The Dow Jones also turned negative, down more than 145 points to 17,749 on more oil price woes and pressure on the dollar, hitting large exporters. Fears about a spring interest rate hike also lurked. In Asia, Chinese shares hit a five-year high however.
A subdued morning on the corporate news front. We start with new numbers from Smart Metering Systems. Revenues increased 52% to £42.4m (2013: £27.9m) - a 25% hike. Gross profit were up by 55% to £27.6m (2013: £17.8m).
Underlying EBITDA increased 64% to £19.3m with earnings per share up 77% to 14.36p (2013: 8.10p). There's a final dividend of 1.88p per ordinary share for SMS investors, making 2.8p for the full year, up 22%.
"We have," says chief exec Alan Foy, "successfully integrated United Partnership Limited into SMS, increased our recurring income streams and we have already expanded customer relationships to benefit from our new dual-fuel service offering."
Acquisition opportunities remain healthy it claims and the organisation will continue to make selected sales where it "will capitalise upon our status as a Real Estate Investment Trust".
"Record profits, gross property assets and dividend payments reveal," says boss Paul Bassi, "an excellent year of progress that provides the basis for continued growth."
Lastly, AIM-listed EKF Diagnostics Holdings, the point-of-care and molecular diagnostics business, says revenues are up 26% to £40.1m (2013: £31.8m). Adjusted EBITDA is up 31% to £6.3m (2013: £4.8m).
EKF claims second half growth of 38% year-on-year with £2.6m negative effect of exchange rates. Gross profit climbs 22% to £19.9m (2013: £16.3m).
"Our ambitions," says exec chairman David Evans, "remain to achieve double digit growth and to be able to exploit the opportunities in front of us. We are under no illusion that we must deliver on expectations."
The Economist: Claim Your Free Issue
Five Shares To Watch In 2015
Day Trade Forex: Professional Secrets