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Open Orphan #ORPH – Launch of Disease in Motion platform

Open Orphan (AIM: ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist pharmaceutical services clinical research organisation (CRO) and world leader in vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge clinical trials , announces that hVIVO , a subsidiary of Open Orphan, has officially launched its Disease in Motion® platform. This unique data-focused platform includes clinical, immunological, virological and digital (wearable) biomarkers. The Disease in Motion platform has multiple infectious disease applications that are applicable to a wide variety of end users including big tech, wearables, pharma and biotech companies.  

hVIVO has been at the forefront of running human challenge studies for more than 20 years and has built up one of the most comprehensive, multi-parametric bio and databanks ever created for infectious diseases. This dataset from the Disease in Motion platform is continuously gathered throughout the onset, progression and resolution of an infection which is enabled by hVIVO’s challenge study model. The Company is committed to volunteer patient data privacy and data is only collected from fully consented volunteers in accordance with all relevant privacy guidelines.

For more information on the platform, please visit www.hvivo.com/DiseaseInMotion  

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman said: The Disease in Motion platform includes data from cutting edge wearables that are applicable to a wide variety of end users including big tech, wearables, pharma and biotech companies. As volunteers remain under close observation prior to viral challenge, during disease progression and until resolution, data is captured across the full time-course of the infection, yielding possible insights into the body’s response to infection. The Disease in Motion platform currently spans several conditions with plans to expand this going forward.  

As a recognised global leader in supporting the development of therapeutics and vaccines, hVIVO and our team of virological, clinical and regulatory experts are actively in discussion with potential partners to help address the next set of challenges facing humanity.” 

Interested in becoming a volunteer?

hVIVO recruits many of its volunteers for its challenge study clinical trials through its dedicated volunteer recruitment website,  www.flucamp.com . By volunteering to take part in one of our studies in a safe, controlled, clinical environment under expertly supervised conditions you are playing your part to further medical research and help increase the understanding of respiratory illnesses.

Individuals interested in taking part in COVID-19 human challenge study research can learn more at www.UKCovidChallenge.com . 

For further information please contact:

Open Orphan #ORPH – COVID-19 Human Challenge Programme update

Open Orphan (AIM: ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist pharmaceutical services clinical research organisation (CRO) and world leader in vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge clinical trials , announces an update in the world’s first COVID-19 characterisation study. Following Research Ethics Committee approval on 17 February 2021, hVIVO, a subsidiary of Open Orphan, began the study at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust earlier this month.

The first three volunteers have now successfully completed the quarantine phase of their study participation with no safety concerns presented and have been discharged from the unit. The study will now progress to the next group of volunteers. The first three volunteers will continue their study participation with follow up visits and monitoring for a period of up to one year. As is normal practice during any clinical trial, none of the partners in the study will be identifying any of the volunteers.

The virus characterisation study will inoculate up to 90 volunteers, between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, to enable identification of the most appropriate dose of the virus needed to cause COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in a safe and controlled environment. The study is funded by the UK Government and Imperial College London is the clinical study sponsor. The study is conducted by hVIVO at the Royal Free Hospital, under the scrutiny of highly trained scientists and medics. The virus being used in the characterisation study has been produced under hVIVO’s supervision by a team at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust in London, with support from virologists at Imperial College London.

Individuals interested in taking part in this research can visit www.UKCovidChallenge.com to learn more.

Chief Scientific Officer at hVIVO, Dr Andrew Catchpole, said : “We are pleased to announce that the first three volunteers in this world’s first study have now successfully completed the quarantine phase, these volunteers will continue to be monitored post-study for up to 1 year. Throughout their stay at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the volunteers are closely monitored by our highly trained team of clinicians.

“We would like to thank these volunteers for their participation in this important study and look forward to welcoming the following cohorts. We expect that this study will greatly assist our understanding of this disease and provide insights into its progression, natural immune response, and transmission. We look forward to publishing the study’s results in due course and moving forward with vaccine challenge studies later this year.”

Dr Chris Chiu,  Chief Investigator and Reader in Infectious Disease at Imperial College London said: “We’re pleased to confirm the first group of three healthy volunteers has now successfully completed the first stage of the trial, with no unexpected issues. The volunteers are in good health. It would be premature to discuss further details at this early stage.”  

Group Chief Executive at the Royal Free London, Caroline Clarke, said:We are incredibly proud to be working with our partners from hVIVO, Imperial College London and the government’s Vaccine Taskforce on this important research. We’re delighted that the first stage of the study has been completed successfully and we look forward to continuing our close collaboration as this research moves forward.”

The information contained within this announcement is deemed by the Company to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations (EU) No. 596/2014 (“MAR”). With the publication of this announcement via a Regulatory Information Service, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain.

For further information please contact: 

Open Orphan plc

+353 (0) 1 644 0007

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman

Arden Partners plc (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker)

  +44 (0) 20 7614 5900

John Llewellyn-Lloyd / Benjamin Cryer / Dan Gee-Summons

finnCap plc (Joint Broker)

+44 (0) 20 7220 0500

Geoff Nash / James Thompson/ Richard Chambers

Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker)

+353 (0) 1 679 6363

Anthony Farrell

Walbrook PR (Financial PR & IR)

+44 (0)20 7933 8780 or openorphan@walbrookpr.com

Anna Dunphy / Paul McManus

+44 (0)7876 741 001 / +44 (0)7980 541 893 

Notes to Editors

Open Orphan plc

Open Orphan plc (London and Euronext: ORPH) is a rapidly growing pharmaceutical service/contract research company that is a world leader in testing vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials. The company provides services to Big Pharma, biotech and government/public health organisations.

Open Orphan runs challenge studies in London from both its 19-bedroom Whitechapel quarantine clinic, opened in February 2021, and its 24-bedroom QMB clinic which also has a highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory on-site. Open Orphan has a leading portfolio of eight human challenge study models for conditions such as RSV, flu, asthma and COPD. In addition, Open Orphan is also developing the world’s first COVID-19 human challenge study model as part of the Human Challenge Programme and has signed a reservation contract with the UK Government for the first three COVID-19 vaccine challenge studies.

Building upon its many years of challenge studies and virology research, the Company is developing an in-depth database of infectious disease progression data. Based on the Company’s Disease in Motion® platform, this unique dataset includes clinical, immunological, virological and digital (wearable) biomarkers. The Disease in Motion platform has many potential applications across a wide variety of end users including big technology, wearables, pharma and biotech companies. Following COVID-19 there is now a renewed interest and investment in infectious diseases.

Open Orphan’s Paris office has been providing biometry, data management and statistics to its many European pharmaceutical clients for over 20 years. For over 15 years, the Company’s Netherlands office has been providing drug development consultancy and services, including CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), PK and medical writing, to a broad range of European clients. Both offices are now also fully integrated with the London office and working on challenge study contracts as well as supporting third party trial contracts.

ECR Minerals #ECR – CEO Craig Brown talks to Alan Green

Brand Comms CEO Alan Green talks to ECR Minerals #ECR CEO Craig Brown about the company’s flagship gold exploration projects in the heart of Australia’s Victoria Goldfields. Taking slides from the latest company presentation, Craig talks about ECR’s wholly owned drill rig, HQ at Bendigo and the £4m funding and extra cash resources owned by the company. We look at the Creswick Gold project located close to the Ballarat Gold Mine before discussing this year’s production numbers at the Fosterville goldmine and how they might compare to assay results and ore grades currently being drilled at the Bailieston HR3 target. Craig looks at Black Cat, Cherry Tree and other targets at Bailieston, before we move onto the blue sky potential at the Tambo Project, and the connection with ECR’s Head Geologist Dr Rodney Boucher. We end with some takeaway points for investors.

Cadence Minerals and the next Commodity Supercycle

There is little doubt that historians will conclude that the global impact of COVID-19 represents the worst crisis since the Great Depression. The pandemic is leaving deep and enduring scars on the global economy, taxing health and medical services to the limit, depriving children of education, while decimating sectors of commerce and industry and in particular leisure and travel.

But history has shown on numerous occasions that the indomitable human spirit has a remarkable capacity for survival and evolution amidst existential crises. As areas such as traditional High St retail and seem to be drawing to a close, sectors such as commodities and mining are booming thanks to a near perfect storm created in part by the COVID crisis.

In October 2020, the IMF stated that the total bill for the global pandemic would reach some $28tn (£21.5tn) in lost output. The rapid intervention by global Governments with rate cuts, looser monetary policies and fiscal stimulus have certainly avoided a financial catastrophe, but at the same time these actions have effectively weakened fiat currencies and increased demand for commodities.

Historically the consequences of such events invariably see a strong recovery in commodity markets. This factor was clearly in evidence as 2020 progressed, and as the COVID noose tightened, prices of commodities such as Iron Ore, Copper and Nickel, along with precious metals including Gold and Silver, all increased in value.

As a consequence, as 2020 progressed prices of commodities such as Iron Ore, Copper and Nickel, along with precious metals including Gold and Silver, all increased in value.

In the wake of the sharp economic contractions in 2020, the IMF forecast that only China was expected to emerge with any economic growth during the year. 2021 is set to be a different story however, and with the vaccine rollout accelerating globally, there are expectations for sharp recoveries across most of the leading economies. Added to this, the new $1.9tn stimulus package in the US from the Biden administration will see heavy investment into ageing US infrastructure. These factors should ensure sustained demand and pricing for iron ore and base metals.

There is also the revolution taking place within the automotive industry to consider. The move towards EV’s is accelerating rapidly, with a plethora of commitments from key automotive manufacturers such as Ford, Volvo, BMW and Jaguar to switch to electric only production in the next few years. This move of course sounds the death knell for the internal combustion engine, but at the same time is driving the cost of battery metals and component commodities such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite

The net effect is that mining, specific commodities and minerals, along with the sector’s nebulous support service industries are undergoing a significant global resurgence. Projects considered uneconomical to develop, and that have remained dormant for years are returning to life, newly financed and fast tracked thanks to the array of modern desktop technologies, data and modelling tools.

Iron Ore

In a note published last December, Goldman Sachs outlined their expectations for another substantial deficit next year (27Mt, GSe), supported by a combination of gradually decelerating China steel demand growth, sharply re-accelerating demand for Western steel and tepid supply growth. GS added that the weighting of the 2021 deficit to the front half of the year points to fundamental support for a sustained price path higher over Q1 and Q2, revising near-term targets for the benchmark 62% iron ore price to 3M $140/t and 6M $150/t.

These numbers of course imply material upside longer term, and GS have also upgraded full year forecasts for 2021 to $120/t ($90/t previously) and for 2022 to $95/t ($75/t previously).

GS sees four core drivers supporting this bullish view:

  1. Chinese steel production has remained strong & production in 2021 remains supported by a healthy infrastructure and property project pipeline, alongside a resurgence in China’s manufacturing capex cycle and steel exports.
  2. With construction and heavy industry remaining relatively less affected by second-wave lockdowns, Western steel demand is also recovering ahead of expectations. Significant regional price strength in the US and Europe is likely to spur further blast furnace restarts (and hence iron demand) after an aggressive suspensions phase in 2020 contributed to the current steel supply shortfalls as demand recovers.
  3. Iron ore supply growth is likely to stagnate in 2021. The limited growth that exists next year is concentrated with Vale Brazil operations, which is why their recent substantive downgrade to production guidance has had such an outsized positive impact on price.
  4. Chinese mill iron ore inventories remain low, raising the prospect of restocking bursts through the year.

For Cadence Minerals, this bullish outlook for iron ore puts two very firm ticks in the box, firstly for what is widely regarded as the company’s flagship Amapa Iron Ore project in Brazil, and secondly the investment in ASX and TSX listed Macarthur Minerals, with whom Amapa shares numerous infrastructural and evolutionary similarities.

Amapa Project

Bringing a project the size and scale of Amapa back to life has as expected proved to be a complex and challenging process. Nonetheless, DEV Mineração, Cadence and Indo Sino Pty Ltd are reaching a legal settlement with the project creditors, and with the ruling in February by the Commercial Court of São Paulo that port operations and the shipment of iron ore stockpiles can begin, the company is set to take the first practical step towards bringing the project back to life, which will in turn bring benefits to the Amapa region in terms of employment, health and education.

Once the creditor settlement agreement has been signed, an initial $2.5m investment will be released from escrow, meaning that the Pedra Branca Alliance (Cadence & Indo Sino JV co) will own 99.9% of DEV, the owner of the entire Amapa mining and processing assets,. At this point Cadence will proportionately own 20% of Amapa. The next step will involve a further $3.5m investment following the granting of the necessary environmental licenses required to operate the mine, which will see Cadence move to a 27% stake, with an option to increase to 49% once project financing has been raised to complete recommissioning and commence production.

Last November Cadence completed an updated Mineral Resource Estimate for Amapa, which increased the 2012 Anglo American MRE estimate by 21% to 176.7 million tonnes (“Mt”) grading 39.7% Fe in the Indicated category. With a production capacity of 5.3Mt per annum, the survey also noted there was significant potential to increase the resource base after the completion of metallurgical and optimisation studies.

Lake Giles Iron Project

Cadence also has a stake (c1%) in ASX and TSX listed Macarthur Minerals, owner of the Lake Giles Iron Project near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. The Lake Giles project consists of the Moonshine magnetite deposit and the Ularring hematite deposit, which together have an indicated Mineral Resource Estimate of 218Mt grading 27.5% Fe in the Indicated category.

Lake Giles and Amapa share many similarities in regard to facilities and production routes, and with the Feasibility Study already underway, Lake Giles has a 3.4 Mt per annum production target with potential to scale-up operations.

Lithium

A recent paper published by commodities expert Fastmarkets FB noted that global lithium supply was developing at accelerating pace due to strong and continually growing demand. In particular the demand for compounds used in lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries such as lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide has prompted lithium producers to expand total production while diversifying their investments in different lithium operations to ramp up production and diminish asset risk.

Despite an effective over supply in 2018-2019 that saw a price moratorium and a 50% fall in the price of battery-grade lithium carbonate in China, the subsequent seismic shift to bring forward EV production and commitments from major automotive manufacturers around the world saw the price of Lithium in China surge to an 18 month high of $9450 per tonne in January 2021.

The Fastmarkets’ research team expects global lithium demand to grow to at least 1.1 million tonnes per year of lithium-carbonate equivalent (LCE) by 2025 from an expected 300,000 tonnes of LCE in 2019, with Global lithium producers set to boost output year on year to maintain pace with growing demand. Despite this, as can be seen from the table above the numbers still don’t add up, with massive shortfalls projected by Benchmark Intelligence in lithium and other key constituent metals by 2030.

Over 2018, China emerged as the world’s leading lithium-processing hub with the rapid growth of companies like Ganfeng Lithium, which specialise in converting lithium concentrate from hard rock.

Cinovec – European Metals Holdings

The Cinovec project is the largest hard rock lithium resource in Europe and 4th largest non-brine resource in the world. Perfectly located to become the central lithium supply hub for the European EV industry, Cadence owns a 12% stake in AIM listed European Metals Holdings (EMH), which in turn owns 49% of the Cinovec project, (51% owned by utilities giant CEZ Group).

Cinovec is a potential low-cost producer at the bottom of the cost curve, and will sustainably supply 25,267 tpa lithium hydroxide or 22,500 tpa lithium carbonate into the European battery market.

Sonora Lithium Project

Cadence is a 30% joint venture partner with Bacanora Lithium (BCN) on the Fleur Lease (Mexalit & Megalit) at the Sonora Lithium Project in Mexico. A completed feasibility study values Sonora Mexico at US$1.25bn NPV, with some of the lowest production costs at $4,000/t in the industry.

AIM listed Bacanora is focused on building a 35,000 tpa lithium carbonate operation at Sonora with 50% owner and take off partner Ganfeng Lithium.

Australia Hard Rock Lithium Projects

Cadence owns three dormant hard rock lithium assets in Australia. These are Picasso (Western Australia – WA), Litchfield (Northern Territories – NT) and Alcoota (NT) all of which are in regions with proven lithium mineralisation and supportive mining infrastructure.

The Litchfield project, located near Darwin (NT), has an exploration license granted and is contiguous to Core Lithium’s (ASX: CXO) territory. Core has a JORC compliant mineral resource of 8.55Mt @ 1.33% Li2O for its Finnis project (for all six deposits).

Yangibana Rare Earths Project

Operated by ASX listed Hastings Technology Metals, Yangibana is a substantial Rare Earths deposit near Gascoyne in Western Australia. Drilling and sampling have revealed high concentrations of Neodymium and Praseodymium (NdPr), essential components in permanent magnets used in electric vehicles.

Cadence is a 30% joint venture partner with Hastings on part of the Yangibana Rare Earth Element Project. Probable Ore Reserves within the tenements held by Cadence are just over 2m tonnes with TREO of 1.66%.

The current mine plan anticipates production to start from the joint venture areas (Yangibana) in year 6.

A Key Role?

Around the world today there are countless mining exploration companies, commodity investors and mine operators with projects offering scope for development and potential for investment. The challenge with any project of this nature is matching the opportunity with the macro backdrop, projected demand for the commodity alongside capex vs. return, production routes, shipping and completion of cycle to bring the product to the customer.

Rarely if ever has the industry been presented with so compelling a backdrop for the commodity market as a whole. The significant global resurgence seen in the mining sector at present given is entirely sustainable given the level of asset purchases and spending by Governments to rejuvenate damaged economies and the inevitable resulting erosion in fiat currency value.

As economies emerge from the havoc wrought by the COVID virus and restrictions on spending are lifted, it is clear that in many cases demand will outstrip availability. This will apply almost without exception across the commodity spectrum – iron ore for steel to fund reconstruction – lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and rare earths to address the burgeoning demand for lithium-ion battery production.

There is no doubt that the recovering global economy is embarking on the next great Commodity Supercycle. Many mining groups and commodity project investors will benefit from this phenomenon by owning the right projects, at the right stage of evolution at the right time. On the evidence available today, Cadence Minerals is certainly one of them.

Open Orphan #ORPH – First volunteer dosed in intranasal COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

Open Orphan plc (AIM: ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist pharmaceutical services CRO and a world leader in vaccine and antiviral testing using human challenge clinical trials, announces that the first volunteer has been dosed with the Codagenix Inc. (“Codagenix”) needle free, intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, COVI-VAC. Conducted by hVIVO, part of Open Orphan plc, the Phase I clinical trial of COVI-VAC is being carried out at their facility in the UK. COVI-VAC is a single-dose, intranasal, live attenuated (the entire virus in a weakened form) vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Further to the Company’s announcement on 28 July 2020, hVIVO is working in collaboration with US biotech Codagenix to conduct a Phase I study of COVI-VAC. This is a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled dose-escalation study, and will evaluate the safety and tolerability of the single-dose intranasal vaccine candidate in 48 healthy young adult volunteers at hVIVO’s state-of-the-art Quarantine Facility in Whitechapel, London.

The study will also evaluate the vaccine’s ability to provoke an immune response – measuring neutralising antibodies, mucosal immunity in the airway and cellular immunity. COVI-VAC has the potential to address several key logistical challenges to immunisation against SARS-CoV-2 at a global scale. As a single-dose, intranasally-delivered vaccine, COVI-VAC will not require a needle and syringe to be administered, nor ultra-low temperature freezers for storage. COVI-VAC can be manufactured on a large scale and supports ease of administration in a mass vaccination campaign. Codagenix expects to report initial data from the study by mid-2021.

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman, Open Orphan, commented: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the New York based Codagenix to run this very important COVID-19 vaccine study in our quarantine clinic in London. This vaccine is one of the first of the next generation COVID-19 vaccines, it is a single dose, needle free, intranasal, live attenuated COVID-19 virus vaccine. Thus, in our opinion, because it is a live attenuated virus vaccine, COVI-VAC has the potential to give much longer-lasting cellular immunity against COVID-19 than many of the first-generation vaccines.

“Codagenix sought an inpatient facility for the first in human evaluation of COVI-VAC to allow for thorough evaluation of product safety and real-time volunteer monitoring, and our unique state-of-the-art quarantine facility in East London is one of the few facilities in the world suitable to conduct this trial safely and successfully. hVIVO are providing a full-service trial as part of this contract with Codagenix and the team at FluCamp have been responsible for all aspects of trial recruitment for this study through www.FluCamp.com .

“hVIVO is world-recognised for its expertise in evaluation of live viruses in human volunteers and we look forward to a positive outcome.”

Sybil Tasker, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of Codagenix, said: “Dosing of the first patients in the Phase 1 clinical trial of COVI-VAC, our single-dose, intranasal, live attenuated vaccine against COVID-19, is an important milestone for Codagenix and the hVIVO team.   As a live attenuated vaccine, COVI-VAC has the potential to provide a broader immune response in comparison to other COVID-19 vaccines that target only a portion of the virus, which could prove critical as new variants of SARS-CoV-2 have begun to emerge.  Additionally, we believe COVI-VAC can address potential gaps in supplying the global immunization effort against COVID-19, especially in developing countries .”

Interested in becoming a volunteer?

hVIVO recruits many of its volunteers for its challenge study clinical trials through its dedicated volunteer recruitment website,  www.flucamp.com . hVIVO welcomes volunteers to take part in our clinical trials under expertly supervised conditions, to further medical research, and help us to take the understanding of respiratory illnesses to a new level. Volunteers are central to the work that we do; our studies focus on testing new treatments on real people, in a safe, controlled, clinical environment.

Further details on all aspects of our volunteer programs including testimonials from previous volunteers can be found at www.flucamp.com .

If you are interested in being contacted and provided with details about future COVID-19 human challenge study research, please leave your contact details at  www.UKCovidChallenge.com .

For further information please contact:

 

Open Orphan plc

+353 (0) 1 644 0007

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman

Arden Partners plc (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker)

  +44 (0) 20 7614 5900

John Llewellyn-Lloyd / Benjamin Cryer / Dan Gee-Summons

finnCap plc (Joint Broker)

+44 (0) 20 7220 0500

Geoff Nash / James Thompson/ Richard Chambers

Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker)

+353 (0) 1 679 6363

Anthony Farrell

Walbrook PR (Financial PR & IR)

+44 (0)20 7933 8780 or openorphan@walbrookpr.com

Anna Dunphy / Paul McManus

+44 (0)7876 741 001 / +44 (0)7980 541 893 

 

About Open Orphan ( www.openorphan.com )

Open Orphan is a rapidly growing niche CRO pharmaceutical services company which is a world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials. Conducted from Europe’s only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology providing individually isolated rooms and connected to our specialist laboratory facility.  hVIVO’s challenge studies require healthy volunteers to take part, volunteers are recruited through FluCamp, learn more at  www.FluCamp.com The hVIVO facility offers highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory services to support pre-clinical and clinical respiratory drug, antiviral, and vaccine discovery and development.  Reliable laboratory analysis underpinned by scientific expertise is essential when processing and analysing clinical samples. Robust quality processes support our team of scientists in the delivery of submission ready data.

The Company has a leading portfolio of 8 viral challenge study models which are: 2 FLU, 2 RSV, 1 HRV, 1 Asthma, 1 cough and 1 COPD viral challenge models. As announced in early March, Open Orphan is rapidly advancing a number of Coronavirus challenge study models and expects to be helping many COVID-19 vaccine development companies to test their vaccines. No other company in the world has such a portfolio, with only two competitors globally having 1 challenge study model each.  hVIVO also works with companies in the UK and Ireland to provide COVID-19 testing to staff to protect staff and customers from a workplace COVID-19 outbreak through its  COVID Clear  offering.  

Open Orphan comprises of two commercial specialist CRO services businesses,  hVIVO    and    Venn Life Sciences  and is also building out a valuable data platform business. hVIVO has built up one of the world’s largest databases of infectious disease progression data and we are populating our Open Orphan Health Data platform with this historical hVIVO data. In our clinical trials going forward, we are also planning to collect data on volunteers via wearables during clinical trials. Therefore, Open Orphan’s data, which may yield valuable digital biomarkers, could be one of the more sought-after datasets by many of the large wearables /smart watch wearables providers around the world. In June 2019, Open Orphan acquired AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc in a reverse take-over and in January 2020 it completed the merger with hVIVO plc. Venn is an integrated drug development consultancy firm which offers CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), preclinical, Phase I & II clinical trials design and execution. The merger with hVIVO created a European full pharma services company broadening the Company’s customer base and with complementary specialist CRO services, widened the range of the Company’s service offerings.

BRR Media – Open Orphan #ORPH secure MHRA approval to start Codagenix COVID-19 phase 1 vaccine trial

Open Orphan #ORPH – MHRA approval for nasal COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

First in human trials for vaccine candidate with the potential to confer long-term immunity

Open Orphan plc (AIM: ORPH), a rapidly growing specialist pharmaceutical services CRO which is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials, announces the first in human (Phase I) study of Codagenix intranasal SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate has received approval from the UK’s independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Further to the Company’s announcement on 28 July 2020, hVIVO, part of Open Orphan plc, is working in collaboration with US biotech Codagenix Inc. (“Codagenix”) to conduct this Phase I study of COVI-VAC, Codagenix’s intranasal SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate. The study will evaluate safety and immunogenicity of a single-dose nasal vaccine candidate in 48 healthy young adult volunteers at hVIVO’s state-of-the-art Quarantine Facility in Whitechapel, London.

COVI-VAC is one of the few vaccines that uses the live-attenuated virus (i.e. the entire virus in a weakened form), unlike most other vaccines which only contain the viral spike. This vaccine, therefore, has the potential to induce broad antibody, cellular and mucosal immunity with a single intranasal dose and could be one of the first vaccines to provide long-term immunity from COVID-19.

hVIVO expects the study to commence in January 2021, the initial data expected in early Q2 2020. The Company has already begun enrolling volunteers for this study in its unique East London, 24-bedroom quarantine clinic through hVIVO’s dedicated volunteer recruitment website: www.flucamp.com

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan, said:

“We are delighted to have MHRA approval to begin recruiting volunteers for this much needed clinical trial. The volunteers who attend our unique quarantine facility in East London are expertly supervised in a safe, controlled clinical environment and could be contributing to the development of a new breakthrough vaccine candidate that has the potential to confer immunity to individuals over a much longer timescale.

“We hope to demonstrate safety and immunogenicity through this trial, which will then allow us to support Codagenix as they move into a larger Phase II / Phase III programme.”

Sybil Tasker, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of Codagenix, said:

“We are very excited to be moving forward with our collaboration with hVIVO for this first-in-human study of COVI-VAC, our live attenuated vaccine against COVID-19. The initial safety and immunogenicity data from healthy adults will position us well to move into larger studies in 2021 with our partners at Serum Institute of India. We believe COVI-VAC, a needle-free, single dose vaccine, is well-suited to address potential gaps in supplying the global community, as there is likely to be significant unmet need even after the initial roll-out of first generation COVID-19 vaccines.”

Dr. Rajeev Dhere, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India, said:

“We at the Serum Institute of India are pleased with the MHRA approval for initiating the first-in-human clinical trial for the novel intranasal product against COVID-19, developed by Codagenix in collaboration with SII. We are happy to have hVIVO conducting the clinical trial of this unique Intranasal vaccine.”

For further information please contact

Open Orphan plc +353 (0)1 644 0007
Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman
Arden Partners plc (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker) +44 (0)20 7614 5900
John Llewellyn-Lloyd / Benjamin Cryer / Dan Gee-Summons
finnCap plc (Joint Broker) +44 (0) 20 7220 500
Geoff Nash / James Thompson/ Richard Chambers
Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker) +353 (0)1 679 6363
Anthony Farrell
Walbrook PR (Financial PR & IR) +44 (0)20 7933 8780 or openorphan@walbrookpr.com
Paul McManus / Alice Woodings +44 (0)7980 541 893 / +44 (0)7407 804 654

About Open Orphan (www.openorphan.com)

Open Orphan is a rapidly growing niche CRO pharmaceutical services company which is a world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials. Conducted from Europe’s only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology providing individually isolated rooms and connected to our specialist laboratory facility. hVIVO’s challenge studies require healthy volunteers to take part, volunteers are recruited through FluCamp, learn more at www.FluCamp.com. The hVIVO facility offers highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory services to support pre-clinical and clinical respiratory drug, antiviral, and vaccine discovery and development.  Reliable laboratory analysis underpinned by scientific expertise is essential when processing and analysing clinical samples. Robust quality processes support our team of scientists in the delivery of submission ready data.

The Company has a leading portfolio of 8 viral challenge study models which are: 2 FLU, 2 RSV, 1 HRV, 1 Asthma, 1 cough and 1 COPD viral challenge models. As announced in early March, Open Orphan is rapidly advancing a number of Coronavirus challenge study models and expects to be helping many COVID-19 vaccine development companies to test their vaccines. No other company in the world has such a portfolio, with only two competitors globally having 1 challenge study model each. hVIVO also works with companies in the UK and Ireland to provide COVID-19 testing to staff to protect staff and customers from a workplace COVID-19 outbreak through its COVID Clear offering.

Open Orphan comprises of two commercial specialist CRO services businesses, hVIVO  and  Venn Life Sciences and is also building out a valuable data platform business. hVIVO has built up one of the world’s largest databases of infectious disease progression data and we are populating our Open Orphan Health Data platform with this historical hVIVO data. In our clinical trials going forward, we are also planning to collect data on volunteer’s via wearables during clinical trials. Therefore, Open Orphan’s data, which may yield valuable digital biomarkers, could be one of the more sought-after datasets by many of the large wearables /smart watch wearables providers around the world. In June 2019, Open Orphan acquired AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc in a reverse take-over and in January 2020 it completed the merger with hVIVO plc in January 2020. Venn is an integrated drug development consultancy firm which offers CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), preclinical, Phase I & II clinical trials design and execution. The merger with hVIVO created a European full pharma services company broadening the Company’s customer base and with complementary specialist CRO services, widened the range of the Company’s service offerings.

Most people try to avoid Covid-19. But thousands are signing up to be deliberately exposed – CNN

By Mick KreverPhil Black and Cristiana Moisescu,

London (CNN) – As most of us obsess with avoiding Covid-19 at all costs, a rapidly growing group of people around the world say they are prepared to deliberately take on the virus.

Tens of thousands of people have signed up to a campaign by a group called 1 Day Sooner to take an experimental vaccine candidate and then face coronavirus in a controlled setting. 

Among them is Estefania Hidalgo, 32, a photography student in Bristol, England, who works at a gas station to pay the bills. 

“I do night shifts there, and it can be very lonely,” she recalled on a sunny day near her home.

Passing those long lockdown hours with just podcasts to keep her company, she describes discovering the challenge trial movement — and hearing volunteers’ motivations — as a revelatory moment. 

“I was shaken,” she said. “No one should be left behind. Old people, poor people, people of color. Everyone just deserves to be healthy.”

“This was a way for me to take back control of the situation, to feel like I was in a less hopeless place, and a less hopeless world, and be like, OK, I can do this. To make it better, I chose not to be in fear.” 

So-called human challenge trials, while sometimes controversial, are nothing new. They have been used for cholera, typhoid, malaria, and even the common cold. But unlike for those diseases, we do not yet have a completely effective treatment for Covid-19, should the experimental vaccine fail. 

Volunteers in challenge trials are typically compensated for their time and participation, experts say, but organizers must be careful not to pay an amount that could edge on coercive. Critics also say that challenge trials have limited use because the young, healthy people who take part don’t represent the broader population. 

Full CNN article here

Open Orphan #ORPH – Interim Results for 6 months ended 30 June, will be operationally profitable in Q4

Open Orphan Plc, a rapidly growing specialist CRO pharmaceutical services company which is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical studies is pleased to announce its interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2020. The interim results include the first six months of hVIVO group (“hVIVO”) following its acquisition by Open Orphan Plc on the 17 January 2020.

Operational Highlights:

·    Completed the acquisition of hVIVO plc for an aggregate consideration of approximately GBP£13 million in equity on 17 January 2020 

·    Implemented a major restructuring and integration of our operations to drive efficiency and competitiveness which is now substantially completed

·    Successfully secured a number of RSV human challenge studies in the period including:

–      £3.4m contract with a major European biotech company, with anticipated £7m follow-on study  

–      £3.7m contract with a US biotechnology company 

·    Driving growth of Dutch early clinical development services while refocussing French operations towards biometry services

·    Large contract signed with a global leader in vaccine development 

·    Launch of COVID-19 Antibody testing partnership with Quotient Ltd

·    Appointment of Leo Toole as Group Chief Financial Officer enhancing the executive management team

Financial Highlights:

·    Cash and cash equivalents at half year end of GBP £14.7m following two successful placings:

–      Executed a fundraise on 31 January 2020 raising GBP £5.3 million at 6.1p per share (before expenses)

–      Executed a fundraise on 22 May 2020 raising GBP £12.6 million at 11p per share (before expenses)

·    Reported Interim Results

o  Revenue of GBP £7.1 m for H1 2020 – continued focus on delivering larger contracts

o  EBITDA loss of GBP £4.1m for H1 2020

o  Operating Loss of GBP £5.0m for H1 2020

·    Pro-forma Interim Results

o  Revenue of GBP £7.4m (H1 2019 Revenue of GBP £11.6m)

o  EBITDA Loss of GBP £4.7m (H1 2019 EBITDA loss of GBP £4.7m)

o  Operating Loss of GBP £5.6m (H1 2019 Operating Loss of GBP £6.3m)

·    Post completion of Merger, reduction in overheads on target to deliver annualized cost efficiencies of GBP £10.1m by end of 2020

Post Period End:

·    Acquired the CHIMagents team in July, reinforcing hVIVO’s position as the world leading services company in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through human challenge study clinical trials.

·    Integrated hVIVO’s unparalleled database of infectious diseases progression data into the Open Orphan data platform – expecting potential commercialisation in Q4, with some of the world’s largest wearable companies for this disease progression data.

·    Progressing as planned to monetise two of our non-core assets, the 49% stake in Imutex and the 62.6% stake in PrEP.

·    The Company continues to provide testing to large commercial employers in the UK and Ireland as part of a combined COVID-19 antibody and COVID-19 PCR (swab) testing offering. 

·    Contracts signed post period end include:

–      Laboratory services contracts signed with a number of parties – a key strategic growth area for Open Orphan taking advantage of our laboratory expertise.

–      Contract signed with Codagenix Inc. for a first-in-human Phase I COVID-19 vaccine study, demonstrating that hVIVO’s quarantine facility is uniquely suited to conducting Phase I studies for infectious disease vaccines such as this.

–      Further RSV human challenge study contract for £4m signed with a Top 3 global pharma company with hVIVO acting as sponsor for this study.

–      First-in-human clinical pharmacology trial signed with Carna BioSciences.

–      Contract signed with a major European pharmaceutical company for data management, statistics and medical writing to support a 750 subject oncology study.

–      Contract signed for a further £4.3m human challenge study with a top 10 global vaccine company.

Outlook:

·    The Group has a strong pipeline of contracted  work and new projects at an advanced stage of negotiation and is targeting growth with strong operating cash flow in the second half of 2020 and is on target to be operationally profitable in Q4.

·    As of September 2020, we are close to having the hVIVO quarantine clinic block booked with conventional challenge studies until December 2021. Quarantine clinic block expected to shortly be booked out for the next 18 months to two years with conventional challenge study contracts.

·    Further to its announcements of 9 March 2020 and 22 May 2020, the Company is well progressed in developing the world’s first Coronavirus human challenge study model to test a range of COVID-19 vaccines, complementing existing human challenge study models. We are in advanced discussions and negotiations with a range of potential customers, including the UK Government to test COVID-19 vaccines. 

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman of Open Orphan, said: 

“Since we acquired hVIVO in January 2020, we have achieved what we set out to do. We have created a leaner more efficient businesses, removed excess costs and we are now a truly unique clinical research organisation (CRO) that is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials. We have secured larger, more profitable contracts with both large pharma and the leading vaccine developers globally. We have delivered upon our aim of improving revenue streams through the delivery of several new revenue lines including the provision of laboratory services to third parties. We have reinvigorated both the Venn Life Sciences business and the hVIVO business during the first half of 2020 and have created a strong foundation for future growth.

Looking ahead, I am extremely excited by the potential for this business, we have entered a decade of significant spending on vaccines and antivirals by both governments and pharma companies around the world. The Open Orphan Group including hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences is ideally positioned to capitalise on this increase in vaccine development expenditure. Earlier this year we set ourselves the target of being profitable in the second half of 2020 and I am delighted to confirm that, despite profitability taking a few months longer than expected, we are on target to be operationally profitable in Q4 2020. 

None of the above would have been possible without the exceptional effort, dedication and professionalism shown by all hVIVO, Venn and Open Orphan team members. They have worked diligently through the past 6 months, despite the added difficulty of the pandemic, to ensure that we have delivered an excellent performance. The teams are really well positioned to thrive as the world leaders in the testing of vaccines and antivirals for the decade ahead.”

Conference call for sell-side analysts and investors

The Company will hold a conference call for sell-side analysts and investors at 10:30 today. 

Details for the conference call can be found at: https://www.speakservecloud.com/register-for-call/254ba4b5-e780-48fb-9142-c5762f4ef8ef

A corporate presentation is available to shareholders on the Group’s website at: https://www.openorphan.com/investors/reports-and-presentations/year/2020

Enquiries:

Open Orphan Plc Tel: +353 (0)1 644 0007

Cathal Friel, Executive Chairman

Arden Partners (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker) Tel: +44 (0)20 7614 5900

John Llewellyn-Lloyd / Benjamin Cryer / Dan Gee-Summons

finnCap plc (Joint Broker) +44 (0) 20 7220 500

Geoff Nash / James Thompson/ Richard Chambers

Davy (Euronext Growth Adviser and Joint Broker) Tel: +353 (0)1 679 6363

Anthony Farrell (Corporate Finance)

Camarco (Financial PR)Tel: +44 (0)20 3757 4980

Tom Huddart / Hugo Liddy

Notes to Editors ‐ Open Orphan:
Open Orphan is a rapidly growing niche CRO pharmaceutical services company which is a world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials. Conducted from Europe’s only 24-bedroom quarantine clinic with onsite virology providing individually isolated rooms and connected to our specialist laboratory facility. hVIVO’s challenge studies require healthy volunteers to take part, volunteers are recruited through FluCamp, learn more at www.FluCamp.com. The hVIVO facility offers highly specialised virology and immunology laboratory services to support pre-clinical and clinical respiratory drug, antiviral, and vaccine discovery and development.  Reliable laboratory analysis underpinned by scientific expertise is essential when processing and analysing clinical samples. Robust quality processes support our team of scientists in the delivery of submission ready data.

The Company has a leading portfolio of 8 viral challenge study models which are: 2 FLU, 2 RSV, 1 HRV, 1 Asthma, 1 cough and 1 COPD viral challenge models. As announced in early March, Open Orphan is rapidly advancing a number of Coronavirus challenge study models and expects to be helping many COVID-19 vaccine development companies to test their vaccines. No other company in the world has such a portfolio, with only two competitors globally having 1 challenge study model each. hVIVO also works with companies in the UK and Ireland to provide COVID-19 testing to staff to protect staff and customers from a workplace COVID-19 outbreak through its COVID Clear offering. 

Open Orphan comprises of two commercial specialist CRO services businesses, hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences and is also building out a valuable data platform business. hVIVO has built up one of the world’s largest databases of infectious disease progression data and we are populating our Open Orphan Health Data platform with this historical hVIVO data. In our clinical trials going forward, we are also planning to collect data on volunteer’s via wearables during clinical trials. Therefore, Open Orphan’s data, which may yield valuable digital biomarkers, could be one of the more sought-after datasets by many of the large wearables /smart watch wearables providers around the world. In June 2019, Open Orphan acquired AIM-listed Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc in a reverse take-over and in January 2020 it completed the merger with hVIVO plc in January 2020. Venn is an integrated drug development consultancy firm which offers CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and controls), preclinical, Phase I & II clinical trials design and execution. The merger with hVIVO created a European full pharma services company broadening the Company’s customer base and with complementary specialist CRO services, widened the range of the Company’s service offerings.

Executive Chairman’s Statement 

Dear Shareholder, 

As Executive Chairman, I am very happy to report the first set of combined results since Open Orphan plc’s (formerly Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc) acquisition of hVIVO plc (now hVIVO Limited) in January 2020.  

Summary

The 6 months to the end June 2020 have been a period of significant change initially focussed on progressing our strategy to sign contracts for our world leading human challenge studies clinical trials which are used to test vaccines and anti-virals. We are also signing new contracts for biometry services from our Paris office and early clinical development services from our Breda, Netherlands office while at the same time developing further new revenue streams such as laboratory services to complement our existing London business. This has all been done while at the same time we implemented a major restructuring and integration of our operations to drive efficiency and competitiveness which is now substantially completed. 

Also, in this period, the Company addressed the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic event by enabling a safe and efficient working environment for our staff at home and in our clinic and laboratory facilities. We have worked proactively with our clients to manage project timetables to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on our revenues streams while continuing to build new relationships to expand our confirmed project pipeline well into 2021 and beyond. 

Other highlights include the completion of a placing of £12.6m (before expenses) at 11p per share in May 2020 allowing us to invest to accelerate the development of a world-first coronavirus challenge study model to test COVID-19 vaccines and antivirals. This was all done while also expanding our laboratory service offerings to offer enhanced external laboratory services and to develop testing services to support the nascent testing environment for Covid-19.  

Interim Results

Reported results for Open Orphan plc are summarized below and are covered by the schedules and notes from pages 6  to 14 of these Interim Financial Statements (and in particular reflect reverse merger accounting treatment under IFRS 3 and IFRS 10 of the combination of Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc and Open Orphan DAC as of 28 June 2019). We also share for reference the results for hVIVO plc (now hVIVO Limited), Open Orphan plc (formerly Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc) and Open Orphan DAC on a stand-alone basis.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 Open Orphan plc(As reported)hVIVO plc(Proforma results on standalone basis)Open Orphan plc(formerly Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc -proforma resultson a stand-alone basis) Open Orphan DAC (proforma resultson a stand-alone basis)Open Orphan plc(proforma results on a combined basis and including the impact of the 28 June 2019 and 17 January 2020 combinations)
 Unaudited6 months ended30 June2020£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2019£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2020£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2019£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2020£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2019£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2020£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2019£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2020£’000Unaudited6 months ended30 June2019£’000
Revenue (incl. Other income)7,0783,3796,4094,0625,1797,44111,588
Operating (Loss) (5,005)(156)(3,067)(4,224)(2,128)(1,965)(447)(159)(5,642)(6,348)
EBITDA before exceptional items(4,145)(156)(2,478)(3,192)(1,811)(1,340)(445)(159)(4,734)(4,691)
Loss for the period (6,490)(1,070)(2,934)(3,833)(2,408)(1,809)(458)(1,091)(7,136)(6,733)
           
 As at 30 June 2020€’000As at 30 June 2019€’000        
Non-current assets17,7215,250        
Current assets (excl. cash)3,6025,714        
Cash14,6514,540        
Total Assets35,97415,504        
Equity attributable to owners26,9947,576        
Non-current liabilities2,2713,304        
Current liabilities6,7094,624        
Total equity and liabilities35,97415,504        

Governance

The Board continues to recognise the importance of the high standards of corporate governance and considers that the Group’s success is enhanced by the imposition of a strong corporate governance framework. I am grateful for the contributions of the new Board formed after the acquisition in January 2020 and want to acknowledge the important service of Trevor Philips during his tenure on the Boards of hVIVO plc (now hVIVO Limited) and Open Orphan plc until he stepped down in May 2020. 

Outlook

Our business outlook has never been stronger. Demand and interest to complete Challenge studies in our 24-bed quarantine facilities in the UK is translating into a steady flow of signed new contracts and new customer engagement. As a result of the  fundraise at the end of May, Open Orphan now has a large, healthy cash balance and, as such, is very well capitalised and we are ideally placed to be providing such services to governments and pharma companies around the world who seek to address the current pandemic and mitigate the risk of future such events. We are progressing a number of encouraging avenues to rapidly develop a human challenge model specific to SARS CoV-2 to fast track the identification of efficacious vaccines and treatments for Covid-19.

Our early clinical development business based out of Breda in the Netherlands is showing strong year on year growth while our biometry services based out of our Paris office, now focussing on data management, biostatistics, medical writing and randomisation, are contributing strongly to generate synergies for our viral challenge studies and expand their pipelines.

Across the second half of 2020, we will see the impact of the major efforts undertaken across the Group to divest from underperforming businesses, reduce overheads, deliver merger integration savings and right-size the management team including combining senior roles in both Venn and hVIVO leading to operational profitability in Q4. Our renewed focus on reducing hierarchy has increased the speed of decision making while empowering our teams to deliver our ambitious goals.

In addition, data is an important upstream area of development for the Group where we believe there will be an important convergence of  hVIVO’s global infectious disease progression data with the digitization of other vital signs and biomarkers available through our challenge studies, all with the goal of creating a ground-breaking Open Orphan Health Data platform that can be monetized with major pharma players. 

I am very encouraged for the remainder of 2020 and our prospects in 2021. We have a world leading team, focused on ground-breaking work which will create sustainable value for all our stakeholders.

Cathal Friel

Executive Chairman

30 September 2020

Full results announcement with financial statements here

Atlantic View – Keep Buying Kingfisher #KGF, DIY Retailer Flying High Thanks To COVID Lockdown Sales Boom

by John Woolfitt, Atlantic Capital Markets

Fundamentals & Statement Summary

Kingfisher (KGF), the owner of B&Q in the UK and Castorama and Brico-Depot in France, today announced a resilient first-half sales performance after the impact of the COVID lockdown during Q1 was offset by strong sales recovery in Q2. The group said that the crisis had ‘reinforced’ its approach, ‘pushing’ the retailer to be ‘bolder.’ Sales fell 1.3% to £5.9bn, while adjusted pre-tax profit grew by 23.1% to £415m as a huge 164% increase in online sales and a strong recovery in reopened stores offset the temporary closure of all outlets in the UK and France early in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The results comfortably exceeded adjusted profit forecasts of £361m, and as a result Kingfisher said it would repay the £23m it received in furlough payments from the UK government. Free cash flow of £1.04bn, up £838m, reflected higher operating profit, working capital inflow of £656m and lower capex.

Kingfisher said it had benefited from a surge in spending on homes and gardens as people adapted their houses for working from home, using money they would have spent on holidays or entertainment. 

Kingfisher CEO Thierry Garnier said the crisis “has prompted more people to rediscover their homes and find pleasure in making them better. It is creating new home improvement needs, as people seek new ways to use space or adjust to working from home. It’s also clear that customers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online. And delivering value to consumers is imperative against a challenging economic backdrop.”

Looking forward, Kingfisher said the momentum had continued into Q3, with UK sales up 18.9%. since the end of July and those in France climbing 16.7%. The group also intends to experiment with new store formats including a pilot with Asda to introduce B&Q mini-stores in supermarkets.

Garnier added that while the near term outlook was uncertain, “the longer term opportunity for Kingfisher is significant. There is a lot more to do, but the new team and new plan is now established in the business and we are committed to returning Kingfisher to growth.”

Chart and Technicals

Source: FactSet and Hargreaves Lansdown

In the run up to the March COVID fall, Kingfisher shares traded steadily, before plunging to  a 10 year low of 124p on March 18th. By the end of April however, the shares had not only recovered the 50-day MA, they blew through it, and recovered the benchmark 200-day moving average at 190p less than 1 month later. Since that time KGF has traded above both averages, leading to a bullish golden cross formation on July 10th as the 50-day MA passed through the 200-day MA. The stock drifted back to the 50-day MA in the run up to the results, and having successfully tested that level, opened higher on September 22nd. While above this level, our expectations are that the stock will retest July 2018 highs of 317p by early November 2020.

Summary and Atlantic View

Although the strong trading performance had by and large been flagged up by Kingfisher to the markets, the pace of online growth and resulting profit number caught out even the most bullish pundits. As CEO Thierry Garnier says, people have used the cash they would have spent on holidays and entertainment on home improvements. This factor, also evident in Travis Perkins results earlier this month, led to strong free cashflow and the return of furlough payments to HM Govt. Now, with lockdown and movement restrictions set to return at home and in France, Atlantic Capital Markets believes Kingfisher websites and outlets will be faced with a huge opportunity to cash in on another surge in home improvement spending during the latter part of the year. Backed by this sort of momentum, we expect the shares to push higher and retest the technical target of 317p in the next 4-6 weeks. Keep Buying.

To take advantage of this trading idea, speak to a member of our dealing team on 01872 229000 or visit the Atlantic Capital Markets website here

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