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Tuesday's most followed: Thomas Cook, Homeserve, Mitchells & Butlers, Baltic Oil Terminals, Roxi Petroleum, Zoltav


It was no surprise that today’s biggest mover of the day, tour operator Thomas Cook (LON:TCG), topped the list of the most searched for UK stocks on Google Finance as traders monitored market reaction to today’s news that the group is in talks with its banks.

Investors dumped the stock after the update was released, pushing the share price down nearly 80 percent.

Thomas Cook, whose business absorbed a heavy hit this year when a wave of unrest in the Middle East-North Africa region reduced demand for popular tourist destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt, said trading conditions have deteriorated.

The group added that it will not release its full year results until the conclusion of discussions with its lenders.

On message boards, some investors argued that the markets have overreacted to the statement.

They drew attention to the fact that the group said that it has not breaches its financing covenants and needs “adjustments that will improve its resilience if trading conditions remain difficult”.

The Guardian newspaper later quoted a spokeswoman for Thomas Cook, who said the group still had cash in the bank, but needed more headroom to protect itself against any unexpected shocks during the Christmas period.
She said the discussions with banks were “merely a prudent and pro-active move”.

Other notable fallers included another FTSE 250 constituent Homeserve (LON:HSV), however, the decline in the home maintenance insurance firm’s share price was far less dramatic.

The stock dipped twelve percent to 219.9 pence as Homeserve told investors that it expects to lose up to 240,000 customers in the current financial year as a result of the suspension of its UK telesales and marketing due to potential mis-selling.

Staying in the FTSE 250, pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (LON:MAB), also garnered attention today with its final results showing up among the most read RNS statements.

The group reported an increase of 1.8 percent in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to £398 million as sales surged 4.9 percent to £1.76 billion, calling it a “resilient set of results despite a challenging year”.

Mitchells & Burlers was cautious about the outlook, expecting the consumer environment to remain challenging and inflationary pressures to persist, especially from energy, duty and food.

The most popular statements in the small cap universe included Baltic Oil Terminals’ (LON:BTC) acquisition of Danish oil terminal operator Haahr Tank-Lager A/S from Haahr Group for US$9.9 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Haahr will retain the use of 35,000 cubic meters of capacity at the terminal for the next five years.

According to Baltic Oil Terminals, Haahr Tank's existing  facilities  requires little or no capital expenditure, while its ability to host larger oil tankers than in Kaliningrad will enable large volumes to be shipped through the terminal.

In oil and gas, Roxi Petroleum (LON:RXP) was among the companies that generated the most interest today. The Kazakhstan operating firm reported that its NK-9 well has encountered oil bearing reservoir sands and, following final interpretation of the wireline logs data, the well will be perforated and tested.

The rig is currently being moved to the location of the second well, NK-10.

In other news, natural resources company Zoltav (LON:ZOL) told investors that it knows of no reason for the recent surge in its share price, which went from 1.7 pence to yesterday’s close of 3.78 pence, which valued that business at nearly £15 million.

“The company continues to review a number of possible investment opportunities and will make further announcements as appropriate,” the firm said in today’s statement.

Shares in Zoltav, which is 40 percent owned by the son of the owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich, slumped ten percent to 3.4 pence on today’s update.

The share price rally was driven by rumours of stake building, leading investors on message boards to speculate that the board decided to release the statement to curb growth in the share price.

Some investors said the price still presents a good buying opportunity, noting that Zoltav’s share placing in January was undertaken at a price of four pence per share.

Quick facts: Caspian Sunrise Plc

Price: 2.715 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £51.36 m

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