Beyond the Footsie: Wed close

 

Investors pulled the plug on InterX after the internet software group said its chief executive had quit, warned on its interim results and pledged a strategic review. The company, once valued at £1.4bn, ended the session worth less than £80m.

Philip Crawford's departure dashes any lingering hopes that the former Oracle UK boss, who joined just eight months ago, would transform the company. The stock fell 57%, or 292 1/2p, to 222 1/2p, a fresh low and the first time it has fallen below 400p since December 1999.

The roof also came down on Allen after the building and utility services warned that losses from its contracting unit for the year to April would be even higher than previously feared. The unit is saddled with dud contracts expected to lose at least £13m, and Allen also faces a bill of at least £8m for legal and reorganisation costs. Allen fell 20%, or 47 1/2p, to 191 1/2p, also a year low.

Vehicle maker Mayflower crashed 12 1/2p to 85 1/2p. The company posted a slide in annual profits, amid slowing global demand for buses, coaches and heavy trucks. But investors were also unnerved by Mayflower's warning that markets were likely to remain 'difficult' this year - and that it plans to swing the axe some more.

Elsewhere, smaller cap stocks endured a grey session, mirroring the depressed performance of blue-chip stocks and knocked profit warnings. The FTSE SmallCap index ended down 27.2 points at 3279.7.

Gainers included construction company Morgan Sindall, up 23 1/2p to 382 1/2p, building on gains from the previous session after the firm posted higher profits and hiked its dividend. A tip in the investment Press stitched an 18% tab onto clothing maker Seet, up 4 1/2p to 29 1/2p, and new orders news lifted computer distributor IS Solutions, up 10 1/2p to 115 1/2p.

AIM-listed Dobbies Garden Centre attracted fresh buying, up 18 1/2p to 425p, on news of a strong start to the new year and a 14% hike in like-for-like sales at the end of January. The market was also excited by its outlook for the garden leisure industry.

But CeNeS Pharmaceutical was a high profile casualty, plummeting 17%, or 10p, to 49p. San Francisco-based Biotechnology Value Fund has sold its entire holding of 5.79m shares to broker Merrill Lynch at around 40p each.

Smaller companies spotlight