Market Report: Dividend hike gives Berkeley Group shares a boost


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The Independent Online

Shares in Berkeley Group shot up on Friday as the housebuilder revealed a massive dividend hike at its half-year results.

Berkeley, founded and run by Tony Pidgley, raised its dividend from 15p a share a year ago to 60p as it reported a 19 per cent rise in profits to £169.5m. It said they will be near the top end of expectations for the full year, with City forecasts of £374m. The shares reached an all-time high, up 255p to 2,537p.

The wider market finally perked up after a week in the red and the FTSE 100 added 53.66 points to 6,551.99 after strong US jobs data.

A Footsie reshuffle is due next week, and analysts expect miner Vedanta Resources (down 3.5p to 844.5p) and chemicals group Croda (up 9p to 2,300p) to be relegated.

London Stock Exchange ticked up 44p to 1,626p after Bank of America Merrill Lynch rated it a buy, giving it a 1,870p target.

HSBC’s oil and gas man Gordon Gray decided the oil majors including BP, BG and Shell make good investments. He rated BP overweight with a 560p target, and said: “Cash is key.” BP gushed up 2.3p to 477.45p. Mr Gray gave BG a 1,425p target for shares that added 13p to 1,225p while Shell got a 2,350p target and jetted 61p to 2,157p.

Oil services group Petrofac was also in favour with punters after Thursday’s investor day. Liberum Capital said Petrofac’s management retained its target of doubling 2010 earnings by 2015, but details on margins that emerged at the event worried investors and led to a share sell-off on Thursday. However, on Friday they were back on form, spouting up 42p to 1,194p.

Domino’s Pizza tumbled 49p to 480p after it said its chief executive is to leave.

Small-cap temporary power supplier group APR Energy won a mobile gas turbine contract in Angola, and powered ahead 45.5p to 1,017p.

AIM-listed tiddler Strategic Natural Resources accepted a lifeline from property and technology entrepreneur Andrew Ruhan, brother of its chief executive Gabriel. The £875,000 loan will pay off creditors of its coal business in South Africa, and it jumped 90.9 per cent or 3.75p to 7.875p.