Updates from Pennon Group, Rank Group and Facebook

A tiny 1.47 point move up for the FTSE 100 yesterday to 5,834. Other markets were rather more positive with the German Dax rising +0.71% higher and the French Cac 40 climbing almost +1%. The US Nasdaq climbed +1.04%.

Overnight, Asian markets surged - the Nikkei rose +0.6% - on positive sentiment from Angela Merkel to ease the erozone debt crisis.
We commence with Pennon Group. Trading, it says in an update from March, remains inline with earlier expectations. South West Water is continuing its "strong" performance against the 2010-2015 regulatory contract and, says Pennon, "is well placed to outperform the assumptions contained therein."

However waste management arm Viridor is not looking so positive; trading has been significantly below the level of last year's first half with recyclate prices remaining under pressure says Pennon. Viridor has signed a 25 year contract with Glasgow City Council for the recycling and treatment of its residual waste.

Since 1 April Pennon says its renewed a £35m Revolving Credit Facility (RCF), put in place £50m of new term loans and RCFs and drawn a US Private Placement of $100m 10 year funding at 4.5%.

Next, final numbers from Rank Group, and strong revenue growth across all its businesses. For the 12 months up to 30 June group revenue rises +3.4% to £600.5m while earnings per share climb +13.7% to 11.6p. However group operating profits after exceptional items slips -57.3% to £45.6m from last year's £106.8m figure.

"I am very pleased," says Ian Burke, Rank Group chairman, "to announce that Rank has again achieved growth in earnings per share whilst strengthening our financial position and increasing the number of customers that we entertain.

"While the current economic conditions remain challenging we have continued to increase the popularity of our brands and we look forward to the future with optimism."

Lastly, a word on Facebook. Shares have tumbled under the $20 mark - the lowest level since the company's difficult IPO in May. The slump comes after investors had the chance to sell previously 'locked up' shares since the IPO, meaning more shares - 271 million extra became eligible for sale - hitting the market.

Recent worries that millions of FB accounts are fake have knocked investor confidence. However its predicted a looming November lock-up will be more significant for company momentum. Mark Zuckerberg's own stake has tumbled to under $10bn from the $19.1bn mark when Facebook floated.

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