LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) has been quite strong today, with an early afternoon rise taking up 0.9% to 5,495 points.
There haven't been any big risers in the top shares index today, though, and all the big gains have been in the LSE's indexes of smaller companies.
The return of the dividend
Northgate (ISE: NTG.L) enjoyed a 28 pence rise in early trading today, giving its shares a 16% boost to 207 pence after the van-rental specialist released its full-year results.
The main excitement was a return to paying a dividend -- 3 pence per share. Dividends were suspended in 2009 as the economic downturn led to falling demand, and the firm went into a two-year restructuring program. It's out of that now, and we saw underlying pretax profit grow by 11%, to 59.7 million pounds, even though sales fell by 1.2%. Key parts of the turnaround strategy included reducing the size of its fleet, primarily in Spain, and raising its prices.
The dividend yield might only be a modest 1.5%, but with debt falling by 159 million pounds to 371 million pounds and operating margins boosted to 23.2%, this looks like a nice recovery story.
Mediterranean Oil & Gas (ISE: MOG.L) got some good news today, which sent its shares soaring up 17% to 10.25 pence.
The Italian government had issued a ban on some oil and gas exploration in some of its coastal waters, and that had hurt the explorer, which operates exclusively in the central Mediterranean region. But today we received a clarification that the ban does not affect licenses that had already been issued or applications that were already under review at the time of the original announcement.
Hopefully this will make things brighter for investors, who have seen the share price sliding over the past year.
Manganese Bronze (ISE: MNGS.L) , the taxi maker with a brilliant name, saw its shares jump 18.5% to 32p, though it's hard to see why at the moment. The jump did coincide with the announcement that director George Zhao has resigned from the board to pursue opportunities more favorable to his domestic life, but there's no apparent reason why that would be a cause for cheer.
The share price has been rather erratic of late, so maybe it's just noise -- or maybe someone out there thinks they know something!
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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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