Dunelm shares jump as sales surge after stores re-open

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Dunelm Group plc (LON:DNLM) has lifted its full-year forecasts after sales surged once its stores were allowed to re-open on 12 April.

The homewares retailer said it now expected profits to come in at £148mln, above analyst estimates of £128mln to £134mln.

In the first seven weeks of the fourth quarter, which started on 28 March, total sales soared 59% compared with the equivalent period in 2019.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Dunelm joins a growing list of retailers to say that earnings are better than expected. The reopening of shops follow lockdown appears to have gone very well for a lot of retailers thanks to pent-up demand.

“Dunelm is certainly among them, but one must heed to a warning from fashion seller Next that recent trading patterns are unlikely to be indicative of the rest of the year. That will apply to the whole retail sector, not just Next…

“Dunelm will have also benefited from a poor bout of weather. Bored at home, but with more freedom to get out, consumers are likely to have ventured to shops with good parking spots just to pass the time. Dunelm is often located on retail parks where parking is plentiful.

“The surge in the property market will also play to its strengths. People either moving home or doing up their home will find plenty of reasons to stock up on homewares from Dunelm.

“However, there is an underlying feeling that Dunelm will have to enjoy the sales spike while it lasts, as it can’t go on forever.”

Brushing aside such concerns, the shares have jumped 6.85% to 1560p.

2.52pm: Wildwood owner beefs up board

Shares in Tasty PLC (LON:TAST) are on the menu after the restaurant company behind Wildwood, Wildwood Kitchen and dim t appointed an industry veteran to its board.

Harald Samúelsson joints as a non-executive director after helping grow Strada, Côte, Bill’s and Honest Burgers.

Tasty’s non-executive chairman Keith Lassman said: “I am delighted to welcome Harald to the board. His considerable industry experience will be hugely beneficial to us as the group looks forward to the sector recovering from the pandemic.”

Tasty is up 1.79% at 7.13p.

1.20pm: Publisher prints a good set of numbers

Media group Future PLC (LON:FUTR) has published a record set of half year results and seen its shares respond accordingly.

The acquistitve company, which recently added Marie Claire US to its portfolio, said interim profits rose from £27.1mln to £56.9mln.

This was ahead of market expectations, and was driven by strong growth in its media division, particularly through digital advertising and its ecommerce affiliates.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said the company was benefiting from the strategy of chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne.

Mould said: “Appointed in 2014, Byng-Thorne’s plan has been simple but effective. Buy up magazine titles on the cheap and feed them into Future’s existing platform which helps generate revenue from content and brands through digital advertising, e-commerce and securing clicks through to partnered retailers and events…

“The acquisition of comparison site GoCompare in 2020 was something of a departure for Future and was initially met with some bemusement by investors who probably felt that if the plan wasn’t broke why fix it.

“However, the integration seems to have started well and there are early signs Future is starting to sprinkle some of its magic touch over the business.”

Future’s shares have jumped 8.77% or 210p to 2604p.

11.32am: Property firm upbeat on outlook

With the acceleration of working from home brought about by the pandemic, there is a lot of debate about the future of office buildings.

But Regional REIT Limited (LON:RGL) seems positive about the outlook.

The firm, which has a geographically spread portfolio of office assets, issued a positive trading update for the first quarter, with higher rental collection and an increase of 6.4% on rents from lease renewals.

It has increased the dividend for the quarter by 7% to reflect the improving market conditions.

Stephen Inglis, chief executive of London & Scottish Property Investment Management, the asset manager of Regional REIT said: “As lockdown restrictions are relaxed across the UK we are beginning to experience an increasing engagement with potential occupiers. Our vibrant workspaces, such as our newly refurbished Coach Works in Leeds, which is occupied by FTSE 100 constituent St James’s Place Wealth Management Group, are positioned to ensure Regional REIT remains the regional office space provider and brand of choice.

“As previously announced, the Board is convinced that the supply and demand balance of the office sector, together with the asset manager’s specialist operating platform and experience, will continue to maximise total shareholder returns over the long term. As such, we continue to investigate the disposal of all other commercial property sectors, particularly the industrial sector, whilst tracking exciting acquisition opportunities which will continue to deliver on our strategy.”

The news has lifted its shares by 3.64% to 85.4p.

10.02am: Oil company hopes to move forward with Falklands operation

Rockhopper Exploration PLC (LON:RKH) has seen its shares drop after its latest update.

The Falkland Islands explorer is hopeful of moving forward with the Sea Lion project, even though it scaled back activity and headcount there last year after the drop in the oil price.

It needs to complete a farm-out deal with Navitas Petroleum LP and submit a field development plan to the Falkland Islands Government.

There is also a US$222.6 million one-off non-cash impairment to write off the historic exploration costs associated with the resources which will not be developed as part of the Sea Lion Phase 1 project.

One complication is that the operator of the project has changed, in so far as Premier Oil has merged with Chrysaor Holdings Limited to form Harbour Energy.

This makes for a financially stronger operator but Rockhopper said: “While there can be no guarantee around Harbour’s future intentions for Sea Lion, Harbour has publicly stated a desire to pursue international growth with a preference for material operated positions and with capital allocated to those projects which best fit its investment strategy.”

Rockhopper chairman Keith Lough said: “The company will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to maximise the chance of securing the Navitas farm out and project sanction of Sea Lion

“The board believes that the opportunity to invest in a world-scale fully appraised and engineered project with material additional upside at this point in the cycle presents a compelling opportunity, and one which would lead us towards unlocking the value within the project long-awaited by all stakeholders.”

Rockhopper is down 4.44% at 9.22p.

9.14am: Crystal Amber calls for EGM at oil and gas company

A storm is brewing at Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR).

Activist investor Crystal Amber Fund is calling for an extraordinary general meeting to oust five non-executive directors and put its own two appointees in place.

The fund – which owns 14.7% of the company after providing the company with funds in three tranches since 2013 – said it has now lost faith in the board, with relations deteriorating over the past six months.

Hurricane has proposed a financial restructuring but the fund said this would lead to the company being put into “an extended wind down and shareholders’ interests in Hurricane will be wiped out almost completely in favour of the bondholders”.

It added: “During the last fortnight, the fund has requested sight of the legal advice provided to the Hurricane board in relation to the restructuring. Hurricane has refused. All shareholders are entitled to receive and consider that legal advice.”

In anticipation of the action Hurricane’s shares almost doubled, up 0.67p to 1.4p (read more on the story here).

8.42am: Diagnostics group upbeat on prospects

EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (LON:EKF) is in demand after an upbeat annual meeting statement.

The company, which specialises in blood analysers and the manufacturing of COVID-19 sample collection tests, saw record turnover and profits in 2020 and the positive performance has continued into the new financial year.

There has been a recovery in its core business which is performing better than expected, and continuing strong demand for its COVID-19 kits.

It already upgraded its full year expectations in March after winning a multi-million dollar contract expansion for the supply of sample collection devices to a large multinational customer.

The recent strong trading means it now believes it will comfortably beat those upgraded forecasts.

Its future strategy is to invest between £10mln and £15mln in growing the business organically as well as targeting suitable acquisition.

It also announced a number of board appointments, including Mike Salter as the new chief executive following a decision by the current incumbent Julian Baines to step down and become non-executive deputy chairman.

The update has sent EKF shares 8.89% or 6.06p higher to 74.26p.

Also set to do better than earlier expectations is thread maker Coats Group PLC (LON:COA).

It told shareholders than revenues were expected to be 28% better than the pandemic-hit 2020 and 3% better than 2019.

Chief executive Rajiv Sharma said: “We are pleased to have seen recovery and positive momentum during the period, which resulted in a strong operational performance and a return to growth versus 2019.

“Whilst we remain vigilant around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, given the improving end market sentiment, we anticipate that the recovery in our trading will continue and that our anticipated performance for the year will be slightly ahead of our previous expectations.”

Its shares are 3.69% higher at 61.25p.

Proactive news headlines

Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) said a test grind on a 500-ton bulk sample of natural pozzolan supplied to a large cement and ready-mix concrete company (CRMC), a potential offtaker, has been successfully completed and concrete trials are now being organised. 

Chamberlin PLC (LON:CMH) has updated investors on its operations as it continues its restructuring efforts, with the integration of Hill Castings into the business completed in line with expected cost savings.

SigmaRoc Plc’s (LON:SRC) trading in the first four months of the year has been ahead of internal expectations.

Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN, NASDAQ:SLN) has reported positive safety data from a phase I trial of its lead asset. SLN124, which is being developed to treat blood such as iron-loading anaemia conditions, thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), was also shown to be effective in reducing plasma iron levels and had a long duration of action.

Tirupati Graphite PLC (LON:TGR) said it has applied to the OTC Markets Group for its shares to be traded on the OTCQX Markets in a move it said will make its shares more widely available to North American investors.

Alliance Pharma PLC (LON:APH) chairman David Cook provided a reasonably upbeat assessment of prosects for the business as said “we continue to see some strong performances from our key brands”.

Redx Pharma (LON:REDX) announced the appointment of Natalie Berner as a non-executive director with effect from 19 May 2021. Berner will be a representative for Redmile, a San Francisco based investment firm that focuses on the health care sector and is a major investor in Redx. Following the appointment, the board will be comprised of seven directors, four of whom including the chairman are independent non-executives.

MetalNRG PLC (LON:MNRG) said independent consultants SRK Exploration Services see the potential for the discovery of further, minable gold mineralisation on the Gold Ridge project in Arizona and have recommended an initial two-stage programme of follow up work. The project currently comprises of three historic mines.

IXICO PLC (LON:IXI), the brain imaging group that uses AI analytics, has been chosen by a current client to provide neuroimaging services for a phase III clinical trial.

Tharisa PLC (LON:THS), an integrated platinum and chrome producer, expects its earnings per share for the six months to end March to be around six times higher than the corresponding interim period. Basic earnings per share and headline earnings per share (HEPS) are expected to be between US$0.21 and US$0.22 per share.

Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has received formal confirmation from the Cameroon authorities of the details for the extension to the Thali license out to May 2022.

Diversified Energy Company PLC (LON:DEC) has completed its acquisition of the Cotton Valley upstream assets and infrastructure, establishing its new ‘central’ regional focus area.

European Metals Holdings Ltd (LON:EMH, ASX:EMH, NASDAQ:ERPNF) said results from locked-cycle tests (LCT) further supported the Cinovec project’s ability to initially produce battery-grade lithium carbonate. 

Incanthera plc (AQSE:INC) has posted its annual report and accounts for 2020 along with proxy voting forms ahead of its annual general meeting on Wednesday 23 June in Manchester. The meeting will be closed by the company will provide access online through the Investor Meet Company platform.

LoopUp Group PLC (LON:LOOP) announced the appointment of Mike Reynolds as non-executive chairman of the company, and that it has published its 2020 report and accounts ahead of its AGM on 15 June 2021.

Destiny Pharma PLC (LON:DEST) said for its AGM on 3 June it will operate an audio dial-in facility for shareholders and immediately after the event will host a live webcast presentation followed by Q&A.

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