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Alan Green talks COVID stocks Novacyt #NCYT), Synairgen #SNG, Avacta #AVCT, plus Blue Prism #PRSM & Capita #CPI on the UK Investor Magazine podcast
The UK Investor Magazine Podcast is joined by Alan Green for a run down of the dramatic moves in markets this week and exploration of scenarios going into the end of 2020.
The Biden Presidential victory has been overshadowed by news from Pfizer had a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19 with a vaccine demonstrating 90% effectiveness. We look at the sharp rally in markets and question the sustainability going forward.
We discuss Novacyt (NCYT), Synairgen (SNG), Avacta (AVCT), Blue Prism (PRSM) and Capita (CPI).
Alan Green presents the investment case for Novacyt #NCYT, Avacta #AVCT, Destiny Pharma #DEST & Catenae Innovation #CTEA
Alan Green presents the investment case for Novacyt #NCYT, Avacta #AVCT, Destiny Pharma #DEST & Catenae Innovation #CTEA
Alan Green talks to John Woolfitt, Director at multi award winning broking and investment firm Atlantic Capital Markets. John looks forward to the coming month, and discusses US job numbers, Boris and Build Build Build, and the raft of UK job cuts. He then discusses ‘Covid’ stocks, including Novacyt #NCYT, upcoming key corporate announcements for July, including Royal Dutch Shell #RDSB and Hutchison China Meditech #HCM and trading ideas from the Atlantic dealing floor. John finishes with a recap on key points and trading ideas to help traders and investors in July.
Gin and spirits supplier British Honey Company (BHC) is using spare capacity in its distillery to produce # alcohol sanitisers. There is a shortage of sanitisers due to the coronavirus and HMRC has given permission for British Honey to produce denatured alcohol. The sanitisers are made with 70% alcohol and extracts of honey and green tea. Longer-term, the strategy is to buy other spirits brands to use spare capacity. British Honey started off as a honey producer and moved into craft spirits infused with honey in 2017. It has a computer-controlled, 1,000-litre capacity still and bottling facility with a capacity of 1.5 million bottles a year. Ingredients can be tracked. There has been £4m invested in this infrastructure. The existing products use a small proportion of this capacity. The company also produces spirits on behalf of third parties. Discussions have begun with some potential acquisitions. British Honey joined Aquis Stock Exchange at the beginning of the week and raised £4.25m (£3.88m after expenses) at 110p a share. Advanced assurance of eligibility for the Enterprise Investment Scheme has been obtained. The initial market capitalisation was £10m. Cairn is corporate adviser and Stanford Capital Partners is broker.
Sativa (SATI) is launching a cannabigerol (CBG) and alcohol-based hand sanitiser. CBG is thought to be effective as an antibacterial product and could combat superbugs.
Energy supplier Good Energy (GOOD) reported better than expected 2019 pre-tax profit. Underlying pre-tax profit still dipped from £2.3m to £2.1m due to lower gross margins. Profit is expected to bounce back to £3.1m in 2020. Both business and domestic customers were higher last year. The total dividend has been increased from 3.5p a share to 3.7p a share. Net debt was £39.2m at the end of 2019.
Brewer Shepherd Neame (SHEP) has decided not to pay the interim dividend of 6p a share announced the week before. The sharp downturn in trading and subsequent closure of pubs due to COVID-19 means that Shepherd Neame is also cutting capital investment and the board is taking a one-fifth cut in pay. Rent receipts from tenants were suspended from 16 March.
KR1 (KR1) has generated $168,000 from selling ATOM, taking the total raised from disposals to $290,000. It still holds nearly 17,000 ATOM.
Sheltered housing developer Walls and Futures REIT (WAFR) has outperformed its benchmark for a third year in a row. The MSCI UK Residential index increased by 4.4% in 2019, while Walls portfolio increased by 23%.
BWA Group (BWAP) says that its subsidiary has been awarded an exploration licence for an area known as Dehane in central Cameroon. The focus is rutile sands and other minerals. The permit is for three years and the financial commitment in year one is £275,000, followed by £207,000 in each of the next two years. Tri Castle Investments is subscribing £100,000 at 0.5p a share.
First Sentinel (FSEN) has raised £389,000 at 20p a share for working capital. VI Mining (VIM) raised £56,000 via a placing at 15p a share that was curtailed because of COVID-19. Further cash will be raised in the future.
Eastinco Mining and Exploration (EM.P) has secured a $200,000 facility from Augustin Corp, which is owned by a trust related to Eastinco executive chairman Charles Bray. The annual interest rate is 6 percentage points above commercial lending rates and the facility lasts for up to 18 months.
SAPO (SAPO) is holding a general meeting on 14 April to gain shareholder approval for increasing the share capital. Executive chairman Dr Keith Harris has been issued 20 million shares at 1p a share. The consideration will be paid by the end of 2024.
Belvedere Leisure Resorts (BELV) believes that once normality is resumed it can accelerate its resort development and deliver phase one on time.
Dozens Savings (DS07) says that 795 investors have subscribed for company bonds.
Trading in Dana International (DANA) shares remains suspended. The property investor is still trying to gain full information about share transfers.
Christian Taylor-Wilkinson has become interim chief executive of Altona Energy (ANR) following the resignation of executive chairman Qinfu Zhang.
Sales of COVID-19 tests by Novacyt (NCYT) continue to accelerate. It has received orders worth more than £8.7m in a six-week period. Manufacturing capacity is being increased.
Synairgen (SNG) is about to start a phase II trial for SNG001 for the treatment of an initial 100 patients with mild-moderate COVID-19. Initial results should be available by the summer. SNG001 is inhaled interferon beta, which has shown benefits in the treatment of SARS. The existing COPD phase II trial has been paused, but initial results suggest that there is clinical benefit.
Best of the Best (BOTB) would have been in trouble a decade ago when it generated its competition entries from airports and other areas of high footfall. Having gone online, the competitions organiser has continued to prosper. Additional marketing investment has helped the 2019-20 performance to be above expectations. The pre-tax profit forecast for the year to April 2020 has been raised from £2.6m to £3m.
Payment systems provider PCI-Pal (PCIP) has won a contract for its Agent Assist product with a UK government organisation. The annual contract value is £565,500.
Manx Financial (MFX) is buying back the 12.94% shareholding owned by Aaron Banks. Manx intends to pay £1.61m for the shares and then cancel them. This cash will become a loan to Manx and an existing £483,500 convertible will be added to the sum. Banks has requisitioned a general meeting at iodine manufacturer Iofina (IOF) in order to remove Lance Baller from the board and become a director himself. Banks does not intend to make a bid for the company.
Mobile payment services provider Bango (BGO) is still set to move into profit in 2020. End user spend doubled last year.
Indigovision (IND) is recommending a 405p a share cash bid from Motorola Solutions. This values the video security technology company at £30.4m. In 2019, pre-tax profit was $1.3m.
MJ Hudson (MJH) grew organic revenues by 12.5% in the first half. The asset management services provider has net cash of £20.1m following last year’s flotation. The acquisition of Meyler will expand the range of services provided in the US. The customer base is predominantly long-term and closed ended funds. A full year pre-tax profit of £1.1m is forecast.
Big Sofa Technologies (BST) has put itself up for sale and trading in the shares is suspended. The video and data analytics technology developer needs additional cash and it is difficult to raise funds in the market when there is so much uncertainty. The company expects proposals by the end of April.
The Wressle oil field development in north Lincolnshire is set to commence production in the second half of 2020 and Egdon Resources (EDG) has a 30% stake and is operator. Europa Oil and Gas (EOG) and Union Jack Oil (UJO) also have interests. The breakeven oil is estimated at $18/barrel. Production could start at 500 barrels a day. An application has been allowed against North Lincolnshire council for costs relating to delays in gaining a permit.
Diagnostic and precision testing services provider Diaceutics (DXRX) boosted revenues by 30% last year following its flotation. Although gross margins improved, a significant increase in headcount meant that pre-tax profit dipped to £500,000. The initial benefits of the investment in the business are showing through growth in Asia and other regions.
Regional property investor Real Estate investors (REI) increased its dividend by 7% to 3.8p a share. Like-for-like rental income was slightly lower at £16.9m and the weak retail property market led to a 3% reduction in EPRA NAV to 67.4p a share. Loan to value is 46.7%. The Midlands property market is strengthening ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. An improvement in NAV to near-69p a share is forecast for 2020.
Xeros (XSG) has signed a joint development agreement with a global commercial laundry business. XFiltra micro-particle filtration technology will be included in the partner’s commercial washing machines. The EU plans to have micro-particle filtration in use by 2026. Xeros is likely to need to raise more cash next year.
Oncimmune (ONC) says NICE has completed a positive review of EarlyCDT Lung and believes that it can help in the early diagnosis of lung cancer.
Trading in the shares of Boston International Holdings (BIH) has been suspended ahead of the proposed acquisition of invoice factoring company Alexanders Discount Ltd, which is based in the South East. Alexanders Discount accounts for the year to November 2019 are for a dormant company and the assets were worth £4. The standard list shell floated in October 2016.
Telecoms services provider Toople (TOOP) says that the integration of DMSL is ahead of plan and it has won two new contracts.
BATM Advanced Communications (BVC) is partnering with Novamed for an at-home COVID-19 diagnostic kit. The kit should be completed within four months.
AIQ Ltd (AIQ) has signed a conditional share purchase agreement for Alchemist Codes, a Malaysian IT services developer. AIQ is paying £2.3m in shares.
Arbuthnot Banking (ARBB) improved its underlying pre-tax profit from £2.7m to £3.4m in the first half of 2019. The interim dividend has been raised from 15p a share to 16p a share. The recent residential mortgage portfolio acquisition was after the end of June. The strategy is to diversify the business and asset-based lending and specialist finance are being built up. Savings platform Arbuthnot Direct has recently been launched. The core private banking operations of Arbuthnot Latham are still growing, though. The shareholding in Secure Trust Bank has been sold down to below 10%, which means it is no longer consolidated. The change from associate led to a write down and NAV declined to £13.21 a share.
VI Mining (VIM) has so far paid $9.1m in cash to the vendors of the Minaspampa and Rosario projects in Peru. There is still $42.2m outstanding 18 months after the acquisition agreement was signed. Majority shareholder Sumner Group Holdings is raising money from a security token offering, which could be completed in the autumn. Some of the proceeds will be used to replace existing facilities and help to pay outstanding acquisition considering, pending renegotiation of the deal. Chief executive David Sumner has provided a $10m term loan, plus a £39m facility of which $3m has been drawn down. There is $1.2m outstanding on the Tassili Jewellery LLC loan facility.
AfriAg Global (AFRI) has completed its acquisition of a 2.325% stake in cannabis company Apollon Formularies. The Jamaican subsidiary has produced its first licensed medical cannabis oils for commercial sale on the island.
MetalNRG (MNRG) has published a prospectus for its move to a standard listing on 23 July. It has raised £193,000 at 0.3p a share.
Clean Invest Africa (CIA) says that its CoalTech subsidiary has signed a joint venture agreement with Creon Capital covering Russia and nearby countries. CoalTech is negotiating with other potential partners to set up operations in Europe, Indonesia and the US.
Tectonic Gold (TTAU) says its mining subsidiary has received approval for the R and D tax incentive scheme in Australia for 2018-19. A claim is being prepared.
Share trading has recommenced in Ganapati (GANP) after it published results for the year to January 2019. There was a cash outflow from operations of £23.8m. Since January, two new games have been generated each month.
Focusrite (TUNE) has acquired Germany-based studio monitor loudspeakers supplier Pro Audio for £16.2m in cash and it will still have £12m left in the bank. Pro Audio supplies ADAM branded products and made a pre-tax profit of €1m. This is an earnings enhancing acquisition. The businesses will operate separately but work together to develop cross-selling benefits.
Swallowfield (SWL) is selling its manufacturing business to the much larger US manufacturer Knowlton Development Corporation for £35m in order to concentrate on its portfolio of personal care and beauty brands. This should leave net cash of £23m in Swallowfield and this will be used to acquire more brands. The company is changing its name to Brand Architekts Group.
Lawyer Gateley (GTLY) grew all its main operations. Acquisitions helped revenues to increase by one-fifth to £103.5m in the year to April 2019, but there was still organic growth of 9.5%. Pre-tax profit improved from £15.4m to £18.1m. The dividend was raised from 7p a share to 8p a share. Corporate business grew more modestly than other parts of the business, but this was impressive given market conditions for corporate deals. A profit of £21m is forecast for this year.
Victoria (VCP) has raised €330m via an issue of 5.25% senior secured notes 2024. This offer was three times subscribed. The floorcoverings manufacturer is using the money to refinance existing debt and will have £80m of cash after the issue.
Packaging machinery supplier Mpac Group (MPAC) is trading significantly ahead of expectations. Equity Development has increased its 2019 operating profit forecast from £4.6m to £5.5m.
Adamas Finance Asia (ADAM) has completed a co-investment agreement with a Hong Kong-based family office for the investment in Japanese resort business Infinity Capital Group. The family office will pay Adamas $1m of the $2m already drawn by Infinity and the other $2m will be provided 50/50 by the two parties. The facility has a coupon of 17.5% per annum. This deal provides cash to invest in other opportunities. Adamas took advantage of a dip in the share price to buy back £30,400worth of shares at 38p each.
Velocys (VLS) has raised £7m at 3p a share on the back of news that Shell and British Airways will co-fund the development of the Immingham biorefinery project. The cash will be used for further technology development and to progress the Mississippi biorefinery project.
Block Energy (BLOE) has completed the increase from a 71.5% to 100% of its working interest in the West Rustavi field in Georgia. The cash and shares payment means tha Georgia Oil and Gas has increased its stake in Block to 7.7%. Miton has cut its stake from 9.17% to 4.73%.
Mortice (MORT) has decided to cancel its AIM quotation and is offering shareholders the chance to sell their shares for 12p each. A lack of liquidity and a weak share price making it difficult to finance acquisitions are the main reasons for leaving AIM.
Albert Technologies Ltd (ALB) also wants to leave AIM, but it is not offering an exit for shareholders. It believes it can attract investors, but they would prefer to invest in an unquoted company.
Science Group (SAG) has been buying more shares in Frontier Smart Technologies (FST) at the bid price of 35p each and it has built up a 39.9% stake. It also has 3.1% acceptances for its bid.
Mirada (MIRA) has integrated Netflix into its set-top box platform and this will make its technology even more attractive to broadcasters.
Bangladesh has brought in a law that all listed companies have to pay at least 30% of post-tax profit, or an extra 10% tax charge will be levied. Beximco Pharmaceuticals (BXP) is assessing the legislation and will consider how best to manage cash.
Novacyt (NCYT) has sold its loss-making clinical labs business for £400,000 and it will concentrate on diagnostics businesses Primerdesign and Lab21. The first instalment of £100,000 has been paid and £100,000 more is due in September, but the rest will be paid in three equal instalments on the first, second and third anniversaries of the deal.
Spinnaker Opportunities (SOP) has received a commitment to invest up to £1.4m from a single investor conditional on the deal to acquire medicinal cannabis company Kanabo Research. The investment will be for a maximum of 4.99% of the enlarged share capital, although if there is any of the £1.4m left it could be invested in a convertible loan note. The investment underpins the expected acquisition-related fundraising and a fee of 10% of the investment is payable.
General meeting resolutions to wind-up Avocet Mining (AVM) were withdrawn at its general meeting. This comes after discussions with shareholders. There is a few weeks cash left in the business and any potential transaction would have to come with finance to cover the costs of an acquisition process.
Dukemount Capital (DKE) has commenced construction of 17 specially developed apartments and retail space on its West Derby property.
Fashion On Screen has listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, which has European Growth Market status by the HMRC. This means that there is no stamp duty. The company had previously considered a listing on the Nasdaq First North market in Copenhagen. Fashion On Screen has raised more than £3m prior to its listing. A film based on the kidnapping of racing driver Juan Fangio in Cuba in 1958 could start before the end of the year (for more about the background to the story listen to https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055fjfx).
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.
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.
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.