Hanson steps up the teasing talk of a major strike

Once again, Hanson, the ubiquitous conglomerate, is intriguing the stock market.

Interim figures, said by stockbroker Panmure Gordon to be the best "for many years", are due on Tuesday; dealings start in a "when issued" form in the shares of its American spin-off, US Industries, two days later.

Hanson has been busy holding City investment meetings explaining the merits of the demerger. Many have come away with the impression the prime function of the exercise is to put Hanson in a much stronger position for the long-expected mega-takeover.

Rumours of a big Hanson deal have assumed folklore status in the market. The group has been linked with a wide range of often unlikely targets as the market has striven to identify its likely victim.

Argyll, the Safeway supermarket chain, United Biscuits and Yorkshire Electricity have featured on the supposed Hanson hitlist. So has Chrysler Corporation, the US car giant faced with a hostile bid.

Although the group has so far remained aloof from speculation, there is no doubt it is contemplating a major strike.

It has, as near as it is ever likely to, admitted as much by pointing out the US split will reduce its gearing, leaving it "to consider making significant acquisitions as opportunities arise".

So although USI, made up of some but not all of the group's American operations, could be financially hamstrung after repaying $1.35bn to Hanson, the old takeover warrior could be trigger-happy.

PG analysts Charles Pick and Tim Harris point to the advantages of a June strike. It would allow the target to be reflected in the year-end display and included for all or most of next year.

Hanson, they point out, acquired the American Quantum Chemical Corporation in June two years ago.

"What better time for a bid than after what will be spectacularly good interims in mid-May? These will remind the investment community of how Quantum was either a gamble that came good or a stunningly timed and executed acquisition which was 100 per cent vintage Hanson," they say.

PG looks for interim profits of £615m, up from £352m. In busy trading, Hanson rose 5p to 250p, the highest this year. The shares climbed 13p this week.

The rest of the market had a more subdued session, ignoring another New York power display. A three-day winning streak, which lifted the FT-SE 100 index 66.2 points, came to an abrupt end although the modest 7.6 decline to 3,310.3 looked more like a pause before the next charge.

Since the bull market started ten weeks ago, the index has surged more than 300 points; the Dow Jones Average has risen more than 400.

Water shares, which have missed much of the party, were buoyed higher by Smith New Court attention. The securities house is looking for earnings to grow by an average 11 per cent and dividends by 13 per cent. Thames added 6p to 486p and Severn Trent 14p to 543p.

Latest financial development - the banks planning to sell more 3i shares - left the price 9p lower at 346p. SG Warburg continued to retreat, off 22p at 772p, with Mercury Asset Management 32p lower at 824p.

Perpetual, the fund manage,r shaded 26p to 1,439p following its disappointing figures, but Smith New Court added 10p to 434p.

Imperial Chemical Industries responded to the threat of US litigation in connection with the Oklahoma bombing with a 7p slip to 763p.

Pearson fell 12p to 601p, with "satisfactory" trading overshadowed by a profit downgrading reportedly from ABN AMRO Hoare Govett. J Sainsbury firmed to 435p; trading in its ADRs starts next week.

Chubb Security held at 315p. Last year's figures are due next month and Williams de Broe is looking for a £10.4m advance to £87.5m. This year's estimate is £100m. "The current year's rating does not make sufficient allowance for the growth potential over the next two to three years", says analyst Mike Smith.

The Tadpole Technology suspension tormented some of the other high-flying technology shares. Magnum Power slumped 19p to 176p, and Unipalm 20p to 218p.

Premier Consolidated Oilfields held at 27.5p. Amerada Hess, the US group, has acquired 1.1 million shares, lifting its stake to 24.99 per cent. The buying stems from PCO's acquisition of Pict Petroleum, where Amerada was a big shareholder.

Two tiddlers that have attracted attention recently continued to find support. Farringford, with just a solitary hotel in the Isle of Wight to its name, rose 0.75p to 7.25p as talk of a reverse takeover persisted.

Midland & Scottish Resources rounded off a remarkable week with the 25p shares up 1.5p to 7.5p. a 5.5p gain since Tuesday. The 10p shares were up 0.5p to 6.5p. The group was almost sunk by its involvement in the Emerald North Sea oil field. The company said delivery of its Spirit of Columbus oil platform was near and talks were proceeding about its use with "a number of interested parties".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape