FTSE 250 risers: Laird leads pack after 'significantly stronger' half

LONDON (ShareCast) – Electronics components maker Laird (LSE: LRD.L – news) led the FTSE 250’s rise on Thursday as it expressed confidence it will hit full-year expectations after enjoying a ‘significantly stronger’ second half.

The cost of restructuring to keep on top of market innovations offset the higher demand from smartphone and consumer markets.

Shares in the shipbuilder-turned-electromagnetic interference specialist fizzed up 11.7% to 316p by mid afternoon.

Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito eatery owner Restaurant Group (LSE: RTN.L – news) was not far behind as investors tucked in on the news that market expectation were likely to be beaten.

Revenues rose 9% last year, with like-for-like sales up 3.5% ahead of the previous year as the company opened 35 new restaurants and saw operating margins improve.

Elsewhere bus operator FirstGroup (LSE: FGP.L – news) and holiday provider Thomas Cook (Xetra: A0MR3W – news) rose on broker upgrades from Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) and Barclays (LSE: BARC.L – news) respectively, while television set-top box maker Pace (Other OTC: PCMXF – news) beat expectations with earnings up 20%.

Pace, a developer of technology for PayTV and broadband, said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, and amortisation (EBITA) totalled at least $ 190m for the period, up from $ 158.1m in 2012, on revenue of $ 2.46bn, which was up 2.4% on the $ 2.40bn delivered the previous year.

Going the other way, telecoms testing provider Spirent lost ground after it delivered fourth-quarter sales at the bottom end of guidance, as slower US demand counterbalanced a strengthening in Asia and Europe.

However analysts at Jefferies said “Spirent’s woes look set to continue into 2014” as networking and applications (N&A) issues add to those in wireless and spending rises more than expected, “meaning profits are flat this year”.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD.L – news) fell after being downgraded by Barclays Capital to ‘underweight’ on Thursday, following JPMorgan reiterating its own ‘underweight’ rating the day before.

FTSE 250 – Risers
Laird (LRD) 316.00p +11.74%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 630.50p +5.97%
FirstGroup (Dusseldorf: FGR.DU – news) (FGP (BSE: FGP.BO – news) ) 137.00p +4.98%
Domino’s Pizza Group (DOM) 547.00p +4.79%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 179.50p +4.54%
Pace (PIC) 354.90p +3.86%
Perform Group (Frankfurt: 8PG.F – news) (PER) 231.30p +3.26%
PayPoint (PAY) 1,051.00p +3.04%
Merlin Entertainments (Other OTC: MIINY – news) (MERL) 377.60p +3.03%
Drax Group (LSE: DRX.L – news) (DRX) 820.00p +2.89%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
Spirent Communications (Other OTC: SPMYY – news) (SPT (Taiwan OTC: 8431.TWO – news) ) 83.10p -16.36%
Ladbrokes (Frankfurt: LADA.F – news) (LAD) 169.00p -5.95%
Polymetal International (POLY) 542.00p -5.24%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 161.20p -4.56%
Evraz (LSE: EVR.L – news) (EVR) 101.30p -4.07%
African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) (ABG) 191.00p -3.68%
Lonmin (Frankfurt: LRH.F – news) (LMI) 293.10p -2.91%
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS – news) ) (CEY) 45.22p -2.73%
CSR (CSR (LSE: CSR.L – news) ) 643.00p -2.72%
Entertainment One Limited (LSE: ETO.L – news) (ETO) 283.00p -2.51%

OH

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