Market Report: Engineers start to emerge from the doghouse

IT LOOKS as though engineers are at last emerging from the stock- market doghouse. The astonishing descent of the aggressive US venture capitalist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts on the staid old TI Group could underline the overlooked value lurking among the metal bashers.

As if on cue IMI, once part of Imperial Chemical Industries, offered a glimmer of hope that the hard-hit sector is beginning to see the end of its long struggle against the rampant pound and recessionary influences. IMI jumped 17p to 252p in often brisk trading with Merril Lynch talking about a 350p target. TI, after Friday's 8 per cent surge, rose a further 7p to 452p.

Riding at 532p last year IMI has been one of the most significant victims of the engineering crash. But profits at the top end of the range, pounds 152.2m against pounds 146.5m, and indications of a trading pick up encouraged investors.

It was enough to lift Senior Engineering 5p to 137p; Weir 5p to 257p, and the new giant of the engineering industry, BTR Siebe, 3p to 278p.

TI has surrendered a 4.9 per cent stake to KKR for pounds 94.4m. The deal is expected to lead to a TI acquisition spree.

With the looming Budget inhibiting trading the market experienced a low- key session with Footsie managing a 3.3 points gain to 6,208.8. It failed to gain any inspiration from New York, which looked decidedly uncertain during London hours.

The market's undercard, not so much influenced by Wall Street, was less subdued with the mid-cap making further headway, up 10.8 at 5,359.2, and the small cap 11.4 higher at 2,315.8.

The day's turnover was inflamed by a chemical reaction in Albright & Wilson. Volume, according to Seaq, was almost 68 million shares as Albemarle, a US group, launched a 130p a share bid (pounds 408m) for the hard -pressed chemical group. The shares jumped 19.5p to 129.5p.

But there is a sneaking suspicion the game is not yet over and Albright will collect further offers. Indeed Phillips & Drew, the fund manager with 24 per cent, seemed decidedly unimpressed by the terms.

As if anticipating shareholder reluctance CSFB moved into the market, picking up Albright shares for the US group. It managed to acquire 18.6 per cent.

Other chemical groups scored from the action. Yule Catto rose 18p to 288p and Hickson International 3.5p to 40p. Brent International, where bid talks have dragged on, rose 1.5p to 111.5p. The latest story is that the group intends to sell one of its divisions for pounds 25m, before a deal with the hovering predator is completed.

Jockeying for position ahead of the Footsie changes provided the blue- chip highlight. Tomkins, the old style conglomerate with the buns to guns tag, seems to be destined for relegation and fell 10p to 210p. Safeway, the supermarket chain, another endangered Footsie species, gave up 5p to 248.5p but Williams, the security group, hardened a shade to 360p.

South African Breweries arrived to confuse the promotion process. It seemed to be determined to qualify for membership of the exclusive club, achieving a 485p close, up 20p from Friday "when issued" price, in its first day of full dealings. The miner Billiton is one South African group that is already a Footsie member and other Springbok companies are also seeking a London listing. This could lead to four South African companies claiming membership of the blue-chip index.

Corporate Services endangered its membership of the mid-cap index, with a 53p slide to 113p after a profits warning. Sage, the computer group involved in investment rounds, put on 42.5p to 2,012.5p.

Reuters, with investment briefings due to start today, improved 18.5p to 902p. National Power, as bid speculation returned, sparked a 10p gain to 494.5p. The under -performing group is seen as ripe for a US assault.

EMI was not in tune to welcome its new, chairman Eric Nicholi; the shares fell 8.75p to 440p. United Biscuits, which has failed to crunch the numbers under Mr Nicoli's stewardship, firmed 2p to 183p.

Scottish Media had an eventful session, ending 34p off at 848p. Upbeat comments failed to have much impact with the market speculating about possible bid action following the Mirror's decision to sell its 18.6 per cent stake.

Widney, the engineer, fell 3p to 37.5p after a special shareholders' meeting was called by shareholders representing nearly 13 per cent of the capital. The "rebels" include SEP Industrial Holdings, unchanged at 13p; they want the board removed.

Expansion at leisure group Queensborough seems to have hit a brick wall. Its plan to buy 46 outlets from City Centre Restaurants to allow it to roll out a new casual catering concept has been hit by its failure to raise cash for the deal. The shares fell 1.5p to 17p with CCR off 2.5p to 56p.

Internet links lifted Methvens, the bookshop chain, 10p to 41.5p. Newcomer Sports Internet had the right associations to close at 88.5p, an astonishing 244 per cent improvement on the placing price. The company, run by former Leeds Sporting chief executive Chris Akers, is looking for sports operations with web links. Trafficmaster motored 202.5p to 1,030p following a traffic information link with German giant Mannesmann. Staffware, a software group, rose 50p to 242.5p after an upbeat trading performance.

The recovering crude oil price produced a little firmness on the oil pitch. Enterprise Oil, partly on hopes of progress in its talks with Lasmo, flared 10.75p to 308.75p but Lasmo lost 5.75p to 127.5p. Tullow Oil, under pressure because of its failure to hit the jackpot in Bangladesh, rallied 4.5p to 56.5p on stories of an Egyptian development.

RJB Mining shaded 0.5p to 61.5p as the possibility of a miners' strike continued to haunt the hard pressed group. Talks about resolving the dispute are due to take place today.

Depressed properties showed signs of life with Tops Estates leading the way with a 20p gain to 117.5p. Netcall jumped 16.5p to 66.5p on reports a bidder is interested in the telecoms group.



GILTS: 113.3 -0.15

CAFE INNS, the pub chain known to be in bid talks, frothed 19p higher to 220.5p as speculation mounted a deal could be near.

Burtonwood, which has had close links with the pub group for a long time and is now concentrating on its retail operations after giving up control of its brewery, is one rumoured suitor.

Another is Century Inns, which is thought to be keen to extend its pubs estate.

TADPOLE TECHNOLOGY slipped 1.75p to 14.5p in brisk trading.

The long time high-tech casualty - the shares were once 307.5p - has enjoyed some support lately because of rumours about a mobile computer it has developed which detects leaks and should make life easier for water companies.

Presentations on the fledgling product, called Java, are said to have been well received and Tadpole may soon be able to produce further details.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Beverley James: Accounts Payable

£22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower