Market Report: FlyBe falls to earth with profit warning

With London this weekend bidding farewell to thousands of athletes, one company happy to see them go will be FlyBe. Punters were pushing over each other to reach the emergency exit yesterday after the regional airline said the Olympics were partly to blame for its latest woeful update.

Since floating in 2010 at 295p-a-pop, the group has shed more than three quarters of its value following a number of profit warnings. Yesterday it was nose-dived again, plummeting 10.75p to 64.5p on the small-cap index after admitting its revenues for the year would be worse than previously thought.

There was no shortage of reasons given by bosses for the change in forecasts, including what it called "distortions" from the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee as well as the tough economic conditions in the UK and Europe, with business flights being particularly badly hit.

The analysts at Investec responded to the warning by slashing their price target by more than 10 per cent to 68p. They did keep their "hold" recommendation, but added that: "Active managers will see little reason to own the shares in the near term."

Meanwhile, Liberum Capital's Peter Hyde - saying the update highlighted "weakening UK demand" - said he "would be taking profit" in FlyBe's rival easyJet, which slipped back 1.5 points to 555.5p.

The FTSE 100 narrowly failed to stretch its winning run to a sixth session, creeping down 4.4 points to 5,847.11, as Chinese trade figures proved worse than expected. Nonetheless, the top-tier index has still added 220 points over the past fortnight.

The appointment late on Thursday of Sir David Walker as Barclays' new chairman was well received, as the bank closed in the gold medal position after advancing 4.45p to 183.4p. Shore Capital's Gary Greenwood was certainly impressed - the analyst said the City grandee "ticks all the right boxes", adding that he struggled "to see how the board could have found a better candidate for the role".

At the other end, Bunzl was knocked back 54p to 1,112.5p after UBS's Shang Liew recommended selling the plastic bag supplier, noting the stock had jumped by more than two-thirds over the past year.

Those waiting for Tui Travel to finally sort out its relationship with its parent company may not have long to wait. Speculation has constantly swirled that Germany's Tui AG could buy the 45 per cent of the tour operator it does not currently own, and yesterday Morgan Stanley's Jamie Rollo said he believed "a change [in the structure] appears increasingly likely over the next 12 months".

However, the analyst claimed instead of an acquisition of Tui Travel, a reverse takeover may in fact be easier, albeit still "difficult in the current environment". He pondered a number of other scenarios including Tui AG buying parts of Tui Travel while, in the wake of the latter's third-quarter results earlier in the week, Mr Rollo upgraded his recommendation on the stock to "equal-weight", helping it climb 1.4p to 198.5p.

A 20 per cent increase in the value of Hugo Boss over the first-half of the year prompted SVG Capital – whose biggest investment is the German fashion house – to tick up 4.3p to 264.8p, with the private equity firm's asset values up 12.3 per cent in total.

Meanwhile, the news it had paid €10m for a 22 per cent stake in PIXmania, giving it full control of the electricals website, saw high street chain Dixons Retail move 0.27p higher to 16.27p.

Down on Aim, Mercury Recycling was pegged back 0.25p to 5.5p after saying it had received a letter "from lawyers acting for two individuals claiming to represent a tribe in South Africa" who claim they have occupancy rights over land in the country which the street lamps recycler is trying to buy in a bid to diversify into iron ore mining. Non-executive director Giles Clarke called the missive "completely spurious" and said the board had been reassured by a law firm that it was "opportunistic and without any merit whatsoever".

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