London's FTSE 250 was down 0.2% to 19,834.19 in afternoon trade on Wednesday.
Investors may have thought that funeral and funeral-related services provider Dignity was dead and buried after a recent profit warning, but the stock surged following its full-year numbers on Wednesday, as Panmure Gordon said there could be “substantial” consensus upgrades on the horizon, with results showing positive news on two of three main drivers for 2018.
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said the main catalyst for the move higher the company's annual pre-tax profit or revenue numbers – the former was flat, while the latter rose 3% – “but news that Dignity had hired LEK Consulting to develop a plan for the business focused on the relationship between price, service and volume, a lower cost, more streamlined network operating model and efficiency”.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals rallied after its full-year adjusted operating profit and earnings beat expectations, while Cairn Energy was higher after results on Tuesday, as Morgan Stanley reiterated its 'overweight' rate stance on the stock.
“While Cairn's shares sold off materially post the earnings presentation, our thesis remains unchanged. We believe that management delivered a consistent message, particularly on Senegal, once again demonstrating the strong fundamentals of the project,” MS said.
Inmarsat was on the rise as RBC Capital Markets cut the outperform-rated stock's price target to 725p from 825p but said it was time to catch a falling knife.
“At 6.5x EBITDA, ISAT is at the bottom of its post IPO trading range. The market appears to be overlooking Inmarsat Sband spectrum worth £3.20/share, especially relevant given the recent spectrum driven rallies at both Intelsat and SES,” RBC said.
The stock also benefited from an upgrade to 'hold' by Societe Generale.
Outsourcer Capita was in the black following a Financial Times report suggesting the company is planning to cut its reliance on the UK market.
On the downside, Cathedral City maker Dairy Crest was under the cosh as Peel Hunt cut its price target on the stock.
Ocado was weaker as Walmart revealed that it is expanding its online grocery delivery service from six US metro areas to more than 100 in total by the end of the year. Chris Beauchamp at IG said: “Ocado had been riding high of late thanks to hopes of a deal in the US but it looks like this has been dashed as the US giant Walmart looks to expand its offering directly, rather than using the UK firm as a partner.
“Short positions got cleaned out months ago when the first international deals came through, but some of the cynicism is returning, with shorters adding to their bearish position on the stock.”
Dignity (DTY) 1,007.00p 18.05%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,063.00p 10.10%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 942.80p 8.07%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 939.40p 3.89%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 400.80p 3.65%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 200.20p 3.41%
Capita (CPI) 165.25p 3.31%
Card Factory (CARD) 209.60p 2.64%
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF) 114.70p 2.59%
SIG (SHI) 139.40p 2.50%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 512.50p -6.56%
Just Group (JUST) 136.30p -4.55%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 573.00p -4.02%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,276.00p -3.33%
Saga (SAGA) 112.80p -3.26%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 486.30p -2.41%
Sophos Group (SOPH) 510.00p -2.30%
McCarthy & Stone (MCS) 143.65p -2.28%
Investec (INVP) 622.80p -2.26%
Royal Mail (RMG) 548.00p -2.11%