P&O rides higher on rumours of ballast-dumping

MARKET REPORT

P&O, the building and shipping group, led a convoy of blue chips higher as the stock market latched on to stories that a big disposal was likely to accompany next week's figures.

Although it failed to hold its best level the FT-SE 100 index gained 23.4 points to 3,693, encouraged by another record-breaking display in New York and the continuing flow of better-than-expected company results.

Since hitting 634.5p in June P&O, which still clings to the more luxurious title of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., has lagged behind the market, only stirring when stories of break-up bids went the rounds.

In September P&O produced little-changed interim profits and the year's figures are expected to come in at pounds 305m, down from pounds 341.4m.

There has been considerable disenchantment with its recent performance. In some quarters it is seen as a Forte - an obvious target for a break- up bid.

In the past year P&O has sold properties worth pounds 100m but a much more radical approach to disposals is thought to be necessary.

There is talk that Lord Sterling, the chairman, is near to clinching the sale of more property holdings and could even unload the Bovis building division.

The proceeds from such deals could be used to increase P&O's fleet by buying Cunard, up for sale following the Kvaerner takeover of Trafalgar House.

Unwanted lines of stock lowered SmithKline Beecham and Zeneca and analysts' meetings had an impact.

Welsh Water, up 4p to 738p, and Wickes, 3p firmer at 130p, met analysts; Northern Foods, also under the analytical gaze, shaded to 193p. Shares with US connections moved ahead. British Petroleum, helped along by a misjudged order, gushed 15p to 574.5p; Tomkins added 4p to 256p.

Guinness dipped 8p to 461p as Credit Lyonnais Laing turned negative ahead of tomorrow's results. BAT Industries, in heavy trading, shaded to 187p as worries of US litigation continued to overshadow the shares. But T&N, where there was talk of positive insurance developments on the asbestos- related front, gained 6p to 170p.

Frost, the petrol retailer being squeezed in the battle of the forecourts, fell 9p to 110p. Figures are due today; the shares were 269p last year.

Austin Reed, the clothing retailer, enjoyed speculative attention, up 9p to 217p. Burton, up 1.5p to 143.5p, remains the favourite to pounce.

Unitech, awaiting Siebe's pleasure, fell 10p to 678p; Eurodisc Electron, where a 42 per cent stake is up for grabs, rose 5p to 300p.

Primary Health arrived on AIM at 100p, moving to 103p. The company, which raised pounds 15.5m, buys surgeries and medical centres and leases them to GPs.

Eidos, up 72p to 810p, has landed a licensing deal with the US software giant Oracle to incorporate its video technology in a range of products.

Maid rose 4p to 196p. It has 15 per cent of Easynet, an internet service provider, due to arrive on AIM on Friday. Easynet's offer for sale was oversubscribed 5.6 times.

Results lifted Rexam, the packaging and paper group, 15p to 375p; SBC Warburg suggested that the shares should be sold down to 332p when the group would lose its Footsie membership. Albright & Wilson, the chemicals group, gained 14p to 185p on figures.

James Fisher, a ship-owner, jumped 25p to 130p on a 133 per cent profit advance and doubled dividend; Psion, the hand-held computer maker, gained 60p to 1,015p on a 77.9 per cent profit advance.

Kingsbury, a furniture retailer which came to market at 100p last summer, gained 34p to 223p. It has swung from a pounds 930,000 loss to pounds 3.2m profit. The dividend is up 50 per cent. The day's profit warning came from Dawson, the transport group, off 41p at 205p.

Farnell, the electronics group which, after a controversial shareholders' confrontation, won the go-ahead for the pounds 1.85bn takeover of a US group, was little changed at 620p. Unofficial trading is expected to start today in the convertible loan stock issued in connection with the deal. Barclays de Zoete Wedd and Salomon Brothers will market-make.

Instem, the information systems group, was little changed at 173p. It is likely to switch from the doomed unlisted securities market to AIM; a route expected to be adopted by other USM companies. Around 38 per cent of the company is owned by Dobson Park, the mining equipment group taken over by Harnischfeger, a US group, last summer.

TAKING STOCK

r Marine & Mercantile, seeking oil and gas in central and eastern Europe, arrives on AIM tomorrow. It has raised pounds 6.75m selling shares at 135p. The company, which used to be traded on the disbanded 4.2 share market, is run by three former Ultramar executives.

r Symonds Engineering gained 2p to 61p on talk that it was on the verge of a big acquisition that could prompt a suspension of its shares. The group is being revamped by the Midlands businessman Ron Ackrill. It shares have come up from 29p in the past year.

r United Energy, the oil and gas group, is thought to be near to agreeing a settlement of its $11m US legal claim. Figures for the company, due next month, should show that the group's revival is gathering pace. The shares held at 13p.

DATA BANK

FT-SE 100 3,693.0 +23.4

FT-SE 250 4,274.2 +29.7

FT-SE 350 1,856.2 +12.0

SEAQ VOLUME 884.2m shares, 41,645 bargains

Gilts Index 92.09 -0.13

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?