Amec warns of shortfall

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Samir Brikho, the former ABB executive who took over as chief executive of Amec on October 1, seems to have won over investors. His day got off to a very bad start with a grim looking trading statement which said profits would be £15m below expectations this year because of restructuring costs and legal costs in UK construction, weaker than expected trading at its pipelines and capital projects business. The stock promptly fell about 2 per cent. However, his confident and plausible presentation to analysts went down extremely well. Our very own Tom Griggs came away impressed and investors have been backing Brikho this afternoon. The shares are now up more than 3 per cent.

The group, which sold its French Spie business for £685m in May, today said it would sell its built environment business, adding that it would return £100m to shareholders. The stock is now at 438p, only a little way short of the 450p indicative offer from First Reserve and Texas Pacific that Amec rejected last month.

We have a series of other trading statements today, the most dramatic of which seems to be 32Red, the online gaming group. Its shares have plunged 43 per cent after it said profits would be lower than expected because of poor trading at Bet Direct, a sports betting operator it bought in June. The stock has fallen from nearly 175p in March to 31p this morning.

Alliance & Leicester says its profit this year will be at the top end of expectations. Whitbread says sales are up 10 per cent in the first 39 weeks, thanks to its Premier Travel Inn budget hotels and its Costa coffee shops. Still no sign of that bid everyone in the market has been going on about, though. Trading updates also from Drax (in line), Bunzl (also in line) and Avis Europe (not bad, for once).

RHM returned to profit in the first half but as it has agreed to be bought by Premier Foods this is a little academic. Perhaps we’ll find out more about that deal today.

Hansard Global, the wealth management company, has priced its IPO at 260p, the top of its indicated range. This valued the group at £357m and generated a cash and paper profit of more than £200m for Leonard Polonsky, who founded the business 36 years ago. The stock immediately shot to an 8 per cent premium. As FT Alphaville says, 37 per cent of the stock has been traded this morning..

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