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Car dealer Vertu Motors PLC (LON:VTU) has gone up the gears after a positive annual meeting statement.

The company’s shares are ahead 2.4% to 47p as it said full year profits were now expected to be above current forecasts and in the range of £28mln to £32mln.

The better performance has been driven by exceptional demand for used cars, where prices are rocketing due to a shortage of new vehicles.

It said: “A tightening of new vehicle supply, largely reflecting component shortages flagged in the year end announcement, is increasingly apparent.

“The expected time between order and delivery of new vehicles to customers for certain of the group’s franchises is now seeing elongation.

“The used car market remains very robust from a demand perspective. The reduction in new car supply is contributing to a reduced supply of used vehicles, with a resultant exceptional wholesale pricing environment.”

11.09am: Draper Esprit heads higher as it plans move from AIM to main market

Venture capital firm () is heading higher after updating on its investments and unveiling plans to move from AIM to the main market.

The company, which specialises in high growth digital technology businesses, said it had invested £52mln in seven businesses in the first months of the financial year, including Ledger, Lyst and Aircall.

It also made a £22.8mln exit from SportPursuit.

Chief executive officer Martin Davis said: “It has been an incredibly strong start to the year, with our investment team finding several exciting new companies for us to partner with as well as follow on rounds in some of the more established businesses in our portfolio..

“The post-pandemic transition towards technology is showing no sign of slowing and we continue to see so many new businesses with huge potential.”

On joining the main market, which is expected to take place in July, the company said it was now of sufficient size and scale to make the move.

It said: “[The] directors believe that admission will further enhance the ompany’s profile and brand recognition with investee companies, extend the ompany’s shareholder base to a wider group of institutional investors, assist in the recruitment, retention and incentivisation of all employees; and support the company’s growth strategy.”

The news has lifted its shares by 4.51% or 40p to 926p.

10.14am: Touchstar boosted by annual meeting comments

() has touched its high for the year again after an upbeat annual meeting statement.

The company, which supplies mobile computing services to the logistics, transportation and fuel delivery markets, said its performance so far this year had exceeded its expectations.

Revenues had risen, margins increased and expenses were tightly controlled.

The order book has climbed by more than 50% since the year end and currently stands at over £750,000. It added: “Reassuringly it is beginning to include orders from sectors most impact by the pandemic.”

Its shares are up 17.24% or 12.5p to 85p, a level it has hit twice before this year.

8.28am: Ports group soars after winning new contract for Indian site

It’s full steam ahead for Mercantile Ports & Logistics Ltd () after it unveiled a key contract for its port and logistics facility in India.

Mercantile has signed up Esquire Shipping and Trading, a cargo logistics solutions provider based in Mumbai, and Sai Om Petro Specialties, a bulk cargo handler for an initial ten year deal, extendable by a further five years.

It expects revenues of around £7mln over the next three years.

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will carry out stevedoring and cargo handling services for coal and other bulk cargoes at Mercantile’s Karanja based port and logistics facility.

Mercantile chief executive Jay Mehta said:  “As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly but surely abates, we are seeing significant interest from potential customers wanting to utilise our facilities as they re-think logistics and supply chain issues in a post-COVID-19 world. This latest long-term contract is testament to the business we have created on the ground, which we are seeing matches the needs of our customer base.”

Mercantile’s shares have surged 23.72% or 0.14p to 0.72p.

Elsewhere  () has accelerated 9.98% or 1.31p to 14.44p.

The company, an artificial intelligence specialist operating in the transport sector, announced its first paid project with a US railway, in the form of .

Maestrano’s rail analytics subsidiary, Cordel Technology, entered the North American market in May 2020, with a view to establishing relationships and credibility with railroad companies and engineering service providers. This announcement is the first of several pilot projects to demonstrate its services.

Maestrano chief executive Nick Smith said: “The US market represents over 38% of global expenditure on rail asset management.  It has been a core focus for Cordel over the past year and we have moved from the proving to the early revenue stage.  Whilst this has taken longer than expected, we are now positioned for a significant growth opportunity.”