Small Talk: Enterprise calls time on FTSE 250 listing

 

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The Independent Online

Enterprise Inns was among the most prominent companies to be demoted to the FTSE Small Cap index last week. The pubs group, once a member of the FTSE 100, was booted out of the FTSE 250 as part of the latest index reshuffle, and will relinquish its mid-cap berth after the close this Friday, when the results of the review are implemented.

A quick glance at the share price chart puts the move into context. Like the wider sector, Enterprise has not had the smoothest of rides in recent years. The combination of the credit crunch, which focused minds on the company's debt pile, and the recession, which dampened consumer demand, played havoc with its share price, taking it from levels of more than 770p in 2007 to around 35p in early 2009. The was followed by a rebound to 182p in early May 2009 – but then the stock resumed its slide.

The reversal has been stark. Enterprise entered the FTSE 250 in June 2001, and went on to enter the FTSE 100 in 2004. But then came the slump, and it fell back into the mid-cap index at the height of the credit crunch in September 2008.

Another longstanding member of the FTSE 250 to lose is Keller, the construction company, which joined the mid-cap index in late 2006. Once again, you don't have to look far for reasons for the slump.

Construction markets buckled as the world went into recession and, although things have improved, conditions remain tough. Keller's chief executive, Justin Atkinson, highlighted the challenges when the company issued its results last month.

"While we continue to make progress in our developing markets, a recovery in our more mature construction markets is taking longer than expected, and over-capacity remains an issue, particularly in the United States, maintaining pressure on margins in the near term," he said.

In May, Keller highlighted the impact of "lower margins in the US, combined with the Australian floods and geopolitical issues in the Middle East and North Africa", which meant that it expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for 2011 to be "around 10 per cent below [what they were] in 2010".

JXK Oil & Gas is also set to be relegated to the small-cap index. The company saw some sharp share price falls at the start of September after it issued first-half results.

The update showed not only that profits had declined in the six months to June, but that the company had been forced to scrap its interim dividend as it faced higher taxes in Ukraine and higher costs in Russia.

Others due to move down to the small cap index include Fidelity Special Values, Kofax and St Modwen Properties. Spirit Pub Company, formed with the demerger of Punch Taverns at the start of August, will also be demoted this week.

Rumours beat facts as Roxi price spikes

the market rumour mill was in full motion last week around Roxi Petroleum, the Kazakhstan-based oil and gas explorer and producer. Talk that it had made a new oil find triggered some frenetic buying of its shares, with the price spiking by nearly 48 per cent during Wednesday's session. The rumours suggested that the company had made a sizeable discovery, and came on the back a strong showing by the shares on Monday. But here's the rub: the company is not even drilling right now. Cue a statement from Roxi on Thursday, in which it noted the speculation over discoveries and confirmed that "it is not aware of any operational reason for the movement".

Notwithstanding the misguided rumours, investors must be hoping the share price gains hold water. If you're keeping track, the next catalyst is the half year update at the end of this month.

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