Clear Leisure stumbles over leisurely Italian courts


Clear Leisure PLC (LON:CLP) shares were among the main fallers on Wednesday afternoon, down 15% to 0.2p, as investors grew frustrated with the speed of progress of its Italian lawsuit.

Sipiem SpA, a theme park developer that is 50.17%-owned by the company formerly known as Brainspark, has a EUR10.8mln legal action against former directors and internal audit committee for fraud and mismanagement.

The company, which last month acquired full rights to the case, said the first hearing in the Venice court has been has pushed back from its original 6 November date to early February next year due to a court backlog.

Staffing group Empresaria Group plc (LON:EMR) left investors unimpressed after warning that it no longer expects to meet full-year forecasts due to the impact of Brexit and the German auto industry slowdown.

Efforts to turn around the UK engineering business have been unsuccessful, with a full-year loss now likely after “material declines” in revenue blamed on the ongoing impact of Brexit, the insolvency of certain key clients and the early closure of major projects.

Empresaria said a “material restructuring” was underway that should be completed before the next scheduled trading update in January but also cautioned that impact of Brexit has increased in the second half and the postponement of Brexit would lead to “further months of related uncertainty in the UK”.

12.30pm: ConvaTec continues recovery but new CEO says long way to go

Colostomy bags and catheters maker ConvaTec Group PLC (LON:CTEC) was the biggest jumper on the FTSE 350 on Wednesday morning, up 11% to a year’s high of 202.78p after a quarterly update revealed all four of its key segments delivered growth at least in line with the sector.

Newly appointed chief executive Karim Bitar, who was brought in earlier this year with the shares near an all-time low, said the 4.6% growth in revenue was a “small step on the significant journey ahead of us”.

This month last year the FTSE 250 group parted ways with its previous CEO after issuing a shock profit warning after a slump in third-quarter sales.

Analysts at Numis upped the earnings multiples applied to each franchise in its full year sum-of-the-parts valuation, resulting in higher target price of 220p and conclusion that there is “significant upside if the performance of each franchise continues to improve in FY20”.

Investors in Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) were also welcoming news that products containing graphene from the company were now being stocked by Amazon, bike and car accessory retailer Halfords, and auto specialist Tetrosyl Express.

The products in question is Hycote anti-corrosion primer, which Applied Graphene developed in partnership with consumer chemicals group James Briggs.

Applied Graphene’s chief executive Adrian Potts hailed it as a “landmark moment” showing the confidence of paint formulators and their customers of such graphene products.

Shares were up 8% to 17.85p.

10.15am: Synectics flags down profits due to bus stoppage

Synectics PLC (LON:SNX) shares had a hectic morning on Wednesday, plummeting 19% to 143.5p in early trade, after the security and surveillance software specialist issued a major profit warning.

Results are now expected to be “materially below market expectations” for the year to 30 November, the AIM-listed company said, despite a stronger than anticipated performance from its core Systems division.

The problems have been “more than offset” by continued weakness from business in the UK security and mobile transport sector, with the bankruptcy of a bus manufacturer customer (likely to be ‘Boris bus’ maker Wrightbus) and a major fall in new bus registrations in the UK.

And just like buses, the profit warnings were all coming at once, with De La Rue PLC (LON:DLAR) shares crumpling after the banknote and passport printer again warned that its full-year profit will be “significantly lower” than expected.

A brusque missive revealed that adjusted operating profits for the six months to 28 September will be “low-to-mid single-digit millions”, though no real reason was given for the warning.

News that the new chief executive, turnaround veteran Clive Vacher, is conducting a “detailed” business review did not stop the shares plunging 20% to 149.2p.

“He is an old hand at turnarounds and appears to be following the playbook – wasting very little time from his arrival at the start of the month to reset expectations,” said Russ Mould at AJ Bell, adding that the review implies that “some bits of the group might be sold off”.

Internet-of-things investor Tern PLC (LON:TERN) was another early faller, down 13% to 12p.

This was far from terrible news, however, as the investment company has raised roughly GBP1.75mln from a subscription priced at 11.15p per share, which was a discount to their previous closing price of 13.75p but well above recent lows.

Al Sisto, chief executive, was chuffed to drum up funds and said it will enable Tern to fund further new investments and maintain “positions of influence in our investee companies when there is follow-on funding with syndicates of investors”.

Also on Wednesday, one investee company, virtual reality training and data analysis specialist FundamentalVR, closed a Series A funding round to give it a post-money valuation of GBP11.3mln, marking a sizeable increase in the fair value of Tern’s holding.

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