MARKET REPORT: Costain soars after striking Breacon Beacons road deal

MARKET REPORT: Construction firm Costain soars after striking a deal with the Welsh government over Breacon Beacons road

Relieved investors sent construction contractor Costain higher after it drew a line under a problematic project.

The company has reached a final settlement with the Welsh government after a dispute about a road that winds through the Brecon Beacons, which Costain began work on back in 2015.

The two sides had been arguing about who should foot the bill for a large wall put up as part of rebuilding the A465.

Costain has reached a final settlement with the Welsh government after a longrunning dispute about work on a road that winds through the Brecon Beacons

Last year an arbitrator ruled the responsibility and extra costs associated with the retaining wall, which hadn’t been budgeted for and was part of the reason the project came in late and over budget, lay with the company.

Costain said the amount it has agreed is in line with the £45million it had put aside for the payment.

The final work is expected to be finished in September, leaving it free to focus on other work such as HS2 and the construction of London’s new supersewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

Stock Watch – Genedrive 

Diagnostics minnow Genedrive rallied after it sent the first shipments of its Covid tests to the US.

Manchester-based Genedrive has developed a PCR – polymerase chain reaction – test that delivers a quick result without needing to be sent to a lab. 

It has a distribution agreement with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, which will now focus on selling the kits in the US.

Shares rose 10 per cent, or 13p, to 143p – and have already tripled in value so far this year.

Shares rose 1.2 per cent, or 0.7p, to 59.7p. Plus500 also advanced after it unveiled more stellar results.

Like all trading platforms, business boomed in 2020 as retail investors flocked to its site and tried to make a quick buck on turbulent markets during the Covid crisis. 

There were 82m customer trades placed last year – up from 35m in 2019 – in what it described as ‘unprecedented levels of platform usage’.

Whether this will happen again in 2021 is less certain now that markets are broadly recovering as vaccinations are rolled out.

Nevertheless, bumper quarter after bumper quarter in 2020 led to a 175pc increase in full-year profits to £380million, as turnover rose by £629million.

It is now plotting £21.6million in special dividends and £18million in share buybacks. Plus500 closed 2.6 per cent higher, up 36p, at 1415p.

But the same could not be said for fellow investing platform Hargreaves Lansdown, which was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 as the City digested founder Peter Hargreaves’ latest giant share sale. 

Self-made billionaire and Brexit-backer Hargreaves revealed on Tuesday he had cashed in a £300million stake, or around a sixth of his holding.

That dragged Hargreaves’ shares 6.9 per cent lower, down 113.5p, to 1539.5p. The company’s drop also weighed on the wider Footsie, which fell 0.6 per cent, or 37.96 points, to 6710.9, shrugging off yet another day of rallies among big mining and resources companies.

The FTSE 250 also experienced a mid-week dip, dropping 1.3 per cent, or 266.88 points, to 21,149.49.

On the mid-cap index, interdealer broker TP Icap completed a £310million rights issue to fund its takeover of US group Liquidnet, which will catapult it into the share trading market.

TP Icap rose 3.9 per cent, or 8p, to 211.6p, after reporting it has received acceptances for 221.5m new shares priced at 140p each.

Elsewhere, TI Fluid Systems was shaken by the news that long-time boss William Kozyra will step down as president and chief executive towards the end of the year.

His successor Hans Dieltjens will kick off the transition period by joining next month as chief operating officer.

Kozyra joined in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis and steered it through its float in 2017. News of his retirement sent shares 2.3 per cent lower, down 6.35p, to 275p.

Mattress maker Eve Sleep’s market value soared after it unveiled a partnership with CBD (cannabidiol, an active ingredient in cannabis) group Sana Lifestyle to produce a range of oil drops that can help people relax.

Shares in Eve Sleep jumped 56.1 per cent, or 2.58p, to 7.18p.