Most followed: AdEPT, Dods, easyJet, IAG, Marks & Spencer, Monitise, Ryanair, SABMiller


There is little doubt over the most widely followed story of the morning: Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS).

The company is frequently referred to a bellwether for the UK high street, but it is also has its own unique set of problems.

For some time, the narrative has been that the company is losing its hold over Middle England on the clothing side of things even as those same customers gobble up the high-end food offerings.

This morning’s update continued that narrative, with the added element of a troublesome overhaul of the company’s online offering, with sales in the second quarter of 2014 down 8.1% year-on-year.

Other big names in the news frame include brewer SABMiller and airline Air France-KLM.

SABMiller (LON:SAB) announced yesterday that it is selling its stake in African hotels group Tsogo Sun, prompting some pundits to wonder whether the mooted merger with drinks group Diageo (LON:DGE) is “back on”.

Leaving aside whether such a merger was ever “on” in the first place, the disposal does leave SABMiller as a pure beer play now; merging with Diageo would make it a beer and spirits play.

Air France-KLM is not listed in London but its profit warning this morning has had a knock-on effect on the likes of IAG (LON:IAG), EasyJet (LON:EZJ) and Ryanair (LON:RYA), all of which have seen their shares take a dive.

IAG, which owns the British Airways and Iberia airlines, has been the hardest hit of the three, which is not surprising as its model is closest to that of Air France-KLM. The Franco-Dutch airline group blamed overcapacity on North American and Asian routes and a depressed cargo market for its profit warning.

Piquing interest among the small caps is Dods (LON:DODS), the group that serves communities who seek to make, understand, influence or implement public sector policy.

The shares are up sharply after the group revealed like-for-like revenue growth of 17% in the 12 months to the end of March, while adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) was up 51.

“The current year has started satisfactorily, showing progress on last year," revealed Martin Beck, Dods’s chief executive officer.

Sticking with the public sector theme, telecoms services supplier Adept Telecom (LON:ADT), which specialises in supplying large public sector customers with a full range of telecom requirements, celebrated its eleventh year of higher underlying profits by doubling its dividend.

That news got a lot of web surfers clicking on the results for more details.

In terms of shares transactions, mobile payments group Monitise (LON:MONI) is the fifth most active stock after a disappointing trading update this morning; in terms of number of shares traded, it is the fourth most widely traded stock.

The share seeing the most bargains struck, though, is IAG, as investors rush for the exits following the Air France profit warning, followed by mining giants Rio Tinto and Glencore. Marks & Sparks limps in at eighth place, possibly because all of the shareholders are at Wembley grumbling about the chief executive’s pay at the retailer’s annual general meeting.

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