We have a relatively quiet day for company news today, but there’s still some worth watching. Here are three companies making waves on Friday.

Food technology

Are you ever on the lookout for a tempting growth opportunity? I see one such possibility in Benchmark Holdings (LSE: BMK), the biotechnologist developing hi-tech products for the food production industry. It has a new sea bass vaccine on trial, as an example of what it does.

The company has been recording losses, but analysts are forecasting a swing into profit this year with a substantial improvement in 2017. Today the shares are up 4.3% to 61p on the upbeat news that the company is set for a new placing of 47m shares — at 65p per share, a premium to the market price.

The £30m raised will, in the words of chief executive Malcolm Pye, “allow us to continue to execute our strategy of making value-enhancing selective acquisitions, and allow Benchmark to invest in some important strategic joint ventures to deliver significant synergies and sales growth.

A P/E of 23 and a PEG of 0.3 based on 2017 forecasts look tempting to me.

Mining boost

Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) shares are up 58% since their 2016 low on 20 January, including a 3% boost today to 2,490p after the miner told us it has completed the sale of its Mount Pleasant thermal coal assets in Australia for $220.7m plus royalties — taking the value of the firm’s divestments since January 2013 to $4.7bn.

The news comes on the back of mixed first-half results on 3 August, in a period in which new chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques described the market as “uncertain and volatile“. The shares actually dipped a little on the day of the results, but that doesn’t really take the shine off the 19% gain we’ve seen since the Brexit vote, so is Rio Tinto a post-referendum safe bet?

There’s still a 24% fall in EPS forecast for the full year, putting the shares on a P/E of 17, and there’s a not-too-exciting dividend yield of 3.6% on the cards. But the shares are clearly valued for their attractive long-term safety and their income potential, and I find that hard to argue with.

Flying oily

One of today’s biggest risers is Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE), whose shares are up 7.4% to 195p, on the day that UBS raised its stance on the share from neutral to buy. Cairn shares got off to a great start in 2016, climbing 82% from January’s low point to late April, but since then we’ve seen a 16% fall. Does today’s uprating suggest good things to come in the long term?

It’s hard to place any meaningful valuation on Cairn shares right now, as a couple more years of losses mean there’s no P/E or dividends to evaluate. But Cairn does have some nice prospects.

The firm should have new production from its Catcher and Kraken prospects in the North Sea coming online next year, and though production costs in the North Sea are relatively high, oil prices could well be significantly higher by then. And production costs at Cairn’s African projects should be attractively low, with potential discoveries there quite promising.

I personally dislike not having bottom line profits to count, but Cairn must be a serious option for oil investors.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Rio Tinto. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.