Market Report: Wildean misfortune ups pressure on HMV

HMV's long-suffering shareholders received another slap in the face yesterday as the entertainment retailer's finance director said he would follow the chief executive out of the door.

The group's shares tumbled by 0.13p, or 3.6 per cent, to 3.5p as HMV said David Wolffe would leave the group once a successor had been found – just days after the retailer announced the departure of its chief executive, Simon Fox.

The announcement was enough to prompt the latest allusion to Oscar Wilde and carelessness.

Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert said: "Adapting the famous quote from The Importance of Being Earnest, 'To lose one senior director may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness,"

In short, this latest departure "is likely to result in speculation that trading remains under pressure and that the business may not return to profit in 2013", Ms Calvert concluded.

On the up side of the stock market, yesterday was a big day for takeover rumours, with deal speculation fuelling a series of hefty price moves.

Marketing services group Creston saw its shares rise by 5.63p, or 8 per cent, to close at 75.62p after the French advertising giant Havas declared it had amassed a 5.18 per cent stake in the business – prompting speculation that it could be the subject of a bidding war.

Meanwhile, a trio of struggling UK household names saw their shares jump after each became the subject of takeover speculation at the weekend.

The biggest of these was the beleaguered sports retailer JJB Sports, which initially soared by as much as 7 per cent on the back of reports that Invesco, the owner of more than a third of its shares, was plotting to seize and restructure the group. However, things later calmed down a bit, with the stock ending the day 0.1p, or 1.7 per cent, higher at 5.62p.

Marks & Spencer notched up a chunky share price rise – up 6.6p to 347.7p – after reports that a number of leading institutions were looking at the high street institution as a potential £6bn bid target. The retailer's shares have slipped almost 50 per cent since late 2007.

Meanwhile shares in RBS rose 12.8p, or 6 per cent, to 228.8p, suggesting investors give some credence to reports that Brazil's Itau Unibanco is plotting a takeover of its Citizens retail bank in the US. Citizens has about 1,500 branches in 12 states and analysts say the business could fetch £10bn.

Apart from those three, the FTSE 100 was fairly subdued yesterday as investors paused for breath after Friday's jump on the back of strong US jobs data.

The blue-chip index kicked off the week on a positive note, rising by 21.4 points to end the day at 5808.77, with growth easing off after a buoyant 2.2 per cent rise on Friday.

Energy related companies were among the biggest fallers, as Deutsche Bank cut its price target and share recommendations on Centrica and SSE, amid concerns that weakness in the global economy could reduce the price of the oil and gas they produce.

Shares in Centrica, which has a significant gas production operation in the North Sea, fell by 2.9p to 320.6p as Deutsche cut its recommendation on the Big Six energy supplier from "buy" to "hold". SSE fell 13p to 1315p as Deutsche reduced its price target on the company formerly known as Scottish & Southern, and cut its recommendation from "buy" to "hold".

International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, reversed its recent descent, with shares rising by 1.1p to 149.5p, following a decline of 5.2 per cent on Friday after the announcement of a disappointing first-half loss.

In the FTSE 250, shares in TeleCity were among the biggest risers, climbing 39.0p to 877.5p as the web hosting group made good on its promise to declare a maiden dividend, dishing out 2.5p to shareholders for the first six months of the year.

The group said demand for its data centre infrastructure and services continued to show strong growth on the back of the ever-increasing popularity of the internet. This allowed it to collect £137.3m of revenues in the first half, up 22.4 per cent on the year before, pushing profit before tax for the period up by 18 per cent to £40.1m.

FTSE 100 Risers

Randgold Resources 5960p (up 165.0p, 2.8 per cent) The gold miner benefited handsomely as shareholders celebrated the official opening of its Gounkoto gold mine in Mali.

Anglo American (1926p (up 25.5p, or 1.3 per cent) So strong was sentiment towards the miners yesterday – after a tough few weeks – that Anglo's shares were able to shake off a price target cut by Absa Capital and still post a rise.

FTSE 100 Fallers

Bae Systems 311.2p (down 3.5p, or 1.1 per cent) The aerospace giant suffered after Deutsche Bank cut its price target on the group from 350p to 340p.

Johnson Matthey 2209p (down 79.0p, or 3.5 per cent) The metals and speciality chemicals producer fell amid concerns about the outlook for the global economy.

FTSE 250 Risers

WS Atkins 686p (up 18.0p, or 2.7 per cent) The group jumped after news that Network Rail has awarded it two major signalling contracts covering 192 miles of South Wales.

Avocet 91.25p (up 6.55p, or 7.8 per cent) Shares in the miner were given a boost by the news that chief executive David Cather had splashed out on 50,000 shares in the company.

FTSE 250 Fallers

Easyjet 570p (down 2.5p, or 0.4 per cent) The low-cost operator fell despite posting an 8 per cent rise in passengers for the month of July to 5.86m as concerns about its outlook lingered following last week's announcement that first-quarter profit slumped by 29 per cent.

Greggs 505p (down 4.5p, or 0.9 per cent) Shares in Britain's beloved bakery fell amid concerns about employment prospects among its customers as the economy faces continuing strain.

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