Market Report: Newcomers obtaining full value from the revival

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The Independent Online
SUDDENLY, new issues are back in favour. Exco, the moneybroker, and Yates Brothers, the drinks group, romped to exciting premiums in first-time dealings, underlining the success of the 3i investment group.

Their ready acceptance stems from the stock market revival that got under way last week and clear evidence that sponsors were once again prepared to leave something for the market enthusiasts.

There has been a tendency this year, as the market seemed receptive to a wide array of newcomers, to overprice flotations. Some offerings have actually halved in value in subsequent dealings.

But the on-off 3i share sale was priced when the market was feeling far from confident and there are indications that Exco and Yates decided to trim their offerings to leave a little for the investor to go for.

Exco, placed at 175p, reached 207p before closing at 199p in busy trading. Yates, running a chain of wine lodges, touched 169p, ending at 165p from a 140p offer level.

And 3i kept the new issue pot boiling, gaining a further 2p to 294.5p after Monday's sharp advance from the 272p placing price.

The rest of the market, for the second day running, ended firmly after hesitant trading. The FT-SE 100 index index rose 9.3 points to 3,091.3, with the second day of the newfangled rolling settlement producing a turnover of 691.4 million shares.

Fund management groups again reflected the more confident market atmosphere, scoring double-figure gains.

Wellcome ended 2p higher at 631p as the market continued to suspect that a merger deal would materialise. Glaxo, up 14.5p to 582p, is one name in the frame. There are also stories that Glaxo will after all achieve a stake in PCS, the American drug management group.

Last week Eli Lilly, the US drugs giant, appeared to outmanoeuvre Glaxo when it snatched control of PCS for dollars 4bn. But there is talk that Glaxo is near to clinching a partnership deal providing joint ownership of PCS.

Wellcome's results are due tomorrow. The figures cover four months and NatWest Securities forecast a 10 per cent gain to pounds 212m. Over the 10 months to June, NatWest estimate an 11 per cent advance to pounds 576.3m.

Vickers, in belated response to last week's defence review, rose 6p to 182p. VSEL improved 14p to 874p as government orders for Rosyth seemed to herald the end for the struggling Swan Hunter shipyard.

Insurances had another firm session, helped by their equity portfolios.

Sun Alliance, up 5p to 333p, enjoyed the added support of takeover speculation. Commercial Union, 19p stronger at 570p, again reflected the recurring story that it was renegotiating downwards its pounds 1.46bn deal to buy the French insurer Groupe Victoire.

Legal & General's 6.3 per cent fall in new business came too late to have any impact but the shares, up 3p to 450p, are expected to fall today.

Argyll gained 12.5p to 251p following an unexpectedly upbeat shareholders' meeting and rumours that J Sainsbury could switch its attentions to the Safeway chain if it felt William Low, on the receiving end of an agreed bid from Tesco, was too expensive for a counter-offer.

Granada, the leisure group, fell 9p to 530p after director Charles Allen sold 145,000 shares at 537p, cutting his stake to 43,239.

Daily Mail & General Trust gained 15p to 1,365p on stories that it planned to unwind its stake in a loss-making US group, Whittle Communications. Reuters, 6p higher at 482p, was said to be a possible buyer.

Holmes & Marchant, the media group, delivered the day's profit warning, falling 17p to 38p. It said profits would be lower than last year's pounds 1.3m, killing analysts' hopes of pounds 1.6m.

OIS International, which proffered a warning on Monday, fell a further 6p to 30p.

Orbis, known as Hilclare in its previous incarnation, returned at 24p. Suspended last month, the company has taken over First Security, a security guards operation. Chief executive is Trevor Bretnall, formerly of Hartstone, the struggling leather group.

Casket held at 30.5p. Panmure Gordon has cut its forecasts by pounds 1.5m following the profit warning but regards the shares as a buy.

It is now looking for pounds 4.5m this year and pounds 5.4m next. Last year the group, a cycle and clothing business, achieved pounds 3.6m.

Stories are flowing around Acorn Computers, which produced disappointing profits last year. One suggestion is that George Soros, the international investor, is interested in the shares and has bid for stock. But rumours that Olivetti of Italy is prepared to sell its 79.8 per cent shareholding are said to be wide of the mark. Acorn shares, firm lately, shaded 2p to 89p.

Metro Radio, the regional group, must be wondering about the intentions of Chrysalis, which has held a 19 per cent interest for some time but has decided it needed to go to 20 per cent, buying 240,000 shares. Chrysalis is known to be keen to spread its show business net far and wide. Metro shares rose 4p to 408p; Chrysalis, which once had extensive music interests, held at 173p.

The FT-SE 100 index improved 9.3 points to 3,091.3 and the supporting FT-SE 250 index added 14.1 points to 3,574.4. Turnover was 691.4 million shares with 26,669 bargains recorded. Government stocks were a shade easier.

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