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Bruce Pubs (PUB) has raised £100,000 from an issue of 7.2% bonds and trading has commenced on NEX. The pubs operator wants to raise up to £20m. The cash will be used to acquire pubs in Scotland. Bruce owns 18 licenced premises with another licence pending. Bruce Pubs is a subsidiary of the holding company Bruce Group, which had net assets of £3.8m at the end of June 2018.
Sativa Investments (SATI) is investigating ways of raising cash to finance the company’s glasshouse and working capital for the first cannabis crop. There are also talks with vets about using medicinal cannabis in animal health. Sativa is pleased with the platform that NEX has given the business. Imperial X (IMPP) is the latest NEX company to change its investing strategy to cannabis investments.
Trading in the shares of Clean Invest Africa (CIA) following news that it has negotiated an agreement to acquire the 97.5% of CoalTech LLC it does not own. The company has technology that can convert waste coal into coal pellets for industrial and commercial use. A circular will be sent to shareholders in the first quarter of 2019.
Primorus Investments (PRIM) has increased its stake in Greatland Gold (GGP) to 35 million shares, which is equivalent to 1.09%. The average cost is 1.71p a share. The investment has been made ahead of further drilling results at the Havieron gold/copper project in Australia.
EPE Special Opportunities (ESO) reported a NAV of 189.95p a share for the end of 2018.
President Energy (PPC) beat its production target for the end of 2018. The Argentina-focused oil and gas company was producing 3,300 boepd by the year end, which is 10% above the target. The latest drilling programme of three wells has been a 100% success. President intends to build on this base during 2019. The next reserves audit should be published in March. There should be a significant jump in profit in 2019. Panmure Gordon forecasts a 2019 pre-tax profit of $18.6m. The cash generated will help to finance forecast capital investment of around $40m during the year. The target price is 15p a share.
Gateley (GTLY) continues to trade strongly with organic growth supplemented by contributions from acquisitions. The legal services provider increased interim revenues by one-fifth to £46.4m, while pre-tax profit rose from £4.2m to £5m. Net debt increased from £7.1m to £8.2m after acquisitions spending and dividend payments. The second half tends to be more cash generative. More business is coming from litigation work but management is confident that its revenue recognition policies mean that the strong cash generation will not be hit.
Castleton Technology (CTP) is paying £1.8m for Deeplake Digital, which provides digital communications services between landlords and tenants. Thirty of its 90 customers are new to Castleton.
ATTRAQT (ATQT) is expecting to make a small EBITDA figure for 2018. The online shopping performance enhancement services provider will report its 2018 results on 14 February.
More woe for Footasylum (FOOT) as gross margins come under pressure. Revenues were in line with expectations over Christmas but less money was made from them as old stock was discounted. The 2018-19 loss forecast has been edged up to more than £5m.
Higher input costs mean that Accrol Group (ACRL) will not do as well as expected and it will make a significant 2018-19 loss after exceptional charges.
Packaging machinery supplier Mpac Group (MPAC) says 2018 trading was in line with expectations and the year has started with a strong order book. The company is assessing the potential additional cost of pension equalisation for its defined benefit scheme.
Bowleven (BLVN) is paying a 15p a share special dividend on 8 February. This will leave the oil and gas explorer with the cash it requires for its exploration programme.
Wealth manager Mattioli Woods (MTW) says that its interim EBITDA margin was substantially ahead of the 20% target. Gross discretionary assets under management were £2.4bn at the end of November 2018.
Churchill China (CHH) had a strong finish to the financial year with a better second half performance in the UK. The 2018 profit will be higher than expected. The figures will be published on 27 March.
Shoe Zone (SHOE) stands out amongst its peers because it has had strong 2017-18 figures and a good Christmas. Last year’s pre-tax profit improved from £9.5m to £11.3m. Forecasts have been upgraded with 2018-19 earnings per share increased from 16.4p a share to 17.6p a share based on flat profit and a higher tax charge.
Quiz (QUIZ) sales continue to decline, albeit at a slightly lower rate of 5% like-for-like. The fashion retailer had to discount and gross margins were two percentage points lower. Overheads are also too high because of the lack of growth. The full year profit forecast has been cut from £6m to £4.4m.
A North African order for the Helios product supplied by Starcom (STAR) has been delayed until 2019 so 2018 revenues will be lower than expected. The total order value is $1.1m and the majority was expected to be recognised in 2018. Even so, revenues were better than expected, but the loss will be higher.
A general meeting has been requisitioned at Angus Energy (ANGS) by shareholders owning 6.2% of the company. It is believed that former chairman Jonathan Tidswell-Pretorius is behind this requisition, which involves the proposed removal of Paul Vonk from the board and the appointment of the Earl of Lucan and George Bingham. Non-exec Rob Shepherd has resigned. Angus has entered into a 24 month, £3m loan facility with YA II PN Ltd and Riverfort Global Capital in order to finance the development of the Balcombe field in the Weald basin. A £1.5m drawdown is planned immediately.
Rose Petroleum (ROSE) has acquired additional acreage in the Paradox Basin in Utah at a cost of $35,000. Rose believes that the new acreage could have an NPV10 of around $12m. The deal follows the results of the Schlumberger study which suggests that the site of a proposed well in the area should be in an optimal position.
Diurnal Group (DNL) has been granted a second patent for hydrocortisone treatment Chronocourt, which already has orphan drug designation. The patent lasts until 2033.
A £2m subscription and $5m investment into an internal finance note by 1795 Volantis Fund will provide Obtala Ltd (OBT) with additional funds. 1795 Volantis Fund will own 12.9% of Obtala, as well as 40 million warrants exercisable at 10p each. The disposal of a Tanzanian agricultural business will bring in a further $2.5m. Obtala intends to acquire the 25% it does not own in Montara Continental for $5m, which will be reinvested in the internal finance note.
Fuel cell developer Proton Power Systems (PPS) will own 33.33% of Hamburg-based Clean Logistics, which is being set up to build heavy trucks powered by fuel cell hybrid systems in the range of 75kw-150kw. The other two equal shareholders are Hopen, which has interests in battery and electric vehicle developers, and modular transport service provider Hary.
Sopheon (SPE) had a strong end to 2018. The software provider will provide more details in its trading statement later this month, when finnCap says it will reassess its forecasts.
Dekeloil (DKL) says that fourth quarter volumes were in line with expectations with a 2% increase in crude palm oil production on the third quarter. The annual production was 15% lower because of the weak first half. Selling prices have been at a premium to the market price. The purchase of a 43.8% stake in the Tiebissou cashew processing project has been completed.
Imaginatik (IMTK) has decided to sell its software business and assets to Planbox. The initial cash payment is $1.7m and up to $800,000 more could become payable. If it is all paid then the selling price would be higher than the book value of the assets. Imaginatik will become a shell with around £1m in cash left from the initial payment. If the disposal is approved by sharehodlers the company will change its name to Abal Group.
Telematics firm Quartix (QTX) continues to grow fleet sales but lower insurance sales are partly offsetting that growth. A supplementary dividend will be announced with the final dividend when the 2018 figures are published on 25 February.
Brighton Pier Group (PIER) says problems with the railways are hampering the income generation of Brighton Pier and earning shave been lower. The trading of the bars division was flat last year. Pre-tax profit will be around £3.2m, which is 18% lower than previous expectations.
Frontier IP (FIPP) says that its investee company Exscientia has raised $26m and is collaborating with Roche in a deal worth up to CHF67m. Frontier IP owns 3.32% of artificial intelligence-driven drug developer Exscientia.
InnovaDerma (IDP) has revealed a 6% dip in first half revenues to £3.9m, even though retail sales grew strongly. Direct sales fell, although there are indications that they are recovering. The cosmetic products supplier will have to do well in the second half to achieve full year forecast revenues of £14.4m.
Trident Resources (TRR) has £1.85m in the bank at the end of October. The shell raised £4m when it floated in October. The balance sheet includes trade receivables of £2.1m, although management says that it started the year with just under £4m in cash. Potential acquisitions are being assessed.
Good Energy (GOOD) received applications for £16.7m of the corporate bonds on offer. The maximum application level was £20m. The energy supplier will issue the bonds on 30 June. At the company’s AGM, Martin Edwards was not re-elected as a non-executive director and four special resolutions, three relating to pre-emption rights and one about calling a general meeting at 14 days notice, were not passed. Edwards has been a director of Good Energy since its formation and has expertise in renewable energy generation. It is unclear whether the length of his time on the board was held against him by institutions or whether there was another reason for him being removed from the board. He was chairman of the remuneration committee.
South Africa-based social impact investment company Inqo Investments Ltd (INQO) says that occupancy rates of its core investment Kazuko Lodge are improving and it moved into profit last year. The weakness of the Rand has helped to boost tourist demand and room rates. In the year to February 2017, Inqo revenues increased from R10.7m to R17m and a loss of R4.72m was turned into a pre-tax profit of R10.3m, thanks to a rise in other income from R867,000 to R14m. Net cash was R2.3m at the end of February 2017. This year, the first revenues from Bee Sweet Honey and retirement savings scheme provider Four One Financial Services are anticipated.
Housebuilder St Mark Homes (SMAP) is paying an interim dividend of 5.5p a share. The shares go ex-dividend on 6 July.
Phoenix UK has bought out a rival shareholder in Hornby (HRN) and this has triggered a mandatory bid at the purchase price of 32.375p a share. This purchase took Phoenix’s stake in Hornby to 55.2%. The bid values Hornby at £27.4m. Neither Hornby’s management nor Phoenix wants to lose the AIM quotation. The bid closes on 14 July.
Wynnstay (WYN) reported flat interim pre-tax profit of £4.07m prior to the goodwill write-down on the Just for Pets retail business. Pet retailing is a competitive market and it is consolidation. Just for Pets is relatively small and it loss has masked an improvement in the core agricultural division and the Wynnstay Sores retail business. A recovery in the milk price means that farmers are back in profit and are spending more money on feed. Net debt was £8.28m at the end of April 2017, which is higher than last time because of the rise in commodity prices. The interim dividend was increased by 5% to 4.2p a share. The full year profit is forecast to decline from £7.4m to £7.1m.
NWF (NWF) also benefited from a recovery in feed demand in the second half of the year to May 2017, although there was a decline in the year as a whole. The food and fuel distribution businesses both made improved contribution. The full year figures will be published on 1 August.
South America-focused gold miner Orosur Mining Inc (OMI) says that operating costs were between $800 and $900/ounce last year. In the year to May 2017, Orosur produced 35,371 ounces of gold, which is at the lower end of the expected range. There was net cash of $2.9m at the end of May 2017 even though a new underground mine has been developed. Orosur plans to commence a drilling programme in Colombia, while the deadline for a decision by Asset Chile on whether to back phase II of the Anillo project has been extended to the end of 2017, although Orosur can talk to other potential backers.
Timber importer James Latham (LTHM) reported better than expected full year figures. In the year to March 2017, revenues were 7% ahead at £199m and gross margins improved. Earnings per share were 4% higher at 55.8p and the total dividend is 15.35p a share, up from 14.3p a share. Net cash was more than £16m. Revenues were 3% higher in the first two months of the current financial year.
InterQuest Group (ITQ) continues to advise against acceptance of the bid from Chisbridge, which is a management backed takeover vehicle. Acceptances of the 42p a share cash bid have been received from shareholders owning 2.85% of InterQuest, which is added to the 40.5% of the share capital that already backed the bid. The offer has been extended to 13 July.
European Wealth Group (EWG) is raising £6.14m at 12.8p a share and could raise up to £3.07m more via an open offer to existing shareholders. The cash will be used to pay off debt and deferred consideration.
Tracking and security equipment developer Starcom (STAR) has raised £650,000 at 1.5p a share, with each share coming with one-fifth of a warrant exercisable at 2.5p a share for up to 12 months. Some of the cash will be used to pay $246,000 to YA II, which will reduce the drawn down convertible loan facility from $330,000 to $110,000. YA II has agreed to a conversion price for the rest of the facility of 2.5p a share up until the end of 2017.
Redx Pharma (REDX) has a chance of securing the funds it requires in order to come out of administration. Discussions are still at an early stage. It is unclear whether this will involve changes to management, given that the current management believed that it could string along Liverpool City Council and put off repayment of its loan. Redx has gained UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approval for oral cancer treatment RXC004. This provides permission for a phase Ib/IIa study for gastric, biliary and pancreatic cancer patients.
Clontarf Energy (CLON) is in talks to secure further projects and additional finance. Clontarf was recently awarded block 18, offshore Equatorial Guinea.
Myanmar International Ltd (MIL) raised a total of $7.3m via PrimaryBid.com and institutions, having initially wanted to raise between $3m and $5m. The Myanmar-focused investment company offered shares at $1.18 each – a 9.2% discount to the market price. Myanmar has achieved a broadening of its shareholder base. The enhanced proceeds are still expected to be invested within six months.
Digital media content business Brave Bison Group (BBSN) has appointed Claire Hungate, a former chief operating officer of ex-AIM TV production company Shed Media, as chief executive but she does not join the company until September. Brave Bison says that it does not believe a merger with fellow AIM company Zinc Media is in its interests.
Water treatment company HaloSource (HAL) has finally completed a £1.8m fundraising at 1.5p a share. The cash will provide working capital to help expand the drinking water business and develop the lead removal technology. The cash will fund the group into 2018. The new shares are more than one-third of the enlarged share capital. The completion of the conditional fundraising was announced on 21 April. There is no mention in the latest announcement of the investor that had tried to gain Chinese government approval to invest.
Gold producer and explorer Shanta Gold (SHG) raised £11m at 6p a share as part of a refinancing that also includes a new $50m debt facility to replace the existing $40m facility. Shanta is acquiring TSX Venture Exchange-quoted Helio Gold, which has gold exploration assets near to Shanta’s own licences, for $5.6m in shares. Shanta will be able to finance the commercial underground production phase at its New Luika gold mine.
Thor Mining (THR) has raised£460,000 at 0.9p a share and there is one warrant with each new share which is exercisable at 1.8p a share. Thor has agreed to acquire 25% of US Lithium, which has interests in Arizona and New Mexico, from Pembridge Resources for £59,000 and £30,000 will be provided to cover operating costs. There is an option to acquire the other 75% for 52.8 million shares at a deemed price of 0.9p each. Thor has completed a 50 hole drilling programme on the Dundas gold project in Western Australia. The results should come through in a few weeks.
First, the good news from TLA Worldwide (TLA). Management is obviously trying to suggest that it does not have contempt for investors by releasing a profit warning at 7am – its advisers must be doing something right. This is certainly a big improvement on publishing a profit warning at 6.26pm on 23 December 2016. TLA still thinks that it will be able to report its 2016 figures and post its accounts on 30 June. However, the trade receivables write-off is going to be higher than the previous guesstimate of $1.5m-$2.5m. The write-off is expected to be $3.2m and on top of that the negative effect of the accounting corrections on EBITDA is likely to be $3.6m, up from $2m previously. That will leave 2016 EBITDA at $4.8m. The interest charge will take up the majority of that figure. It is not just that, though. The original 2015 profit will be reduced by $1.9m. Net debt was $21.8m at the end of 2016 but a large chunk of the receivables that should have helped to reduce that figure are not going to come in. There is no dividend – unsurprisingly. The finance director has left, although he will be providing assistance for three months.
Superyacht painting and maintenance services provider GYG (GYG) is raising £6.9m at 100p a share prior to joining AIM on 5 July. GYG is valued at £46.6m at the placing price and the plan is to pay an annual dividend equivalent to 6.4% of the placing price, although it will be 3.2% for 2017. Last year, GYG generated revenues of €54.6m and made EBITDA of €6.7m.
China-focused healthcare investor Cathay International Holdings (CTI) says that it will receive just over $4m in dividends from 50.56%-owned subsidiary Lansens Pharmaceutical. The dividend will be paid on 4 August. Lansens’ subsidiaries have received insurance payments totalling $2.58m. Two directors were not re-elected at Cathay’s AGM because, although they received the majority of votes, they did not receive the majority of independent votes. Further re-election resolutions will be proposed in the next four months and they will only need a majority to be passed.
Falcon Media House (FAL) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Communications to collaborate on an over the top service for brands and content rights holders, using Falcon’s Q-Flow technology.
SMALL CAP AWARDS 2017 WINNERS
Company of the Year
Musical instruments retailer Gear4Music has gone from strength to strength since joining AIM in June 2015. The share price has risen by 600% in the past year. In May, £4.2m was raised at 690p a share.
The musical instruments market remains fragmented but Gear4Music is becoming one of the main players in Europe and it is opening distribution facilities in Europe as well as expanding its UK base. The investment required is holding back short-term profit growth and, in fact, pre-tax profit is expected to dip this year from £2.7m to £2.4m before rising to £3.3m in 2018-19.
IPO of the Year
Accrol Group Holdings (ACRL)
Tissue manufacturer Accrol had just celebrated its first anniversary on AIM when it was given this award. Accrol floated at 100p a share on 10 June 2016 and the share price has risen to 159.5p. Full year figures will be announced on 10 July.
Accrol is a leading supplier of tissue products to the discount sector and it has opened a new factory in Leyland, Lancashire. This investment takes annual production capacity to 143,000 tonnes. A ten-year lease has been secured on a 368,000 square foot warehouse in west Lancashire and this will become the central distribution facility. The warehouse management and logistics have been outsourced.
NEX Exchange Company of the Year
Chapel Down Group (CDGP)
English wines producer Chapel Down has been quoted on NEX and it forerunners for more than 14 years. Revenues have grown from £1.47m in the year to September 2002 to £10.2m in 2016. The Tenterden-based business made a small loss when it floated. Continuing operations moved from an underlying pre-tax profit of £156,000 in 2015 to £340,000 in 2016. Frosts have hit production this year but the outcome for wine production is still uncertain.
The company has developed brewing business Curious Drinks, which has separately raised money to build a new brewery but Chapel Down still effectively controls the business. The new Ashford brewery will be open in mid-2018 and this will free up space for further wine making at Tenterden.
Impact Company of the Year
African agricultural and forestry business Obtala is set to start to commercialise its operations this year. Up until now revenues have been modest but they are set to jump to £11.9m in 2017, trebling to £36.9m in 2018, which should be high enough to allow Obtala to make a profit in 2018. Hardman estimates that the Mozambique forestry assets could generate EBITDA of more than £25m in 2021. There are also plans to build up the orchard and horticultural business in Tanzania.
In May, Obtala acquired profitable sawn timber trader WoodBois International for $14.8m (£11.4m). The Copenhagen-based business sources timber from across Africa and sells it around the world. WoodBois has been short of capital to finance growth and it fits well with Obtala’s existing timber and forestry operations.
Executive Director of the Year
Nick Jarmany, Quixant (QTX)
Telematics technology provider Quartix is highly cash generative enabling it to finance growth in the UK, France and the US and pay increasing dividends. Chief executive Nick Jarmany founded Quixant in 2005 having spent more than two decades at Densitron Technologies. He guided the business to an AIM quotation in 2013.
The UK remains the dominant region for revenues but France and the US are growing strongly from low bases. Last year, US revenues more than doubled, from £256,000 to £677,000, but the loss was even higher than that because of the investment in sales and marketing and support services to enable growth over the next five years.
Transaction of the Year
Keywords Studios (KWS)
Outsourced video games services provider Keywords Studios has made numerous earnings enhancing acquisitions since it joined AIM but this award is for the purchase of Synthesis for up to €18m, which is one of eight purchases in 2016. This deal meant that Keywords became the global leader in localisation and voice-over recording for video games and added additional studios in Germany, France and Taiwan.
Keywords is expected to maintain a net cash position at the end of 2017 but this will depend on the level of acquisitions activity. There is a €35m bank facility that is not fully utilised and that could be used for further acquisitions.
Analyst of the Year
Andrew Blain, Cenkos Securities
Journalist of the Year
Jamie Nimmo, Evening Standard
Adviser of the Year
Fund Manager of the Year
Paul Mumford, Cavendish Asset Management
Malcolm Diamond (Trifast/Flowtech Fluidpower)