Market Report: Siemens talk puts Motion Media in the spotlight

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The Independent Online
Motion Media, the Ofex-listed minnow which sells video phones, has been getting in the picture. The company has been climbing for a few days now, and was up another 10p to 190p yesterday.

Dealers are gambling on a large overseas orders for the video-phones, which cost pounds 1,000 each. Industry pundits say Siemens may be about to place an order with Motion worth up to pounds 100m. The German electronics behemoth has pledged to supply 100,000 phones to Deutsche Telekom, and may turn to Motion to fulfil the demand.

Motion is also thought to be talking to BT and Alcatel about its products, which also include television set-top boxes. It is expected to have sold its thousandth video-phone by Christmas.

Elsewhere, Shell might have adopted the advertising slogan of a certain blue-chip telecoms company, proving beyond all reasonable doubt that it's good to talk.

The oil company saw its share-price zoom 20.5p to end the session at 448.5p after a round of briefings with investors on Friday. Since then, brokers' buy notes have been raining down on Shell like confetti. NatWest is "very positive" on the company, and has included it in its top 15 for 1998. Hoare Govett, Kleinwort Benson and SBC Warburg all joined the Shell appreciation society, after being impressed by the company's plans for the next five years. Shell has pledged to make a 13 per cent return on capital next year, and has also hinted that a share buy-back might be a possibility if Dutch law is changed. Investors also welcomed a commitment to greater transparency, which will see the company reporting its results in dollars.

More than 20 million shares changed hands, making it the most heavily traded Footsie stock. Cairn Energy firmed 1.5p in sympathy to 510p. Shell and Cairn announced last month that they were hoping to invest up to $5bn in exploration and development in Bangladesh.

Another to exude a certain oily charm yesterday was Tullow Oil. The group, which started the year well below the 100p mark, ended up 6.75p at 153.5p, with dealers saying a bid was on the cards. Enterprise Oil also notched up 2p to 589p.

Dealers appeared to be suffering from Christmas party hangovers during the morning, with Footsie struggling to gain ground. The index soon rallied, ending up 76.6 points at 5121.8, but volume was low. An unexciting 599.1m shares changed hands.

Apart from oils, banks were in demand. Barclays closed 79p richer at pounds 17.15, and Lloyds TSB jumped 28p to 765p. A new finance director at Abbey National helped it to a 29p rise to pounds 10.57. But the real story behind the financials' strength was once again bid speculation. Hopes of further consolidation are rife, prompted by comments in the weekend press from Barclays' chief executive.

Cordiant, the advertising and marketing group which closed at 110p on Friday night, finally did the splits yesterday, and received a somewhat cool reception. Cordiant Communications, which comprises the Bates Worldwide agency, dropped a penny to 109p, while Saatchi & Saatchi fared marginally better, closing unchanged at 110p.

Demerger talk proved a panacea for Coats Viyella, however. The textile group, which owns the Jaegar clothes chain, was in fashion, adding 13.5p to end at 115p. It said yesterday it would be issuing its December trading statement on Wednesday, where it would talk about proposals for a split.

Several brokers, mindful that the year is drawing to a close, have turned their attention to 1998 forecasts. UBS recommended nine stocks for 1998, including Gallaher, which improved 9.5p to 354.5p, and Logica, which ended 7.5p better off at pounds 10.60.

NatWest, meanwhile, tipped Pearson, up 27p at 840p, Abbey National, and Barclays. The investment house believes Footsie will end next year edging towards the 6,000 mark at 5,700.

Sedgwick, the insurance broker, had a field day in the morning after a report over the weekend that it had been talking to Aon about a merger. However, the company issued a statement later in the day denying the story, so the shares closed just 2p up at 150p.