Shares in Breedon Group PLC (LON:BREE) were on firmer footing in late-afternoon, rising 6.7% to 64p, after the firm delivered increased revenues for 10 months to end of October despite what it said was a “flat construction market in Great Britain”.
The building materials firm added that it expected its full-year performance to be in line with market expectations and that the longer-term outlook for its market was “encouraging” despite short-term uncertainty from the UK’s general election and Brexit negotiations.
In the FTSE 250, shares in Mitchells & Butlers PLC’s (LON:MAB) frothed up 4.4% to 465.5p after the pub group performed ahead of the market in the past quarter, defying the low UK consumer spending and bad weather.
Alongside full-year results to 28 September, the firm said over the subsequent five weeks, like-for-like (LFL) sales have risen 1.4% compared to the same period last year, which were better than its peers but lower than growth in the past year.
In the preceding 12 months, LFL sales grew 3.5% to £2bn, with average spend per item up 3.4% on food and 4.5% on drink, reflecting price rises and efforts to showcase the quality of the offer.
1.15pm: Carclo jumps as it offloads Czech car light maker for €1.1mln
Wipac Czech served as a subsidiary for Carclo’s Wipac business, based in Buckinghamshire, which it is also looking to sell.
The company said discussions over a sale of the main Wipac business were “in an advanced stage with a single party”, although there was no certainty as to whether it will clinch the sale.
Also on the rise was Seeing Machines Ltd (LON:SEE), which tracked up 2.4% to 4.3p after it welcomed the highlighting of driver monitoring technology in the US National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into a fatal collision between an Uber automated test vehicle in March.
One of the NTSB report’s recommendations refers to the requirement for “adequate monitoring of vehicle operator engagement, if applicable”.
The report was seen as good news for Seeing Machines, which last year launched its Guardian Back-up Driver Monitoring system, a tool that can monitor and respond to the level of attention of a back-up driver in autonomous vehicles.
Meanwhile, FTSE 100 insurer Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) sank 3.4% to 403.9p after revealing that it will sell its Hong Kong joint venture as part of a wider strategy update that was less aggressive than some investors were hoping.
Maurice Tulloch, Aviva’s chief executive since March, said he planned to make Aviva “more commercially focused” and “manage costs rigorously and be more disciplined in how we invest”.
Tulloch's strategy shift will target a new 12% Solvency II return on equity and an £8.5bn-£9.0bn remittance target but made no change to the progressive dividend policy, £1.5bn debt reduction program or £300mn cost savings target.
11.15am: Verseon looks terminal as it decides to delist from AIM
Shares in pharma firm Verseon Corporation (LON:VERS) crashed 70.6% to 1.5p in late-morning as the group announced plans to delist from the AIM market.
The group blamed market events outside of its control for putting its shares “under extreme pressure”, which in turn had impaired its ability to raise funds.
As a result, the company said continuing with its AIM listing would put its ability to operate at risk, and, as a result, “the costs associated with being an AIM company outweigh the benefits of such listing”.
Meanwhile, in the blue-chips, DIY group Kingfisher plc (LON:KGF) fell 7.1% to 194p after its third quarter sales were further bent out of shape and new chief executive Thierry Garnier said the retailer’s priorities are to fix “operational issues” in France and halting a number of his predecessor’s projects.
Sales in the three months to 31 October of £2.96bn were down 3.1% year on year, or down 3.7% on a like-for-like basis, compared to LFL sales down 4% in the second quarter and up 0.8% in the first.
Total sales will be between £266mln and £268mln, representing year-on-year growth of 12-13%, with margin expectations unchanged, the AIM-listed company said in an update on Wednesday.
The slowdown is due to weak consumer spending in the UK, its most mature market, not helped by the comparison with “exceptional” results recorded summer last year.
Investors chose to overlook this news as Fevertree is making a splash in the US and Europe, with the former expected to deliver 34% growth as the group plans to establish a long-term presence and recently signed up a new bottling partner.
9.45am: Clipper motors higher as founder plots takeover bid
Steve Parkin, who set up the group in 1999, is aiming to orchestrate a takeover through private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, with a Sky News report saying the price tag could be around £300mln.
However, Clipper stressed that there was still no guarantee that an offer will be made.
Among small cap oilers, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG, CVE:FO) flowed 10.5% higher to 13.7p after telling investors that it has completed drilling the vertical section of the Kyalla 117 N2-1 appraisal well, in Australia’s Beetaloo basin.
The well is located between the previously drilled Beetaloo W-1 and Amungee NW-1H wells.
It was drilled down to 1,895 metres and confirmed the continuation of the Kyalla shale play. Elevated gas shows were observed across the shale.
Elsewhere, natural resources investor Metal Tiger Plc (LON:MTR) rose 6.3% to 1.3p as it bought more shares in Australian group Cobre Pty Ltd two months before the latter is due to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The AIM-listed firm will receive an additional 750,000 shares for a nominal price of AU$1, to allow Cobre to boost its offering and raise AU$10mln and to "compensate" Metal Tiger for the dilutive effects of the increased fundraise.
Metal Tiger will with the new shares hold a 15.7% stake in Cobre, which manages the Perrinvale copper project in central Western Australia, where an airborne geophysical survey is imminent.
European Metals Holdings Limited (LON:EMH) has conditionally agreed to sell a 51% stake in the Cinovec lithium project in the Czech Republic for €34mln.
Bluejay Mining PLC (LON:JAY) has conditionally raised £11.5mln from City institutions and government-backed venture funds to continue developing its various projects in Greenland.
SDX Energy Plc (LON:SDX) appointed Amr Al Menhali as non-executive director of SDX, after he was made chief executive officer of Waha Capital, SDX's largest shareholder.
Amphion Innovations PLC’s (LON:AMP) chief executive has bumped up stake in the tech and medical business development group up to 23.7%, as it ramps up efforts to pay down debts with a view to resuming trading on AIM.
Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC) will make a presentation on the current status of the Kun-Manie project and the strategic plan on Wednesday 4 December at The Society of Chemical Industry in London.