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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor