Company of the year
The sharp share price rise in recent years only tells part of the story of EKF Diagnostics. Shareholders have also had the opportunity to benefit from the spin-offs of kidney diagnostics company Renalytix, which itself spun-off Verici Dx, and Trellus Healthcare, which provides personalised care for people with chronic conditions and the initial focus is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Renalytix had a restricted offer to EKF shareholders at 121p a share when it joined AIM in November 2018. Although the share price is well below its peak, it is still nearly seven times that level and that does not take into account the one share issued in Verici Dx for each Renalytix share held last year.
EKF backed Trellus Healthcare in August 2020 and distributed its shareholding to its own shareholders last December. The company floated on AIM in May.
EKF does have its own successful businesses involved in haematology, diabetes testing, laboratory operations and contract manufacturing. In the six months to June 2021, revenues increased from £26.3m to £38.6m, while pre-tax profit improved from £7.6m to £11.6m.
In October, EKF completed the acquisition of Texas-based Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory for an initial $10m in shares. The core business is a CLIA-certified laboratory and Covid-related business has boosted recent revenues, but the testing range will be broadened. This is expected to be a strongly earnings enhancing deal, according to Investec.
Director of the year
Julian Baines, EKF Diagnostics
Julian Baines recently stepped down as chief executive of EKF Diagnostics and has become non-executive deputy chairman. He has led EKF since it joined AIM and was behind the strategy that has proved so profitable for EKF and its shareholders. He had previously built up BBI before it was taken over.
Earlier this month Julian Baines sold 250,000 EKF shares at 80.76p each. He still owns more than 1.6 million shares.
Aquis company of the year
DXS International provides clinical decision support systems to GPs and pharmacists. The healthcare IT company has official supplier status with the NHS and its systems help it to be more efficient. The ExpertCare Hypertension module has achieved accreditation for the NHS Digital Framework.
More than one-quarter of the GP practices in the UK use the company’s clinical decision support technology. There are also opportunities outside of the UK with a pilot planned in the US.
DXS increased its full year revenues from £3.28m to £3.61m, including £100,000 for an EU hypertension initiative, while pre-tax profit improved from £239,000 to £254,000 even though the amortisation charge was significantly higher.
There was £1.24m of cash generated from operations. Product development is important to the business and there was £1.5m of capitalised research and development spending during the year. Artificial intelligence and personalised health are areas that development will focus on.
IPO of the year
Telecoms network testing equipment supplier Calnex Solutions repeated its win in this category at the AIM awards. It joined AIM on 5 October 2020 via a placing at 48p a share and the share price has reached 135p. There has been more than one profit upgrade since flotation. The latest was last month, when the 2021-22 pre-tax profit forecast was raised from £4.4m to £5.6m.
Calnex designs and manufactures equipment used by telecoms network operators, network providers, data centres and systems suppliers to test their products. This is an international business with Asia and the Americas the major markets.
Product innovation will enable Calnex to capture more of the growing market for the implementation of 5G telecoms infrastructure. Investment is focused on products where the demand has already been identified, although Calnex also intends to enter new markets.
Interim figures will be published on 23 November.
ESG of the year
Symphony Environmental Technologies
Biodegradable plastic additives and products developer Symphony Environmental Technologies has been on AIM for two decades.
Symphony Environmental had an initial focus on oxo-biodegradable plastic products, which are now branded d2w. The newer technology is called d2p (Designed to Protect), which is a range of additives that have antimicrobial, insect and rodent repellent and odour absorbing properties. They can be used for a range of products from bread bags and plastic film to personal protective equipment.
Symphony Environmental made a pre-tax loss of £632,000 on revenues of £4.88m in the first half of 2021. Commercialisation of newer products is gaining momentum and sales should build up. A pre-tax profit of £120,000 is forecast for 2021, followed by a jump to £1.21m in 2022.
Journalist of the year
Analyst of the year
Kevin Ashton, Singer Capital
UK Smaller Companies Fund Manager of the year
Gervais Williams and Martin Turner, Premier Miton UK Smaller Companies
Lifetime Achievement award
David Stredder, Mello Events