ASOS (LSE: ASC) and M&S (LSE: MKS) both see their shares rise, but for different reasons.
Despite jitters from rising Spanish debt costs, the FTSE 100 (UKX) remained positive this morning, putting on 52 points (nearly 1%) to reach 5,678 points before midday. It does seem to have stabilised since the recent eurozone agreement on helping out the banks, but we're still a long way from the end of current uncertainty.
As always, prices of individual constituents of the FTSE indices were more geared towards actual news than general sentiment, and here's a quick look at three early risers today...
Shares in ASOS (LSE: ASC) gained a very healthy 160p (10%) to 1,804p after the online fashion retailer gave us an upbeat quarterly trading update. For the three months to 30 June, total retail sales grew by 31%. That was mostly as a result of further penetration into overseas markets, as US sales led the way with a 31% rise. But even in the UK, which is pretty much a mature market, sales were up 8%.
The ASOS price did get ahead of itself last year as the shares came close to £25 before crashing to half that value. The current valuation still looks high, with a prospective price-to-earning ratio of 37 for next year, but that falls to 28 for 2014 when there's a maiden dividend forecast. This latest bull run could well be sustainable.
Marks & Spencer
High-street fashion rival Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS) gained a modest 5p (1.6%) to 326p as it also released a first-quarter statement, despite the update not being good. Overall UK non-food sales fell by 5%, with the like-for-like figure showing a 6.8% fall.
At the same time, the firm announced the departure of Kate Bostock, head of non-food operations, who will step down in October. Some shake-up appears needed, as M&S's planned turnaround does not appear to be going too well, and despite strong growth early in the year, the share price has slumped back.
Smiths News (LSE: SMWH) gained 5.67p (6%) to 99.5p after releasing a positive interim management statement. Smiths, the UK's largest newspaper and magazine distributor, acquired educational distributor The Consortium in April, as part of a diversification strategy, and it appears to be paying off.
We were told that the group "remains on track to deliver strong growth in profits for the year ended 31 August 2012", and that earnings should be at the top of current forecasts.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.