Smurfits's results dominate as market inches slightly upwards

 

SMURFIT'S publication of its 1995 results was the dominant feature of a day in which the ISEQ notched up a small gain of 0.29 per cent. The results were in line with market expectation. However, the company put on 3p to reach 160p despite a somewhat pessimistic statement on the immediate prospects for the sector.

Brokers pointed at improved sentiment towards the US economy, due to last week's unexpectedly high employment figures, as the reason. The news has also improved the outlook for sectoral stocks such as Smurfit, explained one broker. "The call on Smurfit is now a sectoral call," he ventured.

There was little other corporate news. The two main banks both slipped back, with AIB closing down 2p on 325p, with the market taking an increasingly sceptical view of reports that it might be courting the Bristol and West building society.

Bank of Ireland was also lower, closing down 1/2p at 4281/2p, while Irish Life gained 41/1 to dose at 2541/2p. Irish Permanent was 1p stronger at 372p.

Leading industrial stocks, apart from Smurfit, were also weaker.

CRH dropped 1p to 559p. However, some of the second liners improved, with Barlo putting on 2p to 33p while Crean rose 7p to 227p.

Fitzwilton was up 1p to 49p. AIB announced it has bought another 17,000 shares in Jones group, increasing its stake marginally to 23.03 per cent and reflecting the growing perception of the company as a recovery play.

IFG has informed the market that the Smaller Companies Investment Trust has bought 134,783 shares, giving it a holding of 3,219,705 or 8.07 per cent.

Ardagh director Mr Edward Kilty, made a modest £2,110 on the exercise of share options. He exercised options over 2,000 shares at 341/2p and sold them in the market at £1.40.

Ardagh company secretary, Mr Brian Butterly, exercised options over 2,000 shares at 341/2p, but did not sell them, no doubt waiting for better things to come.