Market Report: Strength down the line gives Spirent a boost

With analysts predicting "top of the range" figures on Thursday, Spirent Communications found itself on the FTSE 250's leaderboard last night after it was praised for its potential to benefit from developments in the world of telecommunications.

Traders put the telecom testing equipment developer's strong performance down to an optimistic note from Panmure Gordon, in which its analyst George O'Connor reiterated his "buy" recommendation ahead of the group's final results this week, describing it as "an investment play on many levels".

"Like the fixed-line carriers a decade ago, today mobile operators are looking at a stark transition – data is more important than voice," said Mr O'Connor. "Data means new services with mobile data, mobile internet, cloud computing and virtualisation, new devices, new competitors and new economics."

Raising his price target to 162p, the analyst predicted that the company – which gained 5.2p to close at 156p – "will navigate its customers through the (new) data world".

"Our investment view is that Spirent is a key beneficiary of the short- to medium-term opportunity in the development of 4G technology," he added, "while for the medium to longer term it benefits from the broader development of connectivity, data and mobility computing."

Overall, the FTSE 100 started off moving lower following an impressive rally last Friday, but it rose into positive territory after bullish comments on the US economy from two Federal Reserve officials. By the bell, however, the top-tier index had returned near to where it started, closing at 5,994.01 – a slight decline of 7.19.

Last year's profit may have been more than double 2009's numbers, but HSBC's failure to match expectations and the cutting of its long-term targets meant disappointed shareholders left the bank 33.1p weaker at 678p.

Elsewhere in the sector, Lloyds Banking Group – which released its figures last week – slipped back 0.89p to 61.96p as its rating was cut by KBW to "underperform" and UBS removed the group from its European key call list of stocks.

The top-tier index's gold medal went to Essar Energy, after Credit Suisse focused on the energy group. The broker gave it an "overweight" recommendation and a target price of 600p, saying it "offers investors a strong growth profile" and that its "strategy ties in well with the outlook for the Indian power market, which is in structural deficit."

Stuck at the opposite end was Associated British Foods, which plummeted 60.5p to 966.5p. A figure of 3 per cent sales growth from its Primark business represented a slowdown for the fashion retailer, with ABF blaming both the VAT increase and inflation for dampening consumer demand.

Next was also down, shifting 48p to 1,976p, while Marks & Spencer edged back 4.6p to 346.4p, despite Arden Partners' Nick Bubb keeping his "buy"advice on the high street institution.

The miners may have finished mainly in positive territory, but Centamin Egypt did not fare so well, retreating 5.4p to 118.5p. Yesterday's fall followed reports that Egypt was temporarily banning gold exports, although the group said it had not been made aware of any restrictions and that operations at its Sukari mine have continued as normal.

Elsewhere in the sector, Xstrata climbed 22p to 1,405p in the wake of reports that Glencore – which holds a large stake in the blue-chip miner – is getting ever closer to a possible float. There has been persistent speculation that the commodities trader could attempt a merger with Xstrata following its listing.

The house-builders were looking strong, with Taylor Wimpey 1.73p ahead at 39.54p while Redrow and Persimmon were up 5.2p to 135.3p and 7.2p to 470.4p respectively. Although latest figures showed that house prices in January fell year-on-year in England and Wales for the first time in over a year, traders instead pointed to therecent bullish sentiment around the sector. Positive results are expected this week from both Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, while there were also reports of a number of offers being made for the former's US business.

On the Alternative Investment Market, vague speculation was doing the rounds that Coal of Africa could be in line for a 200p-a-share bid, although traders played down the tale. The miner, which has been the subject of similar talk before, booked gains of 6.5p to close at 91.75p.

Investors were given more details on African Aura Mining's plans to split in two as it closed 17p better off at 291p. If the proposal passes a shareholder's vote at the start of April, its iron and gold units will separate, with its yellow metal assets transferring to a new company called Aureus Mining.

Elsewhere, Bango dropped back 21p to 101.5p after saying it would miss its forecasts for the full year. It is the second profit-warning since October from the group, which specialises in mobile analytics and billing.

Suggested Topics
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London