Market Report: Tullow dives after well disappoints

Analysts at Credit Suisse were guilty of stating the obvious yesterday. The oil explorer Tullow Oil disappointed investors yet again, finding no commercial oil at its well in French Guiana. In a note from Credit Suisse, its analysts said "positive well updates are needed". Well you don't say.

Tullow last week did manage to find some oil in Kenya but it wasn't as good or as easy to get at as some investors had hoped. Yesterday, after the update on the dry well at Zaedyus-2 in French Guiana, its shares fell to the bottom of the benchmark index, down 79p to 1,292p.

Despite the bad news, Tullow insists that the block remains promising, following its Zaedyus-1 well where oil was struck last year.

Credit Suisse's oil whizzes still rate the stock outperform and reckon forthcoming updates from wells in Okure, Ghana, Paipai, Kenya but also the more important Sabisa in Ethiopia and the drilling campaign in Mauritania could hold better news.

So Credit Suisse's message is French Guiana might be bad but Tullow still has lots of other options.

They do admit that "the market looked for the Zaedyus appraisal as an easy win" and as it isn't, Credit Suisse cut its share price target to 1,550p from 1,650p.

The battle between optimistic and pessimistic investors was won by the pessimists yesterday, as the FTSE 100 fell into negative territory and ended down 2.2 points at 5,869.04.

The main global focus remains on a resolution of the US fiscal cliff.

Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG Group said: "It would probably only take the merest whiff off positivity to take the market back to 5,900, and possibly beyond it."

Shoppers are shunning Tesco and Wm Morrison but filling up at J Sainsbury, according to a survey from analysts at Espirito Santo which has found as the shop-watchers slapped a sell rating on the out-of-favour supermarkets.

Espirito Santo's survey of 2,500 shoppers has led the supermarket scribblers to predict that both Tesco and Morrisons will issue profit warnings in the next 12 months. Espirito's consumer survey suggests Tesco has "taken a significant step down for perceptions of price and quality".

There is slightly better news for Sainsbury's, seen as the "relative winner". Espirito's analysts retained their neutral rating on Justin King's supermarket group with a target price of 350p.

Sainsbury's edged up 0.3p to 337p. Espirito gave Tesco a 275p price target but it managed to gain 4.2p in a falling market ending at 326.65p. Morrisons, down 1.9p to 264.3p, was granted a share price target of 230p.

Conference and exhibition organiser ITE Group reported sales up 11 per cent to £172m and it made a showing at the top of the mid-cap index, up 16.3p to 213.5p.

Online betting group Sportingbet got a revised 56.1p bid from suitors William Hill and AIM-listed GVC Holdings, and the pair have until 18 December to make a formal offer. Sportingbet shares ticked up 3.5p to 47.5p while William Hill edged 1.5p higher to 339.8p. Sportingbet, which will sponsor the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park at the weekend, has around 8.5 per cent of its shares out on loan, from 10.8 per cent a month ago, according to Markit.

The biggest shorted stock currently is CSR – the Cambridge-based, mid-cap index microchip designer. It has completed a £178m tender offer to shareholders – 49,080,388 shares were accepted for purchase at a price of 360p, representing approximately 22.9 per cent of the issued share capital. Markit said 19.1 per cent of its shares are out on loan. It lost 2p to 341.2p.

Over on AIM, mobile payments company Monitise's shares reversed 3.25p to 29.75p after it said it is raising £100m by issuing new shares.

Strikes hit Coal of Africa's Mooiplaats mine and its shares dug down 1.25p to 11.5p.

Activist investor Laxey Partners sold its shares in self-storage group Lok n Store. Self-storage guru Douglas Hampson, through his Montecito Storage Investors, bought 15.75 per cent of the company. The remaining Laxey shares were bought by institutional investors. Its shares stored a 2p gain to 119.5p.

Rumours of new opportunities were flying around Fastjet. The African budget airline business began flights from Tanzania last week and it plans to expand into Kenya, Ghana and Angola next year.It confirmed that it is in talks with the liquidator of South African low-cost airline 1time. But rumours were also circling that it is in talks with Emirates for a partnership on new routes. Its shares were static at 3.65p.

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