Market Report: Gulf Keystone cops it as boss sells down

Todd Kozel led by example yesterday. News that the boss of Gulf Keystone Petroleum had transferred the bulk of his shares in the oil explorer was swiftly followed by punters selling theirs.

Mr Kozel, executive chairman and chief executive of Gulf Keystone, transferred just under £16.9m worth of shares to a third party, leaving him with just 255,000 shares – or around 0.03 per cent – of the £1.4bn Kurdistan-focused oil company. He said the move was "in respect of a repayment in full under a financing arrangement".

Last year, he agreed to transfer 17.4 million of his shares as part of a divorce settlement but the news of the transfer yesterday concerned investors.

The Aim-listed explorer has been a favourite with retail punters but its updates have been far from reassuring of late. It is involved in a court case in London with Excalibur Ventures, which has claimed that a 2006 agreement entitles it to a 30 per cent share of Gulf's discoveries. Gulf disputes this, and the case continues.

The group has also faced problems with the export of oil from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where it operates. Iraqi officials imposed a ban on exports from Kurdistan after a dispute on payments from the region.

Gulf's shares slumped 15.75p to 154.75p yesterday. Like its retail investors, traders were also less than impressed with the news. Marc Kimsey, senior trader at Accendo Markets, said: "For all the fairy tale that surrounds this stock, the facts are of real concern to the trading floor. Compared to proven reserves, production levels are almost non-existent – as is any formal oil and gas law. Geopolitical tensions remain, the court case continues, and then we learn that the chairman has lightened his holding to just a couple of hundred thousand shares. Without significant good news, there is no reason to take on exposure."

Moving to the FTSE 100 index, the London market began on a positive note, helped by news that Italy has elected a president and the G20 meeting accepted Japan's stimulus plan. But the blue-chip index gave up all its gains once US markets opened because of poor American housing figures. The index dipped 5.97 points to 6280.62.

One of the biggest losers on the index was Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the Kazakh miner that is subject to a potential bid to be taken private by its majority shareholders. The shares rallied 24 per cent on Friday when the news emerged but were down 6.9p to 284.1p yesterday.

Miner Randgold Resources was boosted by the stabilising of the gold price at around $1400, and its shares glistened up 206p to 4,870p.Banks were in favour ahead of Barclays' results tomorrow and Lloyds Banking Group issued £350m worth of new shares as part of its strategy to improve its balance sheet. Lloyds added 1.64p to 49.13p and Royal Bank of Scotland, declared a buy at Liberum Capital, was 5.7p better off at 286.2p.

Mid-cap tech group Spirent Communications warned its profits for the first three months of the year would be lower than expected but a handful of analysts said it was still good to buy the shares. Scribblers at Panmure Gordon said "the future has been delayed – by a quarter or so", and reduced their target of the telecoms testing kit supplier to 188p. The shares ticked up 0.4p to 122.4p.

A full-blown profit warning and management shake-up were sneakily announced at pawnbroker and gold-seller Albemarle & Bond on Friday night after the market had closed.

The news tarnished the small-cap's share price yesterday as the City digested the news. Albemarle said both that chief executive Barry Stevenson has "brought forward his planned retirement", and that a slow-down in acquiring gold will mean this year's profits will be "materially below" market expectations.

The City thinks Albemarle's problems are not sector-wide and Andrew Wade at Numis Securities prefers rival H&T, which he thinks is a "better managed, more conservatively forecasted business". Albemarle said gold buying continued to slow. Gold prices fell 14 per cent last week and Albemarle expects this decline to accelerate.

Numis rates the shares a reduce with a 150p target price. The shares plunged 35.53 per cent or 66.13p to 120p. Canaccord Genuity's analysts think "the shares are unlikely to recover in the short term … until greater clarity emerges on the impact of the trends outlined on forecasts and dividend policy".

Buy: Informa

Snap up shares in Informa, Numis continues to urge. The broker explains that any fall in first-quarter revenues at the publishing and conferences group is a result of the early Easter and events being rescheduled. It adds that the second quarter "will show strong growth as timing differences unwind". The shares are 479.3p with a 557p target.

Sell: Taylor Wimpey

Dump shares in Taylor Wimpey, is Panmure Gordon's advice. The broker says the housebuilder, which issues a management statement on Thursday, "will no doubt report a good start to this year" but adds its progress is priced into its valuation. The shares are 91.05p a pop with a 69p target.

Hold: Spirent

Hang on to shares in Spirent, Canaccord Genuity advises. The broker said it had already downgraded its estimates for the telecoms testing firm "in expectation of a poor first quarter" but added that after yesterday's profit warning, the hill it has to climb "looks more like a cliff". Its balance sheet stops it being a sell. The shares are 122.4p; target is 120p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most