Most followed: Ocado, Thorntons, Burberry, OPG Power Ventures, Enegi Oil, Antrim Energy


The Ocado (LON:OCDO) story captivated the market on Tuesday as it has done for the past year or so.

Some may have reservations about the grocery delivery company, but its share price is not to be scoffed at.  

It has shot up from under 60p in November to above 300p just eight months on, fuelled by the recent distribution deal with supermarket chain Morrisons (LON:MRW), as well as intense takeover speculation.

That was certainly the focus of the first-half results. But investors shunned the rising sales and honed in on the widening losses instead – even though these came in the wake of the tie-up.

Shares dipped 4% today to 300p a pop.

“We were delighted to announce a long-term agreement with our first strategic customer, Morrisons, to provide them with IP and operating services to help launch and operate their online grocery business,” said chief executive Tim Steiner.

“This development reflects the growing shift we are seeing in favour of online grocery shopping in the UK and internationally, and a validation of the unique technology, IP and operating model pioneered by Ocado to exploit this growing channel. 

“The positive financial impact of this agreement and the endorsement of our business model, positions us well for future strategic developments.”

Shore Capital applauded the company on its efforts, but was not persuaded to shift its stance from ‘sell’.

Analyst Clive Black believes the company is still overvalued, but admits he has got it wrong recently.

“Whilst we have to put our hands up and say that we have called the stock movement incorrectly over the last quarter or so, we also continue to believe that a market capitalisation of around £2bn grossly over values the company’s financial prospects.”

There was a general hum of agreement from the City about chocolatier Thorntons (LON:THT), whose shares have also proved a sweet investment of late.

They were once again on the rise after boasting that its full-year profits would be ahead of the market’s expectations.

The company has flourished in recent months by focusing on selling its chocolates in supermarkets and shops and closing more own-branded stores.

Broker Investec was quick to praise yet another good statement from Thorntons.

“This is the second time in three months that the company has made such a statement, clearly good news, and we strongly reiterate Buy,” it said.

HSBC shone the spotlight on Burberry (LON:BRBY) shares after upgrading the luxury fashion brand from ‘neutral’ to ‘overweight’. The shares rose 3% when the broker lifted its recommendation from ‘neutral’ to ‘overweight’, as well as its target price, which rises from £15.30 to £17.50, in a note entitled “Everything in its right place”.

HSBC thinks the company’s strategic initiatives are coming together nicely, with better growth visibility – a particularly attractive trait now that it no longer trades at a premium to its peers in the luxury goods sector.

As for the junior sector, OPG Power (LON:OPG) generated some traffic when it extended a coal supply deal from Indonesia for another year, until the end of June next year.

Through the arrangement, OPG will secure coal for its power operations in India. It has tied up around 40% of its imported coal requirement through the deal.

Two minnows of the North Sea world, Antrim Energy (LON:AEY) and Enegi Oil (LON:ENEG), drew a crowd today after striking a deal that could prove transformational for the Fyne oilfield development project.

The former plan for Fyne was scrapped earlier this year due to rising development costs.

Through the deal with Enegi and its joint venture partner AB Technology (ABT), an alternative field development plan will be devised using un-manned production buoys. This is expected to cut both development and operational costs.

Enegi and ABT will together earn a 50% interest in the Fyne field once the new development plan has been completed and approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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