PageGroup raises full year forecast after strong third quarter


PageGroup (LSE:PAGE) PLC has raised its full year profit forecast for the second time in three months after a strong third quarter performance.

Helped by an increase in the hiring of technology staff, the recruitment group said profits for the three months to September rose to GBP228.1mln, up 65.4% compared to last year and 12.9% on the pre-pandemic 2019 figures.

It now expects annual profits of around GBP155mln, up from the GBP125mln to GBP135mln range it predicted in July.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said: “The improvement in results we saw in the second quarter continued into the third….

“We exited the quarter strongly with September up 26% on 2019 compared with July and August, up 4% and 9% versus 2019 respectively. This noticeable improvement and record performance in the third quarter was seen throughout the group and was achieved despite the backdrop of continued restrictions or lockdowns in many of our markets….

“Looking ahead, there continues to be a high degree of global macro-economic uncertainty as COVID-19 remains a significant issue and restrictions remain in a number of the group’s markets. Additionally, there is further uncertainty regarding the pace of client’s offices reopening, challenges in global supply chains and the inflation outlook.

“However, the strength of our performance in the third quarter, and notably in September, has further increased confidence in our outlook for the year and therefore, subject to no other unexpected events, we now expect full year operating profit to be in the region of GBP155mln.”

The news has lifted its shares by 7.51% or 46p to 658.5p.

1.04pm: Xaar sells 3D printing business to partner for up to US$34mln

Xaar PLC (LSE:XAR), the inkjet technology specialist, has agreed to sell its 3D printing business to partner Stratasys Solutions for up to US$33.83mln.

It said while Xaar 3D has continued to make progress this year, there had been delays to the development of its products as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, Xaar 3D would require more investment than originally planned.

It said the agreement with Stratasys would give Xaar 3D with the best opportunity to complete the commercialisation of its product range in the shortest time, would lead to an immediate injection of cash and would enable Xaar to focus on its core business. Xaar will be entitled to receive royalties on products and services sales for up to 15 years.

Xaar chief executive John Mills said: “This agreement will provide Xaar 3D with the best opportunity to continue its progress and leadership in the field of industrial 3D printing. We have enjoyed our partnership with Stratasys and look forward to continuing to work with them to supply printheads to Xaar 3D and share in the long-term success of the business. The agreement will also allow us to focus on our core business and other opportunities in the market that will support our long-term growth strategy.”

Xaar’s shares have lost 3.81% to 151.6p.

12.20pm: Foresight Group lifted by positive update, including boost from energy price rises

Foresight Group Holdings Limited, the infrastructure and private equity manager group, has moved ahead after a positive update, including a boost for its energy assets from the recent price surges.

It had assets under management of GBP8.1bn and funds under management of GBP6bn at the end of the first six months. This equates an annualized growth rate of 25% and 34% respectively in the period

It remained confident for the outlook for the full year, with revenue and earnings expectations unchanged.

A listing of its sustainable forestry business is scheduled for November 2021, while progress is being made on several other new fund launches

Chairman Bernard Fairman said: “The last six months have continued to build on the positive momentum we have seen since Foresight’s listing in February. We have experienced substantial growth in funds under management as a result of strong retail net inflows plus further institutional fund closes and together with the near-term pipeline of new fund launches and deployment, this gives the board confidence in achieving the group’s full year targets.”.

On its energy businesses, he said: “The current volatility in power pricing in the UK and beyond has provided some positive momentum for Foresight’s balanced portfolio of infrastructure assets. More broadly it highlights the need for further acceleration of the transition to a reliable, resilient and low carbon energy system, a space in which Foresight has established itself as a leader.

“Foresight owns and operates around GBP4bn of electricity generating assets. Much of the production is either fixed price income from renewable obligation certificates or sold forward at fixed prices

“However, around 15% is benefitting from the near quadrupling of electricity prices with a further 25% [or so] likely to similarly benefit as their fixes expire during the next two years, should electricity prices remain elevated. Electricity generating assets are valued using third party power curves which continue to maintain that electricity will revert to its long-term average of GBP40-GBP50 per megawatt hour after about a year. The current market dynamics provide potential significant upside to these curves, which would benefit Foresight over the medium term.”

Foresight’s share have risen 5.72% or 23.75p to 438.75p.

11.08am: Prairie Mining climbs as it joins copper project in Greenland

Prairie Mining Ltd (LSE:PDZ, ASX:PDZ) has gained ground after agreeing with Greenfields Exploration to acquire an interest of up to 80% in the Arctic Rift Copper project in Greenland.

The company said the project’s historical exploration results indicated an extensive mineral system with the potential to host a world-class copper deposit.

It said the system was virtually unexplored, giving the company a first mover advantage in a major new metallogenic province.

Greenland has recently attracted interest from the likes of Rio Tinto, Anglo American, DeBeers and Glencore.

The company will spend A$10mln over five years on the project as part of the deal, and is raising up to A$5.8mln by issuing new shares.

Prairie chief executive Ben Stoikovich said: “The ARC project marks Prairie’s first move into the energy metals space. Copper is integral to the energy transition, with copper consumption over the next 25 years forecast to be more than has ever been mined. The transaction gives Prairie a first-mover advantage in what we think is a prolific but virtually unexplored major new metallogenic province, in a pro-mining jurisdiction with a highly experienced Greenland exploration team utilising cutting-edge exploration to maximise the potential for discovery of a world class copper deposit from the outset”.

Meanwhile the company is defending its interests in Poland through arbitration claims.

It says the government breached its obligations by blocking the development of the company’s Jan Karski and Debiensko mines which has effectively deprived Prairie of the entire value of its previous investments in Poland.

It is claiming GBP806mln to rectify this.

Its shares are up 12.5% at 18p.

10.15am: Marshall Motor roars ahead after raising forecast

Marshall Motor Holdings PLC (AIM:MMH) has seen its shares accelerate after raising its profit expectations despite the widely reported supply issues in the automotive sector.

It forecast in August 2021 that full year profits would be not less than GBP40mln, but after a strong performance in the third quarter, it has raised that to GBP50mln.

New car supplies continue to be hit by a shortage of semiconductors, but Marshall outperformed the sector by 13% in the third quarter.

Strong new car margins as a result of the shortages offset the impact of reduced volumes.

The used car market benefited from the problems with new cars, with vehicle values rising by an average 12.7% in the third quarter.

This was the seventh month of consecutive growth in used vehicle values and over this period, used vehicle values have appreciated by 26.3%, which the company said was unprecedented.

It said: “The group has capitalised on these tailwinds, continuing its investment in used vehicle procurement, pricing utilising technology and real-time market data, improved online product presentation and marketing the brand through advertising and sponsorship initiatives. This focus, together with market tailwinds, resulted in an exceptionally strong margin performance in used cars in the third quarter, more than offsetting a decline in volumes as a consequence of used vehicle supply shortages.”

The positive update has seen its shares jump by 11.25% or 23.4p to 231.4p.

8.47am: Water Intelligence (AIM:WATR) lifted by first deal with a US house builder

Water Intelligence (AIM:WATR) PLC has seen its shares bubble up after it signed a deal with a house builder in the US Midwest.

The company’s American Leak Detection subsidiary – which had previously concentrated on the insurance and property management markets – will now provide water and wastewater solutions for the building company’s new construction projects.

The agreement to install and then test water and sewer lines for leaks is expected to increase group sales over the next 12 months by US$1mln or more. ALD expects the relationship to continue to grow over time as market demand for new homes outside of urban areas increases following COVID-19.

Executive chairman Dr. Patrick DeSouza said: “The group’s precision leak detection and minimally invasive repair solutions are in high demand as both the price of water goes up and wastewater management regulation increases. Such regulatory trends are now translating into requirements for home builders with respect to sustainable design and deployment of water and sewer lines…

“We look forward to increasing our national accounts with home builders, leveraging the same process that we have developed with national and regional insurance companies.”

Water Intelligence (AIM:WATR) is up 7.56% or 83.5p at 1188.5p.

Meanwhile Marechale Capital (AIM:MAC) PLC continues to rise following this week’s news that entrepreneur Luke Johnson is buying a 9.04% stake in the business and could join the board.

He is subscribing for 8,000,000 new shares at 2p each, raising GBP160,000 for the business, a corporate finance firm aimed primarily at hospitality and renewable energy companies in the UK and Europe.

Its shares are up another 6.67% at 2.4p.


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