Market report: PureCircle's profits dissolve as customs row puts it in red

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Shares in PureCircle left a bad taste in the mouth today as it revealed its stand-off with US customs pushed it into the red in the first half. 

The ingredients provider, which makes a third of its sales in the States, had two shipments of stevia imported from China in May seized by US customs, alleging that the low-calorie sweetener had been the product of forced prison labour. PureCircle denies the allegation. 

Today, it said the ordeal, which is yet to be resolved with all US shipments by PureCircle on hold, meant sales in the first half would be $47 million (£38 million), down 14% year-on-year, causing underlying profits to tumble from $13 million to $8 million. 

Overall, it made a net loss of $2 million from a $5 million profit the year before. The shares dived 23.9p, or 10%, to 227.1p.

Strong UK services data erased early gains from the FTSE 100, which, having hit new highs earlier in the day, slipped 3.17 points to 7186.57.

Shaftesbury rose 10p to 912.5p after broker Liberum lifted its forecasts as it shrugged off the long-term impact of business rates on the West End landlord.

Security firm G4S was up 8.4p to 240.8p as broker Jefferies lifted its rating from underperform to hold, playing down the potential for a dilutive placing after helpful foreign exchange “tailwinds”.

Fears about Cape’s dividend were soothed as the industrial services firm pleasantly surprised investors by revealing its full-year results would be “materially ahead of current market expectations” thanks to a strong performance in Asia Pacific.

The shares dived in November after it warned the fallout from the asbestos scandal at its Barking factory could threaten the dividend. Insurers are claiming against Cape on premiums already paid out to asbestos-related cancer sufferers. The shares recovered 29p, or 19%, to 181p today.

Shares in Gfinity were off 0.25p at 16p on AIM despite the e-sports firm being chosen to host two Call of Duty events at its Gfinity Arena in Fulham.

Elsewhere on the junior market, ceramic mugs and teapots maker Churchill China surged 70.11p, or 8%, to 925.11p after a bullish update in which it said its full-year operating performance would be ahead of forecasts.

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January 6, 2017 |
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