Market Report: Holiday sector in demand as Footsie feels the pressure

AS BOOKIE William Hill canters along towards its market flotation, shares of the last big "popular" stock sale came to life as takeover rumours swirled around.

Thomson Travel, Britain's biggest holidays group, has been a major disappointment to its army of small shareholders. The shares briefly flirted with 200p but were down to 105.5 in October and bumping along at 138p before they were engulfed in bid excitement. Talk of a German bid lifted them 17.5p to 155.5 - still below the offer price - in frenetic trading.

The Thomson float, accompanied by the perk of cut-price holidays for subscribing shareholders, was marred by complaints of share shop inefficiency.

This week the other leading holiday operators have also been in demand although, until yesterday's burst of activity, Thomson had been left out in the cold.

The holiday sector has been encouraged by favourable comments from Warburg Dillon Read, which has alighted on Thomson and Airtours as its favoured shares.

It could be argued that the sudden strength of holiday shares is related to the modest revival in oversold leisure shares this week. Forward holiday bookings are thought to be running at a heady level, although capacity has been reduced. This week's base-rate cut should further encourage a summertime rush to the sun.

Airtours, up 9p to 430.5p, was strong on Thursday as hopes returned that its major shareholder, the US Carnival Corporation, was planning a bid. First Choice, the number three holiday group, rose 5.5p to 147p.

Preussag, the German group, was said to be chasing Thomson. Any bid, however, would be complicated by its control of Thomas Cook, the first package tour operator. Three days ago Preussag said it was looking to raise pounds 750m to increase its tourism business, which has replaced such heavy industries as coal, steel and engineering as its core activity.

Thomson has, since its flotation, been on the expansion trail and on Monday acquired two businesses for around pounds 28.5m. Until the share sale it was controlled by the Canadian Thomson family. Now the Canadian interest is down to 20 per cent.

Most other shares were down in the dumps. Footsie, ruffled by fears of higher US interest rates, fell 84.6 points to 5,855.3 in another busy session. Even the in-form mid cap index, strong for much of this year, lost its enthusiasm, falling 21.1 points to 5,211.5. It was left to the small cap shares to keep the bull flag flying, with their index up 8.5 to 2,209.9.

J Sainsbury's disappointing trading statement - and, presumably, the bread war - lowered the shares by 36p to 393p, a 12-month low. Tesco lost 5.75p to 181.75p and Safeway 12p.5p to 278.5p. Associated British Foods, the Sunblest bread group, crumbled 28p to 520p.

Footsie's top player was BG, up 19p to 360.5p EMI, the showbiz group, continued to score from Warburg Dillon Read support, up a further 18.5p to 450.5p.

WPP, the advertising group, gained 12p to 474p on Goldman Sachs support, and NFC advanced 6p to 147.5p after meeting analysts.

Tate & Lyle, the sweeteners group, improved 20.25p to 450p as BT Alex.Brown suggested a 500p target.

Ladbroke, confirming it is the Stakis stalker, fell 8.75p to 230p; Stakis rose 4.5p to 141.5p. Vaux, the hotel and pub group that is near to selling its two breweries and 350 bottom-of-the-barrel pubs, put on 20.5p to 275p on the theory that it, too, will be drawn into the maelstrom of corporate action in the hotels sector.

There was mixed news on the takeover front. Weir, the engineer, collapsed 26p to 281p as it ended discussions with Flowserve, a US group. The Americans, it seems, were prepared to bid 300p a share; whether they will return to the fray with a hostile offer remains to be seen.

Watts, Blake Bearne, the china clays group, firmed 15p to 490p after its major shareholder, the Belgian Sibelco group, produced its signalled offer. Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers firmed 25p to 1,725p after Newsquest, unchanged at 301p, indicated bid hopes.

Rebus, the computer group, jumped 22p to 159.5p as offer talks were confirmed.

Wyko, a precision engineer, said it had not collected any offers but was reviewing its options. The shares gained 13p to 94p.

BICC, the cables and construction group, remained on the wanted list, gaining 1.5p to 84p on continuing bid speculation. But engineer FKI, widely tipped as the next bid target, fell 5.5p to 163.5p in busy trading.

Northern Leisure, the discotheque chain, added 10.5p to 148p as the group continued to benefit from bid talk and the revival in the heavily battered leisure sector.

Profits warnings flowed again. Salt group Staveley fell 9.5p to 71.5p and MDIS, no stranger to providing dire tidings to shareholders, lost 3.5p to 42p after cautioning that results would be below expectations.

Gyrus, a medical group, firmed 2p to 175.5p; it raised pounds 10.5m by placing shares at 146p. Future Integrated Technology, unchanged at 25p, raised pounds 115,000, placing shares at 21p. Oxford Molecular hardened 2.5p to 39p as a long time seller was cleared.

Dawson International, gained 5p to 17p - five years ago the shares were 159p - as aggressive investor Guinness Peat arrived with a 5.4 per cent shareholding. Phillips & Drew, the fund manager that has been flexing its investment muscles lately, is already involved in the textile group with a 21.7 per cent stake.

Fitness First, the health club chain planning to move from AIM to a full listing next week, jumped 26p to 398.5p.

SEAQ VOLUME: 1.08 billion

SEAQ TRADES: 75,759

GILTS INDEX: 115.86 +0.08

EXPECT takeover action soon from AIM-listed Pubs'n'Bars. The group is thought to be near to taking over a 34-strong pubs chain with which it is already closely related. Talks are also going on with another pubs company and there are hopes they will be concluded in the next few weeks.

Pubs'n'Bars, with its shares unchanged at 50p, is capitalised at pounds 1.8m.

SHARES IN Rage Software were again busily traded as stories went round that Microsoft may take a 5 per cent stake in the computer games group.

The company recently said it was in talks with Microsoft on distribution of its latest football game, Ruud Gullit Striker. Rage shares firmed 0.5p to 14.75p: Seaq put turnover at 5.4 million. Three years ago the price touched 25p.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
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

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game