MARKET REPORT: Beefed-up US deals lift armour maker Avon

MARKET REPORT: British body armour maker Avon Protection a big riser after winning contract extension with US Defence Logistics Agency

British body armour and gas mask maker Avon Protection was a big riser in London after winning a contract extension with the US Defence Logistics Agency. 

Avon provides the agency, part of the US defence department, with body armour and landed a minimum order value of at least £14m over the next 12 months. 

Boss Paul McDonald said it would underpin its revenue expectations for 2022. The shares surged 9.2 per cent, or 178p, to 2106p. 

Good news: Analysts at Peel Hunt said the deal took the firm’s total body armour orders to at least £28.5m and reiterated their ‘buy’ rating and 3,300p target price

Analysts at Peel Hunt said the deal took the firm’s total body armour orders to at least £28.5m and reiterated their ‘buy’ rating and 3,300p target price. 

The good news came amid a trying time for the defence industry. Aerospace firm Meggitt became the latest UK company to fall to foreign buyers after shareholders backed a £6.3billion takeover from US rival Parker Hannifin on Tuesday. 

Ultra Electronics, a maker of submarine-hunting equipment, was also snapped up last month by US private equity group Advent International in a £2.6billion takeover. But the acquisitions have caused an uproar among many politicians and figures in the UK armed forces amid concerns that selling the companies to foreign buyers is jeopardising national security. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is poised to open a probe into the Meggitt takeover, having previously ordered an investigation into Ultra’s purchase by Advent. 

The FTSE 100 was down 0.4 per cent, or 26.87 points, at 7051.48, while the FTSE 250 slipped 0.9 per cent, or 221.39 points, to 23,608.79. Markets wobbled amid bleak economic data from Germany ahead of a national election tomorrow, while traders also kept a wary eye on troubled Chinese property giant Evergrande after a debt payment deadline was missed on Thursday. 

Movie theatre chain Cineworld rose 4.8 per cent, or 3.3p, to 71.52p amid reports of healthy demand for tickets to see the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, which is out on Friday. 

Shares in oil service provider Petrofac climbed 26.6 per cent, or 28.9p, to 137.4p, after it said it had entered into a deal with the UK Serious Fraud Office and intends to admit seven counts of failing to prevent bribery between 2011 and 2017. 

Petrofac said the charges relate to former staff offering or making payments to agents in relation to projects awarded between 2012 and 2015 in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. ‘All employees involved in the charges have left the business,’ it added. 

Fintech firm Gresham Technologies said its largest customer had signed a deal to renew a contract and increase its investment in the group’s services. The shares rose 3.6 per cent, or 6p, to 173.5p. 

Healthcare services group Totally climbed 6.4 per cent, or 2.25p, to 37.25p after its urgent care division inked several deal extensions worth around £16m. 

Judges Scientific, which owns several companies that make scientific instruments, bounced up 7.7 per cent, or 540p, to 7540p as it said its order book had recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

It posted a profit for the six months to July of £8.5m, 32 per cent up on the same period a year ago, and hiked its interim dividend by 15 per cent to 19p per share. 

Oiler Cairn Energy flowed 1.3 per cent, or 2.4p, higher to 181.2p as it completed its £236m acquisition of assets in Egypt. 

Cleaning services firm Mitie jumped 1.7 per cent, or 1.2p, to 72.1p after it lifted its full-year profit guidance following a surge in Covid-related contracts. It now expects a profit of between £145m and £155m for the year. 

And small-cap iodine producer Iofina posted record results, with profits soaring to £2.6m in the six months to July from £950,751 in the same period last year. It fell 3.1 per cent, or 0.5p, to 15.5p.