RMC gains amid talk of cement price increase

RMC gains amid talk of cement price increase
Published: 21 June 2004

RMC Group recovered from recent weakness amid talk that France’s Lafarge is set to push through further cement price rises in Germany.

Although the German cement market is perhaps best known among investors for the frequency with which the Federal Cartel Office, the competition watchdog, launches investigations into alleged price-fixing, that has not stopped a series of increases this year after last year’s price war. Heidelberger has already managed to raise prices on two occasions - by Euro12.50 and Euro 7.50/t ­ a move followed by the likes of RMC and Dyckerhoff. But yesterday’s tale was that Lafarge, the owner of Blue Circle, will implement a further increase of Euro 5 to Euro 7.50 next month. RMC, whose German Readymix offshoot is forecast to lose Pounds 10 million this year, added 13p to 584p, with the FTSE 250 up 11.7 at 6142.3.

French Connection, which visited investors in London yesterday, slipped 8p to 483p as Investec Securities advised clients to switch into Ted Baker, 10p better at 417p, after a reassuring trading statement. The broker believes that the former’s UK retail business is now moving into a "more modest" growth phase after three strong years, and suggests like-for-like sales have been negative over the past six months. Rumours of a 190p-a-share private equity break-up bid for MFI Furniture refused to fade, helping the shares up 2p to 163p. Although Evolution Beeson Gregory believes there is a "good chance" of a bid, it cited caution ahead of first-half figures on July 22, noting that the outperformance of longer lead-time products such as Schreiber Kitchens will mean a deferral of revenues from the first to the second half.

Whispers that Greg Hutchings is closing in on his first acquisition at Lupus Capital, the vehicle he joined as chairman in January with the aim of turning it into "another Tomkins", helped its shares up 78p to 1718p. The company’s capital restructuring was cleared on Wednesday, removing the last technical obstacle to its plan to spend Pounds 100 million on consolidating the engineering sector.

Kenmare Resources gained 1p to 19p on word that it has secured backing for a Pounds 53 million fundraising at 16p for its Moma titanium mineral sands project in Mozambique.