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Purplebricks moves back into profit, sending shares sky-high

A look at some of the major risers and fallers in London markets on Thursday

Purplebricks Group PLC
Purplebricks battled a weak UK property market to return to profit

Shares in Purplebricks Group PLC’s (LON:PURP) climbed 6% to 114.6p on news that the estate agent was back in profit in the first half of the year.

Purplebricks said in a trading update that pro forma revenue is expected to be broadly flat compared to the same period last year, surprising shareholders after the company beat an embarrassing retreat from the US in July because of growing losses.

The AIM-listed company said that overall the UK property market has weakened as political and economic uncertainty impacted confidence, reducing home sale volumes, especially in the South East.

Clothing brand Superdry PLC (LON:SDRY) trended up 7% to 452.8p after it announced a two to three year reset strategy to take “full control of the product and costs”.

In a pre-close trading statement, the faux-Japanese clothing company said it will take a design-led approach and stop the cycle of constant promotions, while announcing half-year group revenue declined at the expected rate of 11% year-on-year to £368mln.

“There is good momentum in the business, and I remain confident of returning Superdry to sustainable long-term growth,” said chief executive and co-founder Julian Dunkerton in a release.

In the housebuilding sector, Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN)’s shares rebounded 3.38% to 2,353p as it ramped up a plan to push back move-in dates so that properties are completed on time and to a good standard.

The FTSE 100-listed housebuilder said in a trading statement that the shift caused  total sales to fall by 6% year-on-year to 7,584 homes, adding that it is now “fully sold up” for the year.

Chief executive Dave Jenkinson said he was confident that Persimmon’s ongoing customer care improvement plans together with its stronger forward build position, healthy forward sales, robust balance sheet and its landholdings provide a “sound platform for the successful future development” of Persimmon.

2pm: Profit warning puts TheWorks shares in bargain basement

TheWorks.co.uk PLC (LON:WRKS) continued to disappoint investors with its second profit warning in six months, which sent shares down 42% to 45p.

In a trading update, the gift, toy and stationery retailer said tough times on the high street was leading LFL sales to fall 2% year-on-year, while total revenue increased 5% thanks to discounting.

The firm said that its full-year profit before tax is now expected to be “significantly” below current market forecasts, after its like-for-like (LFL) sales missed its initial estimates.

Meanwhile in the world of construction, Galliford Try PLC’s (LON:GFRD) shares were knocked 3% to 719.5p after news broke that it is selling its house-building operations to Bovis Homes.

The deal is worth £1.1bn price in cash and shares, with Galliford shareholders ending up with 29% of the enlarged group.

Across the sector, there has been a reported slump as demand for UK housing fell along with house price growth.

Elsewhere, Senior Plc (LON:SNR) shares dipped 5% to 178p after the aircraft component maker announced a £20mln restructuring programme to address low revenues at its flexonics and aerospace divisions.

In a trading update, the FTSE 250-listed company said it will reduce headcount, transfer major work packages to South East Asia and close a South Carolina plant by early 2020, with costs from these actions to be recovered over the next two years without impacting the net cash flow.

“Combined with a slightly lower forecast tax rate and lower central costs, this means that the Group's performance in 2019 will be broadly in line with our expectations,” chief executive David Squires added.

12.30pm: Markets take a shine to gold companies Orosur and KEFI

Orosur Mining Inc (LON:OMI)’s shares shone 12.28% brighter at 3.2p after announcing that it was paid $690,000 to maintain Newmont's earn-in rights over the Anzá project in Colombia.

The AIM-listed gold explorer said Newmont GoldCorp Corporation paid this to maintain September’s agreement, in addition to previous exploration funding of $310,000.

The deal allows Newmont to earn up to a 75% ownership interest in the Anza project by spending a minimum of $30 million over twelve years.

KEFI Minerals PLC’s shares, meanwhile, soared 59.49% to 1.2p after saying that administrative roadblocks to Tulu Kapi gold project had been resolved with the Ethiopian government.

State administrative arrangements had held up the closing of project financing past the originally set date of 31 October, but the gold explorer and developer said the project can now proceed.

KEFI forecasts 140,000 ounces of gold per year for the first seven years from the open pit at Tulu Kapi.

Markets were impressed by Bank of Georgia Group’s (LON:BGEO) “outstanding” third-quarter results, sending shares rocketing 9.47% to 1,480p.

Adjusted profit before tax came in at GEL157mln (£41mln), an increase of 30% on prior year and 30% on the previous quarter, which broker Peel Hunt said could reach £133mln in the full-year numbers.

“The business has evolved to deal with regulatory change and push towards lower risk portfolio (hence lower cost of risk and reduction in NIM), and secondly the ongoing investment in digital capability which should yield further efficiency gains over time,” analysts noted in a note to clients.

11.15am: SSE and Hiscox slammed by broker downgrades

Shares in SSE PLC (LON:SSE) have dropped 2% to 1,254p on a downgrade from Berenberg to 'hold' from 'buy', saying that the power company’s current valuation is fair.

The bank reckons the expected growth in renewables and easing political risks have led the energy company’s shares to recover from May’s lows, resulting in the analysts increased their price target to 1,350p from 1,280p.

Berenberg believes UK political risks are still there but lower than before: “Although we do not see any significant threats, Brexit uncertainty, an ongoing threat of network renationalisation and continued calls for a second independence referendum all weigh on sentiment.”

Also on the FTSE 100, Hiscox Ltd (LON:HSX) tumbled 13% to 1,202p after various analysts took an axe to their targets, three days after the insurer's results and one day after a sell-side analysts meeting.

JPMorgan Cazenove downgraded the insurer to 'neutral' and slashed its target price to 1290p from 1750p, Jefferies cuts its target to 1,229p from 1,605p

Shares had already slid on Monday’s trading update, which revealed that the insurer took a US$165mln hit to cover the impact of Typhoon Faxai, Typhoon Hagibis, and Hurricane Dorian in the last quarter.

"We were left with the distinct impression that Hiscox is preparing for a casualty catastrophe, the likes of which haven't been seen since the turn of the century," Jefferies analysts said.

Intu Properties PLC (LON:INTU) was down 5% to 31.79p after several analysts took against the shopping centre owner.

Deutsche Bank downgraded its rating to ‘sell’ from ‘hold’ and cut its price target to 30p from 70p a day after the company said rents would be down 9% this year as insolvencies on the high street continue to hit earnings.

Liberum set an even lower target price, at 28p from 30p, retaining its ‘sell’ recommendation, while JPMorgan trimmed its target to 29p from 45p and Credit Suisse went to 31p from 40p, reiterating their respective ‘underweight’ and ‘underperform’ ratings.

10am: Tate & Lyle improves ingredients to sweeten profits

Tate & Lyle PLC’s (LON:TATE) shares sweetened 8% to 715p on Thursday as it revealed it added another 45% to pre-tax profits in the first half of the year.

The ingredients group, best known for its golden syrup, said profits climbed thanks to 6.7% higher sales and lower exceptional costs compared to last year.

Broker Shore Capital hailed the “comfortable beat to expectations”, with adjusted pre-tax profit up to £181mln, compared to the City analyst consensus of £175mln.

Auto Trader Group plc (LON:AUTO) revved up its shares 5% to 577.6p as the online car-selling platform revealed higher profits, platform visits, and revenues per retailer in the first half of the year.

The FTSE 100-listed company said pre-tax profits geared up 12% to £127.7mln compared to last year, as the average revenue per retailer per month rose 7% year-on-year to £1,951.

"We have had a good first half and have seen an even greater number of car retailers opting to partner with Auto Trader to access our growing consumer audience," said chief executive Trevor Mather.

Investors in IMI PLC (LON:IMI) cranked the price up 5.3% to 1,118p after the engineering firm announced steps to improve margins.

As well as slowing the decline in its organic revenues to 2% in the third quarter, IMI also announced a strategic review which plans to introduce savings of £35mlm a year on an annualised basis from a new £75m restructuring plan.

Piping up again, analysts at ShoreCap added to the hubbub, saying that the new margin targets could lead to IMI being  “substantially re-rated”.

Proactive news headlines:

Belvoir Group PLC (LON:BLV) reported £1.9mln of gross contributions from mortgage broking in the first 10 months of the year and expects a further profit boost from a new exclusivity agreement signed with a Yorkshire-based chain of estate agents. The property franchise group, which augmented its lettings and sales services with a financial services arm in 2016, has increased its number of financial advisers by 30% to 160 so far this year and has written 7,961 mortgages for independent estate agencies and via its group franchisees.

IQ-AI PLC (LON:IQAI) said it is working on a new package for the assessment of stroke victims that emanates from an initiative to develop a brain scanning process free of the contrast agent gadolinium. The innovation is being developed by the firm’s subsidiary Imaging Biometrics (IB) and also builds on its work mapping tumours.

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) has said its HydroX-Cell(S) fuel cell can “compete favourably” with alternate proton exchange membrane (PEM) technologies in the market. The AIM-listed firm, which specialises in hydrogen power generation, said one advantage of HydroX-Cell(S) is that it is capable of accepting low grade, low-cost hydrogen to generate power, unlike PEM, which requires high cost, high-grade hydrogen.

KRM22 PLC (LON:KRM) has signed a partnership deal with deltaconX, a regulatory reporting services provider for financial, energy and commodity traders in Europe. The risk management group will make deltaconX’s service available through its Global Risk Platform which it says will simplify regulatory reporting through automation and “dynamic error handling, minimising manual work and the likelihood of human error”. In a separate announcement, KRM22 said it had raised £1mln through the placing of around 1.9mln new shares at a price of 52p each, a 4.6% discount to its close price on Wednesday.

ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) (OTCMKTS:ANPCY) revealed that leading European cancer centre, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Germany has published results of work demonstrating that the company’s Parsortix system can be used as a liquid biopsy to investigate prediction and monitoring of therapy responses for melanoma patients. In a statement, the AIM-listed company said the results of the study by UKE have been published in the renowned peer-reviewed medical journal, Cancers.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) has sold its non-producing assets in Monroe County, Ohio, for US$10mln. The sold assets include three drilled and uncompleted wells classified as proved undeveloped wells as well as undeveloped acreage containing additional drilling locations.

Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN) confirmed it is on track to exceed £1mln in revenues by the year-end as it confirmed its Labskin subsidiary had signed commercial agreements with three companies. It didn’t reveal the identities of the customers, but said they were top-20 cosmetic firms.

Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX) has completed patient enrolment for a Phase III clinical trial of its MRI lung scan technology. The medical imaging specialist said it had enrolled 80 patients, 48 of which are in a lung transplant pathway while the remaining 32 are for lung resection, a process where part of the lung tissue is removed.

Bushveld Minerals Limited (LON:BMN) achieved record output from its vanadium arm Vametco in September after a series of upgrades to the plant. Vametco upgraded the crusher and mill and kiln availability, which increased recoveries and leach plant efficiency. Bushveld Minerals has also completed the acquisition of Vanchem for a total consideration of US$53.5mln.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU), the Moroccan focused upstream gas company, said that as the company has entered  the final phase of the marketing process for its Eastern Morocco Portfolio and following the award of exclusivity agreement  announced on 6 November 2019, it is planning to make various changes to its board in order to ensure it has the appropriate management and cost structure in place for the next phase of Company's development. The group, therefore, announced that JJ Traynor, the company's CFO, will on 6 February 2020 step down from the board and leave the company, with his duties to be divided among its other staff.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO), the Latin American-focused upstream oil and gas company, announced that, further to the announcement made on 4 November 2019, it has now received the acquisition waiver required by the company from the minority co-owner of the Santa Cruz Sur assets. The firm added that completion of the acquisition remains conditional on the passing of the Resolutions at the General Meeting of the company to be held on Thursday.

MaxCyte (LSE:MXCT) (LON:MXCS), the global cell-based therapies and life sciences company, announced that its president and chief executive officer Doug Doerfler will present on the company's CARMA cell-therapy platform at the annual BIO Europe conference on 13 November 2019 at Hamburg Messe, Hamburg, Germany. The group said the presentation, which will take place at 10:30am CET in Hall B1, Room 6, will focus on MaxCyte's position at the forefront of the development of next-generation cell-based medicines with the proprietary CARMA platform.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), the global venture capital company focused on investing in and building breakthrough biotech companies, said it has appointed Peel Hunt as its joint corporate broker, with immediate effect, alongside its existing corporate broker Jefferies International.

Seeing Machines Limited (LON:SEE), the advanced computer vision technology company that designs AI-powered operator monitoring systems to improve transport safety, has published the presentation delivered at its Capital Markets Day in London on Wednesday 6 November, on its website.

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