Royal Mail rises after stamp of approval from Liberum

A look at the day's major movers, including Headlam, Old Mutual, Caledonian Trust, Westminster Group, Luceco, Strategic Minerals, Tarsus and Mothercare

Planning permission sounds like it might have been a problem

Analysts at Liberum Capital delivered good news to shareholders of Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG), giving a stamp of approval to the shares.

The shares advanced 6.1% to 210p after the broker said the FTSE 100 firm’s turnaround plan, unveiled with its full year results on Wednesday, was an “improved strategic direction” but cautioned that the execution risks would be significant.

The analysts also cut their target price for the FTSE 250-listed firm to 185p from 240p, saying there could be more downside risk to the shares in the short term.

2.15pm: Floor coverings distributor Headlam makes “pleasing” start to 2019

Shares in Headlam Group PLC (LON:HEAD) headed towards the ceiling on Friday after the floor coverings distributor confirmed it had made a “pleasing” start to the year.

Sales in the opening four months of 2019 were 5.5% higher than the same period of last year, with like-for-likes rising 3.5%.

The company said the UK commercial sector was “notably strong”. Across the Channel in continental Europe, the residential sector was once again “the much stronger performer”.

The shares were up 4.8% at 478.5p.

1.45pm: Old Mutual board falls out with the CEO

South African financial services firm Old Mutual Limited (LON:OMU) has suspended its chief executive officer, Peter Moyo.

The board has had various engagements Moyo, that have caused it to conclude that there has been a material breakdown in trust and confidence between him and the board.

Iain Williamson, the chief operating officer will assume the role of acting chief executive officer.

According to news agency reports, the breakdown in relations was over how the company should engage with an investment firm he founded.

Shares in Old Mutual were down 2.6% at 115.78p.

12.05pm: Caledonia Trust takes the low road after changing terms of proposed disposal of an Edinburgh property

Shares in Caledonian Trust PLC (LON:CNN) tumbled 8.2% to 225p after the proposed sale of St Margaret's House in Edinburgh hit a snag.

Following recent discussions, Caledonian Trust and the putative buyer, Drum, have agreed to amend the missives originally entered into on 2 February 2018 in relation to the proposed disposal, in order to allow Drum sufficient time to progress with the proposed disposal.

The directors of Caledonian now expect that completion of the proposed disposal will take 24 months from today's date.

11.15am: Westminster Group upbeat as pipeline of prospects grows

Airport security services specialist Westminster Group PLC (LON:WSG) says the current year has started on a strong and profitable note with first-quarter orders and revenues ahead of budget.

“Based on our current order book, the improvement in our airport passenger numbers and our run rate business, including Keyguard and Euro Ops, we expect 2019 revenues to be significantly ahead of 2018,” said Peter Fowler, Westminster’s chief executive.

Any further new major contract awards would materially improve the results, he added.

The shares were up 6.8% at 7.1p.

10.45am: Luceco powers up

Lighting and power products maker Luceco PLC (LON:LUCE) was a bright spot on Friday morning after an encouraging trading update.

Despite a backdrop of wider economic and political uncertainty, the continuation of improved trading into the second quarter means that the board is now confident of delivering adjusted operating profit for 2019 materially ahead of current market expectations.

The shares were up 18% at 119.8p.

10.15am: Strategic Minerals wanted after it signalled the imminent arrival of a cash infusion

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) has reached an agreement with its major client at its Cobre iron ore asset in relation to arrears to date and payments going forward, leading to the potential receipt of US$4.065mln within two weeks.

The AIM-listed producing mineral company, which is actively developing projects prospective for battery materials, added that the client has informed SMG that it anticipates having significant funds very shortly and has asked it to refrain from progressing legal action for two weeks.

Strategic Minerals’ share price was up 18% at 1.825p.

9.30am: Tarsus succumbs to bid from private equity group; maybe Mothercare has not thrown the baby out with the bathwater after all

Exhibitions group Tarsus Group PLC (LON:TRS) saw its shares soar by more than a third in early trade on Friday after it agreed to be taken out by private equity.

Tiger Acquisitions UK, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of funds advised by Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, has secured the agreement of the Tarsus board for a bid of 425p in cash. Shares in Tarsus rose 37% to 426p on the announcement.

Mothercare PLC (LON:MTC) also found stroing gains, adding 12.7% to 23p after the retailer said it has seen “some improving UK trends” in recent weeks.

Publishing its results for the 53 weeks to 30 March a day later than planned as it said they were so complicated, the parent-focused retailer reported a 29% reduction in losses before tax from continuing operations to £66.6mln even though revenues shrank 11.5% to £513.8mln.

Mothercare's UK like-for-like sales were down 8.9% compared to a positive 0.6% last time, with UK sales down 11.8% and losses cut by 10%. Meanwhile the international shops showed signs of recovery, down 0.3% in constant currency compared to 5.7% the year before, with adjusted profit before tax and forex revaluations almost flat.

Proactive news headlines:

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) (USOTC:SMCDY) said its wholly-owned subsidiary, Southern Minerals Group (SMG) has reached an agreement with its major client at Cobre in relation to arrears to date and payments going forward, leading to the potential receipt of US$4.065mln within two weeks.

Victoria Oil & Gas PLC (LON:VOG) financial results for 2018 show the company at a low point, as a hiatus in supply to its largest customer caused sharply lower production volumes. Output was down through most of the year until the company reached an agreement in December with Cameroon power firm ENEO to restart gas supply.

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) has confirmed that discussions with potential partners are ongoing as it assess the best route forward for its lead drug. The results from an extension study of Lupuzor, a treatment for the autoimmune disease Lupus, will feed into the decision making.

Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) has announced that Jay Bhattacherjee is stepping down from his position as chief executive with immediate effect for health reasons. "We are all very sorry that Jay has had to step down at short notice due to a medical condition which requires immediate attention,” said John Bell, Aminex chief executive.

Location Sciences Group PLC (LON:LSAI) has announced the appointment of Donald "Donnie" Williams as a non-executive director of the company with immediate effect. The group noted that Williams has worked at Horizon Media, Inc. for nearly 13 years and has served as chief digital officer since 2010.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) has announced the appointment of David J Turner, Jr. as an independent non-executive director, with effect from 27 May 2019. Turner serves as chief financial officer at Regions Financial Corporation, an NYSE Listed S&P 500 banking group.

Rose Petroleum PLC (LON:ROSE) has confirmed the receipt of £300,000 from its recent subscription for 25,000,000 new ordinary shares at 1.2p each, details of which were announced on 20 May 2019. In addition, the company also confirmed the appointment of Colin Harrington as its executive chairman  with immediate effect.

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