Large businesses rally amid M&A action

Bank of Ireland gains 8.5% on Iseq ahead of presentation of full-year results on Monday

Stocks across Europe rose for a fourth week as several large companies rallied amid a resurgence in mergers-and-acquisitions activity. The Iseq performed better than many of its European peers, gaining 1.2 per cent, with Bank of Ireland the stand-out performer.

UK stocks were little changed, completing their biggest monthly gain since July, while US stocks rose for a third day amid improving consumer confidence and speculation that the Federal Reserve will continue to support the US economy.

Bank of Ireland led the way for the Iseq yesterday, roaring ahead of more than 8.5 per cent to close the day at almost 39 cents. The stock was traded heavily in the late afternoon as investors jockeyed for position ahead of the bank's full-year results on Monday. AIB is due to report its results on Wednesday.

Independent News & Media fell back by 1.84 per cent to close at 16 cents. The company confirmed yesterday that Vincent Crowley, its chief executive, has agreed with the board to leave the company. Analysts mused as to whether a period of uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the company would worry investors, given the company is in the middle of a cost restructuring.


Aer Lingus climbed 1.55 per cent to close at €1.63. Aer Lingus Regional, which is operated by Aer Arann, announced strong passenger growth figures yesterday.

Dixons Retail rose 9 per cent. A merger with Carphone Warehouse, a mobile-phone retailer, would unite businesses with combined revenue of about £12 billion

. The discussions had only reached a preliminary stage, the companies said this month. Carphone Warehouse rallied 15 per cent.

Jupiter Fund Management surged 10 per cent. The money manager increased its full-year dividend by 43 per cent to 12.6 pence from 8.8 pence a share. That beat the 12 pence payout some analysts had predicted. Jupiter also said assets under management rose to £31.7 billion in 2013 from £26.3 billion in 2012.

Vodafone Group gained 3.5 per cent. The mobile-phone operator's shares traded well after adjusting for the cash distribution and share consolidation resulting from the sale of its joint venture with Verizon Communication. The company said it would give its shareholders 29.53 pence a share in cash and six new shares for every 11 they held.

Scania surged 34 per cent. Volkswagen, which controls a majority of the truckmaker's shares and 89.2 per cent of its voting rights, said recently it has offered 200 kroner per share for the remaining stock. Germany's largest car-maker dropped 5.9 per cent this week.

PostNL plunged 19 per cent, the biggest weekly slump since United Parcel Service dropped a bid for the company's holding in TNT Express in January 2013. The largest Dutch postal operator posted a net loss of €170 million for last year and cut its 2015 operating profit forecast by €40 million, citing pricing pressure.

The German company Fresenius Medical Care dropped 4.8 per cent after the world's biggest provider of kidney dialysis forecast profit that fell short of estimates. The company projected net income of $1 billion to $1.05 billion this year, less than the $1.19 billion predicted. Its parent company Fresenius slid 5.4 percent.

Monster Bever age gained 5.3 per cent, the most in the S&P 500. The energy drinks and juices distributor reported fourth- quarter sales of $540.8 million, beating the average analyst estimate of $526.3 million.

Jos A Bank Clothiers rose 2.8 per cent as the retailer agreed to meet Men's Wearhouse to discuss a potential merger.

KBR declined 15 per cent to $27.28. The military contractor forecast earnings per share of $1.75 to $2.10 in 2014, less than the $2.49 that analysts had estimated. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters