Pick of the early market news

Updated: 
LSEAfter last week's ructions, the FTSE 100 finished Friday 1.85% up at 5,545. Will Berlusconi's exit calm the markets? We'll find out shortly. Italy has a major five-year bond auction this morning. Globally, China-US relations are tense again with President Obama telling China to "act like a grown-up nation" on devaluation concerns. And Japan's economy has grown - it expanded 6% in the July to September period - for the first time in four quarters.


We commence with South African metals player Lonmin (formerly Lonrho). It has announced a rise in full-year pre-tax profits to $293m, up from $240m a year ago. Underling profits climbed sharply to $226m compared to $138m, with full-year earnings leaping from 56.8 cents to 134.4 cents.

However its 2011 financial year, says the company, was "hallmarked by the instability of world economies. Lacklustre economic growth, coupled with the increasing burden of undigested debt, and the devastating earthquake in Japan all contributed to the substantial volatility and subsequent weakness in Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) prices and in our core currencies."

It has also faced some operational difficulties. Following six deaths at its mines - ethical investors take note - the company has experienced workforce strikes, notably in May at its Karee operations.

Next, an interim from ITV. The maker of Downton Abbey says total external revenues were up 4% for the first nine months of the year. ITV Studios external revenues climbed 9% to £224m (2010: £205m) in the first nine months, driven by strong growth in the international business.

The broadcaster says there is continued focus on cash, and costs has seen net debt fall to £43m from £188m at the start of the year; ITV expects to be net cash positive by the end of the year.

"We remain cautious on the outlook for 2012 - quarterly revenue trends are likely to follow a different pattern to 2011 with tough comparatives continuing into the first quarter before easing from the second quarter onwards, helped by Euro 2012."

Lastly services and construction company Interserve has released an interim. It claims to have have won contracts worth an aggregate of over £600 million since June, maintaining its future workload at £5.3 billion, including the Defence Infrastructure Organisation covering the Falklands, Ascension Island, Cyprus and Gibraltar.

This contract runs for five years with a possible two-year extension and is worth a potential £420 million over the full term. Two local authority outsourcing contracts, with Lewisham and Croydon, totalling £36 million and two framework agreements with CE Electric, worth up to £40 million, have bolstered prospects.

"Interserve continues to trade well in challenging market conditions," says boss Adrian Ringrose. "We are introducing a number of innovations to help both the public and private sectors meet these challenges, including our revolutionary PodSolve school design and PassivHaus schools and offices."

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