Investors in Enterprise Inns raised a glass yesterday as sales increased. News of the 0.6 per cent rise in the final quarter of the pub group's financial year accompanied a full-year pre-tax profit of £121m – flat on the previous year. The shares soaked up a 16p rise to 154p, which meant founder and chief executive Ted Tuppen was able to go out on a high.
Mr Tuppen, who set up Enterprise in 1991, announced yesterday that he will leave in May and be succeeded by chief operating officer Simon Townsend. Analyst Simon French at Panmure Gordon said the "results were in line with our expectations" but cautioned that although "trading has remained positive, the recovery is said to be fragile".
While Enterprise was the best-performing stock on the mid-tier FTSE 250, the wider market was weak. Traders were cautious after influential activist investor Carl Icahn warned on Monday that there could be a "big drop" in equities. The European Central Bank's rate cut did not help sentiment and the FTSE 100 slipped 25.45 points to 6,698.01. One of the worst performers was the products tester Intertek, where a slowdown in growth displeased punters who could not be mollified by news that it had bought Architectural Testing in North America for $95m (£59m). Intertek tumbled 79p to 3,102p.
Top of the table was easyJet after bumper profits. It flew up 89p to 1,345p.
Over on the mid tier, the Africa-focused oil group Afren spurted 12.1p to 161p after a large Nigerian find.
Small cap Heritage Oil jetted 9.5p to 183p after it forecast production for next year could reach 16,000 to 21,000 barrels a day.
The radio products group Sepura said first-half pre-tax profit more than halved to €1.1m (£930,000); it lost 10p to 131p.
AIM-listed Sula Iron & Gold started field work at a project in Sierra Leone and rose 0.25p to 2.125p.
Security group Falanx posted a 2.25p gain to 15p after revealing its first interim results since listing in June, with £20m in new or prospective contracts.
Interiors specialist Walker Greenbank commissioned a second fast-run digital printer at its fabric facility in Lancaster and rose 6.75p to 160.5p.