Having been cast aside by investors at the start of this year, Britvic (BVIC) and Babcock International (BAB) kick-started their respective fightbacks today with better-than-expected financial figures.
Both have caught the eye of short-sellers in recent months, with Babcock in the shadow of the Carillion collapse and Britvic impacted by various factors ranging from sugar tax fears through to worries about one-off charges.
The FTSE 250 (MCX) Index pair now appear to be out the other side, if today's results are anything to go by. MoD support services firm Babcock rose 2% to its highest level since November, while shares in Britvic jumped by 7% to within sight of the 820p record high achieved at the start of this year.
The Robinsons, Fruit Shoot and Pepsi MAX firm posted... more
Marks and Spencer (MKS) has admitted defeat on its recent strategy and the proposed revamp of a business whose brand may yet become its saving grace has been well received by investors in early trade.
An overhaul of the entire business is ambitious indeed. To be attempting a transformation to a faster, lower cost, more commercial and more digital business at the same time will inevitably hit bumps in the road.
The company's jaded proposition, where the clothing range in particular suffers from the long-held perception of being functional rather than special, will need a radical rethink.
The numbers themselves reflect the breadth of the challenges past and present.
Group revenue is marginally up, but pre-tax profit - even after adjustments - is still 5.5% down. The basic... more
Given that Neil Woodford has endured plenty of negative headlines in recent months, today represents the perfect opportunity to redress the balance with a closer look at fast-growing IT services firm Softcat (SCT).
The Marlow-based company's latest trading update lifted shares 8% towards another all-time high, while continuing a remarkable record in which it has achieved unbroken revenues and profits growth for 50 consecutive quarters.
There's not much detail in this latest update, but it's safe to say that the imminent arrival of GDPR has been good for business as Softcat works with clients to clarify the impact and create a tailored plan for compliance.
• New tech IPO Softcat looks promising
It's one reason why investors continue to opt-in for updates... more
Share buybacks involve companies buying their own shares as a means to raise their price and provide returns to shareholders. While in the UK the favoured way for firms to give shareholders a lift is through dividend payments, in the US share buybacks are often preferred.
In the first quarter of 2018, US companies spent a record $178 billion in buybacks, beating the previous quarterly record of $172 billion, set ominously in the third quarter of 2007.
If buybacks continue at this pace firms in the S&P 500 are estimated to set a repurchase record of $650 billion dollars a year (see chart below), while total shareholder pay-outs from US firms (buybacks plus dividends) are on track reach a record $1 trillion.
Behind the flurry of buybacks is the US recent corporate tax cut.... more
Even as the FTSE 250 Index (MCX) continues to set new records, Cranswick (CWK) and Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY) proved today that there's still plenty of room for upside surprises.
While Cranswick is a maker of sausages and Bloomsbury the publisher of a best-selling weight-loss book, the pair had plenty in common as market-beating results sent shares up 4% and 7% respectively to test multi-year highs.
Despite the latest rises, Investec Securities thinks there's more to come from both stocks and reiterated 'buy' recommendations in upbeat notes today.
Investec's Nicola Mallard said it had been "another superb year" for Cranswick, which reported results 2% ahead of expectations after pre-tax profits lifted 22.4% to £92.4 million and earnings per... more
Fortunately for Halfords (HFD) and those income investors attracted by the company's 5% dividend yield, there are plenty of us on the road in need of help fitting bulbs, blades and batteries to our cars.
Targeting these do-it-for-me customers, particularly in Halfords' higher margin category of car maintenance, will be a key focus for new CEO Graham Stapleton as he looks to accelerate a more services-driven strategy. He will update investors on his plans in September.
In the meantime, however, the recent strong growth in car maintenance has been insufficient to offset challenges elsewhere in the business. Halfords has taken a £40 million hit from the weaker pound since 2016, and any hopes of mitigating this figure in full have now been put back until the 2020 financial... more
Bond proxy stocks, those that on the surface offer a safe and predicable income, have thrived under the decade-long loose monetary policy environment. But with expectations of an interest rate rise being pencilled in for August, some investors have moved to cash in their chips.
Our dividend danger zone screen, which uses a range of filters to pick potential yield traps, casts doubt over three stocks in the utilities sector, which tends to be viewed by investors as classic bond proxy territory. Water company share prices in particular have come under pressure of late, with some investors fretting that they may be nationalised if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister.
Water businesses Pennon (PNN) and United Utilities (UU.) are both offering dividend yields above 5%, as is power... more
It's been a real struggler for years, but shareholders will be watching Marks & Spencer for any sign that the latest turnaround plan is working.Monday 21 May
BGEO Group, McKay Securities, SigaRoc
TBC Bank, Restore, BPTuesday 22 May
Renew Holdings, Shaftesbury, Topps Tiles, UDG Healthcare, Oxford Biodynamics, Homeserve, NEX Group, Intermediate Capital, Bloomsbury Publishing, Warehouse Reit, Pets At Home, Halfords, Big Yellow, 1Spatial, Cranswick, Close Brothers
Royal Dutch Shell, Jsc Kazmunaigas Exploration, Gocompare.com, Riverstone Energy, Accesso Technology, Sherborne Investors, Gulf Marine Services, Getbusy, Clearstar, Avesoro Resources, Attraqt Group, Epwin GroupWednesday 23 May
A succession of... more
Over the last couple of years, Pearson plc (PSN) has been a thorn in the portfolios of celebrated fund manager Nick Train - but he still believes the company will succeed. "It has been a source of considerable bother for longer than I care to consider," Train said this week at a Frostrow Capital investment seminar.
Since 2013, the 174-year-old British education publishing company has struggled to adapt to the shift to digital technologies and had to issue a string of profit warnings. As a result, its share price fell by some 30% in 2017.
In 2015, it sold its best-known assets, the Financial Times and the Economist, to generate cash. Last year, it sold a 22% stake in book publisher Penguin Random House.
Is Pearson set for a meaningful turnaround now? Shares in the... more
Does mid-cap 250 transport, infrastructure and biomass energy firm Stobart Group (STOB)merit holding for an attractive yield of around 7.6% - albeit derived currently from disposals - until its operations can achieve better profits?
Or is the market justifiably wavering in confidence, given a 20%-plus fall in the stock since late 2017?
Latest results for Stobart's year to end-February proclaim a big advance in underlying pre-tax profit from £27.4 million to £117 million, but this includes £124 million profit on the part-sale of Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) now listed on AIM.
The board had previously indicated it is financially resourced to support the dividend through to 2022, at which point operating income should sustain it.
Thus, holding the stock is... more