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Summer and the Markets – Alan Green talks to Doc Holliday

Alan Green catches up again with investor and market trader Doc Holliday. We discuss the poor sentiment and the lack of momentum and liquidity in the markets, and Doc gives his view on what investors should be doing at this time – in particular don’t sit and be a victim of the market! We then look at stocks and sectors where Doc feels the damage has already been done, and where opportunities may lie. In no particular order, these include:

  • Renewable Energy / ESG / Energy – Amte Power #AMTE, Coro Energy #CORO
  • Coal / metallurgical coal for infrastructure – Bens Creek #BEN, Contango Holdings #CGO
  • Gold – ECR Minerals #ECR
  • Fertiliser – Harvest Minerals #HMI

 

Managing the Transition to Clean Energy – Q&A with James Parsons

Managing the Transition to Clean Energy – Q&A with James Parsons

Q     So much seems to be happening globally around the energy transition at the moment, from big companies such as the oil majors to the micro cap space. How do you see the transition at the moment?

It has been an exciting time to be involved in the industry! I think we shall look back at this period at some point in the future and realise we were living through a rather unique part of our history, especially in terms of the energy space.

There is undoubtedly growing momentum in the transition/clean tech/renewable arena this year already, and increasing investor interest, too.   Just as two examples which I am close to… we raised £4.5m last week in Coro Energy as we deepened our renewables footprint through a second SE Asia-focused clean tech developer acquisition.  At Corcel we also recently raised funds to help progress our Burwell Energy Storage project in the UK, one of our key battery storage assets supporting the UK’s push for electrification.

So whilst you inevitably see rather aggressive “greenwashing” by the bigger players, attempting to cover the fact that they inevitably still have their roots firmly in fossil fuels, the smaller, more nimble players are able to adapt much quicker (and follow the money!).

My sense is this is an irreversible trend with companies looking to future-proof themselves and increase their relevance to increasingly ESG focused investors.

Q     You were one of the early adopters in transitioning micro caps over to the clean energy space.  It looks like this started with your role at Corcel plc, a Battery Metal explorer and developer, in 2019 and has been further re-inforced with Coro Energy initiating a pivot to renewables last year and Ascent plc recently announcing an ESG Metals strategy.   I guess this all reflects your own personal belief in the carbon transition.  But do you see any future for Oil and Gas?

There is, to my mind, no doubting the remaining importance of hydrocarbons to the energy mix, and their necessity for some time to come, especially existing developments or producing assets where the hard work to find them has been done, and their deployment provides time for other energy technologies to mature.  This is particularly true for gas, which remain an obvious bridging fuel for near term gains in low carbon energy, and as a back up for intermittent solar and wind power.

I am however personally very clear that oil and gas now have a finite place in the forward provision of energy, and we must all engage in the progression of alternatives as practically, economically and quickly as possible if we are to deliver on targets to ameliorate the impact on the climate.

Q     How quickly can you build scale with firms like Corcel, which clearly have an interesting platform on which to grow?

Corcel is, in my view, one of the “yet to be recognised” early leaders of the energy transition in the micro cap space.  We operate at the intersection of battery metals mining and its end use in energy storage with a portfolio focused on first acquiring battery metal resources prior to the widely expected structural price hike and secondly generating low risk cash flow from energy storage and trading via batteries.

If we were directing a movie of the 2020/21 energy landscape, I would suggest a suitable working title to be “The Rise of Batteries”.  Corcel is right in the middle of that space and looking forward to playing its part!  Since 2019 we have focused on sorting out the inherited legacy issues, and then turned our attention to building the strategic foundations for the future – this is swan paddling stuff, with lots of work going on unseen but we are really making progress now.   The focus at the moment is on achieving shovel ready status at Burwell, the battery storage site in Cambridgeshire, on securing a Mining Lease at Mambare, our first PNG Nickel deposit, and on unlocking Wo Wo Gap in conjunction with RMI (an ASX listed company where Corcel has a significant debt position).

So, scaling up is critical and that will come as we both broaden and deepen the portfolio – however, I really want to see some of the inherent NAV we have already created reflected in our valuation before we make the next big move.  I don’t expect that to be too long!

Q     Tell us about your views on mining.  Following the pivot of Ascent to ESG Metals, it seems to play an increasingly important and strategic part in your work, doesn’t it?

It absolutely does and mining was a relatively new space for me, so it has been hugely interesting to get up to speed on the industry and particularly to dovetail it with my own ESG agenda.  At Ascent, we have now formalised our ESG Metals strategy as one of the emerging “special situations”.  We see huge opportunities in reclassifying, through highly efficient recovery techniques, stockpiled surface mining waste (previously viewed as a liability for mining companies) as a valuable asset for reprocessing and commercial sale.  The larger producers have historically seen tailings as sub-commercial so our opportunity here is to provide strong cash returns without exploration risk and with only a modest upfront capital outlay, all whilst supporting a key ESG objective of materially lowering global waste.

Q     It is fascinating to watch both the companies you are involved with – and you personally –  plot the course through the energy transition.  Do you think investors can still expect to see the “multi bagger” type returns in the ESG energy space?

The beauty of the extractive industries has always been the binary nature of the outcomes and the resulting risk / reward balance (ie if you “strike it big” investors can see immediate significant returns).   It is absolutely true that clean energy technology normally has a much lower risk and more modest return profile. However there are still ways to secure the upside exposure, such as being a first mover (eg as Ascent is in ESG Metals) or taking strategic bets on the macro fundamentals and forecast supply crunches (eg Corcel’s positioning with significant Nickel deposits in PNG).   I’m very pleased with the ESG portfolio I am involved with and excited about where these micro caps will be a few years from now.

Andrew Hore – Quoted Micro 3 August 2020

AQUIS STOCK EXCHANGE

Newbury Racecourse (NYR) says that it is confident that it has the resources to trade through the current economic difficulties. Significant losses are expected this year and into next year. There was £1.27m in the bank at the end of 2019. Net assets were £50.9m. Newbury increased revenues by 3% to £19.8m in 2019, while underlying pre-tax profit fell by two-thirds to £490,000.

Blockchain technology and tokens investor KR1 (KR1) reported realised gains of £694,000 in 2019, while staking yields and advisory fees generated £422.000 in income. There was also a net unrealised gain on all investments of nearly £1m. Reported pre-tax profit was £1.36m, compared with a large loss the previous year because of a significant unrealised loss. NAV was £7.47m at the end of 2019.

NQ Minerals (NQMI) is raising a further £447,500 at 7p a share. This also helps to extend the shareholder register. The cash will finance the reopening of the Beaconsfield gold mine.

Cadence Minerals (KDNC) says that the capex on the Yangibana rare earths project, where Cadence has a 30% interest, will be reduced by A$68m (13% of the total) due to the relocation of the processing plant.

Clean Invest Africa (CIA) has secured a contract to produce 10,000 tonnes of ilmenite pellets from tailings sludge. This will increase the effectiveness of the ilmenite and get rid of the sludge. This indicates that there is a broader market for the pelleting technology than just coal.

Eight Capital Partners (ECP) is restructuring its investment in Financial Innovations Team because of a disappointing performance. The investment will be unwound, and the funds invested should be recovered. The stake has been returned to the vendors and a vendor loan has been cancelled and Eight Capital bonds returned. That totals €750,000 out of the aggregate consideration of €1.2m, with a further €100,000 to come. A £1 payment has secured an option to take a 60% stake Innovative Finance.

Incanthera (INC) has filed a new patent for its Sol skin cancer technology. This should extend the life of the Sol patents to 2041.

European Lithium Ltd (EUR) has received the A$1m balance of the $10m finance facility with Winance Investment.

AIM

Floorcoverings manufacturer Victoria (VCP) traded strongly in June following a tough three months. There was limited impact on the figures for the year to March 2020 with revenues of £621.5m and like-for-like growth of 0.4%. Higher interest charges held back pre-tax profit to £50.7m. Net debt was £365.9m, with most debt in the form of quoted bonds. There is £174.7m of cash in the balance sheet. This could be used to finance further acquisitions. Pre-tax profit is forecast to decline to £27m this year before improving to £54m next year. The outcomes will depend on the strength and consistency of the recovery.

Peter Gyllenhammar continues to build up his stake in Brand Architekts (BAR) and it has reached 6.1%. He owned less than 3% just over a fortnight ago. This follows the reduction in the stake held by Gresham House Strategic (GHS) to below 3%.

Fortiana Holdings has launched a recommended 300p a share bid for Highland Gold Mining (HGM) and that values the gold miner at £1.09bn. The Highland share price has not hit 300p since 2006.

At the end of March 2020, the NAV of Wynnstay Properties (WSP) was 792p a share. In the first quarter, 100% of rents were received.

Harwood Capital is offering 37.5p a share for property manager HML Holdings (HMLH) and this valued it at £19m.

Goldplat (GDP) says its gold recovery processing operations in South Africa and Ghana have increased profitability in the year to June 2020. South Africa more than doubled its profit contribution and Ghana moved from loss to profit. The higher gold price has offset shutdown periods. here was £3.2m in the bank at the end of June 2020. The loss-making Kilmapesa mine is being sold for an initial payment of $1.5m plus up to $1.5m via a 1% net smelter royalty. An unnamed UK listed company plans to make the acquisition if it raises at least $4m and gains shareholder approval.

Gemfields (GEM) reduced cash operating spending to below $5m in June and that left net cash of $9.3m. There is uncertainty about whether gemstone auctions will be held. If not, more cash is likely to be needed

Coro Energy (CORO) is not going ahead with the disposal of its Italian oil and gas assets Zenith Energy (ZEN) because regulatory approval has not been received.

Shareholders of cash shell Safe Harbour Holdings (SHH) have voted to wind up the company, although one-fifth of the votes were against the resolution. A 74p a share distribution will be made by the end of September and a final distribution is planned by next July.

MAIN MARKET

Tex Holdings (TXH) says it needs additional working capital and is talking to its major shareholder. The plastics division is trading at 70% of expected levels, while engineering is having a difficult year, although orders improved in June. Other parts of the business are suffering delays in orders.

Books publisher Quarto (QRT) reported a slump in revenues from $56.4m to $46.9m, although the underlying loss dipped from $3.7m to $3.3m due to lower interest charges. Cash generated from operating activities was $8.38m. Pre-publication costs fell from $11.9m to $10.3m. Net debt was $36.6m at the end of June 2020.

Spinnaker Opportunities (SOP) says that it believes that the UK review of regulatory requirements for cannabis-related companies is near completion. When this happens Spinnaker should be able to complete the acquisition of Kanabo Research.

A gain on a disposal of an investment by Sure Valley Ventures has helped Sure Ventures (SURE) to increase its NAV to 92.6p a share.

Andrew Hore

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

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