Market Report: S&N soothes profit fears as beerage suffers

SCOTTISH & NEWCASTLE, the nation's biggest brewer, has dismissed stories that it plans to roll out a profits warning. It is thought to have held meetings with analysts indicating that it is comfortable with profit forecasts of between pounds 400m and pounds 410m. Last year it produced pounds 422m.

The shares, bumping along at a 12-month low at 635.5p, strengthened a little to 647p.

Although Scottish soothed profit fears, it is thought in the past few weeks to have tried to persuade analysts to cut some of the more heady forecasts. BT Alex.Brown, the investment house, last month reduced its estimate by pounds 20m to pounds 402m. Stockbroker Sutherlands last week moved to a bottom-of-the-range forecast of pounds 392m.

The beerage has suffered from the downturn in consumer spending, but until recently Scottish appeared to have escaped the full impact of the ravages inflicted on its rivals. It also has two special problems - the loss of its exclusive supply agreement with the Inntrepreneur pubs chain and a downturn at its Center Parcs holidays operation.

Scottish, which became Britain's largest brewer when it acquired Courage, was riding at 945p last year.

The stock market was at one time down 95.6 points, anticipating weakness in New York following Friday's shock profits warning from Compaq, the US computer giant. But in a rollercoaster session, Wall Street was looking decidedly firm as London closed. Footsie ended 31.6 points down at 6,441.2; supporting shares also gave ground.

Dixons led the Footsie leader board, surging by 114p to a 1,654p peak on the possibility that it will float its Freeserve Internet service provider, which Schroders has estimated is worth more than 1,000p a share.

Amvescap, the investment group, firmed 18.5p to 632.5p after Merrill Lynch suggested that the shares should be 700p, but BP Amoco shaded 6p to 1,038.5p as WestLB Panmure advised profit taking.

Takeover action sent Kwik-Fit, the tyres and exhausts group, racing ahead 119.5p to 541p and Laporte, the chemical group, 172p to 762.5p. Kwik-Fit has agreed a 560p bid from Ford; Laporte said it was in talks, with the market banking on Swiss group Clariat as the predator.

Diageo, the spirits giant, duly confirmed it was in talks to sell its Spanish brewing operation, Cruzcampo, and Game, the computer games group, firmed 5p to 126p as Electronics Boutique, 2.75p off at 81.5p, produced a cash-and-shares offer.

Reckitt & Colman, down from 1,300p to 662p, is seen as the next major group likely to attract corporate attention. Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch group, has already looked at the household products group but an American offer is looking more likely.

St James, the life assurer, rose 9p to 258.5p; there is speculation that Prudential may sell its 28.2 per cent stake following its acquisition of the M&G unit trust group.

United Carriers, reported to be in talks with Nightfreight, firmed 2.5p to 30p. Marks & Spencer clothing supplier Dewhirst was also in the takeover frame, up 5.5p to 86.5p.

Medeva, the accident-prone drugs group, fell 12.5p to 108.5p as the American Food & Drug Administration demanded more information about its hepatitis B vaccine. AstraZeneca has still to find a winning formula following the Anglo-Swedish merger, with the shares again under the weather, falling 13p to 2,765p.

Woolwich encountered a 23 million trade at 388p; the shares fell 13.5p to 386.75p. Tesco, figures today, was also heavily traded, gaining 2.25p to 159.5p. Lex Service, the car group, gained 38.5p to 460p on Warburg Dillon Read support.

Financial and telecoms shares, firm last week, gave ground although Lloyds TSB, reported to be looking for US acquisitions, added 25p at 1,020.5p. Some computer shares logged off after the Compaq warning; Misys fell 16p to 552.5p and Computacenter 31p to 536.5p. Arm gave up 100p to 2,830p.

Pilat Technologies was the day's top performer, surging 238 per cent to 35.5p following the first sales of its integrated broadcast management system.

Aukett Associates, the architect, rose 3.25p to 13.5p after forecasting half-term profits of pounds 600,000; this prompted Williams de Broe to suggest pounds 1.25m for the year, while the company produced pounds 623,000 last year.

London Clubs International fell 5.5p to 140p following Friday's late profits warning.

Many football shares stayed offside after Friday's block on BSkyB's bid for Manchester United. With BT Alex.Brown downgrading, Man Utd shares fell 1.5p to 185.5p but Newcastle United's FA Cup semi-final victory helped overcome the investment house's caution and the price rose 6p to 81.5p. Defeated Tottenham Hotspur lost 5p at 69.5p.

The narrowly traded Sotheby's "A" shares jumped 287.5p to 2,000p. Two months ago they touched 2,387.5p; in November they were down to 965p.

Premier Asset Management celebrated its move from Aim to full listing, and some director buying, with a 2.25p gain to 17.25p.

SEAQ VOLUME: 871.1 million

SEAQ TRADES: 83,145

GILTS INDEX: 114.44 -0.25

HOPES ARE running high that encouraging developments are taking place at little Cambridge Mineral Resources. Its Irish diamond prospect is arousing interest, and some expect a statement from the company in the next week or so.

The shares have been heavily traded lately, and yesterday they rose 0.75p to 6.75p; they have been as high 18.25p.

CMR has changed its chairman, with Australian John Park replacing Dr Robert Young.

MORE INTERNET excitement. Easdaq, the European version of Nasdaq, witnessed rare activity when Xoom, a US group, surfed from an opening price of $66 to a $76.6 close.

The business, started only 18 months ago, claims to have pioneered direct e-commerce on the Internet; it attracts visitors to its web site by offering a range of free services.

Its site is said to be the 12th most popular on the World Wide Web.

News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
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

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star