Small Talk: Retailer Asos swathed in glory amid the gloom

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The Independent Online

Some of the UK's biggest listed companies are feeling the strain, but if it is real corporate misery you are after, take a look at the Alternative Investment Market. It has more than lost half its value in the past three months alone.

Nonetheless, the annual AIM awards dinner last Thursday revealed some bright spots. Asos, the online fashion group, won the company of the year award, which came after it also scooped the best performing share of the past five years, with its stock soaring by 770 per cent (notwithstanding a 26 per cent drop in the past month).

The best performing stock in the past year was Coal of Africa, whose shares have jumped by 254 per cent. The qualifying period ran for the year to the end of July, at which point the stock was trading at 148.75p. It is now 40.5p. No wonder the victory delegation looked rather sheepish.

Mountfield aims to build its reputation

In these troubled times, a new listing is itself news. Mountfield, a construction services group operating largely in the data centre sector, announced this morning it intends to float on AIM on October 28, although it will not ask investors for any money.

Graham Read has run the company – which he hopes will eventually work in eight to 10 different construction markets – for 21 years. He thinks the listing will help the group's reputation when meeting new clients as well as funding future acquisitions. But he concedes, given the current market, investors may have laughed him out of the door of any pitch for funding.

The group has about £2.5m in cash on the balance sheet, which Mr Read says is plenty to be going on with. The plan is to raise money next March or April. By then, he hopes investors will entertain buying into the group.

The fact Mountfield has three acquisition targets in mind, which will set it back about £3m, means the funding will become necessary sooner rather than later.

Fortune shines on Allied Gold

The rise in the price of gold should be good news for Allied Gold, a gold miner based in Papua New Guinea. It said last week it has exceeded its quarterly target of 17,500 ounces and it has found "further 'significant' gold intersections at the Sorowar and Pigiput areas of its fully owned Simberi oxide gold project," in the country.

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