Market Report: Spirent boosted as its US peer group turns it on

A positive read-across from two of its US peers raised investors' hopes ahead of Spirent Communications' update next month, pushing the company up 5.2p to 152.4p.

The telecommunications group, which produces testing equipment, announces preliminary results in March, and analysts said figures released late on Thursday by Ixia suggest Spirent's numbers will impress.

The North American company announced forecast-beating revenue, which Numis Securities' Nick James said indicates Spirent's "orders performance could be stronger than some expect for the fourth quarter".

Mr James said the "continued momentum in Spirent's markets has the potential to drive upside to [its] revenue estimates". Panmure Gordon's George O'Connor agreed.

The analyst – who increased his target price on the company to 155p – said that Ixia's update gives "the clearest signal yet that Spirent is set to report results at the upper end of its 7 to 10 per cent guidance growth rate".

Meanwhile, market voices highlighted figures from JDSU as well, also released on Thursday, which showed the company's test and measurement year-on-year sales had increased by nearly a third.

Overall, the FTSE 100 edged up 14.04 points to 5,997.38, despite the key non-farm payroll numbers from the US proving disappointing, and the FTSE 250 made 90.7 to close at 11,666.53.

The water utilities found themselves among the day's biggest movers after Bank of America Merrill Lynch was gushing in its praise for the groups, saying they offer "the purest exposure to high inflation among the UK utilities".

Severn Trent and United Utilities had their rating changed to "buy" from "neutral", and were lifted 50p to 1,440p and 24p to 579p respectively, while Northumbrian Water – up 5.6p to 314.1p – and Pennon – up 4.5p to 621.5p – were upgraded to "neutral".

As Egyptian demonstrators in Cairo continued their attempts to oust President Hosni Mubarak, Tui Travel had a further fall, dipping 2p to 241p. The tour operator failed to get a helping hand from Nomura, which reduced its recommendation to "neutral" from "buy".

Fears that Vedanta Resources may pull out of the $9.6bn deal to buy its Cairn India unit left Cairn Energy at the foot of the top-tier index, 11.7p lower at 426.3p. Reports from India claimed that Vedanta – 22p higher at 2,387p – will abandon the acquisition if Cairn India gives in to demands being made by the country's oil ministry.



Takeover rumours were making their presence known on the second line, as two old favourites made a return. Cable & Wireless Worldwide climbed 3.35p to 76.35p as speculation spread it could be in line for an approach. Similar chatter has circled the company before – including last month – with AT&T one of the names previously mentioned as a potential suitor.

Meanwhile, ITV was driven up 4.65p to 84.05 by the re-emergence of gossip that it may receive a bid from a US cable television company. A potential price of 120p-a-share was mentioned, although traders also pointed to recent positive sentiment over global advertising as another reason for the broadcaster's rise.

SuperGroup was top of the mid-tier index after announcing the purchase of its main franchisee in a €40m deal it described as a "game changer". It certainly looked as if the market welcomed the purchase of CNC Collections, the clothing retailer's distribution partner in a number of European countries, as it advanced 180p to 1,710p.

Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers, described the deal as a "sound strategic acquisition by SuperGroup [which] allows them to increase margins in the Benelux ... and key regions."

Stagecoach was 5.3p ahead at 220p after Morgan Stanley chose the transport group as its top pick in the bus-and-rail sector.

Analysts from the broker increased their earnings forecast for the company, citing a "more positive stance on the outlook for growth within its Megabus business in the US".

However, they were less positive on the American activities of FirstGroup, and cut its price target to 379p because of their caution over "revenue growth and margin progression in its US school bus and Greyhound businesses." The company fell 5.4p to 371.3p.



Among the small-cap companies, HMV finished 2p stronger at 24.75p thanks to talk that the struggling high street chain could be broken up. According to reports, shareholder Alexander Mamut is being advised by Credit Suisse on possible options for the retailer – prompting speculation that he could bid for the Waterstone's booksellers business – while the private equity firm Permira Advisers LLP may also be interested in the company.

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Administration Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Ashdown Group: Solvency II Project Manager - 10 month contract - £800 p/d

£800 per day: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, global financial services co...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'