Soft drinks maker Britvic (LON:BVIC) and vaccine developer Scancell Holdings (LON:SCLP) were among the companies that generated the most interest today with both making the list of the most searched for UK stocks on Google Finance.
Britvic took a hammering after releasing a profit warning, while Scancell, which had no news out today, surged nearly 10 percent.
In a trading update, Britvic revealed that the impact from a product recall announced last week would be worse than initially thought.
Last week, the group said there had been safety issues with a new design cap for Fruit Shoot and Fruit Shoot Hydro packs sold in the UK and France and that it was recalling the products.
It was initially estimated that these problems would reduce full year pre-tax profits by between £1 and £5 million, however, the overall impact and sales recall is now expected to reach up to £25 million across current and next financial year.
Britvic explained today that it has been unable to speedily resolve the issues with the new design cap and it was therefore decided to re-supply in the short term with an alternative in-market proven sports cap.
The group added that it expects to increase its output to meet historic levels of demand within six months.
Shares in Britvic tumbled 14 percent to 257.6 pence, valuing the group at £623.5 million, while Scancell saw its shares rally nine percent to 18 pence.
On message boards, some traders suggested that the buying activity was driven by expectations of news from the ongoing trial of the company’s DNA ImmunoBody vaccine SCIB1 for the treatment of melanoma.
Back in June, Scancell secured regulatory approval to increase the maximum treatment period from 6 months up to a further 5 years in its Phase I/II clinical trial of SCIB1.
The clinical trial of SCIB1 is currently being conducted at five hospital centres in the UK.
Over the past month, shares in Scancell have more than doubled, surging from eight pence to Tuesday’s close of 16.5 pence.
Today’s most followed stocks in the oil and gas sector were supermajors BP (LOB:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB), not to go ahead with the development of the offshore Liberty field in Alaska amid soaring costs, and North Sea explorer Xcite Energy (LON:XEL).
BP explained that it would have cost too much to modify the drill rig so it fits with its new safety requirements imposed after the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
The project was put on hold after the disaster for a review, which is now complete. It was expected to cost US$1 billion to develop the field, which has been estimated to hold recoverable oil resources of 100 million barrels with an expected production rate of 40,000 barrels per day.
The news from Xcite was more positive with the company reporting that the pre-production flow test that was started a couple of days ago is progressing well.
The planned shut-in period and pressure build-up test started on July 9 following the initial successful cleanup and first oil flow.
The shut-in period and pressure test are designed to obtain key information about the Bentley reservoir and the mobility of its fluids for use in interpreting the subsequent flow data and plan the next step in the field’s development.
Prior to the release of the update this afternoon, shares in Xcite rallied 7.5 percent to 72.75 pence per share.
Only yesterday, broker Oriel Securities advised investors to buy the stock, saying that it was trading at a significant discount to its risked net asset value (NAV) estimate of 175 pence per share.
The update from Xcite was atop the list of the most read RNS statements along with today’s report from potash group Sirius Minerals (LON:SXX), which has decided to turn down £2.8 million in government funding to build a centre of excellence alongside its York project.
A year ago, Sirius applied for a Regional Growth Fund grant to build a ‘centre of excellence’ which would create highly skilled jobs in scientific and geological fields.
The centre was also expected to accelerate the latest technological advances in mineral exploration, extraction and geo-sciences, but today it says that the accelerated development of York to achieve production as soon as possible is a higher priority.
Sirius could instead use a separate government scheme, the ‘UK Research and Development tax incentive system’, which it said may be more beneficial to the company.
“The company remains committed to pursuing innovation and skills and will work closely with a range of external bodies to achieve these aims,” said managing director and CEO of Sirius Chris Fraser.
Other popular statements included trading updates from pub group JD Wetherspoon (LON:JDW) and satellite operator Avanti Communications (LON:AVN), which both were positive, pushing shares in the two companies up in morning trade.
JD reported a 6.1 percent increase in like for like sales – which exclude the impact from new pub openings – with total sales climbing 11.9 percent thanks to a boost from the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the European football championship.
In the year to date, like-for-like sales were up 3 per cent, while overall group sales increased 9.2 percent from the same period of last year.
The recent strong performance has led JD to expect a "reasonable outcome" for the full financial year, which ends on July 29.
It added that the main challenges for the business are continuing cost pressures resulting from government legislation, including increases in excise duty, business rates and carbon tax.
Investors welcomed the report with share sin JD climbing 3.4percent to 435.9 pence, while Avanti rose 1.6 percent to 351.25 pence after reporting an increase in full year revenues.
The company expects to report total revenues and operating income of £17.8 million for the year to end June compared with £6.1 million in the previous year.
Order backlog has increased by £33 since April to £246 million, while the pipeline of potetnail sales currently stands at £502 million.
“We have maintained our sales momentum and remain on course to fill the capacity of both HYLAS 1 and HYLAS 2 by the target dates in 2014 and 2016,” said chief executive of Avanti David Williams.
“Demand in the fast growing economies across Africa and the Middle East is as strong as anticipated and therefore the launch of HYLAS 2 is very timely.”