Market Report: Lamprell looks like a long-term bet

After five profit warnings, is it time to buy shares in oil-rig maker Lamprell? Oil expert Andrew Whittock thinks it might be. Lamprell had a rotten 2012 and so did its shareholders. The shares lost 60 per cent on the year after the five warnings but in 2013 things are looking up.

The company said it is making progress with its lenders to fund future growth and is on track with new projects including its Windcarrier 2 vessel, which will be delivered this month.

Mr Whittock rated the shares a buy and thinks it has "a strong, underlying business and retains competitive advantages in many of its markets".

Some punters were already convinced – the shares gushed more than 5 per cent on the small-cap index, up 6.5p to 129p.

Lamprell's shares recovered some of last year's losses earlier in January when it said it had first secured waivers on banking covenants.

But after such a shocking year don't expect any quick fix – Mr Whittock is not talking about the short term and said: "For investors prepared to look forward to 2014, we still believe Lamprell should offers significant upside."

The benchmark FTSE 100 index edged back below the 6,300 mark as disappointing gross domestic product figures from America and some weak corporate news hit previously bullish sentiment.

Volumes have been very weak but the City has had a solid month – what one trader said was the third best January on record. But the month ended as a bit of a disappointment and the FTSE 100 index edged down 46.23 points to 6276.88.

Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads, said: "It's largely the banks that are suffering after some bad results from Deutsche Bank and Santander. These numbers prove that Europe's banks are far from being out of the woods."

Royal Bank of Scotland dropped 3.9p to 343.3p and Barclays lost 1p to 301p.

Broadcaster BSkyB produced strong first-half results and upped its interim dividend by 20 per cent as the shares rose 7.5 p to 817.5p.

Top of the tree was Vedanta Resources, up 40p to 1,204p, as the miner revealed a 31 per cent rise in third-quarter profits. Weaker results from its metals production was offset by its energy business, Cairn India, which announced its planned start of the second phase of its Sri Lanka oil exploration.

After a tough 2012 there were signs of a new start for South African platinum miner Lonmin. It took up a position at the top of the mid-tier index, rising 45p to 360p when it said that quarterly production is ahead of targets.

One metal expert even thought it was time to start loving Lonmin again. Steve Shepherd, platinum analyst at JP Morgan, sent out a missive telling punters to pile into the stock.

The sector has been hit by price fluctuation and production problems after strikes halted normal production for weeks last year.

Mr Shepherd claims Lonmin will be the "best performer" of the big three platinum miners this year as it "recovers from the shocks of last year".

He thinks it offers the "best value proposition" and is the most geared to rising platinum prices. As a result, he upped his rating to overweight but lowered the share-price target to 410p from 420p. Despite the business's better outlook, 29 per cent of its shareholders at its annual meeting voted against its remuneration package.

The lender Paragon reported a 16.7 per cent jump in profits for the final quarter of last year but it fell 3.3p to 281.1p.

Playtech, the online-betting game developer, got a boost from Simon French at Panmure Gordon. The leisure analyst thinks it is worth taking a punt on the shares and gave it a buy rating. He upped his price target to 605p because it offers "faster growth, higher margin and lower risk exposure than its peers". Its shares rose 5.3p to 462.9p.

Sausage-maker Cranswick said its third-quarter figures are in line with expectations, and although its margins were hit by rising pork prices, things have now improved and the shares waddled up 22p to 960p.

There was no toast to pub group Enterprise Inns. The shares were 8.2p lighter at 90.5p as the pubs giant admitted the January snow had cost it £1.5m. Enterprise, which has 6,000 pubs, said like-for-like profits sank 4.4 per cent, or £5m, in the first 17 weeks of the year.

On AIM, Sirius Minerals' York Potash Project is on track after the miner submitted plans to the North York Moors National Park Authority and the shares ticked up 1.5p to 29p.

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