Market Report: Growth issues put Arm in a sling

Usually when Apple has a new product to flog, the designers and makers of the complex technology that makes the item work all benefit from a boost. Not so for Arm Holdings yesterday. The microchip designer that counts Apple and Samsung as customers was a flop and lost more than 5 per cent.

It took a spot at the bottom of the benchmark index after City analysts warned of potential growth issues for the Cambridge-based chip specialist.

UBS, Liberum Capital and Société Générale's experts are not fans of the group amid concerns of a growth slowdown. Liberum said it is at an "inflection point" as "royalties forecast… point to a lower growth phase", while UBS said "we downgrade our rating to neutral (from buy) and wait for a better opportunity".

There are concerns royalty growth will slow and the fast pace growth of the smartphone sector could slow globally. There are also fears of rising competition in its market from the likes of Intel. The downgrades and sell notes came a day after its trading update on Tuesday. Arm lost more than 3 per cent then and declined another 50.5p – or 5 per cent – to 953.5p yesterday.

Some traders put the tumbling share price down to profit taking as the stock had enjoyed a 30 per cent-plus rise in the past four months.

For fellow Apple supplier, mid-tier table Laird, the story was slightly brighter. The electronics specialist's third-quarter update was an improvement on earlier in the year and it was boosted by gaming and smartphone business. It picked up 18.2p to 243.9p. Meanwhile, tech specialist Imagination fell back 4.8p to 282.4p.

The wider market was weak as traders took a breather after more than a week of gains. The FTSE 100 fell back 21.18 points to 6,674.48, having risen more than 5 per cent in the past two weeks.

Insurer RSA Insurance gained 3.1p to 127p after rumours of a suitor.

Engineer Smith Group went ex-dividend and lost 27.9p to 1,397p.

Sports Direct reported profits up 19.4 per cent to £199.8m in the nine weeks to October, with sales up 15.1 per cent to £463.7m and added 5.5p to 712p.

Over on the mid-cap index, online grocery group Ocado lost fans at Exane BNP Paribas who downgraded it to underperform – in contrast to Goldman Sachs scribblers who earlier this month raised it to buy.

The grocery-distribution business checked out 11p, down to 434p.

Close to the top of the mid table was set-top box-maker Pace – chaired by Allan Leighton. The group has bought US-based network gear-maker Aurora Networks in a $310m (£192m) deal that was welcomed in the City.

Analysts at Jefferies said they forecast the existing "cash conversion and synergies" of the deal "should see pay-off inside two years".

It hasn't always been this rosy. Back in 2011, two profit warnings took 40 per cent off its share price. But Mr Leighton, one of the UK's best-known businessmen who previously ran Asda and chaired Royal Mail, joined in June that year to turn the business around.

He said: "Since the announcement of the Pace strategic plan on November 17, 2011, we have consistently delivered on it, achieving almost all of the milestones and targets laid out at that time." Jefferies rated the company a buy and said its "improving cost control and market-leading position should see the stock continue to re-rate".

It gave Pace a 338p price target for shares which rose 33.8p to 323.8p.

Bottom of the mid-cap market was banknote printer De La Rue which issued another profit warning. Panmure Gordon rated it a sell and slashed its target price to 786p for shares that fell 95.5p to 885.5p.

Centaur Media named music supremo Andria Vidler as its new chief who will join from EMI and the shares were off key, down 0.75p to 51.75p.

Royal Mail was back on the buy list for investors and jumped 38p to 537p.

Over on Aim, Sirius Minerals said it is considering withdrawing its application for its $1.7bn York Potash project and resubmitting a fresh bid to the North York Moors National Park which will "simplify planning documentation with no change to previously announced timeframes". But the shares gathered 0.17p to 9p.

Oil and gas engineer Plexus Holdings reported record results with pre-tax profit at £4.3m. It jetted 12.75p to 256p.

Conroy Gold & Natural Resources confirmed the viability of the Clontibret gold mine and rose 0.125p to 2.32p.

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