Speculation that the Spanish construction group Acciona is considering a move on Amec had the biggest impact. Shares in the UK construction group jumped 16.5p to 358.25p as punters piled into the stock. According to the story, Acciona, which has made a lot of money from the Spanish building boom, is looking to diversify its business abroad. Analysts say it has the firepower to buy Amec, should it wish to.
At one point during the session Amec traded at 367.25p but the stock weakened before the close after a spokesperson for Acciona was reported to have denied the rumour. Amec is a regularly tipped as a bid target because of the presence of Toscafield, the hedge fund, on its shareholder register. At the last count Toscafield controlled 9 per cent of it.
Meanwhile, Emap gained 11p to 871p on talk of a bid for the media group from France's Lagardere. There were also suggestions that Lagardere might merely want to acquire Emap's French television listings business. Analysts argued that such a scenario is more likely than an offer for the whole of Emap. The UK group is seen as keen to sell its French unit because of its poor performance in recent years.
Talk that a predator is circling Kesa Electricals helped the stock add 0.5p to 261.25p. DSG International, formerly Dixons, is seen as the most likely bidder for the group. But investors were less impressed by whispers of a move on Mothercare, 13.5p lower at 356.5p. Evolution Securities played down the speculation, saying: "We remain cautious about general high street trading prospects and sceptical of bid rumours." It believes that investors should reduce their exposure to the children's clothing retailer. Misys was seen as a more likely takeover target and as a result its shares added 7p to 217.75p in heavy trading.
Elsewhere, Ashtead rose 3.75p to 153.75p as UBS argued that City forecasts for earnings at the tool hire group are far too conservative. UBS said: "We believe that our top-of-the-consensus range estimates are conservative and that there is significant upside potential." Despite a very strong run by the stock, the Swiss broker is convinced that there is at least a further 30 per cent upside in the shares and so it told its clients to buy into the company. The main growth opportunity for Ashtead is the US market. This is thanks in part to record demand for tool hire after the hurricanes in the US this year. But the really big money has probably already been made from Ashtead. Shares in the group traded as low as 3p in 2003, when the company appeared to be about to go to the wall. Since then the shares have soared by 5,000 per cent.
Inmarsat rose 9.75p to 309.75p after the group successfully launched its second I-4 satellite. Yesterday afternoon Inmarsat fired the satellite, which is the size of a double-decker bus, in orbit from the Pacific Ocean. It will cover North, Central and South America for the company, which makes its money by providing mobile satellite communications.
Lower down the pecking order, Comino put on 8p to 269p after the software group announced strong interim results and a major contract win from Manchester City Council. Gossips reckon that further contract wins are likely to be unveiled by the company in the coming months.
Game Group ticked 0.5p lower to 84p amid concerns that Sony may struggle to deliver sufficient quantities of its hand-held gaming console, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), to retailers such as Game. Given the tough trading conditions on the UK high street, analysts said that delivery of the console is paramount to Game hitting its profit forecasts.
The worry has been caused by the fact that Sony has yet to commence its television advertising campaign for the PSP. This has led to suggestions that the Japanese manufacturer will not deliver sufficient volumes of the console in the run-up to Christmas. Sony has in the past disappointed UK retailers. Should it fail to deliver the expected volumes of PSPs this year, analysts estimate this could knock as much as 20 per cent off Game's expected profits for the year.
Finally, New Star Asset Management enjoyed a strong AIM debut. The group listed at 225p and saw its shares soar to 277p, valuing the company at £850m. New Star has funds of nearly £13bn under management, and it is chaired by John Duffield, whose 16 per cent stake is now worth £140m.Reuse content