,” TUI said.

TUI said winter trading was in line with expectations and has seen an improvement in Turkey.

On Brexit, the company said it has put contingency plans in place to manage a potential disruption to its operations. UK airlines have raised concerns that leaving the EU without a Brexit deal would mean losing all flying rights to the bloc.

TUI called for a transition agreement after Brexit to ensure a smooth transition.

“Despite the Brexit backdrop, the UK continues to deliver a resilient performance in line with our expectations,” the company said.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:52:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188709/tui-delivers-full-year-earnings-growth-on-strong-demand-for-hotels-and-cruises-188709.html
<![CDATA[Curzon Energy updates on progress at Coos Bay coal bed methane project]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188706/curzon-energy-updates-on-progress-at-coos-bay-coal-bed-methane-project-188706.html Curzon Energy Plc (LON:CZN) has updated on its operations at the Coos Bay coal bed methane project, in Oregon, where clean-out works have now been completed for three of five wells in the programme.

Work has now begun on the fourth well and it is expected that the fifth will be complete in the coming weeks. Thereafter, it is anticipated that each of the wells will be put on production testing.

"We are delighted that operations continue to progress as expected,” said Stephen Schoepfer, Curzon managing director.

“With only two workovers remaining we look forward to initiating a thorough well testing programme on all five wells shortly and look forward to updating shareholders on our progress in due course."

The company highlighted that each of the clean-out operations in the wells have, to date, encountered sand and coal within the well bores, as expected, and it believes that their presence may have created restrictions to the well’s previous gas flows.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:49:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188706/curzon-energy-updates-on-progress-at-coos-bay-coal-bed-methane-project-188706.html
<![CDATA[Bacanora Minerals predicts Sonora will be major lithium producer as study values it at US$1.25bn]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188710/bacanora-minerals-predicts-sonora-will-be-major-lithium-producer-as-study-values-it-at-us125bn-188710.html Bacanora Minerals Ltd’s (LON:BCN) Sonora project in Mexico can become one of the world’s foremost lithium deposits said chief executive Peter Secker after a definitive feasibility study valued it at US$1.25bn.

The study confirmed the favourable operating costs for a 35,000 tonnes per annum battery grade lithium carbonate operation, he said. 

Net Present Value, aggregated net cash flows, is US$1.25bn at an 8% discount rate over an estimated nineteen years of operation, though potentially Sonora has enough metal to run for over 200 years.

Sonora is to be developed in two stages with the first phase to cost US$420mln and produce 17,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.

The second phase will kick in after four years, cost US$380mln and double production to 35,000tpa.

Bacanora will process the lithium oxide ore itself to produce a carbonate of sufficient quailty to be used in electric batteries for vehicles and storage.

Operating costs are estimated at US$3,190 per tonne compared to a current spot for price for lithium carbonate of between US$12-20,000.

The DFS, however, used a price of US$11,000 per tonne, which generates an internal rate of return of 26% and average annual earnings of US$229mln.

Revenues were based on a flat US$11,000/t for battery grade, while the cost projection put Sonora below new lithium brine operations being established in Argentina.

Sonora has a resource of five million tonnes, comprising 1.9Mt of measured resources and 3.1Mt indicated of lithium carbonate equivalent with a further 3.7Mt in the inferred category.

There is also potential to sell up to 30,000tpa of potassium sulphate to the Mexican fertiliser industry as a by-product.

The numbers speak for themselves added Secker, who expects the pace of development to quicken now with commissioning of the mine and plant scheduled for 2019. 

"Thanks to the work we carried out in parallel with the FS, notably the securing of a long term off-take agreement and strategic partnership with leading Japanese trading house Hanwa, the issuance of an environmental permit, and the acquisition of surface rights, we are in a position to commence the development phase of Sonora.” 

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:46:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188710/bacanora-minerals-predicts-sonora-will-be-major-lithium-producer-as-study-values-it-at-us125bn-188710.html
<![CDATA[BATM’s Telco Systems subsidiary launches virtual cybersecurity solution]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188708/batms-telco-systems-subsidiary-launches-virtual-cybersecurity-solution-188708.html BATM Advanced Communications Ltd’s (LON:BVC) software development subsidiary, Telco  Systems, has partnered up with Tokyo firm Trend Micro to launch a cybersecurity solution for deployment across virtual networks.

London-listed BATM said the new virtual network function enhances the group’s market position by expanding its network function virtualisation portfolio to include security.

Importantly, it is the only vSecurity solution provided by a worldwide vendor that can operate on both Arm and Intel platforms.

The “high quality network security service” also provides increased performance, flexibility and cost savings, BATM said.

“We are delighted to now be able to offer a cybersecurity solution in our NFV portfolio, which we believe is the most sophisticated option available,” said chief executive Zvi Marom.

“Our partnership with Trend Micro, a global leader in its field, is testament to the strength of our NFV offer and the increasing momentum that we are gaining in this key target market for our networking and cyber division.

Marom added: “We look forward to continuing to expand our portfolio to offer the most comprehensive NFV platform to telecoms operators and managed service providers globally.”

This latest launch is part of BATM's strategy to leverage the telecom-industry transition from hardware to Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:42:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188708/batms-telco-systems-subsidiary-launches-virtual-cybersecurity-solution-188708.html
<![CDATA[Keywords acquires Eastern European games development services provider]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188707/keywords-acquires-eastern-european-games-development-services-provider-188707.html Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS), the technical services provider to the global video games industry, is on the acquisition trail again – this time in Eastern Europe.

It has acquired Sperasoft Inc and Sperasoft Studio LLC for US$27mln from the founders, all of whom will remain with the business.

US$22mln of the consideration will be satisfied in cash, with the remainder satisfied through the issue of 260,049 Keywords shares to the sellers on the first anniversary of the acquisition.

Although headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Sperasoft has production studios in St Petersburg and Volgograd, Russia and Krakow, Poland, from which it provides game development, art creation and software engineering services to video game developers and publishers around the world.

Sperasoft’s clients have included Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Riot Games.

Keywords said Sperasoft adds considerable expertise and scale to the UK company’s new and growing Engineering Services business and adds additional scale to the Art creation business. 

Sperasoft also provides Keywords with production centres and supporting management in Russia and Poland, both of which are important locations for video game services talent across all of Keywords’ service lines.

The acquisition is expected to enhance Keywords’ earnings in the first year of ownership. Sperasoft’s revenue last year clocked in at US$16mln and is expected to grow this year to around US$20mln. Underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be around US$2mln this year.

"The acquisition of Sperasoft provides us with an entry point into co-development, positioning us as a strategic partner to games developers at the early stages of the games development lifecycle. As games are becoming bigger and are higher definition, game developers are increasingly relying upon co-development arrangements with companies like Sperasoft to provide them with broader capability to develop both initial games and additional content and features post-launch,” said Andrew Day, the chief executive officer of Keywords.

"Sperasoft adds considerably to our engineering services division which we intend to continue to build organically and through acquisition, as well as significantly enlarging our range of services and geographic footprint,” he added.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:33:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188707/keywords-acquires-eastern-european-games-development-services-provider-188707.html
<![CDATA[Carillion inks definitive sale agreement for disposal of bulk of its UK healthcare facilities busine]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188705/carillion-inks-definitive-sale-agreement-for-disposal-of-bulk-of-its-uk-healthcare-facilities-business-188705.html Carillion PLC (LON:CLLN) has now entered into a definitive sale agreement with Serco PLC (LON:SRP) for the disposal of a large part of its UK healthcare facilities management business.

Further to its announcement on October 24, the struggling construction contractor said today that a portfolio of UK healthcare facilities management contracts and associated ancillary contracts and assets which relate to fifteen sites will be transferred to Serco on a phased basis.

READ: Carillion shares up as stock overhang cleared after biggest shareholder, Kiltearn halves stake

The firm said an agreed proportion of the total consideration of approximately £47.7mln will be payable in instalments on the transfer of each facilities management arrangement to Serco, with the aim of receiving the bulk of the proceeds in the second and third quarters of 2018

After taking account of fees, costs and taxes, it added, the net disposal proceeds are expected to be £41.4mln which will used to reduce the firm’s debt.

Keith Cochrane, Carillion's Interim chief executive, said: “I am pleased we have been able to successfully conclude this transaction which will contribute to our efforts to reduce net debt."

Carillion issued its third profit warning in five months in November and said it was heading towards a breach of debt covenants and would need fresh capital.

The group's shares have slumped by over 90% since it first issued a profit warning and its CEO quit in July but have been rallying this week helped by the clearance of a stock overhang after Scottish investment firm Kiltearn Partners, the firm’s largest shareholder was revealed to have halved its stake in the company.

Kiltearn cut its stake in Carillion to 4.94% on December 7, down from 9.85% previously, a notification of major holdings statement revealed.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:33:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188705/carillion-inks-definitive-sale-agreement-for-disposal-of-bulk-of-its-uk-healthcare-facilities-business-188705.html
<![CDATA[Europa Oil & Gas sees potential for major new discoveries near Ireland’s Corrib gas field]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188704/europa-oil-gas-sees-potential-for-major-new-discoveries-near-irelands-corrib-gas-field-188704.html Europa Oil & Gas Holdings Plc (LON:EOG) has identified the potential for more than 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in its exploration area, in the Slyne basin, adjacent to Ireland’s Corrib field.

Corrib is Ireland’s largest producing offshore gas field, with significant infrastructure to shore, and the AIM quoted explorer is assessing the nearby area for new discoveries.

Geological mapping work has now outlined a number of significant structures, Europa said, and whilst these structures are of a size to potentially host in excess of 2.5 TCF of gas the company is presently advancing work for formal estimates of prospective resources.

Europa’s mapping follows new technical work on past 3D seismic data, as well as newly available data from a Shell well drilled back in 2010 which suggested the presence of gas in the Corrib North target some 7 kilometres away from the Corrib field.

Giving specific details Europa highlighted that a group of three prospects, to be known as the Foyle prospects, could host 2 TCF alone.

Europa anticipates having resource estimates together in the first half of the new year, and at the same time it is committing to further technical work designed to upgrade the Foyle prospects to ‘drillable’ status.

“This work by Europa validates the early technical promise shown when we made our licence application,” said Hugh Mackay, Europa chief executive.

“The Foyle prospects in particular have stood up to detailed scrutiny and mapping indicates a gas in place in excess of 2 TCF.

“In addition, we are pleased to identify proven gas in Corrib North, which not only significantly de-risks this structure, but also the Foyle prospects. “

Mackay added: “Whilst there is a popular conception that Atlantic Ireland is deep water, high risk frontier exploration this is not true of the Slyne Basin where the multiple prospects we have identified in LO 16/20 are mostly in relatively shallow water (400-600m) and represent lower risk exploration and appraisal close to the producing Corrib gas field. LO16/20, along with LO16/21 which is also located in the Slyne Basin, are a key component of our industry-leading licence position offshore Ireland.”

Europa has an inventory of seven licences offshore Ireland, spanning 5,818 square kilometres and host to some 30 prospects (identified to date) which have been estimated at the desktop to contain some 4.7bn barrels of crude and 1.5 TCF of gas.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:29:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188704/europa-oil-gas-sees-potential-for-major-new-discoveries-near-irelands-corrib-gas-field-188704.html
<![CDATA[Yellen & Co in focus as Fed looks set to raise rates; TUI, Dixons Carphone, Bellway to update]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188657/yellen-co-in-focus-as-fed-looks-set-to-raise-rates-tui-dixons-carphone-bellway-to-update-188657.html The main focus for Wednesday will inevitably be on the last Federal Reserve policy decision of 2017, which is widely-anticipated to lead to another hike in interest rates as the US economy continues to grow, unemployment falls and inflation inches closer towards the 2% target. 

In minutes from the Fed’s November meeting, policymakers said another increase in the central bank's target range would probably be needed “in the near term” provided the economy remains on track, though it also warned that inflation may remain below target for longer than expected.

But Fed chair Janet Yellen, who will be replaced by Jerome Powell when she retires in February, has predicted inflation will soon rebound and thinks the central bank should continue to gradually raise rates.

“The FOMC will almost certainly hike by 25 basis points at the upcoming December meeting,” according to analysts at UBS.

“Minutes for the November meeting and recent Fedspeak show growing concern about inflation among FOMC participants, but not enough to stay their hand at this meeting.”

Strategy update eyed from TUI after hurricanes impact

On the corporate front, full-year results from TUI AG (LON:TUI) on Wednesday should see the travel giant make good on its pledge to increase full-year underlying earnings (EBITDA) by at least 10%, despite the impact of recent hurricanes on its Caribbean and Florida operations.

In a trading update at the end of September, the company said its hotel and cruise brands had continued to perform very well.

The results statement is likely to contain an update on the company’s strategy, and might also contain commentary on the likely impact of sterling’s indifferent performance on foreign exchange markets.

Slower iPhone 8 sales to weigh on Dixons Carphone

A tough first half has already been flagged up by Dixons Carphone along with its profit warning in August, especially given the timing of one-off gains last year for comparatives.

In recent note, UBS said it is forecasting the FTSE 250 listed firm to report first half pre-tax profit of £67mln on Wednesday, down over 50% year-on-year, with weaker Phone 8 sales likely to have depressed Dixons Carphone’s second quarter sales.

The Swiss bank’s analysts also trimmed their second half pre-tax profit estimate by £20mln, taking its full year forecast down to £370mln, to reflect the possibility that some handset demand will spill over into next year as the split launch of the Apple 8 and X phones has been unhelpful.

The analysts pointed out, however, that sales over the Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day Sale peak periods remain significant swing factors, and investors will be very keen to hear how current trading is going currently.

Lofty expectations for Bellway

Housebuilder Bellway PLC (LON:BWY) is also due to give a first quarter update on Wednesday and expectations are pretty lofty.

That’s because fellow housebuilder Berkeley Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) last week upped its profits forecasts for the five years to April 2021, while a recent “breakthrough” in talks between the UK government and the EU has calmed fears of a hard Brexit.

Despite claims to the contrary, Halifax’s latest house price index suggested the UK property market is in rude health with prices advancing 3.9% in the year to November.

Analysts have taken the figure with a pinch of salt, but it ties in with what Bellway said in its full year results in October that trading and demand remained strong despite various macro uncertainties.

Significant events expected on Wednesday December 13:

Finals: TUI PLC (LON:TUI)

Interims: Dixons Carphone Plc (LON:DC), Cohort PLC (LON:CHRT), OPG Power Ventures PLC (LON:OPG), Purplebricks PLC (LON:PURP)

Trading update: Bellway PLC (LON:BWY), Serco Group PLC (LON:SRP), John Wood Group PLC (LON:WG.)

Economic data: UK employment, average earnings; US FOMC interest rate decision;; US CPI inflation

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:00:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188657/yellen-co-in-focus-as-fed-looks-set-to-raise-rates-tui-dixons-carphone-bellway-to-update-188657.html
<![CDATA[ FTSE 100 closes higher as energy stocks provide a boost; supermarkets weigh ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188628/ftse-100-closes-higher-as-energy-stocks-provide-a-boost-supermarkets-weigh-188628.html
  • FTSE 100 closes up almost 47 pts at 7,500

  • Supermarkets weigh; energy shares up

  • Fed interest rate decision in focus

  • FTSE 100 closed higher on Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Index surged and energy stocks gave the top share index a boost.

    It closed out the afternoon session up almost 44 points at 5,500, while the FTSE 250 was also higher, but not as much, notching an 8.4 point gain to finish at 20,073.

    "The FTSE 100 is higher as energy stocks are receiving a boost from the upturn in the oil market on account of the Forties North Sea pipeline being closed for maintenance," said David Madden, at CMC Markets.

    "Brent Crude oil hit a level not seen since early June 2015 and that has pushed up the price of Royal Dutch Shell and BP.

    Brent is up over 2% at the time of writing, at US$64.69 a barrel.

    Meanwhile, BP (LON:BP.) shares added 3.7% to US$511p and Shell was up 1.38% to 2,445.78p.

    On Footsie the biggest gainer was credit firm Experian (LON:EXPN) which added 1.97% to 1,604 as it announced news it is set to acquire a minority stake in the mortgage adviser firm London & Country Mortgages Limited (L&C).

    On the downside, supermarket Morrison (LON:MRW) was the biggest faller, shedding 4.69% to 211.50p.

    It came as it emerged that British grocery inflation hit its highest level since 2013 in the 12 weeks to 3 December, according to research group Kantar Worldpanel.

    On Wall Street, the Dow is up over 141 points, but the Nasdaq is down a shade - off 0.02%.

    FTSE 100 with new impetus

    The FTSE 100 gained new impetus after US markets opened.

    The top-shares index was up 36 at 7,489 heading into the last hour of trading, very close to its highest level for the day.

    Recruitment firm Robert Walters PLC (LON:RWA) was going well after raising profit expectations this morning in a brief trading statement.

    The shares were up 7.4% at 591.5p in afternoon trading after the company said profit for 2017 is expected to be materially ahead of current market expectations.

    The first two months of the final quarter of the year have seen strong trading across all divisions.

    “Although further details are due to follow with the FY17 trading update on 9 January we take the opportunity to increase our FY17 PBT [profit before tax] estimate by 10% at this stage,” said Liberum Capital Markets.

    Liberum reiterated its 'buy' recommendation and bumped up its target price to 650p from 595p.

    3.00pm: US stocks open mixed

    US stocks opened mixed, though the Dow Jones powered to another high.

    The Dow Jones average shot up 80 points to 24,468 but the S&P 500 was barely changed while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 6 points at 6,870.

    Closer to home, the FTSE 100 continued to trade sideways on or around the 7,475 level as it had done for most of the day.

    Miner and commodities trader Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) went against the flow, shedding 1.2% on the day of its big investor presentation.

    The company believes it is best-placed large cap resources company for the electrical vehicle revolution.

    Said revolution will be driven, if you will forgive the pun, by lithium, which is the area where Cadence Minerals Plc (LON:KDNC) is focusing on.

    Yesterday, it saw its shares rise on news it is to acquire up to 100% of six prospective hard rock lithium assets in Argentina; today, it was up 18% after directors Andrew Suckling, Kiran Morzaria, Donald Strang and Adrian Fairbourn all committed to each purchase £1,000 of ordinary shares per month for 12 months.

    2.00pm: FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 go their separate ways

    The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 continued to go their separate ways over the lunchtime trading session.

    The FTSE 100 was up 17 at 7,470 while the FTSE 250 was down 58 at 20,006.

    Mid-cap chemicals firm Elementis PLC (LON:ELM) was doing its bit to shore up the FTSE 250, rising 2.2% on the sale of its Surfactants business for €39mln,

    Homeserve PLC (LON:HSV) was another mid-cap on the rise after JP Morgan upgraded the stock.

    A broker upgrade was not doing much good for FTSE 100 stock easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ), however, which dipped 9p to 1,430p.

    Irish broker Davy upgraded the low-cost airline to 'outperform' from 'neutral'.

    12.45pm: US stocks expected to open higher

    With US indices expected to press on to new highs when Wall Street opens, UK blue-chips remained firmly in positive territory.

    Spread betting quotes indicate the S&P 500 will open at around 2,664.3 after rising 8.5 points yesterday to a new high of 2,660.

    In London, the FTSE 100 was up 20 at 7,474, a couple of points below its high for the day.

    The mid-cap FTSE 250, however, was off 43 points at 20,022, weighed down by mining stocks Evraz plc (LON:EVR), down 3.5%, and Acacia Mining PLC (LON:ACA), down 3.1%.

    Former mid-cap stalwart Carillion PLC (LON:CLLN) continued its revival after the clearing of a stock overhang earlier this week.

    READ Carillion shares up as stock overhang cleared after biggest shareholder, Kiltearn halves stake

    http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188586/Carillion-shares-up-as-stock-overhang-cleared-after-biggest-shareholder-kiltearn-halves-stake-188586.html

    The shares were up 9.1% at 18p, putting the shares in the top 20 performers of the day.

    Weatherly International plc (LON:WTI) was one of yesterday's big fallers yesterday after disappointing results but bounced back today after signing a binding agreement to purchase the Kitumba copper project in Zambia.

    The shares rose 9.1% to 0.90p.

    11.30am: The Footsie hovers near its intra-day high

    The FTSE 100 was hovering near its high for the day in the last knockings of the morning trading session.

    The blue-chip index was up 19 at 7,473, helped by demand for index heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) and BP (LON:BP).

    Both energy giants were up around 1.5% as the price of Brent Crude rose 1.4% on the futures market.

    US-focused tool and plant hire group Ashtead Group PLC (LON:AHT) saw its early gains pared to a still-handsome 31p at 2,050p.

    The group said it is kicking off a share buyback programme that will see at least £500mln of shares bought back over the next 18 months, and maybe as much as a billion quid's worth.

    House-builders remained a little under pressure following the release of the release of UK house prices statistics for October from the Land Registry/Office of National Statistics.

    The ONS reported house prices fell by 0.5% in October, trimming the year-on-year increase to 4.5% from 4.8% in September.

    “Housing market activity is currently subdued and faltering. Indeed, the latest data from the Bank of England shows that mortgage approvals for house purchases slowed for a third month running to be at 13-month low of 64,575 in October. This was down from 66,111 in September, 67,169 in August and a six-month high of 69,316 in July,” noted Howard Archer, chief economic advisor the EY ITEM Club.

    Archer expects house prices to rise “a modest 2-3% in 2018”.

    Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) was the sector's biggest blue-chip faller, shedding 1.6%, but Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.), down 1.5%, was not far behind.

    10.30am: Kantar supermarket data deals blow to Sainsbury's and Morrisons

    Supermarkets were slowing the rise of the Footsie in the wake of the release of inflation data.

    British grocery inflation hit its highest level since 2013 in the 12 weeks to 3 December, according to market research group Kantar Worldpanel.

    Price rises in products such as butter, fish and fresh pork drove the increase.

    Overall supermarket sales increased in value by 3.1% year-on-year during the period.

    Coincidentally, the headline consumer price index (CPI), which includes food and energy, was up 3.1% year-on-year in November.

    Economists had pencilled in a 3.0% rise.

    “After hiking rates for the first time in a decade at their previous meeting, it is obvious that the BoE are concerned with the persistent above-target inflation, which is outstripping wage growth and meaning that workers are facing pay cuts in real terms,” commented David Cheetham, the chief market analyst at XTB.

    “Despite today’s data it remains highly unlikely we see another rate hike later this week, but there could well be more posturing towards one from rate-setters, as we saw back in September. With the next rate hike not expected until this time next year it is becoming increasingly hard for the BoE to justify their current monetary policy stance with inflation so far above target,” he added.

    James Smith, the economist at ING covering developed markets, said today's reading is unlikely to become the start of a new trend.

    “Most of the cause of today's above-consensus 3.1% inflation reading - namely higher contributions from computer games and airfares - will likely prove temporary. Whilst the headline rate may hover around 3-3.1% over the next two or three months, the bulk of the pass-through from the weaker pound has now occurred and we expect inflation to gradually converge on 2% through the middle-latter part of next year,” Smith said.

    The FTSE 100 was up 22 at 7,475 and would have been higher still were it not for supermarket giants J Sainsbury plc (LON:SBRY) and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) occupying the bottom two places in the Footsie seller.

    Both were down 3.0%.

    Kantar's data showed Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) performed best of the big four supermarkets in the three months to the end of November.

    Its sales rose 2.5%, whereas Sainsbury's and Morrisons clocked up rises of 2% and 1.4%, respectively – but at least they beat Asda, which was sales rise 1.2%.

    All of the big four lost market share to German retailers Aldi and Lidl. For the 12 week period Aldi's market share rose to 6.9% from 6.2%, while Lidl's market share grew to 5.1% from 4.6%.

    Also in the cellar was house-builder Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) after the release of the UK house price index for October, which showed house price growth in London – one of Persimmon's core areas – continued to lag other parts of the growth.

    “London's slowdown is no fall from grace, just a necessary correction following the exUberant price growth of a few years ago,” suggested Jonathan Samuels, the chief executive officer of property lender Octane Capital.

    “Prices in certain London boroughs are still stratospheric compared to other areas of the country.

    "The fact that you can still buy 15 houses in Burnley for the price of just one in Kensington and Chelsea is a case in point,” he noted.

    "While transaction levels are relatively low overall, it's hard to see the average UK growth rate falling much below its current level,” he opined.

    9.30am: Inflation rate rises more than expected to 3.1%

    The UK inflation rate has risen to 3.1%, which means the Bank of England's governor, Mark Carney, will need to fire off an explanatory letter.

    “Carney has been forced to blow the dust off his quill pen as inflation rose to 3.1% this morning, the highest in almost six years,” observed Alex Lydall, head of dealing at Foenix Partners.

    “The mere fact Governor Carney now must officially write to the Chancellor portrays the importance of this print specifically, recording levels we haven’t seen since April 2012. It seems the UK has taken one step forward in Brexit negotiations last week, then two back with Inflation rising and pessimists rightly pointing out that stage one of negotiations being complete pales in significance to the bumpy road ahead, as trade deals are not on the agenda,” he continued.

    “As the UK still struggles to come to terms with Brexit, the US is set to raise rates again tomorrow exemplifying the gulf in economic progress between the two allies,” Lydall opined.

    The FTSE 100 took the inflation news in its stride, extending its early gain to 16 points, at 7,469.

    8.30am: FTSE 100 crawls higher at the outset

    The FTSE 100 got off to a slow start, barely making it into positive territory, thanks entirely to a positive response to Ahstead's results.

    The FTSE 100 was up 4 at 7,457, with Ashtead Group PLC (LON:AHT) leading the way, up 3.8%, after it lifted its full-year outlook.

    It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the US-focused tool and plant hire company saw an uptick in business thanks to repair work done in the wake of the hurricane season.

    Among the mid-caps, Balfour Beatty plc (LON:BBY) edged up 1% to 274.7p after its trading update.

    The infrastructure specialist – no stranger to profit warnings – calmed nerves by saying performance in 2017 remains in line with expectations, with the order book “broadly in line with the half-year, post disposals”.

    “No further news on Aberdeen Ring Road, where the weather has deteriorated over the last two weeks, but comfortable with provisions for now,” said Liberum Capital, in a research note that appears to have been delivered via telegram.

    Liberum's Joe Brent, who rates the shares a 'buy', observed that there has been no profit warning since March 2016.

    Among the small caps, ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) shot up 54% to 4.8p after it provided a positive update on the clinical progress of VAL401.

    VAL401 is the anti-cancer compound developed by ValiSeek, the joint venture between ValiRx and Tangent Reprofiling Limited. 

    The results demonstrated that the VAL401 treatment has a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer compared to those receiving no treatment.

    Proactive news headlines:

    ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) shares surged on Tuesday after the biotech said its VAL401 drug had a “statistically significant” improvement in overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer compared to those receiving no treatment.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) is starting to realise the benefits of its investment programme, with average bookings in the months since September more than 30% higher than in preceding six months.

    The draft report from the scientific inquiry into fracking in Australia’s Northern Territory is in – and on first reading it looks like good news for Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG, CVE: FO). Falcon is sitting on a major shale discovery in the Beetaloo basin, within the NT, though its recent progress has been halted by a moratorium on fracking. Big Pic in February.

    Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has followed up yesterday’s massive resource upgrade with an operations update confirming that it remains on-track for first production from the Lancaster oil field during the first half of 2019.

    Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd. (LON:RBW), , the high grade rare earth producer, today announces a proposed share placing by way of an accelerated bookbuild to raise between £2.6mln and £2.8mln before expenses at a price of not less than 14p per share. The AIM listed firm said the placing will allow it to bring forward its growth plans at its producing Gakara Rare Earth Project in Burundi, including an exploration campaign and the expansion of the mining fleet.

    Life sciences group OptiBiotix Health plc (LON:OPTI) has signed a manufacturing and supply agreement with US-based speciality ingredients manufacturer Cereal Ingredients Inc. The deal grants CII a licence to manufacture and supply Opti’s SlimBiome appetite suppressant in its range of cereal and protein-based particulates in the USA.

    Allergy vaccine maker Allergy Therapeutics plc (LON:AGY) has teamed up with fellow AIM company Ergomed Plc (LON:ERGO) to progress the clinical development of three of its OralVac immunotherapy products. Under the terms of the co-development collaboration agreement, Ergomed will take the treatments for dust mite, tree pollen and grass pollen allergies through the clinic.

    PCG Entertainment Plc (LON:PCGE) continues to examine potential additional deals across geographies and sectors. The , the Asia-Pacific online gaming and media company posted a slightly reduced half-year loss of US$588,332.

    NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) has announced the issue by the US Patent and Trademark Office of two new patents exclusively licensed to its portfolio company, Wanda. The transatlantic healthcare IP commercialisation group said the patents will significantly extend protection for the core technology used in Wanda's software application for remote health and patient management.

    Belvoir Lettings PLC (LON:BLV) said Brook Financial Services has reported £570,000 of net written business in the two months since its acquisition, which is up 57% on October and November 2016. In a statement, Belvoir - the UK's largest property franchise group – said Brook’s net written business is also running at over 40% ahead of the average business achieved in the first seven months of 2017, prior to being acquired by the group.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has revealed that Canadian firm VR Resources Ltd. (TSX.V:VRR), in which has a stake, has announced the discovery of high grade, polymetallic copper-silver-gold sulphide mineralization at its Junction property in north-central  Nevada.

    Premier African Minerals Limited's (LON:PREM) chief executive George Roach has described as 'spectacular; results from the latest drill hole at its Zulu lithium deposit in Zimbabwe. Elsewhere, Roach said Premier also does not expect to have provide any more significant finance for the RHA tungsten mine, also in Zimbabwe other than a short-term bridge loan while it waits for shipment payments.

    Ferrum Crescent PLC (LON:FCR) is hoping to add silver as an additional metal at its Toral lead and zinc project in Spain. Myles Campion, executive director, said identifying a potential silver credit was very exciting but would require verification to be included under Australian standard JORC guidelines.

    Berkeley Energia PLC (LON:BKY) is awarding major contracts and filling key management positions for construction of the Salamanca mine, commencing in the New Year.

    W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has received preliminary approval for a US$30mln term loan with a US special situations fund to fund the La Parrilla tungsten/tin mine in Spain. The fund’s investment committee has agreed the term loan with financial close targeted for late December 2017 or January 2018.

    Tlou Energy Limited (LON:TLOU) has confirmed that its listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange has been approved, and it has also now issued £2.4mln worth of new shares to investment funds managed by a Botswana based asset manager. Tlou’s equity will be tradable on the BSE from Wednesday onwards.

    European Wealth Group Ltd. (LON:EWG) has confirmed that it has put the facilities agreement entered into by the company and Kingswood on 7 November 2017 in connection with the financing of the proposed acquisition of the Newbridge broker dealer platform in the US into a syndicated format. The group said the syndicated format will enable other parties approved by Kingswood to participate in due course as syndicated lenders, including those larger shareholders of the company who have already confirmed an interest in so participating.

    CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC), the global software platform company supporting subscription web services including domain names, has announced the appointment of Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP as its joint broker with immediate effect.

    Up 60% in the year to date and 140% over the past 12 months, it would be easy to assume shares in the electronics component business discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) are up with events. But, according to analysts at Berenberg, there is still plenty left on the table for investors new to the story. Why? Well, the number crunchers at the German investment bank believe the shares, currently changing hands for 363p, are worth 460p.

    6.50am: Firmer trend to continue

    UK stocks looked set to continue yesterday's firmer trend, after a solid showing on Wall Street yesterday.

    Spread betting quotes point to the FTSE 100 opening up at around 7,470 after the top-shares index added 60 points yesterday to close at 7,453.

    Last night, US indices broke new ground again, driven higher by technology and energy stocks.

    The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 57 points to 24,386 while the broader-based S&P 500 advanced 8.5 points to 2,660.

    Heading into the last half-hour of trading, Asian stocks were not following the script, however, with the Nikkei 225 down 73 at 22,866 in Tokyo and the Hang Seng off 82 points at 28,884 in Hong Kong.

    Ahead of the last Bank of England (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) rate decision of 2017 on Thursday, the latest UK consumer price index inflation numbers will be unveiled today and MPC members will be hoping it stays at the 3% level hit for a second month running in October or even fall back.

    The BoE raised rates by for the first time in nearly a decade in November in an effort to curb rising inflation but said it expects "very gradual" further increases over the next three years.

    The policy announcement on Thursday, therefore, is expected to see the central bank stand pat on interest rates this month, with the focus to be on whether it provides any hints about future rate hikes in its statement.

    On the subject of interest rates, the final two-day Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting of 2017 kicks off today and is widely expected to lead to another hike in US interest rates as the economy across the Atlantic continues to recover well.

    The main boost for companies with exposure to the US, however, has come more from the recent Congressional backing for President Trump’s tax reform plans, with equipment hire firm Ashtead Group (LON:AHT) expected to be among those benefiting.

    Ashtead earns around 90% of its revenues from the US and it is expected to have got a lift from repair and maintenance work following a devastating hurricane season in August and September.

    The market is expecting the FTSE 100 listed firm’s underlying earnings (EBITDA) to be around £907mln, although the fluctuating value of the dollar introduces an extra element of guesswork into the equation.

    Analysts at Numis Securities, who are forecasting the group’s  adjusted pre-tax profit to be £560mln, up 18% year-on-year, thinks things could be about to get better still, stateside, for Ashtead.

    They said, in a recent note: “The Senate's passing of its tax reform bill brings the prospect of a cut to corporate tax rates another step closer. While the timing and magnitude of these cuts  as yet unclear, Ashtead would be a clear beneficiary.”

    Small-cap life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) will unveil its interim results a day after it announced a contract with a US biotech company and long-time customer worth more than US$5mln.

    Analysts at Numis expect Abzena’s interim to show continued top-line growth in chemistry and biology services and will also be looking for an update on progress of its manufacturing capacity increases in the US and early signs of a step-up in manufacturing services revenues - though this is likely to be more second -alf weighted.

    The analysts expect Abzena to be nearing the point of maximum EBITDA losses and look for an update on the pipeline and order book at the half year point to provide some visibility of this starting to turn around in the second half.

    Significant events expected 

    Trading updates: Balfour Beatty plc (LON:BBY), Drax Group PLC (LON:DRX), Joules PLC (LON:JOUL)

    Interims: Ashtead PLC (Q2) (LON:AHT), Abzena plc (LON:ABZA), Begbies Traynor Group PLC (LON:BEG), Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR), Polar Capital Technology Trust PLC (LON:PCT)

    Finals: Driver Group PLC (LON:DRV), Pressure Technologies Plc (LON:PRES), Zytronic PLC (LON:ZYT)

    Around the markets

    • Sterling: US$1.3348, up 0.09 cents
    • 10-year gilt: yielding 1.206%
    • Gold: US$1,247.00 an ounce, up 10 cents
    • Brent crude: US$65.48 a barrel, up 79 cents
    • Economic data: UK CPI, RPI, PPI inflation; US producer prices

    Business headlines

    The Daily Telegraph

    Comcast bows out of Fox assets bid amid rumours Disney deal imminent: Comcast said it is no longer looking to buy 21st Century Fox’s assets, in yet another sign that a deal between Fox and Disney is nearing completion.

    MPs to scrutinise Toys R Us chief’s salary bump: Toys R Us is to face further questions from MPs about a bumper pay increase for its UK chief executive a year before the retailer announced plans to shutter a quarter of its stores.

    Facebook is ‘destroying how society works’, former Executive says: One of Facebook’s earliest Executives has said the social network is “destroying how society works” and that he feels “tremendous guilt” about his work.

    British Gas owner sets up new North Sea spin-off: The owner of British Gas has set up a new North Sea spin-off company after agreeing to merge its offshore oil and gas assets with Norway’s Bayerngas over the summer. The creation of Spirit Energy is a major pillar in the FTSE 100 energy giant’s bid to shake off its history as capital-intensive energy producer and emerge as a nimble, consumer-focused energy innovator.

    The Times

    Lloyds ‘targeted other bank mergers’: Lloyds discussed a merger with a string of banks, including ABN Amro, of the Netherlands, and Postbank, of Germany, before going after its stricken rival HBOS in the frantic autumn of 2008, a court has heard.

    Tesco director ‘played golf as accounting scandal broke’: The former head of Tesco’s British business decided to play golf instead of bringing a report into accounting irregularities to the attention of its new chief executive, a court was told yesterday.

    Babcock finds magic bullet to keep its investors onside: Days after it tumbled out of the FTSE 100, Babcock International managed to reverse an investors’ exodus with the promise that it should be able to cope well with changes to long-term contract accounting.

    Crest Healthcare in court over pensions: The Pensions Regulator is seeking to prosecute a healthcare company for allegedly trying to avoid providing staff with workplace pensions.

    Trafigura profits slide despite pumping up oil volume: The increasingly aggressive move by national oil companies into the oil trading industry has knocked back results at Trafigura. More competition has forced the independent commodities trader to accept narrower margins on its business, so much so that trading significantly more oil has translated into 9% slump in net profit.

    The Independent

    US drug company hikes price of everyday vitamin pills by 800%: In the latest example of eye-dropping price-gouging in the US’s lightly regulated pharmaceutical industry, records show Avondale Pharmaceuticals, a mysterious company registered in Alabama, raised the price of Niacor from US$32.46 to US$295.

    Uber’s appeal against TfL’s licence ban will not be heard until spring 2018: Minicab app firm Uber’s appeal against Transport for London’s decision not to renew its licence in the city will not be heard until spring 2018.

    Brexit: UK to lose 10,500 City jobs as 30% of firms flag plans to move staff: The UK will have lost 10,500 finance jobs to other European cities by day one of Brexit, according to new research. The number of City firms planning to shift jobs to the Continent has doubled since last year, professional services company EY said on Monday.

    Financial Times

    Nuclear power plant deal to be signed by Russia and Egypt

    EDF, the French utility giant, ready to commit to solar power

    ExxonMobil to publish reports on the possible impact of climate policies on its business

    LSE begins interviewing candidates for vacant CEO role

    The Guardian

    Ryanair’s Dublin pilots threaten Christmas strike: Ryanair flights to and from Dublin could be disrupted by strikes over Christmas after pilots based in Ireland voted for industrial action. Europe’s biggest short-haul airline now faces disruption in key European markets following ballots for action by pilots in Italy and Portugal over the past week.

    Apple snaps up Shazam for reported US$400 million: Apple has bought Shazam, a London-based app that allows smartphone users to identify music, for a reported US$400 million (£300 million). The US company, which revolutionised music with the introduction of the iPod and iPhone, said Shazam was a natural fit for its Apple Music streaming service.

    Daily Mail

    More than 360 struggling British care homes to fall into hands of secretive US tycoon: More than 360 care homes will fall into the hands of a secretive American hedge-fund boss who specialises in snapping up struggling businesses. Tycoon Spencer Haber has over the last two years bought up debt from the struggling Four Seasons care home chain, which is home to 17,000 vulnerable and elderly residents and looks likely to take over the firm outright.

    FTSE chairmen facing the chop: Watchdog demands chairmen serve no more than nine years: More than a quarter of FTSE 100 chairmen fall foul of plans to shake-up British boardrooms so they are not full of the same old faces. Reforms to the corporate governance code proposed by the Financial Reporting Council state that chairmen should not serve more than nine years on the board.

    HSBC in the clear for laundering Mexican drug cartel cash after US drops threat of prosecution: HSBC will not face any further action for money-laundering in Mexico after American authorities agreed to drop their threat of prosecution. The tainted bank was fined £1.2 billion in 2012 for handling dirty cash from drug lords, and only just escaped criminal proceedings.

    Daily Express

    EU told to regulate Bitcoin: ECB fears ‘scale’ of currency as price soars: Bitcoin must be regulated by the European Union, the European Central Bank (ECB) said as the price of the cryptocurrency continues to soar.

    Qatar sign £5 billion deal to buy 24 Typhoon jets from UK: Qatar has signed a multi-billion-pound deal to buy 24 Typhoon fighters from Britain. BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire, announced its contract with the sovereign country to supply the jets.

    City AM

    EnQuest COO Neil McCulloch steps down: The chief operating officer of oil production company EnQuest is to leave the company “by mutual agreement”, it was announced today.

    Trade barriers after Brexit could leave Ferrero Rocher melting at the border, chocolate firm warns: Ferrero Rocher could be left melting at the UK border if the government doesn’t minimise non-tariff barriers to trade after Brexit, the confectioner has warned MPs. Ferrero UK, which owns Tic Tac and Kinder Bueno, has told parliamentarians that non-tariff restrictions on goods were of “greater significance” to the business than higher tariffs.

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:30:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188628/ftse-100-closes-higher-as-energy-stocks-provide-a-boost-supermarkets-weigh-188628.html
    <![CDATA[Proactive news snapshot: ValiRx, W Resources, Falcon Oil & Gas …]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188659/proactive-news-snapshot-valirx-w-resources-falcon-oil-gas--188659.html ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) shares surged on Tuesday after the biotech said its VAL401 drug had a “statistically significant” improvement in overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer compared to those receiving no treatment.

    W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has received preliminary approval for a US$30mln term loan with a US special situations fund to fund the La Parrilla tungsten/tin mine in Spain. The fund’s investment committee has agreed the term loan with financial close targeted for late December 2017 or January 2018.

    The draft report from the scientific inquiry into fracking in Australia’s Northern Territory is in – and on first reading it looks like good news for Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG, CVE: FO). Falcon is sitting on a major shale discovery in the Beetaloo basin, within the NT, though its recent progress has been halted by a moratorium on fracking. Big Pic in February.

    Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has followed up yesterday’s massive resource upgrade with an operations update confirming that it remains on-track for first production from the Lancaster oil field during the first half of 2019.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) is starting to realise the benefits of its investment programme, with average bookings in the months since September more than 30% higher than in preceding six months.

    Blockchain investor Coinsilium Group Limited (NEX:COIN) has raised £720,000 of new capital with an oversubscribed share sale. Coinsilium is issuing 8mln new shares at a price of 9p each. Proceeds from the placing will primarily be used to invest in, support and accelerate blockchain technology companies.

    Rainbow Rare Earths Limited (LON:RBW) has raised £2.8mln to help fund the ramp-up of operations at its producing Gakara rare earth project in Burundi. The junior miner sold 200,000 shares at 14p apiece – slightly below yesterday’s closing price of 15.25p.

    Life sciences group OptiBiotix Health plc (LON:OPTI) has signed a manufacturing and supply agreement with US-based speciality ingredients manufacturer Cereal Ingredients Inc. The deal grants CII a licence to manufacture and supply Opti’s SlimBiome appetite suppressant in its range of cereal and protein-based particulates in the USA.

    Allergy vaccine maker Allergy Therapeutics plc (LON:AGY) has teamed up with fellow AIM company Ergomed Plc (LON:ERGO) to progress the clinical development of three of its OralVac immunotherapy products. Under the terms of the co-development collaboration agreement, Ergomed will take the treatments for dust mite, tree pollen and grass pollen allergies through the clinic.

    PCG Entertainment Plc (LON:PCGE) continues to examine potential additional deals across geographies and sectors. The , the Asia-Pacific online gaming and media company posted a slightly reduced half-year loss of US$588,332.

    NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) has announced the issue by the US Patent and Trademark Office of two new patents exclusively licensed to its portfolio company, Wanda. The transatlantic healthcare IP commercialisation group said the patents will significantly extend protection for the core technology used in Wanda's software application for remote health and patient management.

    Belvoir Lettings PLC (LON:BLV) said Brook Financial Services has reported £570,000 of net written business in the two months since its acquisition, which is up 57% on October and November 2016. In a statement, Belvoir - the UK's largest property franchise group – said Brook’s net written business is also running at over 40% ahead of the average business achieved in the first seven months of 2017, prior to being acquired by the group.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has revealed that Canadian firm VR Resources Ltd. (TSX.V:VRR), in which has a stake, has announced the discovery of high grade, polymetallic copper-silver-gold sulphide mineralization at its Junction property in north-central  Nevada.

    Premier African Minerals Limited's (LON:PREM) chief executive George Roach has described as 'spectacular; results from the latest drill hole at its Zulu lithium deposit in Zimbabwe. Elsewhere, Roach said Premier also does not expect to have provide any more significant finance for the RHA tungsten mine, also in Zimbabwe other than a short-term bridge loan while it waits for shipment payments.

    Ferrum Crescent PLC (LON:FCR) is hoping to add silver as an additional metal at its Toral lead and zinc project in Spain. Myles Campion, executive director, said identifying a potential silver credit was very exciting but would require verification to be included under Australian standard JORC guidelines.

    Berkeley Energia PLC (LON:BKY) is awarding major contracts and filling key management positions for construction of the Salamanca mine, commencing in the New Year.

    Tlou Energy Limited (LON:TLOU) has confirmed that its listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange has been approved, and it has also now issued £2.4mln worth of new shares to investment funds managed by a Botswana based asset manager. Tlou’s equity will be tradable on the BSE from Wednesday onwards.

    European Wealth Group Ltd. (LON:EWG) has confirmed that it has put the facilities agreement entered into by the company and Kingswood on 7 November 2017 in connection with the financing of the proposed acquisition of the Newbridge broker dealer platform in the US into a syndicated format. The group said the syndicated format will enable other parties approved by Kingswood to participate in due course as syndicated lenders, including those larger shareholders of the company who have already confirmed an interest in so participating.

    Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) said its open offer to raise up to £1.23mln, announced on November 24 to facilitate the “continued optimisation and expansion of the Company's Romanian interests” whilst it finalises non-dilutionary off-take financing, was 34.5% oversubscribed.

    CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC), the global software platform company supporting subscription web services including domain names, has announced the appointment of Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP as its joint broker with immediate effect. CentralNic also announced the  completion of the acquisition of SK-NIC, the manager of .sk - the exclusive country code top-level domain for Slovakia.

    Up 60% in the year to date and 140% over the past 12 months, it would be easy to assume shares in the electronics component business discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) are up with events. But, according to analysts at Berenberg, there is still plenty left on the table for investors new to the story. Why? Well, the number crunchers at the German investment bank believe the shares, currently changing hands for 363p, are worth 460p.

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:45:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188659/proactive-news-snapshot-valirx-w-resources-falcon-oil-gas--188659.html
    <![CDATA[Falcon Oil & Gas boosted as draft scientific report says Australian fracking risks are manageable]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188630/falcon-oil-gas-boosted-as-draft-scientific-report-says-australian-fracking-risks-are-manageable-188630.html The draft report from the scientific inquiry into fracking in Australia’s Northern Territory is in, and on first reading looks like good news for Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG, CVE: FO) helping boost its share price on Tuesday.

    Falcon is sitting on a major shale discovery in the Beetaloo basin though its recent progress has been halted by a moratorium on fracking.

    READ: Falcon Oil & Gas highlights strong financial position as it awaits Australia fracking verdict

    A government-commissioned report is being produced in order to inform the government ahead of a decision to either allow or deny the controversial well stimulation technique.

    The detailed final draft contains many points and recommendations, and the devil may be within the detail - for example, it calls for further "two-to-three year regional studies" into environmental issues such as the impact on human health, ecosystems and groundwater.

    It is reported that those studies could be required before production operations are allowed but exploration and appraisal may be permitted sooner.

    Nonetheless, for investors there are two immediate standout comments in the final draft.

    Firstly, the report’s "overall conclusion" states the belief that “the challenges and risks associated with any onshore shale gas industry in the NT are manageable”.

    The report added: “It is the panel's opinion that, provided that the recommendations made in this report are adopted and implemented, not only should the risk of any harm be minimised to an acceptable level, in some instances, it can be avoided altogether."

    READ: Falcon Oil & Gas expects draft Northern Territory report by mid-December

    The final report will follow one further round of consultation, due to take place in January, and is expected to be published in March 2018.

    In the meantime, investors may be heartened by the apparent positive conclusions of the scientific review although the decision on the moratorium might be a political rather than a scientific one.

    Falcon shares were up around 9% in late afternoon trading on Tuesday, changing hands at 24.5p.

     -- Adds share price --

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:40:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188630/falcon-oil-gas-boosted-as-draft-scientific-report-says-australian-fracking-risks-are-manageable-188630.html
    <![CDATA[Surprise trading update is just the job for Robert Walters]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188646/surprise-trading-update-is-just-the-job-for-robert-walters-188646.html This morning's trading update from recruitment firm Robert Walters PLC (LON:RWA) was just the job for the share price.

    The shares were up 7.4% at 591.5p in afternoon trading after a short and sweet trading statement that said profit for 2017 is expected to be materially ahead of current market expectations.

    The first two months of the final quarter of the year have seen strong trading across all divisions.

    “Although further details are due to follow with the FY17 trading update on 9 January we take the opportunity to increase our FY17 PBT [profit before tax] estimate by 10% at this stage,” said Liberum Capital Markets.

    “Given the momentum building in the business we also take the opportunity to increase our estimates in later years, increasing our FY18 forecast by 8%. This strong earnings momentum reflects a number of structural opportunities across a number of its key regions, which when combined with its attractive outsourcing business leaves it better placed than many of its peers, in our view,” the broker added.

    Liberum reiterated its 'buy' recommendation and bumped up its target price to 650p from 595p.

    Ambrian PLC hit by cash-flow crisis

    Ambrian PLC (LON:AMBR) shares were wearing cement shoes today, topping the market’s casualty list.

    The shares plunged more than 31% after the Africa-focused cement firm and metals trader flagged up short-term liquidity issues due to difficulties in moving cash resources.

    The group added that general economic conditions in Mozambique have been "very challenging" over the last twelve months, however, it said  the construction sector has seen improvement, and the fourth quarter of 2017 has been very strong so far.

    READ Ambrian shares plung e as it warns of short-term liquidity issues due to difficulties in moving cash resources

    The board is closely monitoring the company's cash position and anticipates that short-term, external financing will be required in order to ensure the company can continue to meet its obligations as they fall due.

    W Resources surges on funding deal for La Parilla

    W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has received preliminary approval for a US$30mln term loan with a US special situations fund.

    The funds will finance the La Parrilla tungsten/tin mine in Spain.

    The fund’s investment committee has agreed the term loan with financial close targeted for late December 2017 or January 2018.

    Shares in W shot up 15% to 0.375p on the news.

    Meanwhile, letters of intent with two leading Tungsten customers have been signed and final off-take contract documentation is under-way.

    Kantar Worldpanel data paints bleak picture for Sainsbury's and Morrisons

    Supermarket chains J Sainsbury plc (LON:SBRY) and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) were in the doghouse after the release of inflation data.

    Grocery inflation hit its highest level since 2013 in the 12 weeks to 3 December, according to market research group Kantar Worldpanel.

    Price rises in products such as butter, fish and fresh pork drove the increase.

    Overall supermarket sales increased in value by 3.1% year-on-year during the period.

    Coincidentally, the headline consumer price index (CPI), which includes food and energy, was up 3.1% year-on-year in November.

    “Inflation continues to weigh on households as wages have not kept up with the recent rise, whilst savers have continued to suffer with low interest rates. Looking on the positive side the inflationary bump should start to work its way out of the figures and inflation looks close to its peak,” suggested Adrian Lowcock, investment director at fund management group Architas.

    “Savers should, however, not expect inflation to collapse and need to continue to make sure they are on the best rates available to them or consider alternatives such as investments to try and generate a real inflation-beating return,” he added.

    Kantar's data showed Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) performed best of the big four supermarkets in the three months to the end of November.

    Its sales rose 2.5%, whereas Sainsbury's and Morrisons clocked up rises of 2% and 1.4%, respectively – but at least they beat Asda, which was sales rise 1.2%.

    ValiRx's impressive run continues  

    The share price of ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) has doubled in the last five days, with the shares up another 41% today.

    ValiRx said today its VAL401 anti-cancer compound had a “statistically significant” improvement in overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

    READ ValiRx surges once again as top-line data from phase II lung cancer trial impresses

    “I am delighted to confirm that our patients benefited in overall survival, with the other measures of disease impact still to be analysed and presented,” said Suzy Dilly, the chief executive of ValiSeek, the joint venture company that has developed VAL401 through the clinic.

    Proactive news headlines:

    ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) shares surged on Tuesday after the biotech said its VAL401 drug had a “statistically significant” improvement in overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer compared to those receiving no treatment.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) is starting to realise the benefits of its investment programme, with average bookings in the months since September more than 30% higher than in preceding six months.

    The draft report from the scientific inquiry into fracking in Australia’s Northern Territory is in – and on first reading it looks like good news for Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG, CVE: FO). Falcon is sitting on a major shale discovery in the Beetaloo basin, within the NT, though its recent progress has been halted by a moratorium on fracking. Big Pic in February.

    Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has followed up yesterday’s massive resource upgrade with an operations update confirming that it remains on-track for first production from the Lancaster oil field during the first half of 2019.

    Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd. (LON:RBW), , the high grade rare earth producer, today announces a proposed share placing by way of an accelerated bookbuild to raise between £2.6mln and £2.8mln before expenses at a price of not less than 14p per share. The AIM listed firm said the placing will allow it to bring forward its growth plans at its producing Gakara Rare Earth Project in Burundi, including an exploration campaign and the expansion of the mining fleet.

    Life sciences group OptiBiotix Health plc (LON:OPTI) has signed a manufacturing and supply agreement with US-based speciality ingredients manufacturer Cereal Ingredients Inc. The deal grants CII a licence to manufacture and supply Opti’s SlimBiome appetite suppressant in its range of cereal and protein-based particulates in the USA.

    Allergy vaccine maker Allergy Therapeutics plc (LON:AGY) has teamed up with fellow AIM company Ergomed Plc (LON:ERGO) to progress the clinical development of three of its OralVac immunotherapy products. Under the terms of the co-development collaboration agreement, Ergomed will take the treatments for dust mite, tree pollen and grass pollen allergies through the clinic.

    PCG Entertainment Plc (LON:PCGE) continues to examine potential additional deals across geographies and sectors. The , the Asia-Pacific online gaming and media company posted a slightly reduced half-year loss of US$588,332.

    NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) has announced the issue by the US Patent and Trademark Office of two new patents exclusively licensed to its portfolio company, Wanda. The transatlantic healthcare IP commercialisation group said the patents will significantly extend protection for the core technology used in Wanda's software application for remote health and patient management.

    Belvoir Lettings PLC (LON:BLV) said Brook Financial Services has reported £570,000 of net written business in the two months since its acquisition, which is up 57% on October and November 2016. In a statement, Belvoir - the UK's largest property franchise group – said Brook’s net written business is also running at over 40% ahead of the average business achieved in the first seven months of 2017, prior to being acquired by the group.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has revealed that Canadian firm VR Resources Ltd. (TSX.V:VRR), in which has a stake, has announced the discovery of high grade, polymetallic copper-silver-gold sulphide mineralization at its Junction property in north-central  Nevada.

    Premier African Minerals Limited's (LON:PREM) chief executive George Roach has described as 'spectacular; results from the latest drill hole at its Zulu lithium deposit in Zimbabwe. Elsewhere, Roach said Premier also does not expect to have provide any more significant finance for the RHA tungsten mine, also in Zimbabwe other than a short-term bridge loan while it waits for shipment payments.

    Ferrum Crescent PLC (LON:FCR) is hoping to add silver as an additional metal at its Toral lead and zinc project in Spain. Myles Campion, executive director, said identifying a potential silver credit was very exciting but would require verification to be included under Australian standard JORC guidelines.

    Berkeley Energia PLC (LON:BKY) is awarding major contracts and filling key management positions for construction of the Salamanca mine, commencing in the New Year.

    W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has received preliminary approval for a US$30mln term loan with a US special situations fund to fund the La Parrilla tungsten/tin mine in Spain. The fund’s investment committee has agreed the term loan with financial close targeted for late December 2017 or January 2018.

    Tlou Energy Limited (LON:TLOU) has confirmed that its listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange has been approved, and it has also now issued £2.4mln worth of new shares to investment funds managed by a Botswana based asset manager. Tlou’s equity will be tradable on the BSE from Wednesday onwards.

    European Wealth Group Ltd. (LON:EWG) has confirmed that it has put the facilities agreement entered into by the company and Kingswood on 7 November 2017 in connection with the financing of the proposed acquisition of the Newbridge broker dealer platform in the US into a syndicated format. The group said the syndicated format will enable other parties approved by Kingswood to participate in due course as syndicated lenders, including those larger shareholders of the company who have already confirmed an interest in so participating.

    CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC), the global software platform company supporting subscription web services including domain names, has announced the appointment of Nplus1 Singer Advisory LLP as its joint broker with immediate effect.

    Up 60% in the year to date and 140% over the past 12 months, it would be easy to assume shares in the electronics component business discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) are up with events. But, according to analysts at Berenberg, there is still plenty left on the table for investors new to the story. Why? Well, the number crunchers at the German investment bank believe the shares, currently changing hands for 363p, are worth 460p.

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:30:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188646/surprise-trading-update-is-just-the-job-for-robert-walters-188646.html
    <![CDATA[Vast Resources says recent open offer to raise up to £1.23mln was 34.5% oversubscribed]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188676/vast-resources-says-recent-open-offer-to-raise-up-to-123mln-was-345-oversubscribed-188676.html Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) said its open offer to raise up to £1.23mln, announced on November 24 to facilitate the “continued optimisation and expansion of the Company's Romanian interests” whilst it finalises non-dilutionary off-take financing, was 34.5% oversubscribed.

    The AIM listed mining company, with operations in Romania and Zimbabwe, said valid acceptances for the open offer were received in respect of 315,085,385 new ordinary shares, representing 134.5% per cent. of the maximum number of ordinary shares available.

    READ: Vast Resources raises funds through share placement and open offer as it seeks offtake financing

    Vast was looking to raise the £1.23mln by issuing 238.1mln open offer shares at 0.525p apiece – the same price as a placing launched the previous week to raise £1mln.

    The funds raised will be used towards an estimated strategic financing requirement for its operations of US$10mln.

    Roy Pitchford, chief executive of Vast Resources, commented: "I believe that the level of support that we have received, both from our existing shareholders in this Open Offer, coupled with the injection of capital from new investors in the recent placing, speaks volumes for the general excitement surrounding the Vast investment proposition.”

    He added: “We offer shareholders compelling long term prospects across numerous projects, commodities and two highly prospective and attractive jurisdictions, all set against a backdrop of improving appetite for metal and mineral exploitation and development."

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:59:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188676/vast-resources-says-recent-open-offer-to-raise-up-to-123mln-was-345-oversubscribed-188676.html
    <![CDATA[Driver Group shares advance as it swings back to a profit after a transformative year]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188674/driver-group-shares-advance-as-it-swings-back-to-a-profit-after-a-transformative-year-188674.html Driver Group PLC (LON:DRV) saw its shares advance on Tuesday as the construction and engineering consultants swung back to a profit after a transformative year for the business.

    The AIM listed firm posted a pre-tax profit of £1.2mln for the year to September 30, a turnaround from a loss of £3.5mln a year earlier, as revenue rose to £60.2mln, up from £52.4mln in 2016.

    READ: Driver Group announces fundraising as it swings to full year loss

    Driver said 2016 had been a "very challenging" year for the company but efforts to stabilise the business have come to fruition ahead of schedule.

    It said performance in the UK was particularly good, achieving record revenue and profit levels with a negligible impact from Brexit.

    The group saw revenue from its Europe & Americas segment increase to £26.7mln from £22.9mln, with pre-tax profit in the region rising to £2.3mln from £1.4mln.

    For Asia Pacific, Middle East, & Africa, Driver’s revenue rose to £34.2mln from £29.4mln and the region swung to a pre-tax profit of £1.7mln from a loss of £1.6mln a year earlier.

    Net borrowings fall sharply

    By the end of the year, the group’s net borrowings had fallen to £178,000 compared to £9.9mln at the end of the previous year, reflecting the significant progress made in reducing costs, combined with an equity raise in February and refinancing in February and March.

    Driver said the first two months of the year have seen continued good progress with cash collection in line with management expectations.

    The group’s chief executive Gordon Wilkinson said: "The business has been transformed over the last 18 months and we believe we are well positioned to take full advantage of those changes."

    He added: "We are confident we will continue to deliver a sustainable and profitable business for the coming year and beyond, and deliver on-going success for all our stakeholders," Wilkinson said.

    In afternoon trading, Driver shares were up 5.5%, or 3.5p at 67.0p.

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:36:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/188674/driver-group-shares-advance-as-it-swings-back-to-a-profit-after-a-transformative-year-188674.html
    <![CDATA[UK inflation numbers key Bank of England pointer as Federal Reserve starts final meeting of 2017]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188583/uk-inflation-numbers-key-bank-of-england-pointer-as-federal-reserve-starts-final-meeting-of-2017-188583.html Ahead of the last Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee rate decision of 2017 on Thursday, the latest UK consumer price index inflation numbers will be unveiled on Tuesday and MPC members will be hoping it stays at the 3% level hit for a second month running in October, or even fall back.

    The BoE raised rates by for the first time in nearly a decade in November in an effort to curb rising inflation but said it expects "very gradual" further increases over the next three years.

    The policy announcement on Thursday, therefore,  it is expected to see the central bank stand pat on interest rates this month, with the focus to be on whether it provides any hints about future rate hikes in its statement.

    US boost expected for Ashtead

    The final two-day Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting of 2017, kicks off on Tuesday and is widely expected to lead to another hike in US interest rates as the economy across the Atlantic continues to recover well.

    The main boost for companies with exposure to the US, however, has come more from the recent Congressional backing for President Trump’s tax reform plans, with blue chip equipment hire firm Ashtead Group PLC (LON:AHT) expected to be among those benefitting.

    Ashtead, which will report its first half results on Tuesday, earns around 90% of its revenues from the US and it is expected to have got a lift from repair and maintenance work following a devastating hurricane season in August and September.

    The market is expecting the FTSE 100 listed firm’s underlying earnings (EBITDA) to be around £907mln, although the fluctuating value of the dollar introduces an extra element of guesswork into the equation.

    Analysts at Numis Securities, who are forecasting the group’s first half adjusted pre-tax profit to be £560mln, up 18% year-on-year, thinks things could be about to get better still, stateside, for Ashtead.

    They said, in a recent note: “The Senate's passing of its tax reform bill brings the prospect of a cut to corporate tax rates another step closer. While the timing and magnitude of these cuts remains as yet unclear, Ashtead would be a clear beneficiary.”

    Transitional year for Balfour Beatty

    Construction contractor Balfour Beatty plc (LON:BBY) will issue a trading update on Tuesday, which Numis says is traditionally a very short comment, and the broker expects more of the same this year.

    In a preview, Numis analysts said “2017 has been a transitional year” for the FTSE 250 listed firm, but 2018 is an important year, with Balfour Beatty’s management having flagged a return to industry standard margins which - on the broker’s estimates - suggests 75% growth in earnings per share.

    They concluded: “We would expect a comment from management to reinforce this target which - coupled with balance sheet strength - underpins our view that Balfour Beatty offers the greatest recovery profile in the sector coupled with the strongest balance sheet, so that issues elsewhere in the sector have little bearing on the group recovery profile.”

    Carpetright on the floor but recovery hoped for

    Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR) also reports interim results on Tuesday with investors braced for a downturn in profits but hopeful that there are better signs from the first few weeks of trading in the second half.

    In a preview, Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said: “Full-year results in June were a bit of a horror show. Statutory profit before tax dived 93% to £900,000, while underlying operating profit fell 20% to £16.4m.”

    He added: “The trading update of October 24th was mildly encouraging but showed management is betting big on a strong second half. With visibility of the first few weeks of trading in H2, tomorrow’s interim results should be a chance for management to update the market on whether it’s on course to achieve the desired uplift.”

    Wilson pointed out that the most bearish estimates suggests Carpetright’s first half profit will have fallen by around 40% to around £3mln, well below last year’s £5mln outcome.

    Abzena nearing the point of maximum EBITDA losses

    Small cap life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) will also unveil interim results on Tuesday, a day after it announced a contract with a US biotech company and long-time customer worth more than US$5mln.

    Analysts at Numis expect Abzena’s interim to show continued top-line growth in chemistry and biology services and will also be looking for an update on progress of its manufacturing capacity increases in the US and early signs of a step-up in manufacturing services revenues - though this is likely to be more second half weighted.

    The analysts expect Abzena to be nearing the point of maximum EBITDA losses and look for an update on the pipeline and order book at the half year point to provide some visibility of this starting to turn around in the second half.

    Significant events expected on Tuesday December 12:

    Trading updates: Balfour Beatty plc (LON:BBY), Drax Group PLC (LON:DRX), Joules PLC (LON:JOUL)

    Interims: Ashtead PLC (Q2) (LON:AHT), Abzena plc (LON:ABZA),  Begbies Traynor Group PLC (LON:BEG), Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR), Polar Capital Technology Trust PLC (LON:PCT)

    Finals: Driver Group PLC (LON:DRV), Pressure Technologies Plc (LON:PRES), Zytronic PLC (LON:ZYT)

    Economic data: UK CPI, RPI, PPI inflation; US producer prices

    ]]>
    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:00:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188583/uk-inflation-numbers-key-bank-of-england-pointer-as-federal-reserve-starts-final-meeting-of-2017-188583.html
    <![CDATA[FTSE 100 closes higher as miners gain and sterling slides]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188554/ftse-100-closes-higher-as-miners-gain-and-sterling-slides-188554.html
  • FTSE 100 closes up 59 at 7,453

  • Resource stocks drive the Footsie higher

  • Explosion reported at New York bus terminal near 42nd Street

  • HSBC shares wanted after US money-laundering charges look set to be dropped

  •  

    FTSE 100 closed on the front foot, bolstered by the fall in the pound, and as other European indices lagged.

    Among the gainers, big miners did well, with BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) up 2.27% to 1,372p and Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) up 2.24% to 913.50p.

    It came as Citibank, the US investment bank, among others, raised its price target for copper, zinc and iron ore.

    Meanwhile, the index of leading UK shares added over 59 points at 7,453 shy of intraday highs, while FTSE 250 was up over 72 points at 20,064.

    In the currency markets, the pound was down 0.42% against the Euro at the time of writing, while against the US dollar, it  was down 0.21%.

    Top dog on Footsie was PR giant WPP (LON:WPP), which was up 2.61% to 1,376p.

    The biggest laggard was Costa Coffee owner Whitbread plc (LON:WTB), which was up 2.65% to 3,888p.

    David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets, said: " The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 are edging higher as the US indices appear to have shrugged off the negative sentiment that crept in at the start of the month.

    "2017 has been an impressive year for US equity benchmarks and we could see another round of record highs from the before the year is out."

    Just shy of intra-day high

    The FTSE 100 was a few points shy of its intra-day high entering the last half-hour of trading.

    The FTSE 100 was up 57 at 7,451, some seven points below its high for the day.

    Marketing and advertising conglomerate WPP PLC (LON:WPP) was topping the leader-board, up 2.8%, but it was mainly the miners that were underpinning the Footsie’s advance, helped by 1.3% rises for the Ali & Frazier of the oil sector, BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA).

    2.45pm: Wall Street gives renewed impetus to the Footsie​

    US stocks opened marginally higher, shrugging off news that a suicide bomber had set off a home-made bomb at a station in New York.

    The S&P 500 was up just over a point at 2,653 and the Dow was four points firmer at 24,338.

    Back in the UK, the FTSE 100 was up 52 at 7,446, helped by the weakness of the pound on foreign exchange markets.

    Banking giant HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA) advanced 2.0% to 748p after the US Justice Department indicated it would seek the dismissal of money laundering charges against the bank now that the deferred prosecution agreement between the two parties has elapsed.

    1.30pm: The Footsie eases off its highs

    The FTSE 100 index just eased off its highs in early afternoon trading  as US stock index futures cut earlier gains after reports of an explosion at the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street in New York.

    Around 1.20pm, the UK blue chip index was up 34 points at 7,428, easing back from earlier session highs of 7,451.67.

    US futures were still trading slightly higher after the explosion reports emerged as traders position themselves ahead of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting, with a further US interest rate hike expected.

    New York City officials have confirmed that an explosion has occurred in the city, and according to media reports, police and firefighters are attending at the scene, which is near Times Square. with reports indicating that some people have been injured.

    12.15pm: Blue chips wanted, but mid caps in the red

    While the FTSE 100 remained in positive territory, albeit ebbing slowly, the mid-cap FTSE 250 was in the red.

    The FTSE 100 was up 36 at 7,430, while the FTSE 250 was down 11 at 19,982, with Inmarsat Plc (LON:ISAT) leading the retreat after a downgrade by Goldman Sachs to ‘neutral’ from ‘gold’.

    The satellite launcher lost 30p at 456p following the Goldman research note.

    Also getting the treatment from the broking community was internet service provider Talktalk Telecom Group (LON:TALK), which is in danger of breaching its bond covenants, according to US broker Jefferies.

    Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis is not the first broker to suggest that TalkTalk needs to slash its dividend to stay onside with its covenants; last month Citi’s Simon Weedon said much the same thing.

    TalkTalk shares fell almost 7% to 143.8p, lifting the historical rolling 12-months dividend yield to 6.7%.

    At the happier end of the mid-cap index, Kaz Minerals PLC (LON:KAX) rose 3.2% to 755p after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’.

    11.00am: Stocks in conolidation mode

    Leading shares were in consolidation mode heading into the last hour of the morning trading session.

    The FTSE 100 was up 47 at 7,441.

    Utility companies such as Centrica PLC (LON:CNA) and Severn Trent PLC (LON:SSE) are friendless, with the former down 1.7% and the latter off 0.7%.

    The froth has also come off the property sector after last week’s bid excitement, with British Land Company (LON:BLND) and Land Securities Group PLC (LON:LAND) down 1.0% and 0.7% respectively.

    In contrast, miners were wanted, with BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) 2.2% higher and Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO) up 2.1%.

    Some small cap miners got in on the act, most noticeably Mkango Resources Ltd (LON:MKA, CVE:MKA), which shot up 21% to 7.25p after the TSX Venture Exchange rubber-stamped Mkango’s agreement last month with Talaxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of Noble Group.

    Talaxis will invest £12 million (C$20.7 million) in three tranches to fully fund a feasibility study for Mkango’s Songwe project in Malawi in return for a 49% interest.

    An updated mineral resource and reserves estimate for its Tapajos mining and processing operations boosted sector peer Serabi Gold PLC (LON:SRB) 8% to 3.375p.

    9.45am: FTSE 100 up 46 ay 7,440 with risers outnumbering fallers by three-to-one

    The top-shares index got off to a strong start, with risers outnumbering fallers by around three-to-one.

    The FTSE 100 was up 46 at 7,440, led by Mondi Plc (LON:MNDI), the packaging and paper company, which was up 2.8%.

    Hot on its heels was Babcock International Group PLC (LON:BAB) after it laid a few qualms to rest with an announcement that its adoption of International Financial Reporting Stand (IFRS) 15 would not require a change in contract revenue or profit recognition.

    “This demonstrates that the group continues to maintain a conservative accounting approach,” the engineering services company said.

    The shares were up 2.1% in mid-morning trade.

    Fags maker Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMP) eased 7.5p to 3,076p after Morgan Stanley cut its target price to 3,400p from 3,750p, prompting a rating change from ‘overweight’ to ‘equal weight’.

    Among the tiddlers, settlement of litigation sent the shares of AorTech International plc (LON:AOR) soaring 58% to 37.5p.

    The biomaterials and medical device intellectual property company said it had amicably resolved the dispute with the Foldax defendants. The terms of the settlement have been incorporated into a confidential settlement agreement.

    8.45am: Buoyed by new highs on Wall Street, London skates higher

    The FTSE 100 got off to a positive start, advancing 36 points to 7,429.81 and buoyed by another record finish on Wall Street.

    The big mover of the day came from the junior market – though with a market capitalisation of almost £600mln it looks more like a mid-cap.

    Hurricane Energy (LON:HUR) jumped 12.6% after an independent report suggested the company’s oil discovery to the west of the Shetland Islands could contain as many as 2.6bn barrels of crude oil.

    On those numbers, the Rona Ridge assets could be a truly world-class. The next step is to tap into the oil with an early production system, which will give Hurricane management a better assessment of what the area is host to.

    Heading the blue-chip risers ConvaTec Group (LON:CTEC), the colostomy bag maker, which rose 3% amid vague bid speculation.

    Imperial Brands (LON:IMB) held firm in the face of a downgrade from Morgan Stanley.

    However, it was a different story for Inmarsat (LON:ISAT), the satellite comms specialist, which fell 3% after Goldman Sachs moved to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ on the shares.

    Proactive news headlines:

    Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has unveiled a new competent persons report for the ‘Rona Ridge’ assets, excluding the Lancaster oil field. The assets have been estimated to have 1.8bn barrels of contingent resources and over 900mln barrels of prospective resources.

    Cadence Minerals Plc (LON: KDNC) (OTC: KDNCY) is to acquire up to 100% of six prospective hard rock lithium assets in Argentina from Lithium Technologies Pty Ltd and Lithium Supplies Pty Ltd, the start of a “strategic shift” in its investing.

    Flying Brands Ltd (LON:FBDU) has obtained a CE mark for its StoneChecker software, paving the way for the kidney stones medical imaging software’s roll-out across Europe.

    ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) says it has identified 15 high priority targets from the results of an interpretation and targeting study using open-file geophysical data covering the Avoca, Bailieston, Moormbool and Timor exploration licences in Central Victoria, Australia.

    Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) has increased the mineral resource estimate for the BAM East Gold Deposit on its Junior Lake Property, Ontario, Canada of  400,000 ounces gold at 1.37 grams/tonne (g/t) of which 326,000 ounces gold is in the Indicated category.

    Film production underwriter FFI Holdings Plc (LON:FFI) is to acquire Buff Dubs, an Australian post-production services provider, for an initial payment of A$881,000.

    SDX Energy Inc (LON:SDX) has confirmed a new gas discovery in the KSR-16 development well, its latest in the Sebou permit onshore Morocco. The well, which was drilled down to 1,896 metres, has encountered some 14.2 metres of net conventional natural gas pay in the Hoot formation.

    Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has told investors that it has now started work in preparation of an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for a multiple well drill programme for the Thali licence, offshore Cameroon.

    Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has netted a sizeable profit after it sold off another chunk of its stake in fellow RNA interference specialist Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARWR). AIM-listed Silence sold just over 2mln shares at an average price of US$3.58. It purchased the shares for US$1.65 back in January, meaning it made a US$3.9mln (£2.9mln) profit on the disposal.

    Biopharma Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) has made another “important step” with its acute respiratory distress syndrome drug, Traumakine. The AIM-quoted company has now completed recruitment for the phase III INTEREST trial which is comparing the efficacy and safety of Traumakine and a placebo in patients with moderate to severe ARDS.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) has bagged a contract with a US biotech company and long-time customer worth more than US$5mln. The agreement will see AIM-listed Abzena provide process development and manufacturing services in order to progress an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) towards clinical trials.

    MySQUAR Limited (LON:MYSQ), the Myanmar-language social media, entertainment and payments platform, has signed a distribution deal covering the Huawei inTouch platform. Mobile games developed in-house by MySQUAR will be distributed on the Huawei inTouch platform across 30 countries within Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

    Sula Iron & Gold PLC (LON:SULA) has acquired a cobalt deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A £1.75mln placing and subscription at 0.05p will fund the change of tack, which will be accompanied by a name change to African Battery Metals Limited.

    Richland Resources Limited (LON: RLD) says it has decided to temporarily halt mining operations at the its Capricorn Sapphire mine located in Queensland, Australia due to “extreme weather conditions and a weak market environment” and is assessing potential additional project opportunities, including other commodities such as gold and lithium.

    Goldplat plc (LON:GDP) has made a breakthrough in its dispute with Rand Refinery, with both sides now agreeing to an arbitration process. The two companies have been in dispute for months over a contract to process silver, with Goldplat claiming £780,000 from the South African refinery. Arbitration proceedings have been scheduled for 25-29 June.

    It’s been a whirlwind year for Lionsgold Limited (LON:LION), which was still known by its previous name Kolar Gold this time 12 months ago. A new management team was brought in last July, which included new chief executive Cameron Parry and executive director Luke Cairns, and a few months later the name officially changed.

    Strategic Minerals Plc (LON:SML) will look to speed up development of its Redmoor tin project in Cornwall after high grades were found from the latest exploration drilling. Big Pic in September.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has received permission to start a second phase of exploration drilling at the CS pozzolan-perlite project in Nevada. The Phase 2 programme will see a further 22 drill holes and help define the boundaries of an open pit. Big Pic in September.

    Metminco Limited (LON:MNC) (ASX:MNC) said that Graeme Hogan has been appointed as company secretary/chief financial officer with effective from today, replacing  Brian Jones, a partner in the accounting firm Rothsay Chartered Accountants, who  has filled the position in an interim capacity.

    Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas Ltd. (AIM: ECO) (TSX-V:EOG), the oil and gas exploration company with licences in highly prospective regions in South America and Africa, announced that it has appointed Pareto Securities Ltd as joint broker with immediate effect.

    Touchstone Exploration Inc. (LON:TXP) (TSX:TXP), the oil and gas exploration and production company active in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, has said it will be holding an online investor presentation and Q&A session for investors today to discuss the recent announcement of a private placement.

    6.20am: FTSE 100 to kick-off on front foot

    The FTSE 100 is expected to start the week on the front foot, buoyed by the end-of-week momentum from Wall Street, which finished on yet another high, and ahead of a busy few days for the central banks.

    The spread betting firms are predicting the index of blue-chip shares will open 32 points higher at 7,425.96.

    Already priced in to the market is a quarter point hike to the base rate by the US Federal Reserve when it announces its decision on Wednesday, says David Madden of CMC Markets, previewing the outlook for borrowing costs.

    “The Bank of England announcement is likely to be uneventful following last month’s very dovish hike. No change is expected at the European Central Bank either,” he said ahead of their respective set-piece statements on Thursday.

    This is likely to be the final week before corporate news grinds to a complete slowdown.

    Scheduled are updates from the FTSE 100 plant hire group Ashtead (LON:AHT), the tour operator TUI (LON:TUI) and online grocer Ocado (LON:OCDO).

    Around the markets:

    • Pound worth US$1.3398
    • Gold US$1,251.20 an ounce, up US$2.80
    • Brent crude US$63.14 a barrel, down 26 cents

    City Headlines

    Financial Times

    Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, is more concerned about growth of ride-sharing services such as Uber than the rise of electric vehicles as a major disruptive force to transport and energy use.

    Stockbroker Zeus Capital is facing increased scrutiny after several corporate clients have suffered high-profile controversies in recent months, taking the shine off its rapid rise to prominence.

    Wall Street Executives have begun lobbying against controversial provisions in the Republican tax overhaul bill that would hit high-tax states, arguing they could damage New York’s financial industry by driving out bankers and fund managers.

    A pioneering cancer treatment being developed by the US biotech company Gilead Sciences can keep some of the sickest lymphoma patients alive for at least a year, according to the results of a much-anticipated clinical trial published on Sunday.

    Times

    Boost for BAE as Qatar confirms £5 billion deal for Typhoon jets.

    Growth in house prices will slow to crawl next year, says Rightmove.

    Daily Telegraph

    Smith & Nephew launches digital scanner to diagnose if a wound is infected.

    Government must focus on Brexit aviation deal to avoid trade hit.

    Government admits energy price cap could stifle rising competition.

    Guardian

    The care homes operator Four Seasons Health Care is on course for a stay of execution before a crunch debt deadline, after its major creditor offered to drop demands rejected by directors.

    ]]>
    Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:00:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188554/ftse-100-closes-higher-as-miners-gain-and-sterling-slides-188554.html
    <![CDATA[Proactive news snapshot: Hurricane Energy, Cadence Minerals, Flying Brands …]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188592/proactive-news-snapshot-hurricane-energy-cadence-minerals-flying-brands--188592.html Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has unveiled a new competent persons report for the ‘Rona Ridge’ assets, excluding the Lancaster oil field. The assets have been estimated to have 1.8bn barrels of contingent resources and over 900mln barrels of prospective resources.

    Cadence Minerals Plc (LON: KDNC) (OTC: KDNCY) is to acquire up to 100% of six prospective hard rock lithium assets in Argentina from Lithium Technologies Pty Ltd and Lithium Supplies Pty Ltd, the start of a “strategic shift” in its investing.

    Flying Brands Ltd (LON:FBDU) has obtained a CE mark for its StoneChecker software, paving the way for the kidney stones medical imaging software’s roll-out across Europe.

    ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) says it has identified 15 high priority targets from the results of an interpretation and targeting study using open-file geophysical data covering the Avoca, Bailieston, Moormbool and Timor exploration licences in Central Victoria, Australia.

    Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) has increased the mineral resource estimate for the BAM East Gold Deposit on its Junior Lake Property, Ontario, Canada of  400,000 ounces gold at 1.37 grams/tonne (g/t) of which 326,000 ounces gold is in the Indicated category.

    Film production underwriter FFI Holdings Plc (LON:FFI) is to acquire Buff Dubs, an Australian post-production services provider, for an initial payment of A$881,000.

    SDX Energy Inc (LON:SDX) has confirmed a new gas discovery in the KSR-16 development well, its latest in the Sebou permit onshore Morocco. The well, which was drilled down to 1,896 metres, has encountered some 14.2 metres of net conventional natural gas pay in the Hoot formation.

    Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has told investors that it has now started work in preparation of an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for a multiple well drill programme for the Thali licence, offshore Cameroon.

    Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has netted a sizeable profit after it sold off another chunk of its stake in fellow RNA interference specialist Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARWR). AIM-listed Silence sold just over 2mln shares at an average price of US$3.58. It purchased the shares for US$1.65 back in January, meaning it made a US$3.9mln (£2.9mln) profit on the disposal.

    Biopharma Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) has made another “important step” with its acute respiratory distress syndrome drug, Traumakine. The AIM-quoted company has now completed recruitment for the phase III INTEREST trial which is comparing the efficacy and safety of Traumakine and a placebo in patients with moderate to severe ARDS.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) has bagged a contract with a US biotech company and long-time customer worth more than US$5mln. The agreement will see AIM-listed Abzena provide process development and manufacturing services in order to progress an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) towards clinical trials.

    MySQUAR Limited (LON:MYSQ), the Myanmar-language social media, entertainment and payments platform, has signed a distribution deal covering the Huawei inTouch platform. Mobile games developed in-house by MySQUAR will be distributed on the Huawei inTouch platform across 30 countries within Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

    Sula Iron & Gold PLC (LON:SULA) has acquired a cobalt deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A £1.75mln placing and subscription at 0.05p will fund the change of tack, which will be accompanied by a name change to African Battery Metals Limited.

    Richland Resources Limited (LON: RLD) says it has decided to temporarily halt mining operations at the its Capricorn Sapphire mine located in Queensland, Australia due to “extreme weather conditions and a weak market environment” and is assessing potential additional project opportunities, including other commodities such as gold and lithium.

    Goldplat plc (LON:GDP) has made a breakthrough in its dispute with Rand Refinery, with both sides now agreeing to an arbitration process. The two companies have been in dispute for months over a contract to process silver, with Goldplat claiming £780,000 from the South African refinery. Arbitration proceedings have been scheduled for 25-29 June.

    It’s been a whirlwind year for Lionsgold Limited (LON:LION), which was still known by its previous name Kolar Gold this time 12 months ago. A new management team was brought in last July, which included new chief executive Cameron Parry and executive director Luke Cairns, and a few months later the name officially changed.

    Strategic Minerals Plc (LON:SML) will look to speed up development of its Redmoor tin project in Cornwall after high grades were found from the latest exploration drilling. Big Pic in September.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has received permission to start a second phase of exploration drilling at the CS pozzolan-perlite project in Nevada. The Phase 2 programme will see a further 22 drill holes and help define the boundaries of an open pit. Big Pic in September.

    Metminco Limited (LON:MNC) (ASX:MNC) said that Graeme Hogan has been appointed as company secretary/chief financial officer with effective from today, replacing  Brian Jones, a partner in the accounting firm Rothsay Chartered Accountants, who  has filled the position in an interim capacity.

    Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas Ltd. (AIM: ECO) (TSX-V:EOG), the oil and gas exploration company with licences in highly prospective regions in South America and Africa, announced that it has appointed Pareto Securities Ltd as joint broker with immediate effect.

    Touchstone Exploration Inc. (LON:TXP) (TSX:TXP), the oil and gas exploration and production company active in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, has said it will be holding an online investor presentation and Q&A session for investors today to discuss the recent announcement of a private placement.

    ]]>
    Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:45:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188592/proactive-news-snapshot-hurricane-energy-cadence-minerals-flying-brands--188592.html
    <![CDATA[Vela Technologies flying high after investee company bags deal with American Airlines]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188575/vela-technologies-flying-high-after-investee-company-bags-deal-with-american-airlines-188575.html Investors get on board Vela as one of its investee company bags a deal with American Airlines

    Vela Technologies PLC (LON:VELA), an investment company focused on the technology sector, was lifted by news relating to one of its investee companies, Portr Limited.

    Trading as Airportr, the London-based travel technology start-up has seen American Airlines sign-up to its service, which allows customers to check in their luggage remotely from any London address and have it delivered to the airport.

    Shares in Vela rose 14.8% to 0.78p on the news. It has a 3.7% stake in Portr.

    Richland Resources falls foul of Aussie weather

    If you think the weather is bad here, spare a thought for Richland Resources Limited (LON:RLD), which is suffering weather delays in Australia.

    The gems producer has decided to temporarily halt mining operations at its Capricorn Sapphire mine located in Queensland, Australia due to “extreme weather conditions and a weak market environment” and is assessing potential additional project opportunities, including other commodities, such as gold and lithium.

    The company has stockpiled gemstones from its third quarter's production to pursue larger-scale, more strategic, sales events at more attractive prices.

    In theory, it is meant to be summer down under, although seasonal conditions can vary from region to region.

    Richland’s shares fell 0.1p to 0.53p on the update.

    Anglo African hit by drilling delays on potentially transformational prospect

    Anglo African Oil & Gas Plc (LON:AAOG) lost around one-sixth of its value after a corporate update.

    The company said discussions with the relevant authorities in the Republic of Congo for the award of a new licence in respect of the Tilapia field are at an advanced stage.

    The company does not want to proceed with the drilling of the TLP-103 prospect until it knows the outcome of these negotiations.

    Furthermore, the drilling rig it had hoped to use, which was set to become available in the middle of this month, will now not be available until next month.

    Blue Star rocket remains moon-bound

    Blue Star Capital PLC (LON:BLU) revealed that SatoshiPay, in which it has a stake, expects its partnership with Stellar to go live this week.

    The company expects to be able to accept credit card payments via the payment service provider TransactWorld UK.

    This means that consumers will be able to top up SatoshiPay using Visa and Mastercard, which should allow SatoshiPay to target a significantly increased user base as it begins to roll out pilot partnerships with publishers.

    Shares in Blue Star rose 8.6% to 0.613p on the news and are up 393% year-to-date and 188% over the last month.

    Weatherly gets the cold shoulder despite upturn in copper prices

    Outside it is quite “weatherly”, and so, coincidentally, is the stock exchange losers’ board, where Weatherly International plc (LON:WTI) features prominently.

    Results from the operator of the Tschudi copper asset in Namibia sent the share price 13% lower to 0.675p.

    Although revenue in the year to the end of June rose to US$75.1mln from US$63.7mln the year before, the loss before tax ballooned to US$41.1mln from US$10.6mln.

    Chairman John Bryant was taking some comfort from the recent recovery of the copper price.

    Proactive news headlines:

    Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has unveiled a new competent persons report for the ‘Rona Ridge’ assets, excluding the Lancaster oil field. The assets have been estimated to have 1.8bn barrels of contingent resources and over 900mln barrels of prospective resources.

    Cadence Minerals Plc (LON: KDNC) (OTC: KDNCY) is to acquire up to 100% of six prospective hard rock lithium assets in Argentina from Lithium Technologies Pty Ltd and Lithium Supplies Pty Ltd, the start of a “strategic shift” in its investing.

    Flying Brands Ltd (LON:FBDU) has obtained a CE mark for its StoneChecker software, paving the way for the kidney stones medical imaging software’s roll-out across Europe.

    ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) says it has identified 15 high priority targets from the results of an interpretation and targeting study using open-file geophysical data covering the Avoca, Bailieston, Moormbool and Timor exploration licences in Central Victoria, Australia.

    Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) has increased the mineral resource estimate for the BAM East Gold Deposit on its Junior Lake Property, Ontario, Canada of  400,000 ounces gold at 1.37 grams/tonne (g/t) of which 326,000 ounces gold is in the Indicated category.

    Film production underwriter FFI Holdings Plc (LON:FFI) is to acquire Buff Dubs, an Australian post-production services provider, for an initial payment of A$881,000.

    SDX Energy Inc (LON:SDX) has confirmed a new gas discovery in the KSR-16 development well, its latest in the Sebou permit onshore Morocco. The well, which was drilled down to 1,896 metres, has encountered some 14.2 metres of net conventional natural gas pay in the Hoot formation.

    Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has told investors that it has now started work in preparation of an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for a multiple well drill programme for the Thali licence, offshore Cameroon.

    Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has netted a sizeable profit after it sold off another chunk of its stake in fellow RNA interference specialist Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARWR). AIM-listed Silence sold just over 2mln shares at an average price of US$3.58. It purchased the shares for US$1.65 back in January, meaning it made a US$3.9mln (£2.9mln) profit on the disposal.

    Biopharma Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) has made another “important step” with its acute respiratory distress syndrome drug, Traumakine. The AIM-quoted company has now completed recruitment for the phase III INTEREST trial which is comparing the efficacy and safety of Traumakine and a placebo in patients with moderate to severe ARDS.

    Life sciences group Abzena plc (LON:ABZA) has bagged a contract with a US biotech company and long-time customer worth more than US$5mln. The agreement will see AIM-listed Abzena provide process development and manufacturing services in order to progress an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) towards clinical trials.

    MySQUAR Limited (LON:MYSQ), the Myanmar-language social media, entertainment and payments platform, has signed a distribution deal covering the Huawei inTouch platform. Mobile games developed in-house by MySQUAR will be distributed on the Huawei inTouch platform across 30 countries within Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

    Sula Iron & Gold PLC (LON:SULA) has acquired a cobalt deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A £1.75mln placing and subscription at 0.05p will fund the change of tack, which will be accompanied by a name change to African Battery Metals Limited.

    Richland Resources Limited (LON: RLD) says it has decided to temporarily halt mining operations at the its Capricorn Sapphire mine located in Queensland, Australia due to “extreme weather conditions and a weak market environment” and is assessing potential additional project opportunities, including other commodities such as gold and lithium.

    Goldplat plc (LON:GDP) has made a breakthrough in its dispute with Rand Refinery, with both sides now agreeing to an arbitration process. The two companies have been in dispute for months over a contract to process silver, with Goldplat claiming £780,000 from the South African refinery. Arbitration proceedings have been scheduled for 25-29 June.

    It’s been a whirlwind year for Lionsgold Limited (LON:LION), which was still known by its previous name Kolar Gold this time 12 months ago. A new management team was brought in last July, which included new chief executive Cameron Parry and executive director Luke Cairns, and a few months later the name officially changed.

    Strategic Minerals Plc (LON:SML) will look to speed up development of its Redmoor tin project in Cornwall after high grades were found from the latest exploration drilling. Big Pic in September.

    Sunrise Resources Plc (LON:SRES) has received permission to start a second phase of exploration drilling at the CS pozzolan-perlite project in Nevada. The Phase 2 programme will see a further 22 drill holes and help define the boundaries of an open pit. Big Pic in September.

    Metminco Limited (LON:MNC) (ASX:MNC) said that Graeme Hogan has been appointed as company secretary/chief financial officer with effective from today, replacing  Brian Jones, a partner in the accounting firm Rothsay Chartered Accountants, who  has filled the position in an interim capacity.

    Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas Ltd. (AIM: ECO) (TSX-V:EOG), the oil and gas exploration company with licences in highly prospective regions in South America and Africa, announced that it has appointed Pareto Securities Ltd as joint broker with immediate effect.

    Touchstone Exploration Inc. (LON:TXP) (TSX:TXP), the oil and gas exploration and production company active in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, has said it will be holding an online investor presentation and Q&A session for investors today to discuss the recent announcement of a private placement.

    ]]>
    Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:40:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/market_reports/188575/vela-technologies-flying-high-after-investee-company-bags-deal-with-american-airlines-188575.html
    <![CDATA[Will Dunlop be first of many brand sales at Sports Direct?]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26801/will-dunlop-be-first-of-many-brand-sales-at-sports-direct-26801.html Sports Direct Plc’s (LON:SPD) £112mln disposal of Dunlop will be the first in a number of brand sales.

    This morning Mike Ashley’s retail group announced it had agreed to sell the Dunlop brand to Japan’s Sumitomo Rubber Industries for £112mln so it can concentrate on becoming the “Selfridges of sports retail”.

    The business, which turned over almost £43mln last year, was acquired 12 years ago for £40mln.

    Sumitomo, a conglomerate with interest spanning construction, media and food, already owns the rights to Dunlop in Japan, Korea and Taiwan and shares the US rights with Sports Direct.

    The sale is part of founder Mike Ashley’s back to basics strategy of focusing on core brands.

    Sports Direct cited a lack of management “bandwidth” to maintain and grow the label, although it will hold a royalty-free licence to continue to produce Dunlop workwear.

    “We would thus expect this to be the first of a number of brand disposals. The volte face is enormous here,” Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard said in a note.

    “It will take time for sports direct to win over the third party brands but it seems that Mr Ashley's words are not just rhetoric. The shares are becoming very interesting if UK trading could be stabilised and a couple of solid names arrived on the board. Fascinating times.”

    ]]>
    Wed, 28 Dec 2016 09:15:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26801/will-dunlop-be-first-of-many-brand-sales-at-sports-direct-26801.html
    <![CDATA[Ophir Energy to ‘outperform’ thanks to Schlumberger’s addition to Fortuna]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26543/ophir-energy-to-outperform-thanks-to-schlumbergers-addition-to-fortuna-26543.html The credibility of Ophir Energy Plc’s (LON:OPHR) Fortuna project has been significantly boosted by Schlumberger’s addition to the venture, so says Credit Suisse.

    The Swiss bank today upgraded its view on the Africa focussed petroleum group to ‘outperform’ from ‘underperform’ and set a 100p target suggesting some 36% upside to the current share price.

    It comes after Schlumberger agreed a partnership between Ophir and OneLNG- a joint vehicle of Schlumberger and India’s Golar – which will oversee the development of Fortuna, a major floating LNG project offshore Equatorial Guinea.

    “The main barrier to Fortuna moving forward was Golar's lack of midstream financing, so the new ownership structure should allow Fortuna to move forward, as the new JOC should be more readily able to secure financing, given Schlumberger's bluechip balance sheet, and the fact that upstream resources can now be used as security,” Credit Suisse analyst Justin Teo said.

    Teo added: “Discussions with lenders are at an advanced stage, according to Ophir, and it is unlikely the company would have made an announcement if it wasn't confident on the financing.

    “Ophir has received interest from several potential off-takers, and two consortia have submitted bids for the upstream work, so the main uncertainty lies in approval from the government, in our view.”

    Elsewhere Jefferies International powered up its recommendation for portable generator firm Aggreko Plc (LON:AGK), moving to ‘hold’ from ‘underperform’, whereas Credit Suisse is still bearish with its ‘underperform’ rating intact and the target lowering to 690p from 740p.

    Peel Hunt lifts its target for Speedy Hire Plc (LON:SDY), to 50p from 36p, thanks to signs of revenue growth through the first half. Meanwhile, the broker also reduced its target for Majestic Wines Plc (LON:WINE) down to 300p from 440p. 

    ]]>
    Thu, 17 Nov 2016 09:38:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26543/ophir-energy-to-outperform-thanks-to-schlumbergers-addition-to-fortuna-26543.html
    <![CDATA[Brokers: 25% upside as well as big yield at Imperial Brands ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26534/brokers-25-upside-as-well-as-big-yield-at-imperial-brands-26534.html Imperial Brands (LON:IMB) has fared poorly in the anti-staple 'Trumpflation' rally but Deutsche Bank reckons this is about to change.

    Setting a bottom of 3,350p for the tobacco group, the broker believes  consolidation has returned to the tobacco sector.

    Dividends of 8% will be received within 16 months and the shares are worth 4,350p in Deutsche’s view.

    The current valuation of drug discovery firm ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) is well below where it deserves to be, according to an analyst at Northland Capital.

    Vadim Alexandre has the stock as a ‘buy’ and has high expectations for the company, setting a price target of 137p – more than a quid higher than what the stock currently trades at.

    “You’ve got a potential blockbuster drug [in Lupuzor], this [current] valuation is way too low for that programme on its own, and that says nothing about the oncology programme [either],” Alexandre tells Proactive.

    Broker Numis has upgraded Mexico-based silver giant Fresnillo (LON:FRES) to 'hold' on valuation grounds.

    While the incoming Trump administration's actual policy stance towards Mexico remains unclear, 67% of its costs are Peso-based and so the group would be a clear beneficiary of a weaker currency, notes analyst Jonathan Guy.

    As the iron ore price posted its sharpest fall in five years, albeit after an almighty upward run, a heavyweight London broker has tipped the metaphorical bucket of cold water over the prospects for mining stocks.

    JP Morgan Cazenove believes investors are probably over-estimating the potential impact of a Trump presidency on the sector and not really assessing the risks.

    As a result, the rally in industrial metals values seen over the last week is probably out of touch with reality, it added.

    JPM’s picks are picks are Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL) and Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO), which are rated 'overweight'.

    BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) and Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) are seen as vulnerable to a commodities market correction.

    Whether or not all of Next Plc’s (LON:NXT) problem come down to weather UBS analyst Andrew Hughes reckons it will be the biggest short-term influence on sales.

    Another risk is competition, particularly from Associated British Food Plc (LON:ABF) Primark.

    “The main risk is whether Primark destabilises the low end of the market to the degree that the mid market will be unable to make price increases stick,” the analyst said.

    Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) may be sitting on an undiscovered jewel with its onshore acreage in the US according to analysts at Deutsche Bank.

    The German broker notes that prospects in the US Permian Basin are now changing hands for up to US$45 per acre, which puts a value of US$10bn on its 2bn barrel Delaware position.

    Buy is Deutsche’s view with a 2,220p price target. Shares today were 2,068p.

    ]]>
    Wed, 16 Nov 2016 15:06:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26534/brokers-25-upside-as-well-as-big-yield-at-imperial-brands-26534.html
    <![CDATA[Brokers: Hargreaves Lansdown's new cash platform prompts upgrade]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26522/brokers-hargreaves-lansdown-s-new-cash-platform-prompts-upgrade-26522.html Hargreaves Lansdown’s (LON:HL.) new savings business offers a potentially substantial growth avenue, according to Numis.

    Cash savings are by far the largest pool of financial wealth in the UK and Hargreaves is looking to address this opportunity in a unique manner.

    For the first time, depositors will have access to an open architecture platform with the ability to instantly switch accounts to maximise returns.

    Investors will be able to have all of their wealth in one place and not have the inconvenience of switching accounts to follow the best rates.

    Hargreaves is likely to be able to offer depositors close to the top of the best buy table always.

    The scale of the opportunity is significant, adds Numis, with Hargreaves’ customers estimated to have over £60bn of cash.

    Surveys by the wealth manager suggest 45% of customers hold more than £75,000 in cash with 70% saying they may use Hargreaves for savings.

    “Furthermore we believe this savings offer will attract younger savers who have not ventured into other investments yet and older savers who only hold cash,” said the broker.

    Numis’ rating is upgraded to buy from add with a target price of 1,458p

    First electricity has been produced by Atlantis Resources (LON:ARL) at the tidal power project MeyGen, offshore Scotland.

    It is a big milestone says Peel Hunt, with the rest of the first phase to come on stream shortly and start to export power to the grid in the next few weeks.

    While future costs, finance availability and the subsidy regime are uncertainties, Atlantis can now demonstrate the potential of the technology and the project, and the ability of management to deliver it.

    The fun is over in the copper market according to HSBC, which has stuck reduce ratings on KAZ Minerals PLC (LON:KAZ) and Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO).

    After its 19% spike over the past month, HSBC expects the copper price to be range bound for next 2-3 years.

    Sell Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY), buy Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (LON:RBS) is Goldman Sach’s view today in its latest update on the UK banks.

    The theme is that competitors are encroaching on the four major’s traditional stamping ground, especially mortgages where ring-fencing and the newly introduced term funding scheme provide a strong incentive for some banks to substantially increase their exposure.

    Goldman Sachs has a target price of 50p on Lloyds and 225p on RBS against today’s market prices of 61.6p and 210.4p respectively.

    Having moved the giant polyhalite project in North Yorkshire. into development, Sirius Minerals’ (LON:SXX) net present value is now £7.4bn, according to Shore Capital.

    This equates to 129-166p a share fully diluted on the Shore analyst’s base case assumptions.

    The risked NPV, which factors in all the potential hurdles between now and 2018, comes in at a more modest 65-82.5p a share. That lower figure is still roughly three-times the current share price.

    “If all goes to plan hereafter, there would be no further need to raise equity,” said analyst Yuen Low.

    ]]>
    Tue, 15 Nov 2016 13:10:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26522/brokers-hargreaves-lansdown-s-new-cash-platform-prompts-upgrade-26522.html
    <![CDATA[William Hill worth a punt after better start to the second half]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26509/william-hill-worth-a-punt-after-better-start-to-the-second-half-26509.html Bookie William Hill PLC (LON:WMH) was a winner with retail-focused brokers this morning as it upgraded profits guidance.

    The bookmaker said full-year operating profits should come in at the top end of forecasts.

    Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said William Hill looks as if it has gone back to concentrating on its knitting.

    “Having considered mergers with what feels like every other gaming company around, William Hill finally seem to be knuckling down to the job of turning the core business around. The online business is back in growth, efficiency savings have been identified and the self-service terminal roll-out is complete,” Hyett said.

    “The group has also announced a revamped board this morning. Former Coral and Betfair execs bring in industry knowhow, and Tesco’s Mark Brooker an increased focus on customers,” he added.

    In Hyett’s view, it is good to see William Hill betting on the core business again rather than “rolling the dice on big strategic moves that have so far failed to pay out”.

    Ian Forrest at The Share Centre said William Hill is “back in the game” after a poor first half.

    “Investors will be watching closely for potential merger and acquisition activity as the gambling sector consolidates. William Hill has abandoned recent merger talks with Canadian online gaming group Amaya and has also rejected a three-way merger proposal from 888 Holdings and Rank Group,” Forrest noted.

    The Share Centre rates the bookie as a higher-risk ‘buy’, due to the potential for further growth in mobile wagers, expansion into overseas markets and the prospect of further efficiencies within the business.

    House builder Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) said trading continued to be strong in the second half of the year, although Liberum Capital Markets noticed the growth in the sales rate was down a little compared to the prior year.

    It thinks the shares are cheap, but it prefers Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) in the sector. Hold ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, is Liberum’s view on Taylor Wimpey.

    SP Angel, the nominated advisor for mine developer Amur Minerals PLC (LON:AMC), has welcomed the news that the access road to the company’s Kun-Manie road will cost less than originally envisaged.

    Amur updated this morning on its plans for a 316km-long road from Kun-Manie to the rail depot.

    “Road access is one of the major project capex components along with processing plant infrastructure, mining equipment and power supply solution. A major cost saving on road construction budget in US$ terms is a welcome news with the company planning further works to finalise the route and narrow cost estimates range,” SP Angel noted.

    Ascent Resources PLC (LON:AST) caught a break last week when it was told it won’t have to carry out a full environmental impact assessment prior to installing a new processing facility at the Petišovci gas project in Slovenia.

    “With the Slovenian Environmental Agency deciding that Ascent Resources will not need to complete a full environmental impact assessment at the Petišovci Project, the company now expects the IPPC Permit to be awarded sometime in 2017. Had the Environmental Agency not taken such a commercial stance then it could have delayed the Project’s development by around a year,” noted house broker Northland Capital Partners.

    “Ascent is continuing to advanced towards commencing untreated gas production on a smaller scale using existing infrastructure in Q117, this is not reliant on the IPPC Permit - required for the larger operation that entails the construction of a new gas treatment plant,” Northland explained.

    ]]>
    Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:37:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26509/william-hill-worth-a-punt-after-better-start-to-the-second-half-26509.html
    <![CDATA[Is Marks & Spencer as bad as its share price suggests?]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26480/is-marks-spencer-as-bad-as-its-share-price-suggests-26480.html Is Marks & Spencer as bad as its share price fall suggests?
     
    No, say the analysts at Haitong Research though they admit that turning around a juggernaut like M&S (LON:MKS) will take time.
     
    The broker would have liked chief executive Steve Rowe to have wielded the axe even harder and closed more its of UK clothing space rather 
     
    “10% over five years is not that much in the context of UK Clothing and Home sales densities in-store (excluding online) down 20-25% over the last five years - but we can see that there are reasons for management taking a less aggressive stance. “
     
    We do think though that the company would have seen its plans better received if it had given a clearer analysis of its assumptions for market growth, online penetration etc.,  rather than relying on the “Trust Us, We Know What We Are Doing” approach evident.
     
    Haitong is a buyer even so with a 375p fair value estimate.
     
    Housebuilder Redrow (LON:RDW) has 40% upside  according to  Peel Hunt, which has upgraded it forecast after a strong selling season this autumn.
     
    The broker now expects profits this year of £280mln and  has upgraded its forecast by 3% for the following two years. 
     
    Shares are trading on 20% discount on a price to asset value basis, which is good value and the price target of price target of 555p implies over 40% upside. 
     
    Macquarie has turned more bullish on contactor Amec Foster Wheeler  (LON:AMFW) with an upgrade to 'Neutral'.
     
    The broker has been a seller ut said the the stock has now sufficiently de-rated following last month's disappointing trading update. 
     
    Cantor Fitzgerald notes that Following the successful completion of the Lancaster 7 wells, Hurricane Energy PLC (LON: HUR) has announced the spudding of its first Lincoln well. 
     
    This is a material prospect for the company with the last CPR estimating a prospective resource base of 150MMbbls, which could be as high as 250MMbbls assuming the Lincoln prospect is analogous to the Lancaster field. 
     
    The presence of oil at 2,135m TVDSS indicates a continuous oil column to this depth and therefore the company can take sufficient comfort in this higher estimate. 
     
    Buy with a 69p target.
     
    UBS is a buyer of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) with a 2,250p) following its New York Investor Day.
     
    Shell is still targeting US$20-25bn of organic free cash flow (US$20-30bn disposals) and 10% return on capital by the end of the decade in a $60/bbl oil price scenario, which would more than cover the $16bn all-cash dividend. 
     
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    Wed, 09 Nov 2016 14:22:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26480/is-marks-spencer-as-bad-as-its-share-price-suggests-26480.html
    <![CDATA[HSBC upgraded to 'buy' as capital position impresses]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26468/hsbc-upgraded-to-buy-as-capital-position-impresses-26468.html Deutsche Bank has upgraded HSBC (LON:HSBA) to 'buy' from 'hold' following the well-received third quarter results.

    The standout feature for the German broker was the rise in the core tier one assets due to a change in regulatory capital treatment.

    Deutsche’s target price rises to 665p from 620p.

    Online bookie Paddy Power Betfair (LON:PPB) is trading so well currently, Investec expects it to surprise the market with better-than-expected underlying earnings figures this year.

    The bookie – which came about after the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair back in February – recently upped its guidance for full-year EBITDA (underlying earnings).

    It said it expects to report underlying earnings of between £390mln and £405mln for the 12 months to December, although Investec thinks it should beat this comfortably.

     “FY16 EBITDA guidance looks too low and we expect the company to derive a further £30m of synergies in FY17,” said analyst Alistair Ross.

    Ross expects underlying earnings for this current financial year to come in at £408.1mln, although he concedes that even this will likely be beaten.

    “We think our forecasts are still cautious given the possibility of faster synergy realisation than expected higher cost synergies expected overall as well as revenue synergies.”

    'Buy' with a target price of £100.

    Savannah Resources (LON:SAV) and partner Rio Tinto’s, Mutamba project is one of the largest ilmenite dominant minerals sands deposits in the east coast of Africa, says Northland.

    The initial indicated and inferred mineral resource estimate for the project totals 3.5bt at a grade of 3.8% total heavy minerals (THM), containing 81mt of ilmenite, 2.2mt of rutile and 3.8mt of zircon.

    This mineral resource estimate will form the foundation of the scoping study that will focus on the high-grade areas where there is little or no overburden

    This is part of Savannah’s low-cost mining strategy for the project targeting production of around 200mt.

    Lock specialist Tyman (LON:TYMN) has given a reassuring update, with 2016 results likely to hit expectations said Liberum.

    This is in spite of slower than expected growth in North America, with the shortfall offset by better volumes in the rest of the world and strong pricing in the UK.

    The shares have been abnormally weak for a US$ earner and trade at an attractive valuation, says the broker which has a target price of 305p.

    Societe Generale has suggested the oil sector as a good bet if Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential election.

    Her track record suggests she will be more interventionist than Obama, a stance that can support oil prices, defence and oil & gas stocks and oil-related currencies, says the French bank.

    A victory for Trump meanwhile should mean a  switch out of equities into bonds, hedge the dollar and buy the euro, Swiss franc, gold and Chinese onshore assets. Buy the pharma sector as well.

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    Tue, 08 Nov 2016 13:34:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26468/hsbc-upgraded-to-buy-as-capital-position-impresses-26468.html
    <![CDATA[Brokers: UK pharma giants in good shape if Clinton wins says Citigroup]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26458/brokers-uk-pharma-giants-in-good-shape-if-clinton-wins-says-citigroup-26458.html Hillary Clinton’s proposals for US healthcare reform will, if she wins, create almost limitless outcomes, according to Citigroup with potential black swan outcomes in the event of a Democratic clean sweep.

    “From a legislative angle, we continue to prefer names with either limited part D exposure [US Medicare] or heavier contribution of non-pharma assets."

    Both UK flagwavers GlaxoSmithKline (LON:GSK)  and Astra Zeneca (LON:AZN) are buys on that basis for the broker.

    Gold miner Randgold Resources PLC (LON:RRS) is about 20% undervalued, a gap that should close as it releases more cash to pay out to shareholders according to JP Morgan.

    Berenberg is sticking with its buy case for gas utility Centrica (LON:CNA) even though the investment case has been a frustrating one.

    Centrica offers an attractive dividend yield underpinned by improving earnings and cash flow backed by cost-cutting, a recovery in commodity prices not yet reflected in the share price.

    " Politics continues to dog the investment case but we continue to believe that the market is overly bearish" ,says the broker.

    The target price is 240p.

    A rising coal price points to rising dividends from Anglo Pacific Group PLC (LON:APF), suggests broker Peel Hunt.

    Last week, the resource investor reported a 147% increase in royalty income in its third quarter.

    Spot prices of coking coal, used in making steel, are up 229% in the year so far and 110% for thermal coal (used, among other things, in generating  electricity). The target price goes from 128p from 108p

    Ergomed PLC's (LON:ERGO) co-development deal with Asarina Pharma AB for Sepranolone enhances its pipeline, says broker N+1 Singer, which repeats a 'buy' rating and lifts the target by 10p.

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    Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:22:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26458/brokers-uk-pharma-giants-in-good-shape-if-clinton-wins-says-citigroup-26458.html
    <![CDATA[Broker spotlight: Rolls-Royce gets a lift from Citigroup ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26451/broker-spotlight-rolls-royce-gets-a-lift-from-citigroup-26451.html Yesterday's profits upgrade from pawnbroker H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT) was welcome, but not unexpected, according to finnCap.

    The broker, which rates the shares a 'buy', thinks the company's profits will get a £1.2mln boost from the resurgence in the price of the yellow stuff, but says the H&T story is not really about gold.

    “The real story is how the growth of the personal loans business will play out over the next few years.

    “Increasing the [personal loans] book by £2mln since the interim to £8mln is useful for 2016 but extrapolated beyond could prove transformational for the group in terms of lending growth.”

    Shell (LON:RDSB) edges it over BP (LON:BP.) for investors believes Goldman Sachs.

    Results from Anglo–Dutch Shell and BP this week both beat the US broker’s expectations.

    Shell’s performance though will reassure investors that the plan from the capital markets day in June remains on track, with cash flow picking up and further cost synergies and reductions to be realised.

    Rolls-Royce PLC (LON:RR.) investors have become used to profit warnings in recent months but that might be about change suggests Citigroup.

    On the back of a new cash-driven way of valuing the engineers, the US broker has upgraded the aeroengine maker to a ‘buy’.

    Prices comparison web site operator Gocompare.com demerged from esure Group PLC (LON:ESUR) and the shares are under-priced, according to Peel Hunt.

    The shares closed at 72p on their first day of listing, which is some way short of Peel Hunt's 85p target price, making the shares a 'buy'.

    One blue-chip City broker was singing Sainsbury PLC’s (LON:SBRY) praises ahead of its interim results next Wednesday (November 9).

    The investment arm of Deutsche Bank restated its ‘buy’ target and 280p a share price target.

    One of the major talking points next week will be the outlook for food prices, with imported inflation on the rise due to the post-Brexit tumble of the pound.

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    Fri, 04 Nov 2016 16:02:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26451/broker-spotlight-rolls-royce-gets-a-lift-from-citigroup-26451.html
    <![CDATA[Cineworld Group PLC shares are just the ticket for HSBC]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26441/cineworld-group-plc-shares-are-just-the-ticket-for-hsbc-26441.html Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) shares are just the ticket for HSBC, which has initiated coverage on the cinemas group.

    HSBC’s price target implies the price could advance around 30% from the current level of 543.5p.

    Analyst Ali Naqvi described the UK business as a ‘cash cow’ able to deliver £100mln of underlying earnings a year.

    He also lauded the business’s defensive qualities, given its ability to continue almost untroubled in times of economic uncertainty.

    Increasingly, long-term holders are looking for this type of investment as counter-weight to the more cyclicals stocks held in portfolios.

    Credit Suisse is becoming increasingly concerned about fashion firm Next Plc’s (LON:NXT) ability to maintain its margins.

    Operating expenditure is rising and, reflecting sterling’s post-Brexit vote plunge, input costs are on the rise, meaning Next will struggle to pass on higher costs.

    On top of that, Next Brand sales are “looking increasingly mature”, and Credit Suisse (CS) reckons Next’s underlying earnings (EBIT) margins will have peaked at an industry high of 20% in 2015/16.

    “Deteriorating sales growth for Directory (3Q 0%) implies that the only sources of sales growth for Directory are lower margin Label and International,” CS said, as it downgraded the stock to ‘under-perform’ from ‘neutral’.

    The target price has been cut to 4,600p from 4,950p.

    A bullish note from US heavyweight broker Citigroup sent Shire Plc (LON:SHP) to the top of the FTSE 100.

    Brushing aside a mixed reaction to its third quarter results earlier in the week, the broker says relative to others in its sector Shire is compelling value.

    The worries were sparked by a disappointing sales performance from new subsidiary Baxalta’s haematology drug portfolio, but any concerns here are now well in the price, said analyst Peter Verdult.

    Suggestions that haematology revenues may drop by 10% from 2018 are wide of the mark, he reckons, given the volume growth, pipeline and potential safety issues for Roche’s new haemophilia rival ACE910.

    Verdult says Shire offers potential earnings growth of 19% over the next five years on an earnings multiple of less than ten, while on a cash flow multiple basis the implied price is 7,000p, versus this morning’s price of 4,538p.

    Morgan Stanley has upgraded defence firm BAE Systems PLC (LON:BA.) to ‘overweight’. Partly this is a response to an expected boost from overseas earnings, now that sterling is in the doghouse, but it also sees “upside risk from tank opportunities”, while concerns about Saudi Arabia and regulatory risks are overdone, in the US bank’s view.

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    Thu, 03 Nov 2016 11:41:00 +0000 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/columns/broker-spotlight/26441/cineworld-group-plc-shares-are-just-the-ticket-for-hsbc-26441.html