Updates from Berkeley Group and Ophir Energy

Updated: 
The FTSE 100 climbed +0.69% yesterday to 6,374.2, up 44 points. Whitbread was the biggest climber, up +3.6% on strong quarterly numbers and sales growth from Costa Coffee. Croda also rose sharply, up +3%.

The Dow Jones finished at 15,318, up almost 140 points. Overnight, the Nikkei 225 climbed +1.85% to 13,247.


We cover a brace of FTSE 250 players this morning; we start with Berkeley Group. Profit before tax is up 26.0% to £270.7 million (2012: £214.8 million) in preliminary numbers for the year up to 30 April. Operating margin before exceptional items is up, claims Berkeley, 1.6% to 20.4% (2012: 18.8%)

The property operator claims £314.6 million invested in land in the year, acquiring a further 3,021 residential plots. Basic earnings per share increased 32.2% to 160 pence (2012: 121.0 pence) and a further interim dividend of 59 pence per share is payable in September.

"Berkeley committed £315 million to acquire ten new sites and, with 73 of its 87 sites now in construction," says MD Rob Perrins, "has increased its net investment in work in progress, after taking account of the delivery of projects in the year by some £289 million."

Next, Ophir Energy announces the spud of the Starfish-1 well. The Starfish-1 well is Ophir's first well in Ghana and will be drilled by the Stena DrillMax drillship, says the company. The Starfish-1 well is located in water depths of 1,500m and has a target depth of 3,850m.

"The well," says Nick Cooper, CEO of Ophir, "kicks off an acceleration of Ophir's drilling operations into a broader gas and oil exploration programme, with four new oil plays being targeted in the next 12 months in addition to the ongoing gas exploration in Tanzania".

Research analysts at UBS AG dipped their price target on Ophir Energy from 550p to 500p in a report on Monday though UBS still has a Buy rating on the stock. Ophir's shares currently sell at 368p.

Lastly, software player Micro Focus International announces audited preliminary results for the year to 30 April 2013. "Solid" progress is claimed. There's operating profit of $161.3m (2012: $155.8m) while profit before tax climbs to $153.4m (2012: $149.3m).

Basic earnings per share of 78.72 cents (2012: 65.77 cents) increases by 19.7%. The proposed final dividend for the year is 28.1 cents per share (2012: 23.4 cents per share) giving an increase in total dividend per share for the year of 26.6% to 40cents (2012: 31.6 cents).

"Combined with the return of value this final dividend, if approved, will," says exec chairman Kevin Loosemore, "bring the total cash return to shareholders attributable to FY2013 of 118.8 cents (2012: 101 cents) per share."

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