Market Report: Tesco boosted by record market-share figures

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The Independent Online

The latest market share figures for supermarkets spelt great news for Tesco shareholders yesterday. The data, compiled by Taylor Nelson Sofres, showed that the retail giant's market share stands at 29.9 per cent, a new all-time high. When investors got wind of this they piled into the stock, sending it 5.75p higher to 314.5p.

The latest market share figures for supermarkets spelt great news for Tesco shareholders yesterday. The data, compiled by Taylor Nelson Sofres, showed that the retail giant's market share stands at 29.9 per cent, a new all-time high. When investors got wind of this they piled into the stock, sending it 5.75p higher to 314.5p.

There was also good news for Tesco regarding the performance of Asda, its most serious competitor. The data hinted that growth at the Wal-Mart-owned group is weakening and has fallen below the average industry growth rate. As for Tesco, its growth rate remains robust and stands at three times the industry average.

Investors also piled into J Sainsbury, 3.25p higher to 293p, after the data was revealed. The study said the group's growth rate stood at 2.4 per cent, up from 1.5 per cent previously. According to JP Morgan, this development "provides a little more evidence that the start of the company's turnaround strategy is progressing to plan".

Elsewhere in the FTSE 100, which closed 34 points lower at 4,962, Diageo added 5p to 745.5p as Credit Suisse First Boston drew its client attention to evidence that the drinks giant is winning market share in the US. Reuters retreated 4.5p to 412p after UBS downgraded its stance on the information provider to "neutral" from "buy". UBS pointed out that Reuters shares have risen 13 per cent since the start of the year and took the view that there are few catalysts to push the stock higher.

Carnival jumped 12p to 2,993p after Deutsche Bank added the cruise ship operator to its "European Focus List" which consists of the German broker's favourite stocks from the Continent. Deutsche believes the recent weakness in Carnival's share price, as a result of the strength of the oil price, presents investors with a clear buying opportunity.

Numis Securities told its clients to sell Bovis Homes, up 0.5p to 662p, ahead of next week's trading statement from the housebuilder. Although Numis views Bovis as a "quality company", it notes that recent updates from peers have been far from impressive. Redrow came out with a cautious statement this week, as did Westbury, which also disappointed the market with its volume figures.

Aberdeen Asset Management dropped 1p to 125.5p after Britannic unveiled the acquisition of the life assurer Century. As a result of the deal, Aberdeen will lose the management contract for Century funds, which will be transferred to Britannic. Analysts estimate that these total £1.5bn and account for about 6.5 per cent of Aberdeen's total funds under management.

Hopes that a licencing deal is around the corner once again pushed shares in Proteome Sciences higher. The biotech group, up 3p to 57p, certainly needs such a deal which should result in a substantial injection of cash.

Dowding & Mills ticked 0.25p higher to 13p after four directors forked out more than £500,000 on shares. Leading the way was Colin Keith, a non-executive director at the electronic services group, who picked up 2.5 million shares at 12.5p., while Tudor Davies, the company's chairman, bought 1 million at the same price. Two other directors picked up a further 435,000 shares in total, also at 12.5p.

Stanelco added 1p to 16.37p on talk that the technology company will soon get the thumbs-up from Asda for its revolutionary food packaging system. The system is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than those of current rivals, and the hope is that if Asda decides to use it nationwide, so might its parent, Wal-Mart, which is the world's biggest retailer. Such a development would be a huge coup for Stanelco. Ultimate Leisure ticked 1p better to 340.5p amid suggestions that the bars group had enjoyed a strong trading during January and February.

Finally, investors would do well to keen an eye on Libra Natural Resources, which lists on AIM today. The group intends to invest in the mining sector and has raised £1.2m via a placing of 42 million shares at 3p by Libertas Capital.

Unlike most small-cap resource cash shells these days, Libra has said that it is actually in advanced talks aimed at an acquisition, and word has it the group is close to a deal to buy some impressive coal assets in North America. Brokers tip the company to enjoy a strong maiden session

Meanwhile, the float of Libra should also be good news for Libertas Capital, unchanged at 23.25p. The stock brokerage listed on AIM last July and is led by former executives from heavyweight investment banks such as Lehman Brothers and Kleinwort Benson.

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