Anite confident for full year despite quieter Q3
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open unchanged from Friday's close of 6,484.
Stocks to watch
Software group Anite said third quarter trading reflected a relatively quiet seasonal period but it remains confident about the outturn for the year as a whole. Anite, which provides software solutions to the international wireless and leisure travel industries, said trading in the quarter ended January 31st 2013 contrasted with an unusually strong third quarter last year, which was driven by high demand from Handset Testing customers investing in initial 4G LTE systems at the end of the 2011 budget year.
Real estate investment trust Great Portland Estates has acquired Orchard Court, a 47,762 square-foot retail and office property located on Portman Square in West London. The asset was purchased from Rosanna Holdings for £37m, reflecting a net initial yield of 4.64% and a capital value of £775 per square foot.
Betting group Ladbrokes has unveiled plans to extend its relationship with Playtech, the AIM-listed online gaming software company, as part of the former's 're-invigoration' of its Digital business. Playtech will create a new e-commerce and digital marketing services operation, to be integrated with the company's existing Digital teams in London and Gibraltar, and will also give Ladbrokes access to its full product suite and technology, which will see the launch of a new 'Vegas' tab on Ladbrokes.com. In due course Ladbrokes will also migrate to Playtech's download casino and poker products.
International Airlines Group has issued a statement saying that it has opted to accept a proposal put forth by a mediator regarding its Spanish airline division Iberia, putting an end to the conflict involving job cuts. The mediator proposed reducing the number of job cuts to 3,141, rather than the planned 3,807, with redundancy pay of 35 days for every year worked, as opposed to 20.
In the Press
The one billion pound sale of RBS's Williams & Glyn branches could gather speed on Monday as Andrew Higginson - the man leading a takeover attempt - holds meetings with a series of investors backing a bid for the 316 branches, says The Telegraph. The paper reports that the 17-member investor consortium includes Schroders, F&C, Henderson and Invesco.
The Guardian writes that Tesco has launched its "price promise" to compare prices at tills with those at Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons after suffering its first fall in profits in 20 years. The supermarket will then issues coupons to customers if their shopping would have been cheaper at their competitors'.
Manchester United could be close to the most valuable sponsorship deal in sporting history, according to The Times. The paper says that the football club could clinch a deal with US sporting goods giant Nike in the coming months and the two parties are to start talks on merchandising and sponsorship "imminently".
Over the last five years Prudential benefited greatly from its expansion in southeast Asia, as the regions middle class emerged. Helping matters was the lack of a social safety net and free health services in these countries, which stoked demand for the companys insurance products. Thus, in the last five years the insurers share price has quintupled, with its market capitalisation now twice that of archrival Aviva. At about 1.4 times book value the valuation seems fair enough, given the firms growth rate, says The Timess Danny Fortson. "Yes, the stock is now nearing the firm's target price, but there could still be a little bit of juice left in Pru's share price run," he adds.
Since taking over in 2000 Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh has brought focus to the company, centering solely on alcohol and looking for growth in exotic places as far afield as Africa, the Far East and South America. The question now, however, is how Walsh will keep alive the winning streak. America seems to be the answer. The company derives about a third of sales from the region and has chosen it as a key growth area for over the next few years, Fortson writes.
TUI Travels Chief Executive, Peter Long, seems to have hit on a winning strategy, offering an exclusive product at prices that consumers can afford. Not surprising perhaps then that the company has had a strong start to the year and there is room to grow if the firm succeeds in gaining ground in markets such as Belgium, Holland and France and cold emerging markets such as Russia and other Eastern European states. Furthermore, the firm is increasingly sourcing clients on-line. "TUI shares have had a good run lately, but there is plenty more mileage in the stock," says The Financial Mails Midas column.
America's three key US equity benchmarks finished the week higher after a wave of encouraging financial and economic data was published. Total wholesale inventories in the US expanded to four times the expected level, the number of active oil rigs in the country grew and the rate of unemployment in the country contracted.
Data published by the US Department of Commerce showed that total inventories of merchant wholesalers after adjustment for seasonal variations was valued at $504.4bn at the end of January, representing an increase of 1.2% from the revised December level. This was four times the 0.3% growth rate which had been predicted. Compared to wholesale inventories one year ago, the inventories were up 6.5%
Inventories of durable goods were up 1.1% from December and were up 8.3% from a year ago. Inventories of lumber and other construction materials were up 3.4% from last month and inventories of computer and computer peripheral equipment and software were up 3.2%.