Most followed: AB Foods, Blackberry, blur, Bovis Homes, Home Retail, LGO, Mothercare, Tullow Oil


Trading updates from the retailers keep coming thick and fast, and the news has been mixed.

Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail (LON:HOME) has taken a battering after a disappointing update on Christmas trading.

Mirroring the sentiments in computer games seller GAME’s Christmas trading update, the group said it shifted a lot of units in the final four months of 2014, including on Black Friday, but at lower prices than it would have liked, thanks to the cut-price environment in the electrical consumer goods sector.

Baby and toddler products vendor Mothercare (LON:MTC) is little changed after a solid end to the year, which saw the mature UK estate manage a like-for-like sales increase of 1.1% in the 13 weeks to 10 January.

As has been the case for some time, the brand is doing much better overseas, with international sales up 14.4% year-on-year on a constant currency basis.

Associated British Foods (LON:ABF) said its Primark stores continue to have their finger on the pulse of the cost-conscious British consumer; unfortunately, a strong performance by the cut-price clothing chain is being offset by continued tough times in its sugar divisions, where prices continue to slump.

Tullow Oil (LON:TLW) dropped a bit of a bombshell when it wrote off US$2.3bn from the value of exploration work and some of its assets, though the phlegmatic reaction of the market suggests this was not too much of a shock, given the way oil prices have been plunging.

Bovis Homes (LON:BVS) saw a slow-down in house purchase reservations in the second half of 2014, prompting many investors to bale out of the stock.

Among the tiddlers, closely-followed stocks blur Group and LGO Energy are back in the news.

Crowd-sourcing leader blur (LON:BLUR) reassured the market its 2014 results would be in line with market expectations.

The formerly high-flying stock fell out of favour when it took the sensible decision to be more conservative in its accounting policies, particularly in relation to the way it books revenue, but this morning’s assertion that it would break even at the EBITDA level in the fourth quarter of this year – as previously announced – will go some way to restoring the company’s reputation.

No shareholder is complaining about the share price performance of LGO Energy (LON:LGO), the Trinidad-focused oil and gas firm that saw its shares more than triple last year.

With the shares riding high, the company has made a well-timed placing of shares at 3p a pop to raise e£1.57mln.

The funds will support the ongoing expansion of the Goudron oil field in Trinidad.

Finally, shares in smartphone maker Blackberry shot up yesterday on rumours of a bid from electronics titan Samsung. The shares look set to fall back down again after the company denied a bid from Samsung is on the cards.

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