Market Report: Polish woes sees Aurelian drop again

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The Independent Online

Back in February, bosses at Aurelian Oil & Gas complained the explorer's value was "not fully reflected" in its share price. The market clearly agrees with the statement if not the sentiment – the stock has dropped another 30 per cent then.

Yesterday, any long-suffering punters still left in the Aim-listed driller were dealt another blow. The group sank 3p to 11.25p after once again reporting problems from its Polish operations, admitting oil from its Sosna-1 well had failed to flow when perforated.

The disappointing update will have brought back memories of last September when Aurelian's share price lost nearly two-thirds of its value in one day thanks to a poor update from its Siekierki gas field in the same country.

Also hitting it yesterday was the latest news on its strategic review, or, to be more accurate, the fact that there wasn't any. Aurelian said in February it was going to look at a number of options and that it was open to an offer for the whole company while also considering a merger or disposals of assets. Five months later, however, and it could only report that the review was "on-going".

This prompted analysts from Seymour Pierce to warn that "the absence of any new information... may see the shares continue to languish". Meanwhile, broker Fox Davies said it was "hard to find any enthusiasm for a company whose management appear to have given up, or are at least mired in confusion as to what they want to do next."

If investors need any more reason to be despondent they should consider rumours last year which claimed Aurelian turned down a takeover offer worth 25p-a-share – more than double what it currently trades at.

Despite stimulus measures from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, the FTSE 100 could only push up 8.16 points to 5,692.63, although this was still a fresh, two-month high.

The surprise news that China had slashed its interest rates for the second time in two months helped heavyweight diggers such as Anglo American (23p higher at 2,163p) and Kazakhmys (7p higher at 758p) to shift higher.

Meanwhile, Xstrata ticked up 25p to 845.8p as optimism continued to rise that its proposed merger with commodities trader Glencore, which climbed 3.55p to 315.6p, will go ahead.

GKN was racing away after announcing it was snapping up Volvo's aircraft unit for £633m. The engineer is partly funding the deal through a £140m share placing priced at 200p, a premium to its closing price on Wednesday, although the stock ended up even higher, advancing 24.4p to 211p.

Aviva's eagerly-awaited investor day received a thumbs-up, as – with bosses revealing 16 of its businesses would be sold or closed – the Norwich City-sponsor ticked up 3.2p to 284.6p.

While recent rumours have suggested TalkTalk could become a target for a possible bidder from Europe, Liberum Capital's Lawrence Sugarman was speculating BSkyB (down 0.5p to 687.5p) may want to make an approach. This, he argued, would be a "logical, competitive response" for the satellite broadcaster to BT (down 1.5p to 213.1p) splashing out £738m to be able to show 38 Premier League games a season.

The idea failed to prevent TalkTalk sliding 4.9p to 185.1p, however, with the analyst only giving it a "hold" recommendation in the wake of its share price having gained 40 per cent since May's final results.

There's still no love in the City for Man Group. The hedge fund giant, currently trading at a 12-year low, retreated another 4.3p to 63.25p after Singer Capital Markets slashed its target price in half to 85p.

GCM Resources soared 14p to 58.5p on Aim as traders noted revived speculation that investment group Polo Resources (0.15p better off at 2.93p) may want to sell its stake in the digger to the Bangladeshi government, which could potentially help its attempts to gain mining approval.

City voices played down the idea however, and were also sceptical over the re-emergence of another well-worn rumour, that GCM could attract a possible bidder.