FTSE 250 movers: Investec makes waves while Clarkson sinks
London's FTSE 250 was up 0.45% at 20,334.01 in afternoon trade on Friday, led by Investec and Kier.
South African financial heavyweight Investec surged after saying it would spin off its asset management arm with an initial public offer in London, while reporting interim profits ahead of last year.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said Investec's plan to spin off the asset management arm appeared sensible and should allow management freedom to drive the business forward and avoid being constrained by having to follow the strategy of the current parent which is predominantly a specialist banking business.
"Unbundled companies have the freedom to be more entrepreneurial. From an investment perspective, demerged companies are often valued at a greater sum than when they were combined - which explains why Investec’s share price jumped on the break-up announcement," said Mould.
"Separation can sometimes entice takeover interest should a predator have been interested in part of a company but was previously put off from making an offer as it didn’t want to swallow the whole group."
Kier Group - one of the most shorted stocks in the UK - rallied on Friday as Peel Hunt and house broker Liberum reiterated their 'buy' recommendations with a target price of 1,600p ahead of the firm's results release next Thursday.
"Given the amount of gratuitous mud that has been hurled at Kier recently, it is inevitable that some of its sticks. They are UK domestic. They have been a large user of exceptionals. They have benefited a little from acquisition accounting. But many of the bear points are plainly ill-founded; noable around construction cash and the JVs," said Liberum's note.
Security software firm Sophos Group also rose after UBS reiterated a 'buy' rating and target price of 645p, citing the expected integration of two major pieces of software in the next three to six months as likely to support renewal rates "in FY20 and beyond".
Shipping services firm Clarkson was the heaviest faller in afternoon trade, following another share sale from Peter Anker, president of brokerage and investment banking, and his wife. Anker and his wife sold 52,059 and 41,647 shares respectively at a price of 2,725p to gross £2.55m between them, taking their share sales to £5m since July.
Also down among the fallers was JD Wetherspoon, which was in the red even as it reported profits slightly ahead of forecasts. The pub group's like-for-like-sales rose 5.0%, which was short of the 5.2% expected, but profit before tax rose 6.2% to £107.2m versus forecasts for nearer £106m.
For Canaccord, the prelims were "a little ahead" of forecasts but the outlook was seen as cautious. "Wetherspoon's share price has been caught in a tight trading range for the last 12 months and we do not see anything today for it to break out (either way)," said the broker, retain its 'hold' recommendation and 1300p share price target.
Galliford Try failed to build on the foundations of the strong annual results it released a day earlier as housebuilding stocks were put under pressure due to BoE Governor Mark Carney warning ministers on Thursday that a "no-deal" Brexit could see house prices crash by a third, according to reports.
Despite this, the firm was upgraded to an 'add' recommendation by broker Numis on Friday and also had its target price upgraded to 1,075p by Canaccord, who maintained a 'hold' rating.
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,334.01 0.45%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Investec (INVP) 516.00p 6.46%
Kier Group (KIE) 994.00p 3.49%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 153.60p 3.33%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,639.50p 3.24%
Man Group (EMG) 175.05p 2.76%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 361.20p 2.67%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 514.50p 2.49%
Rotork (ROR) 334.50p 2.45%
AA (AA.) 115.72p 2.41%
Energean Oil & Gas (ENOG) 564.40p 2.25%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Clarkson (CKN) 2,675.00p -2.55%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 288.93p -2.12%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 1,256.00p -1.88%
Premier Oil (PMO) 122.70p -1.84%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,068.00p -1.82%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 645.50p -1.75%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,086.00p -1.54%
Equiniti Group (EQN) 249.50p -1.38%
Ascential (ASCL) 415.60p -1.38%
Rank Group (RNK) 174.20p -1.36%