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Alan Green discusses Sainsburys #SBRY, Eddie Stobart #ESL & Avacta #AVCT on Vox Markets podcast

Alan Green discusses Sainsburys #SBRY, Eddie Stobart #ESL & Avvakta #AVCT with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast. Interview is 46 minutes 58 seconds in.

Alan Green talks market crash, scaling in, Shell #RDSB, Open Orphan #ORPH & Eddie Stobart #ESL on Vox Markets podcast

Alan Green discusses the market crash, scaling in, Shell #RDSB, Open Orphan #ORPH & Eddie Stobart #ESL with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast. Interview starts 9 minutes 49 seconds in.

Alan Green discusses markets Eddie Stobart Logistics #ESL, Byotrol #BYOT, AstraZeneca #AZN & Metro Bank #MTRO on Vox Markets podcast

Alan Green discusses markets Eddie Stobart #ESL, Byotrol #BYOT, AstraZeneca #AZN & Metro Bank #MTRO with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast. Link on the image to listen.

Andrew Hore Quoted Micro 9 December 2019

NEX EXCHANGE

GP clinical software supplier DXS International (DXSP) broadly maintained its interim revenues at £1.66m. Admin costs were lower so DXS returned to profit. There was also a higher tax credit. It made a pre-tax profit of £90,000 in the six months to October 2019, while the post-tax figure was £202,000. The final accreditation for the NHS Digital Care Services (GP IT Futures) contract is due this month. This will provide a positive outlook for the rest of this year and next year.

Formation Group (FRM) is investing £10m in Irish property development sites in Dublin, Limerick and Kildare. These sites were owned by major Formation shareholder Zandra Holdings, which also shares directors with Formation. Market Equities is buying the sites and it will be 45%-owned by Formation and 55% by Zandra.

Eight Capital Partners (ECP) has bought a 59.9% stake in Financial Innovations Team, which provides corporate finance services. Eight Capital also owns 40% of Finance Partners Group, which owns the rest of Financial Innovations Team. The strategy is to eventually become the single direct owner of the business.

Hellyer generated record profit for NQ Minerals (NQMI) in November. The gold mine has provisionally reported net profit before tax of A$2.44m on revenues of A$5.64m.

Belvedere Leisure Resorts has obtained a NEX quotation for its 6.25% secured bonds. Up to £25m of bonds can be issued. The company is a subsidiary of Belvedere Leisure Park, which owns a site in Dumfries & Galloway with planning permission for a lodge park resort of 444 holiday lodges.

SAPO (SAPO) has joined the NEX Growth Market and set its sights on gaining some of the £200m that the government has set aside to make sure that rural people can have fast broadband.

Gunsynd (GUN) has bought a 7.67% stake in Kolosori Nickel, which owns 80% of the Kolorosi prospect in the Solomon Islands. Gunsynd has a 90-day option to purchase a further 22.33%. Gunsynd’s stake in Sunshine Minerals will be diluted to 15.5%, if Malachite Resources earns a 15% stake by financing geological data and technical work.

TechFinancials (TECH) is dropping its AIM quotation and concentrating on the NEX-quotation. The company is reviewing the future of its original financial trading software operations and closing its loss-making business-to-consumer operations. There will be a $2.6m write-off. Blockchain-based ticketing business Footies has still not signed up a client. The first version of the platform is being tested with clubs and the feedback is helping to focus development. The focus is mid-sized clubs. Diamond platform developer Cedex is still commercialising its technology and TechFinancials may consider selling its stake.

Block Commodities (BLCC) has sent a circular to shareholders to convene a general meeting to expand the investment strategy in terms of cultivation of medicinal cannabis, as well as to gain approval for issuing more shares.

Trading in Welney (WENP) shares has been suspended because it has not published its accounts for the year to June 2019.

AIM

A large contract has been won by telecoms marketing technology provider Pelatro (PTRO) has been won in the form of a recurring revenue deal rather than a one-off licence. This has led to short-term downgrades, but the longer-term prospects are better. The contract is worth up to $12m over five years, with $10m fixed and the other $2m coming from gain share with the global telecoms client. Pelatro has 50% of next year’s forecast revenues of $8m in the form of recurring revenues. That would generate pre-tax profit of $2.2m.

Shareholders have voted in favour of the DBAY rescue proposal for Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) and will acquire a 51% stake in the main operating subsidiary of the transport business.

Summit Therapeutics (SUMM) is raising £38.7m at 22.1p a share with most of the shares being acquired by Robert W Duggan who will own 72.8% of the antibiotics developer. He will also become a non-executive director. Summit will leave AIM and retain its Nasdaq listing.

ReNeuron (RENE) is expanding the scope of the phase IIa study of its hRPC stem cell therapy treatment in order to speed up the process towards a phase III study. Further data will be published next year. Patient recruitment for a treatment for stroke disability is being accelerated. The main data will be published in the middle of 2021. There was £21.3m in the bank at the end of September 2019.

Subsea cable protection services provider Tekmar (TGP) continues to benefit from increasing investment in offshore wind. Interim revenues were 140% higher at £17.1m and the business moved from loss to profit. Acquisitions boosted organic growth. The order book was at a record level of £15.9m at the end of September 2019.

Renalytix AI (RENX) will receive $950 per KidneyIntelX test used in the US from 1 January. This price lasts for three years and is set by the US authorities. Insurance companies are likely to pay a similar amount. Initial revenues have been generated by a pharma testing programme.

Fashion retailer Quiz (QUIZ) is still finding trading conditions tough with like-for-like store sales 10% lower so far this year. Costs have been reduced, but a pre-tax loss of £3.3m is forecast for this year.

Medical grade collagen components supplier Collagen Solutions (COS) is building up sales of tissue and starting to benefit from the collaboration with its major US shareholder. Investment in the Glasgow facility will increase collagen supply.

Antibody discovery company Fusion Antibodies (FAB) improved interim revenues from £660,000 to £1.75m. There was still £1.31m left in the bank at the end of September 2019. Belfast-based Fusion has launched its RAMP service, which helps clients to optimise the performance of an antibody. The Mammalian Antibody library should be launched by next September.

MAIN MARKET

Standard list shell National World (NWOR) has asked for trading in the shares to be suspended as it negotiates the potential acquisition of regional titles from JPI. There are also other acquisitions being assessed.

Zenith Energy (ZEN) has acquired the Italian gas production and exploration assets of Coro Energy (CORO) for an initial £402,000 in shares at 6p each. Up to £3.5m in also payable in shares if gas production averages 100,000 scm/day over a period of four successive months. Production is expected to reach 113,000 scm/day following developments planned over the next 6-9 months. The Italian authorities have to agree to the deal, which adds to Zenith’s existing assets in Italy.

Haynes Publishing (HYNS) says that interim pre-tax profit will be 37% higher than in the corresponding period last year. This is all organic growth. The interims will be announced on 30 January.

Digital inkjet technology developer Xaar (XAR) says that Stratasys has completed its increased investment in Xaar 3D and it has an option to acquire the rest of Xaar 3D within three years. Xaar sold 20% of the 3D printing business for $10m and Stratasys can buy the 55% it does not won for at least $33m.

Nanoco (NANO) says that interested parties have been asked to submit acquisition proposals by mid-December. The majority of contracted revenues of £3.5m will be delivered in the first half. Progress with new customers has been hampered by the formal sale process.

IMC Exploration (IMC) says that the exploration programme in the Goldmines River licence in Wicklow has confirmed gold values ranging up to 0.4g/t. Drilling results are still being analysed.

Pembridge Resources (PERE) says that its Minto mine in Canada has received £3.7m in payment for copper concentrate. Sumitomo makes a 90% advanced payment for the concentrate. The rest is paid on delivery. Pembridge is on a roadshow to raise between £3m-£5m.

BATM (BVC) has gained a $4m contract in Asia for its agri-waste business. Three units will be supplied to two poultry processing facilities.

MATCHED BARGAINS

MESH Holdings, which recently left NEX will have its shares dealt on the JP Jenkins dealing platform. The acquisition option for AI company Sentiance has lapsed but management is in talks to agree a new option, which would require MESH to invest more cash in Sentiance, where it has a 16.8% stake.

Andrew Hore

Andrew Hore Quoted Micro 18 November 2019

NEX EXCHANGE

Trading in the shares of Barkby Group (BARK) has been suspended ahead of further information about a proposed reverse takeover. The acquisition of a group of companies referred to as the Dickson controlled entities is expected to cost £30m, predominantly paid in shares. There will also be a share placing to provide working capital for the enlarged group. Charles Dickson would become executive chairman if the deal goes ahead. The businesses include Workshop Coffee, which operates four coffee shops and is a wholesaler of speciality coffee, a commercial property developer. Barkby will also acquire the right to invest in two private companies: Transcend Packaging, which won a contract to supply McDonalds with paper straws, and VivoPlex, which has developed a medical device for fertility monitoring.

Brewer and pubs operator Daniel Thwaites (THW) says fears that interest rates will fall has required a £4m increase in the provision for its interest rate swaps. That is a non-cash item and underlying pre-tax profit increased from £5.6m to £6.2m in the six months to September 2019. That figure also excludes a quadrupling of property disposal profit to £800,000. Interim revenues improved 7% to £53.4m. The new brewery is operating at full capacity, while there was a small increase in like-for-like pub revenues. The contribution from hotels improved. Net debt was reduced by £8.6m to £61.6m compared with 12 months before, although £22.5m has been reclassified as due within one year. The interim dividend is unchanged at 1.1p a share.

NEX and AIM-quoted AFH Financial (AFHP) says it is trading in line with forecasts. The wealth manager will report underlying EBITDA of more than £17m, up from £10.4m, in the year to October 2019. Funds under management were £6bn. The contribution from acquisitions has been earnings enhancing. The total dividend is expected to be 8p a share and this is expected to rise by one-quarter to 10p a share in 2019-20. There was still £11.9m in the bank at the end of October 2019, although there is estimated to be £32.2m of contingent consideration and a £15m convertible loan in the balance sheet. The current focus is on organic growth and there should be enough cash generated, along with the current balance, to pay the deferred consideration over the next two years.

Ashley House (LSE: ASH) has published a trading statement and it is changing its year end from April to October following the disposal of the Morgan Ashley joint venture. In the 12 months to April 2019, revenues fell from £18.5m to £11.9m and a pre-tax profit of £805,000 was turned into a £2.95m loss. There was a loss contributed by joint ventures. Net debt was £1.8m.

Clinical support systems supplier DXS International (DXSP) is considering a move to AIM. This would be part of a potential fundraising to enable further investment in the business. DXS has already announced that it has been awarded a place on the NHS GPIT Futures framework from the beginning of 2020. This replaces the GPSoC2 framework and means that systems and services will be able to be bought centrally rather than with GP funds. The focus will be on the existing core product DXS Point of Care, analytics and reporting service CompleteCare, digital medicines service ExpertCare and condition management platform MyVytalCare. The first is already on sale and the rest will be launched in early 2020. DXS is gaining final approvals for its four solutions to be listed in the NHS catalogue.

AfriAg Global (AFRI) has raised £160,000 at 0.1p a share. This cash will be invested in additional shares in Apollon Formularies, which will take the company’s stake to 2.68%.

Primorus Investments (PRIM) believes that the lack of flotations is providing it with more opportunities. Primorus has received the £275,000 it was owed by Zuuse and still owns 57,205 shares and holds options over one million shares at A$0.50 (26p) each. The latest fundraising by Zuuse is at A$1 a share. There is a potential market to sell the shares even before a flotation.

Rutherford Health (RUTH) shareholder Formation Group has appointed Andrew Bennett as a non-executive director of the proton beam therapy firm.

David Lenigas has been appointed chairman of NQ Minerals (NQMI) and the board is in talks to replace existing debt with lower-cost debt. First Sentinel, which is run by former NQ Minerals director, has been appointed as corporate adviser.

Block Commodities (BLCC) has raised £388,000 from an issue of convertible loan notes and shares. This is less than the company wanted to raise more than six months ago. The share issue raised £133,000 at 0.02p a share, with a warrant exercisable at the same price, and the conversion of the loan notes will also be at the same price. The cash will be used to move into the medicinal cannabis sector. Additional shares are being issued to pay creditors.

EPE Special Opportunities Ltd (ESO) had net assets of 246.47p a share at the end of October 2019.

One hundred shares in Equatorial Mining and Exploration (EM.P) will be consolidated into one new share on 18 November.

Karoo Energy has changed its name to IamFire (FIRE).

Queros Capital Partners (QCP) will leave NEX on 28 November.

AIM

DBAY Advisors does not intend to bid for Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) and instead will acquire 51% of the underlying subsidiary that owns the transport operations. The poor financial situation of the business led to the change of strategy and Eddie Stobart Logistics has recommended the deal, which involves the injection of £55m of additional finance through a PIK Facility. This will pay off a £35m loan and provide working capital. The deal requires the extension of other existing debt facilities. The interim results to May 2019 are still being compiled. An operating loss of at least £12m is expected, but the underlying business could make a full year operating profit of up to £2m. There could be a goodwill write-down of £50m. Net debt will be around £200m. Wincanton (WIN) is still considering a rival deal.

ECO Animal Health (EAH) is still suffering the after effects of the African Swine Flu outbreak in China and the US/China trade war hitting imports from the US. First half revenues from China fell by three-fifths. Restocking will take time to flow through in terms of FCO’s results. There will be a sharp fall in full year profit. The interims could also be affected by accounting policy changes.

Advanced surface coatings provider Hardide (HDD) has been selected to coat parts for the new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. This is an important step in building up business in the aerospace sector. The Hardide-A coating will replace HVOF thermal spray coatings. HVOF is one of the most widely used coatings in aerospace and Hardide-A is said to be technically superior. Hardide has also been awarded a patent for a water droplet erosion resistant coating for blades and vanes, including those used on steam and gas turbines for power generation. A field test is planned.

Adamas Finance Asia (ADAM) says that a test production run is planned later this month by 85%-owned Future Metal at its quarry in China. The plan is to restart production by the end of the year. This will help to underpin the Adamas NAV and provide potential upside. At the end of September 2019, NAV was 84p a share, which is more than three times the share price. Future Metal is 45.2% of that NAV and when the quarry is up and running then Adamas could raise cash by selling some of its stake. Cash is required to invest in new opportunities that are being presented to the company. Adamas issued 16.18 million shares at 34.8p each for its equity investment in Infinity TNP.

Safestay (SSTY) has bought the Hotel Auberge in Berlin, which is near to Berlin zoo, and intends to turn it into a 150-bed hostel. The site has an eleven year lease. This is the latest acquisition this year and it takes the total number of hostel sites to 18. The plan is to have 20 hostels by 2020.

MAIN MARKET

PureCircle Ltd (PURE) chief executive Magomet Malsagov has stood aside temporarily pending further investigation of the classification of the stevia sweeteners supplier’s inventory and other transactions. The investigations have identified that inventory was $23m too high. Other transactions could lead to additional valuation changes. There could be write downs of intangibles and inventories. There should not be any increase in net debt, although the figures are still not fully audited. Bank covenants may need to be waived. Finance director Rakesh Sinha had previously resigned, although he remains with the company until the end of January.

Automotive information publisher Haynes Publishing (HYNS) is seeking a buyer. Management believes the company needs to be part of a larger group with greater financial resources.

Andrew Hore

Andrew Hore Quoted Micro 21 October 2019

NEX EXCHANGE

Third quarter trading at Arbuthnot Banking (ARBB) shows a one-third increase in loans to £1.6bn, while deposits are 17% ahead at £2bn. Impairments are rising, though. The private bank is adding 40 new clients each month.

Although Vox Markets has called off merger discussions with PCG Entertainment (PCGE) the latter’s shareholders will have preferential rights to participate in the flotation of Vox. Shareholders have to be on the register on 11 October to benefit. PCG has released any claims it may have against Vox, although Vox has the right to sue Align Research, the third party in the merger plans. PCG says nothing negative was found about Align in due diligence. First Sentinel has resigned as corporate adviser to PCG and trading in the shares has been suspended.

Good Energy (GOOD) has launched One Point to offer electric vehicle charging. The company has also been awarded he green classification and mark.

The Home Office has awarded Sativa Group (SATI) a controlled drug licence to grow medicinal cannabis. This covers cannabis with a THC content of greater than 0.2%. Sativa already has a low-THC industrial hemp licence.

AfriAg Global (AFRI) says that its investee company Apollon Formularies has received its third medical cannabis licence in Jamaica. This is for experimental research and development.

World Health Life (LIFE) has completed the acquisition of Love Hemp and a £2m convertible debenture fundraising. A second tranche of debentures should be issued in the next few weeks. Love Hemp has product distribution agreements with supermarkets and health food stores.

Triple Point Investment Management is providing a £20m loan facility for Rutherford Health (RUTH) and this will be drawn down in phases. The loan terms improve as patient numbers increase at the three proton beam therapy centres.

Tectonic Gold (TTAU) has received the first quarterly interest payment from Silverstream. The 12-month note matures in August 2020.

Primorus Investments (PRIM) will consolidate 20 shares into one new share and trading will commence on 22 October.

Secured Property Development (SPD) had £537,000 in the bank at the end of June 2019, but it is finding it difficult to find a suitable acquisition.

AIM

Immunodiagnostic Systems Holdings (IDH) is as consistent as ever. It has published a trading statement related to its interims at 4.35pm on Friday. The 2018-19 trading update was published at 4.35pm on Thursday 18 April – the last day before a long weekend. There was no particular reason to hide the latest statement. First half revenues were flat compared with a first quarter decline of 2%. Cash fell £300,000 to £28.1m over a three-month period.

Murgitroyd (MUR) is recommending a 675p a share bid from a company set up by Sovereign Capital Partners LLP. This values the patent and trademark attorney at £62.8m. Murgitroyd joined AIM 18 years ago at 121p a share and has been a consistent dividend payer.

Fully listed logistic services provider Wincanton (WIN) is considering a bid for Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) and DBAY Advisers is also still assessing whether to bid.

Disinfection products supplier Tristel (TSTL) plans to grow its revenues by up to 15% a year in each of the next three years. This follows an 18% increase to £26m in the year to June 2019, while pre-tax profit grew by one-fifth to £5.6m. The dividend was 21% higher at 5.54p a share. International markets account for 55% of revenues. Tristel is waiting for a response from the FDA, which should be forthcoming by the end of 2019.

Power projects developer Kibo Mining (KIBO) has raised £1.99m at 0.45p a share. This will be used to fund the development of power generation projects in Africa. The portfolio includes 1,055MW of power generation capacity with 355MW having heads of terms power purchase agreements. Each new share comes with a warrant exercisable at 0.8p a share.

Filtronic (FTC) has agreed to pay a warranty claim of $2m (£1.6m) and change a faulty component in antennas supplied in 2016-17. The fault relates to certain bandwidths in hot countries. The cash is payable in four instalments up until December 2020. On 23 October, Filtronic is set to report sales from continuing activities of £15.9m, down from £21.6m, and a small positive EBITDA. Filtronic has already received more than £10m of orders for its 5G backhaul transceivers due for delivery in 2019-20.

Woodford Investment Management has cut its stake in GYG (GYG) from 19.98% to less than 5%. That appears to have been a relief to the market because the share price of yacht painting services provider has recovered since the disposal. UBS has taken a 11.2% stake.

Kestrel Partners continues to build its stake in Pebble Beach Systems (PEB), taking its stake from 25% to 26.1%. Kestrel owns 23 million shares in Brady (BRY) and, even if it makes a loss, it will be having a cash inflow. Hanover Acquisitions is offering 10p a share for the risk management software company, which values it at £8.3m.

Construction consultancy services provider Driver (DRV) says it will report underlying pre-tax profit of £3m for the full year, after £400,000 of rationalisation costs. That represents a strong performance in the second half. Net cash was £5m at the year-end, after share buy backs.

Frontier IP (FIPP) has taken a 43% stake in Elute Intelligence Holdings, which is developing software to search complex documents and detect plagiarism. Frontier IP is providing some of its own IP to an existing business to form Elute with the rest of the stake coming from providing services to the company.

Blue Star Capital (BLU) is raising £900,000 at 0.1p a share and the cash will be equally split between six investments in esports companies.

Power transmission products manufacturer Renold (RNO) says that cost savings are offsetting a downturn in trading. It is still on track to report an underlying full year pre-tax profit improving from £10.1m to £10.4m. Order intake remains weak.

Rose Petroleum (ROSE) has announced a restructuring of the Paradox project. This will enable the oil and gas company to focus on the most prospective acreage.

MAIN MARKET

Quantum dots developer Nanoco (NANO) still has a cash buffer so that it can find a new manufacturing partner to replace the US one that has withdrawn from an agreement. There could still be net cash of £1.5m at the end of July 2020.

Zenith Energy (ZEN) is planning to raise cash at NOK0.35/share in Norway. That is equivalent to 2.95p/share, compared with a market price of 3.5p. The Azerbaijan-focused oil and gas company has a drilling rig that will be mobilised before the end of the month and well M-247 has been identified as a target. It was previously in production. Zenith has identified wells in the Muradkhani oilfield in which perforations of untapped intervals can generate additional production. This will happen in the next fortnight.

OTHER MARKETS

Former AIM company Getmapping has launched a strategic review and a formal sales process. Management of the believes that the geospatial services provider could grow faster with additional investment. A company taking a minority stake is another alternative. The process should be completed by the end of 2019. The shares are traded on the Britdaq matched bargains market.

Vienna-listed Fashion On Screen is moving into theatre by acquiring musicals producer Shaftesbury Avenue. The all-share purchase is valued at £2.5m. Fashion On Screen believes that some of the musicals could become film productions.

Andrew Hore

Andrew Hore -Quoted Micro 2 July 2018

NEX EXCHANGE   

Medicinal cannabis business investor Sativa Investments (SATI) has raised £500,000 from Miton Investment Management at 4p a share. Demand for the shares remains strong. Executive director Mark Blower has sold one million shares at 4p a share, having exercised options for the same number at 0.5p each, and Non-executive Noel Lyons has sold 500,000 at 4.25p each, having exercised 500,000 options at 0.5p each. Sativa joined NEX on 29 March after raising £1.1m at 1p a share. The share price had already reached 3.125p by the end of the first week. Sativa has founded the Sativa Foundation to fund academic research into medicinal cannabis.

AfriAg Global (AFRI) intends to change its investing policy so that it includes medicinal cannabis opportunities. A medical advisory board will be appointed and they will carry out due diligence on the opportunities. AfriAg (Pty) Ltd previously had the right to take a 60% stake in House of Hemp but this deal was terminated when the South African government delayed setting up the legal framework for medicinal cannabis.

High Growth Capital (HASH) joined NEX on 25 June and it plans to become a UK, Canada and Australia-focused medicinal cannabis products index tracker and investor. This will be achieved by giving direct exposure to medicinal cannabis-related companies. The strategy is to acquire up to 10% of an individual company or £150,000 in value, depending on which is the lower amount.

Tectonic Gold (TTAU), which was quoted on AIM as Stratmin until August 2017, also joined NEX on 25 June. Tectonic has gold exploration interests in Queensland, Australia. Tectonic raised £530,000 at 2p a share and then issued another 30.8 million shares to the one of the shareholders in the exploration assets that have been acquired and to advisers.

Capital for Colleagues (CFCP) had a NAV of 41.73p a share at the end of May 2018. There are 18 investments in unquoted employee-owned businesses valued at £5.82m. The most recent was a £600,000 loan to Poole-based aerospace components manufacturer TG Engineering.

Clean Invest Africa (CIA) still had £501,000 in cash at the end of March 2018, following its maiden £372,000 investment in CoalTech, which is involved in cleaning up the waste from coal mining. The technology that has been developed enables coal fines that have little or no worth to be converted into pellets, using a binding technique, to make them a commercial product.

There was a £93,000 cash outflow from the operating activities of investment company Startup Giants (SUG) in the year to January 2018. There was £686,000 in cash and £40,000 worth of investments on the balance sheet. There are plans to add up to 25 more investments.

VI Mining (VIM) says that the seller of the Ximenita de Casma project has cancelled the option over the three mining concessions and it has also exercised its charge over the company that owns the processing plant. VI Mining had held back payment of consideration because of claims for breach of warranty. Legal proceedings will be initiated.

AIM    

Legal firms consolidator Gordon Dadds (GOR) grew revenues by one-quarter to £31.2m last year even though there were minimal contributions from some of the legal firms it acquired. Pre-tax profit was 23% higher at £2.96m. This is a highly cash generative business. The dividend of 4p a share reflects that the company was not quoted for a full 12 months.

IMImobile (IMO) continues to grow organically as well as by acquisition. Full year revenues were 46% higher at £111.4m and that includes organic growth of 7%. Pre-tax profit improved from £9m to £10.1m. The communications connections technology provider has 85% recurring revenues. The main markets are growing well but progress was held back in South Africa by the political situation and since this has been sorted out that market has returned to growth.

Following a cautious AGM statement by Dillistone (DSG), WH Ireland has trimmed its forecasts and that means that the recruitment software provider is expected to breakeven this year, while the 2019 pre-tax profit has been cut from £540,000 to £200,000. Software revenues have been hit by the loss of a major client and the GatedTalent product is taking longer to build up revenues.

SaaS-based app distribution platform developer appScatter (APPS) has revised the terms for its acquisition of Priori Data. The company is still paying £13.5m in cash and shares for data analysis business but more will be funded by shares. This means that only £1.6m has to be raised in a placing at 70p a share.

Transport group Eddie Stobart (ESL) is acquiring The Pallet Network Group for £52.8m, which will be partly financed by a £30m placing at 140p a share. The network comprises 106 regional transport companies and three central hubs.

Action Hotels (AHCG) has agreed a possible cash offer of 24p a share from its major shareholder. Due diligence is being undertaken.  After the company was floated by Sanlam Securities at 64p a share in December 2013, there have been four changes of nominated adviser and broker.

EQTEC (EQT) is on course to raise £2m in cash to pay off the unpopular financing package it previously secured. That deal has hit the share price but EQTEC is making progress with potential projects for its gasification technology. At least one project should reach the construction stage before the end of year to June 2019. That could either be a project in the UK or a 12MWe power plant in Vietnam, which could utilise equipment that was going to be used on the project in Newry, which is no longer going ahead. This will mean that milestone payments will be received throughout the construction.

Omega Diagnostics (ODX) has sold its infectious diseases assets to Novacyt (NCYT) although it is retaining the Visitect CD4 test. The disposal will raise up to £2.175m and these assets generated a profit before overheads of £300,000 in the past financial year. The book value was £600,000. Omega will provide manufacturing and storage services for 12 months. The cash will be invested in the Visitect CD4 test, Allersys and realising the value of the food intolerance business.

TechFinancials Inc (TECH) reported a 37% reduction in revenues in 2017 to $13.4m with software licensing revenues more than halving. Overheads were reduced but pre-tax profit still slumped from $4.05m to $116,000, although that was partly due to a $1.5m asset impairment charge. There was $3.5m in the bank.

Windar Photonics (WPHO) has signed a global distribution agreement with Vestas Wind Systems, which will sell the two beam light detection and ranging LiDAR system as a retro-fit product. The deal could provide access to around 14% of global installed capacity. This should help Windar to move into profit this year and make a significant profit in 2019.

CEPS (CEPS) has raised £1.33m at 35p a share and this will finance the repayment of a £1m loan plus interest. Sunline Direct Mail, which is 80%-owned, has been placed in administration and CEPS is unlikely to receive anything. Group trading is also slightly below expectations.

MAIN MARKET    

Standard list shell Chesterfield Resources (CHF) has agreed to acquire Cyprus-registered HKP Exploration Ltd, which has seven prospecting permits covering three project areas on the island. The focus is copper and gold. At least £1.1m will be spent on exploration and drilling. A placing and subscription at 7.5p a share will raise £2m and each share comes with a warrant exercisable at 15p each. HKP is being acquired for 6.67 million shares at the same price. The original placing price last August was 5p a share.

Highland Natural Resources (HNR) has applied to acquire leases over 46,000 acres in Arizona, which management believes could produce commercial volumes of carbon dioxide.

Andrew Hore

Ian Pollard – Sharp profits fall at Card Factory

Card Factory plc CARD seems undecided as to how to explain the impact of increased costs which it blames for a fairly large drop in profits whilst at the same promising another special dividend for shareholders of between 5-10p per share with the half year results. The problem is that apart from increased foreign exchange costs the other major impact on profits has been the cost of having to pay a living wage to staff. That really is very unfair. Think what other goodies the shareholders could have had but for that living wage problem. As it is the shareholders have had to make do with dividend increases measured in fractions of pence, the final dividend rising by 1.6%% and the total ordinary dividend up by a mere 2.2% per share unless you include the whacking special dividend of 15 pence per share paid on the 22nd December. Things are so good that there is likely to be another return of cash to shareholders at the next year end of between. 5 and 10p per share. Proof of how good things really are is shown by a fall of 12.3% in profit before tax and 11.3% in basic earnings per share, occasioned no doubt by the strong like for like sales growth both from the stores and online and the delivery of a strong program of cost mitigation.

Thus do some companies expose their management.

Eddie Stobart ESL saw a substantial fall in underlying profits for the year to 30th November. Profits were down by nearly a third from £37.8m to V24m despite a rise in revenue from £549m. to £623.9m and statutory earnings per share fell from 3.p per share to 1.2p A final dividend of 4.4p per share is proposed, making 5.8p per share for the full year. The new financial year has got off to  good start.

Plant Health Care PHC Claims exciting progress in the year to the end of December with external sales growth in the Rest of the World rising by 100% and sales of commercial products returning to strong growth with a rise of 21%. After two difficult years both the operating loss and loss before tax were halved.

Hydrogen Group HYDG plans to resume dividend payments with a final dividend of 0.8p for the year to 31st December which it describes as a transformational year.Net fee income for the year rose by 29% and underlying profit before tax of £0.8m was the same as the previous year.

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Ian Pollard – Whitbread Delves Deep Into The Excuses Drawer – Even For Costa

Whitbread WTB is forced to delve deep into the excuses and jargon drawer to try and explain away its weak UK performance during quarter 3. It concentrates on total sales growth figures which look quite reasonable until one looks at how it fared on a like for like basis.Thus group sales growth came in at 5.6% with the UK performance lagging far behind with a like for like rise at a miserable 0.3%, market conditions being blamed, for continuing to get tougher. Hotels were flat and worst of all at Costa they actually fell by 0.1%. Here blame is allocated to “weak retail market footfall negatively impacting high street stores.” The role of management in all this does not even get a mention. Gone are the days, it would seem when management accepted responsibility for a company’s affairs, provided they have gone well.

Associated British Foods plc ABF For the 16 weeks to the 6th January all businesses delivered revenue sales growth of 4% on a continuing basis although at actual exchange rates this dropped to 3%. Primark sales grew by 7% at constant currency rates, as selling space was increased and Christmas week broke previous records. In grocery, progress has been made in reducing the loss and in sugar the UK crop will be significantly larger but prices will be lower. No views are expressed about the future in 2018.

Halfords HFD expects retail sales for 2018 wil be subdued as the retail environment continues to be difficult but for the 15 weeks to 12th January it enjoyed good trading especially over what it calls “peak including Xmas”. Third quarter sales revenue rose by 2.7% compared to 1.9% for the 41 weeks of the year to  date. Car maitenance led the way with with rises of 2.1% whilst he quarter 3 laggard was travel solutions with a drop of 4.1% as against a rise of 4.2% for the year so far. Cycling took a clear lead with a rise of 7.8% for the quarter compared to 3.9% for the year.

Royal Mail RMG delivered a good performance over Xmas and over the 9 months to the 24th December parcel volumes rose by 6% producing a reveue increase of 4%. Addressed letter volume fell by only 5% which was better than expected and overall group revenue was up by 2%.

Eddie Stobart ESL Revenue for the year to 30th November rose by 12% with E commerce sales more than doubling to £103m. Operating margins were strong and improved across all sectors and for the current year growth is ahead of the prior year, again, across all sectors

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Barratt, Eddie Stobart, Robert Walters and Wetherspoons all upbeat

Barratt Developments BDEV is upbeat on trading, and reports total completions of 17,395, the highest level of completions in nine years. PBT is expected to beat current expectations at around £765m (2016: £682.3m), and year end net cash balance of around £720m is also ahead of guidance, driven by strong performance and the timing of land and working capital payments.

Eddie Stobart ESL reports a 13% hike in sales for six months to 31 May to approx £287m, with operational efficiencies improving the growth rate at an EBIT level. H2 has started well despite the challenges for the logistics sector due to the current political and economic environment, plus the period will benefit from a full six months’ contribution from the recently acquired iForce business.

Micro Focus International MCRO reports FY revenues of $1,380.7m, slightly above the mid-point of management guidance. Underlying adj EBITDA rose 4.2% to $640.9m, adj diluted earnings per share rose 19.7% to 175.65 cents and the FY dividend increased by 32.1% to 88.06 cents. The board says it is confident that medium-term low single digit revenue growth, industry leading margins and strong cash conversion will ensure that Micro Focus can deliver on its strategy.

NEX Group NEX says NEX Markets revenue grew 11% on a constant currency basis (20% on a reported basis) during Q1 principally driven by the CFETS partnership. Trading activity was hit by low volatility albeit with episodic activity around macro events such as the French election and a US rate rise.

JD Wetherspoon JDW says like-for-like sales increased by 5.3% for the 11 weeks to 9 July 2017, while LfL sales year to date (50 weeks to 9 July 2017) rose 3.9% (total sales up 1.9%). Around £24m of exceptional, non-cash losses are expected this financial year, mainly from pub disposals and closures.

Robert Walters RWA reports a record quarter, with net fee income up 16% (25% actual) year-on-year. The performance benefited from the group’s international footprint and breadth of recruitment solutions. The RWA board is confident that FY PBT will be ahead of current market expectations.

Xaar XAR reports an in line trading performance, and expects to report revenue of approx £44m for the six months ended 30 June 2017. The co also reports a joint development agreement with Xerox to develop together the next generation of industrial bulk piezo printheads using the extensive combined resources and IP of both companies

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