09:48GMT 18Nov2008-PV Crystalox up on robust Q3 trading
Shares in PV Crystalox Solar gain 5 percent to 119.25 pence after the wafer maker for solar systems says trading over the last four months has been better than expected, the construction of a new plant in Germany is on-track and that its full-year performance will likely beat forecasts.
'The company says that the business is trading ahead of expectations and that the new plant (in Bitterfeld, Germany) is on schedule, both in terms of costs and production ramp up. PVCS is one of the lowest-cost producers in the industry and has strong penetration within polysilicon production,' says Arbuthnot analyst David Cunningham.
Shares in Asterand climb 16.7 percent after the provider of human tissue-based services to pharmaceutical companies announces it has completed the placing of 4.3 million ordinary shares at 15 pence each, prompting Daniel Stewart to repeat its 'buy' recommendation.
Asterand says the shares have been placed with an existing shareholder, Chrysalis Venture II, taking its shareholding to 17,335,457 or 15.1 percent of the total outstanding shares.
The placing raises 645,000 pounds, which provides Asterand with further capital to accelerate near-term growth opportunities.
Daniel Stewart repeats its 22 pence target price and says it believes, as does Chrysalis, that Asterand trades at a significant discount to its fair value.
Shares in Irish insurer FBD drop 20.7 percent after it warns that full-year earnings would likely come in 10 percent below the current consensus range of broker forecasts.
'It appears that this has been driven by a higher than anticipated claims line in H2 -- due to 'continuing poor weather and increasing costs of property claims'-- and the impact of challenging market conditions for the non-underwriting businesses,' Goodbody analyst Anna Lalor says.
Shares in Rexam gain 2.3 percent after a reassuring interim management statement (IMS) from the world's leading beverage cans manufacturer.
Citigroup points out that Rexam's IMS, covering the 4 months to end October 2008, talks of trading being in line with expectations and an unchanged outlook for overall 2008 results.
The broker notes that this view is after a slightly larger positive impact from currency translation, which Citigroup estimates at 5-10 million pounds, than at the time of July's interim results, which should leave the company on track to reach market estimates.
Citigroup says it sees slower European growth in the second half of 2008 and U.S. consumer factors as key issues, but notes that both can and plastic packaging volumes are defensive relative to other parts of the economy.
The broker repeats its 'hold' rating and 400 pence target for Rexam.
Shares in Spring Group Plc ease 3.0 percent to 24.25 pence after the recruitment and workforce management company says trading has softened in the third quarter of 2008 -- traditionally its strongest period.
Altium Securities says the greatest impact has been in the group's financial services division, which accounts for a quarter of sales and 15 percent of net fee income. It has reduced its full year earnings per share forecast by 24.5 percent, while for the next two years the broker has cut its estimates by 8.8 percent and 17.2 percent respectively.
Altium has also reduced its target price for the stock from 35 pence to 25 pence, but retains its 'hold' recommendation for the shares.
Shares in Premier Foods fall as much as 18 percent after the food manufacturer says it has paid its lending banks a fee of 4.9 million pounds ($7.37 million) to postpone a test of its banking covenants.
Citigroup says this is a 'clear marker that expensive banking negotiations lie ahead'.
Premier also scraps its previously announced interim dividend payment of 2.2 pence per share as it grapples with debt of over 1.7 billion pounds.
Collins Stewart analyst Rob Mann says there is 'no quick fix solution'.
'Asset sales are undesirable and equity issuance at current levels still more so. Passing the dividend, convincing lenders of the robust outlook and the flow through of synergies in 2009 and negotiating more relaxed near-term covenants: this is the only way out,' he says.
08:42GMT 18Nov2008-Walker Crips down on fall in H1 profits
Shares in Walker Crips tumble 16.2 percent as the British financial services group posts a 42 percent fall in first half pretax profit, prompting Altium Securities to downgrade its 6-month trading recommendation on the stock to 'sell' from 'neutral' and cut its estimates.
Altium says it has reduced 2009 pretax profit estimates to 13.7 million pounds from 15.1 million pounds, with EPS coming down to 1.4 pence from 2.4 pence.
The broker also cuts 2010 forecasts; pretax profit falls to 13.9 million pounds from 16.2 million pounds, while EPS drops to 1.8 pence from 3.2 pence.
Altium says because of the reduction to its estimates it expects the shares to come under some pressure in spite of the cash on the balance sheet and strong performance within the fund management division.
The FTSE Small Cap Index falls 0.2 percent, marginally outperforming the larger UK blue chip stocks, which falls 0.5 percent.
Spring Group slides 6 percent as the professional staffing and workforce management company reports that global economic volatility has caused a softening in some of its markets and given the uncertainty, it is taking the appropriate steps to reduce costs.
Walker Crips slumps 16.2 percent after it announces its first half profits fell 42 percent to 810,000 pounds, prompting Altium Securities to repeat its 6-month trading 'sell' recommendation.
The FTSE 100 was seen opening down 26 to 32 points, or 0.8 percent on Tuesday, financial bookmakers said, tracking losses in Asian and U.S. stocks. The index closed the previous session down 2.4 percent, or 100.81 points, at 4,132.16.
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