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Wildwood owner Tasty plunges once again as losses deepen amid sector-wide “slowdown”

Some of the main news-driven risers and fallers at 3.30pm...

wildwood restaurant
Tasty operates 65 restaurants across the UK, most of which are Wildwood branches

It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire today for Tasty Plc (LON:TAST). The Wildwood restaurant owner plunged once again after losses deepened in the first half despite an increase in sales.

On top of that, the casual restaurant group (again) warned of a sector-wide “slowdown” as stagnant wage growth and rising inflation continue to put pressure on the UK consumer.

As a result, Tasty was forced to spend more in promotions and marketing to try and get people through the doors which meant first half operating losses more than quadrupled to £9.2mln (H1 2016: £2.2mln).

The outlook is for the “challenging conditions” experienced in the opening six months to continue for a while yet and the firm said it would be scaling back its expansion plans as well.

Shares had lost 12.9% of their value to trade at 36.6p shortly before market close in London.

TyraTech’s shift in focus towards US paying off

Tyratech, Inc. (LON:TYR LON:TYRU) saw its shares gain today after the pest control technology firm said its products outperformed a recovering US head lice market in the first half of 2017.

In late afternoon trading, Tyratech shares were almost 20%, or 0.2p higher at 1.23p.

The AIM-listed company said like-for-like sales of its Vamousse head lice product are outstripping the market in the US, contributing to a handy increase in first half revenues to US$4.3mln from US$4.1mln in the first half of last year.

Management took the decision to focus its marketing and commercial resources supporting Vamousse on the US market.

The company, still in the growth stage of its development, slashed losses from operation to US$711,000 from US$1.52mln the previous year.

 

1.45pm...Iofina boosted as it gets to work on construction of new plant

The beginning of the construction of Iofina plc’s (LON:IOF) iodine production plant was greeted by warm applause from the markets today, with shares rising 19.4% to 11.8p.

The IO#7 plant will be significantly cheaper to run than the IO#3 plant it is replacing despite having similar production capabilities.

That means the cost per kilo of iodine produced should be much lower which will allow Iofina to compete even if iodine prices slip further.

Once fully operational, the company expects IO#7 to increase annual iodine production by more than 40% given the issues it has had with IO#3 recently.

Sky-Fox merger to be referred to the CMA

Shares in Sky PLC (LON:SKY) dived after the culture secretary announced she would be referring 221st Century Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) proposed £11.7bn takeover to regulators.

The Competition and Markets Authority will be asked to investigate the deal further due to concerns over both media plurality and broadcasting standards.

The news will come as a blow to Fox owner and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who will now have to wait at least another six months before he gets a decision.

Fox currently owns 39% of the UK broadcaster but wants total control, although there are concerns that the Murdoch family may have too much influence in the UK media if that happens.

Sky shares fell 2.6% to 927.5p immediately after the news broke.

11am...Recent rise in tungsten prices bodes well for Wolf Minerals

Plymouth-based miner Wolf Minerals PLC (LON:WLFE) jumped to the top of the risers as investors picked up on the strong rise in the price of tungsten recently.

The heavy metal has surged in value over the past few months, which should give Wolf a bit of breathing space as it tries to gets its Drakelands mine up and running at the optimum rate.

Major shareholder Resource Capital has been supporting the company with a bridging loan while it sorts out the teething problems.

The unit for tungsten is metric tonne units (MTUs) and the price yesterday had climbed to US$310-345, which compares with well below US$200 just a few months ago.

Shares today rose 22% to 5.5p.

 

9.30am ... Mountfield climbs on bullish outlook

Commercial flooring specialist Mountfield Group PLC (LON:MOGP) was tracking well in early deals despite seeing pre-tax profits fall slightly in the first half of the year.

Investors were boosted by the outlook, with the firm saying that it expects a “markedly improved performance” this year compared to last.

The bullishness stems from Mountfield’s Connaught Access Flooring division which has been on a little run.

It has won more than £6mln worth of contracts already this year, and the company revealed it is about to win another one worth an initial £4mln shortly. Shares zipped 27.7% higher to 1.9p.

JD back in fashion after results top expectations

JD Sports (LON:JD.) was in fashion this morning after it comfortably beat expectations with a record set of first-half results.

Falling sales at its rival Foot Locker sparked concerns that the ‘athleisure’ trend was over, while a tie-up between Nike and Amazon had also spooked the market.

But investors returned to JD after it reported a 33% jump in pre-tax profits to £102.7mln, on revenues of £1.37bn – 41% higher than the £970mln recorded in the first half of 2016.

On top of the strong opening six months, JD said it expects full-year results to come in at the upper end of expectations following similarly robust trading at the start of the second half.

Chief executive Peter Cowgill added that he was “confident” in the retailers’ future prospects and the market echoed that sentiment, with shares climbing more than 5% to 356p.

Dive in profits and weak outlook weigh on Goals Soccer Centre

Sticking with the sports theme, Goals Soccer Centres PLC (LON:GOAL) was given a kicking as it reported a steep drop-off in first half profits and warned on the UK consumer environment.

The five-a-side football pitch operator saw pre-tax profits dive by a quarter to £2.6mln (H1 2016: £3.5mln) as operating costs rose to £12.5mln (H1 2016: £11.1mln) thanks primarily to higher staff costs and business rates.

Goals added that a combination of underperforming ‘clubs’ in  need of refurbishment and the fact it is “highly cautious” about the pressure on consumer spending, means like-for-like sales growth in the second half will be slower than expected.

Mike Ashley, who has been building a stake in the AIM-quoted firm recently, won’t have been too happy to see the shares lose 10% of their value in early deals to trade at 93.1p.

Proactive news headline:

The newest iodine production plant of Iofina PLC (LON:IOF) will be called IO#7 and will be built in the core area of the company’s current Oklahoma operations. The new plant will be based around the existing IO#3 plant, which was hitherto Iofina’s highest cost per kilo plant. As IO#7, though, the new plant will have similar production capabilities and cost structure to Iofina’s lowest per kilo production cost plant.

InnovaDerma PLC (LON:IDP) chairman Haris Chaudhry said his company’s financial performance had exceeded nearly every benchmark set, propelled by its Skinny Tan bronzer and sculpting product. “The journey, however, has just begun as we prepare to launch multiple new brands that we have either successfully developed in-house or acquired during the past 12 months,” he said after the release of full-year results.

Pest control technology firm Tyratech Inc (LON:TYR, LON:TYRU) said its products outperformed a recovering US head lice market in the first half of 2017.

Innovative healthcare group Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) has hailed the “excellent progress” made in the opening six months of the year as its breakthrough erectile dysfunction gel moves closer to its Phase III study. A pharmacokinetic study is set to get underway in the fourth quarter of this year, with the results informing a large-scale Phase III trial in the first half of 2018. For the six months ended 30 June, Futura saw revenues rise to £363,000 (£67,000). Cash resources totalled £10.2mln as of the end of the period (30 June 2016: £2.9mln).

Staffing specialist Empresaria Group PLC (LON:EMR) has appointed the company’s finance director to the role of chief operating officer to implement the group’s Invest and Develop strategy. Spencer Wreford, who has been FD since 2010, will carry out both jobs until a new chief number cruncher can be found.

Minds + Machines Group Limited (LON:MMX) has seen a spurt in orders for its .vip domain in China. Since the release of its 2017 premium inventory for China in late June 2017, premium sales in excess of US$3.4mln have been achieved for the .vip top level domain, and around US$2.8mln of those have been closed in the last 10 days.

88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E) confirmed that frack fluid continues to flow back from the Icewine-2 well in Alaska, and hydrocarbons are now flowing too. It is flowing around 55 barrels of frack fluid per day and 2-4 thousand cubic feet of gas, with a maximum rate of 8 thousand cubic feet per day.

Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP), the former LGO Energy has been given the environmental go-ahead, a CEC certificate, for a waterflood programme at its Goudron field in Trinidad. Leo Koot, executive chairman, said he was thrilled with the award of the CEC and would begin the Water Injection Pilot "A" Programme immediately, funded from available cash resources.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has confirmed the completion of its deal to acquire the assets of Oil Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) in Morocco, namely stakes in the Anoual and Tendrara areas. It means that Sound's stake in Tendrara rises to 75% and it also gains 75% interests in follow-on exploration areas surrounding the gas discovery.

Brave Bison PLC has announced the non-board appointment of Jonathan Kitchen as its commercial director with immediate effect, as its new chief executive officer bolsters the group’s management. Kitchen has spent much of his career in a variety of roles at Dennis Publishing, latterly launching the digital creative agency, Adnostic.

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