Wednesday's most followed: Next, Rightmove, Avocet Mining, Coastal Energy, Cape, Mouchel Group, Genel EnergyReported by Proactive Investors on Wednesday, 1 August 2012 (on August 1, 2012)
Two of today’s top performers in the FTSE 350, *Next (LON:NXT)*, which topped the FTSE 100 leaderboard this morning, and midcap *Rightmove (LON:RMV) *emerged as the most searched for UK stocks on Google Finance.
Rightmove, which runs the rightmove.co.uk property website, soared eight percent to 1,612 pence this morning after reporting strong half-yearly results.
The report form Rightmove showed that revenues surged 23 percent to £57.9 million in the first six month of the year as average revenue per advertised climbed 20 percent to £518 per month.
The group also benefitted from customers increasing their spending more sharply than usual at the start of the year as well as a strong performance by its services business.
The increase in revenues resulted in a 28 percent jump in operating profits to £42.6 million and a 30 percent jump in earnings per share to 32.2 pence.
The strong financial results prompted the company to hike its interim dividend by two pence to nine pence.
Rightmove was the second top riser in the FTSE 250 behind only *Avocet Mining (LON:AVM)*, which jumped 10 percent to 82.5 pence after confirming the production targets for the Inata mine, which has recently been reduced to 135,000 to 140,000 ounces of gold from 160,000 ounces.
Avocet decided against paying a dividend to preserve cash. On message boards, investors did not appear to be too upset over that decision, focusing on the company’s plan to improve Inata’s operational performance this year.
Next has “modestly” increased its profit guidance for the next year after reporting improved sales in its first half.
The group is now expecting pre-tax profit of between £575 million and £620 million for the year up to January 2013, up from its previous guidance of between £560 and £610 million.
Overall sales were up 4.5 per cent in the 26 weeks to 28 July 2012, compared to the same period last year driven by the performance of its catalogue and online Directory business, which increased sales by 13.3 per cent in the half.
Lower like for like retail sales were offset by performances at its new stores resulting in overall growth of 0.2 per cent.
Semyour Pierce upheld its ‘hold’ recommendation on Next despite today’s strong interim report.
Analyst Kate Calvert said that while this was not a gold medal winning performance from the official supplier of clothing and homewares to the Olympics, the results were “commendable” and at the top end of forecasts.
“Next is a well-run and highly cash generative company and, we believe, it still has good opportunities to open new space and develop its on-line offer in the UK and Overseas,” said Calvert.
“However, we believe this is now reflected in its valuation.”
Calvert currently has a 3,000 pence per share target on the retailer.
Shares in *Coastal Energy (LON:CEO)* also were in demand today after the company reported that its proved reserves offshore Thailand increased by 30 percent to 81 million barrels of oil and proved and probable reserves (2P) jumped 60 percent to 127.7 million barrels.
The 2P estimate for the Bua Ban North prospect was upped 60 percent to 108.3 million barrels following a substantial increase in the stock tank oil originally in place (STOOIP) figure following analysis of core samples from the prospect.
Total group reserve in the proved category rose 26 percent to 87.9 million barrels of oil equivalent and 2P reserves climbed 45 percent to 149.1 million barrels.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of the interim reserves evaluation by RPS. Bua Ban North continues to surprise to the upside,” said president and CEO of Coastal Randy Bartley.
“We are looking to contract a second rig so we can execute the Bua Ban North development while continuing our exploration program and expansion into Malaysia.”
Other most followed stocks included* Cape (LON:CIU) *and *Mouchel Group (LON:MCHL)*, which were the heaviest fallers in London markets this morning.
Mouchel tumbled 52 percent to unveiling a restructuring deal with its lenders – *RBS (LON:RBS)*, *Lloyds (LON:LLOY)* and *Barclays (LON:BARC)*.
Under the terms of the agreement, infrastructure group Mouchel will pay a special dividend of one pence per share to its shareholders and then buy back the shares at no cost.
The group will give a majority stake in the business to the lenders, which will write down £87 million of its debt. This will leave Mouchel with a debt of £60 million.
“As previously communicated to shareholders, our unsustainable debt levels meant the restructuring options under consideration would have resulted in limited value for shareholders,” said chairman of Mouchel David Shearer.
“In reaching this agreement with our lenders, we have sought to ensure that our shareholders have the opportunity to recover some value from their investment.
“The restructuring ensures we will have an appropriate level of debt and the right capital structure to take the company forward.”
According to Mouchel, the underlying business is performing in line with expectations this year, however, it continues to feel the effect of the financial uncertainty surrounding the group and restructuring costs.
Cape, which provides services to the energy industry, saw its share price drop 36 percent to 185.2 pence. Investors headed for the hills after the group revealed trading performance of its onshore business in Australia had deteriorated "sharply" in the second quarter.
As a result, Cape will miss its full year expectations.
The group added that it is taking steps to restructure its business in the Far East/Pacific Rim region, where challenging conditions will persist into 2013.
The UK region continues to trade strongly, while activity in the Middle East showed good growth albeit at lower margins, while trading in the CIS and North Africa remains robust.
Iraqi Kurdistan operating oil group *Genel Energy (LON:GENL)*, which is led by former *BP (LON:BP.) *boss Tony Hayward, also caught the eye of investors after rallying nine percent to 697.5pence this morning.
Kurdistan operating groups got a boost from yesterday’s deal between *Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO)* and French major *Total (NYSE:TOT)*.
The French oil major has acquired a 35 percent working interest in each of the Harir and Safen blocks, while Marathon reduced its stake to a 45 per cent working n each of the two blocks.
Oriel Securities said the move was a sign of further confidence in the political de-risking of the region.
The broker also noted that the new export pipeline being built by Kurdistan with Turkish technical support should be complete in the second half of 2013, enabling Kurdistan and Genel to receive full payment for crude exports.
Links: Full news story
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