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News & Tips: Ithaca Energy, JD Sports, Bunzl, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Pace, Sirius Minerals, AFC Energy & more

Today's market overview

After yesterday’s surge to its highest level since 2008 the FTSE100 is only up marginally but The Trader Dominic Picarda says the index is still cheap.

IC TIP UPDATES:

North sea oil outfit Ithaca Energy (IAE) has confirmed that its production from a number of fields averaged 6,631 barrels of oil equivalent during December and that the company expects to produce between 6,000 and 6,700 barrels of oil a day over 2013. We keep our buy rating.

Buy recommendation JD Sports (JD.) has seen its core sports stores perform well but overall group performance is likely to be at the lower end of expectations due to weaker performance from its fashion outlets and, in particular, continued disappointing trading at the Blacks and Millets shops acquired a year ago.

Simon Thompson buy tip Polo Resources (POL) has said that its Nimini investee company is to commence a resource expansion programme at its Komahun Gold project in Sierra Leone.

Sell recommendationBunzl (BNZL) has today announced its fifth acquisition in Brazil, the purchase of a Chilean business with operations in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Colombia and two businesses in the US.

KEY STORIES:

Tesco (TSCO) appears to have landed its first blows in its attempt to drag itself off the ropes after a tough 2012. Christmas trading in the UK was surprisingly solid with like for like sales 1.8 per cent better, led by an improving performance in food. There remains room for improvement, in particular in UK non-food sales, and European performance has been affected by the weak economy. Total group sales in the six weeks to 5 January rose by 3.9 per cent excluding petrol.

Christmas was less rosy for Marks & Spencer (MKS) which saw group sales grow by just 0.6 per cent and like for like sales reverse by 1.8 per cent. For M&S, general merchandise has been the weak spot, dragging down another positive performance in food. The company also cautioned on the year ahead.

Recruiter Hays (HAS) says trading has been tough with total net fees down by 3 per cent in the three months to December and like for like fees down by 1 per cent. The Asia Pacific region was the hardest hit with like for like sales down 14 per cent.

Set top box maker Pace (PIC) has enjoyed record revenues in the fourth quarter of the year which means the business is now likely to exceed expectations for the full year.

UK onshore gas producer IGas Energy (IGAS) has responded to media speculation that it is considering a fund raising with a holding statement saying that it keeps all forms of financing under review and will update shareholders when appropriate.

OTHER COMPANY NEWS:

Sirius Minerals (SXX), which is developing a potash project in North Yorkshire, has announced approval for subsea operations from the Marine Management Organisation. This is its first key approval and the business now expects to deliver its planning application for the onshore element of the project later this month.

AFC Energy (AFC) has announced the appointment of two non-executive directors with connections to Roman Abramovitch following the significant investment in the business by Mr Abramovitch’s Ervington vehicle in October.

LED specialist Dialight (DIA) continues its strong progress with confirmation that sales in its lighting segment were 70 per cent ahead of the prior year in 2012.

READ MORE...

Read today's press headlines and share tips.

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By Graeme Davies,
10 January 2013

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