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Trading in the bonds of Carduus Housing (CHPB/CHP2) has been suspended pending clarification of its financial position. It is noticeable that the suspension announcement is the first not to include managing director Brian Gilmour as the contact name. Instead fellow director Drew Oswald is named at the end of the release. Carduus joined ISDX on 30 September 2015 when £3.5m of 6.5% unsecured bonds were admitted to trading. It has subsequently raised £3.5m from the issue of 6.25% unsecured bonds. The strategy is to invest in affordable housing, with initial investments in Scotland.
Other bond issuers continue to raise cash. Diversified Gas & Oil (DOIL) has raised a further £630,000 from 8.5% unsecured bonds, taking the total to £5.8m. Via Developments (VIA1) has raised an additional £80,000, making a total of £2.64m from eleven placings of 7% debenture stock since joining ISDX. Residential property acquisitions have been made in Manchester and Luton.
Hydro Hotel, Eastbourne (HYDP) has appointed Jonathan Owen as its new general manager. He starts on 16 May. The shares owned by the estate of Richard Cecil James have been equally distributed to Elizabeth Foster and Patricia Gray, who own 10.1% and 9.3% of the company respectively. There were also 200 shares traded at 800p each on 15 March. At 775p (750p/800p) a share, which values Hydro at £4.7m.
Titiana Internet Ventures (TITP) has failed to secure a renewable energy sector deal and it does not have the cash to maintain its ISDX quotation so shareholders are being asked to vote to terminate this quotation. At 2.5p (2p/3p) a share, Titania is valued at £44,000.
Robotic process software supplier Blue Prism (PRSM) has joined AIM. The business is loss-making but it is profitable in Europe and the costs of building up a base in the US have pushed the group into loss. The software enables automation of manual, rules-based admin processes and it has been available since 2008 and subsequently developed further with customers. Blue Prism raised £10m at 78p a share, while £11.1m was raised by existing shareholders. The share price ended the first day of trading at 110.5p.
Specialist IFA Frenkel Topping (FEN) has gained FCA approval to deal with retail clients and this is the final requirement for the new strategy. This involves taking on the fund management role for assets under management – £666m at the end of 2015. Frenkel has been opening additional offices in order to broaden its coverage of the country and this held back profit last year. Pre-tax profit dipped from £1.57m to £1.42m in 2015. There should be some recovery this year but the real benefits of the strategy should be more obvious in 2017 when profit is expected to be £3.28m. Meanwhile, the dividend has been increased by 25% to 0.8875p a share and there should be further growth in dividends in the coming years.
SIPPs administrator Curtis Banks (CBP) reported an improvement in pre-tax profit from £3.1m to £4m in 2015 as it won new business and got the full benefit from recent acquisitions. Curtis Banks will become the second largest SIPP provider following the acquisition of Suffolk Life from Legal & General for £45m. The enlarged group will have 65,000 SIPPs with assets of £18bn under administration. The deal is still waiting for regulatory approval. There are opportunities for further bolt-on deals.
Standard list shell Opera Investments (OPRA) is still trying to secure the reverse takeover of SoloPower Systems Inc (http://solopower.com/company/) that was originally announced last July. Financing the acquisition of the thin film solar technology developer has proved difficult and the structure of the deal is being changed. SoloPower will raise finance prior to a reversal into Opera, which is required to happen by 15 May or it will not go ahead. There was £1.08m in the bank at the end of June 2015. Opera has already incurred £400,000 of costs relating to the deal but Hudson, the backer of SoloPower, will reimburse £200,000 of these costs by the end of the month.
Highlands Natural Resources (HNR) has paid $32,000 to acquire 100% of 26 unpatented mining claims in Grand County, Utah. Highlands had been assessing oil and gas well logs and thinks there might be a potential uranium discovery in the area. Permits will have to be obtained and then exploration can start a few months later. The seller is Ticaboo Minerals which will have the right to a production royalty of 2% of the gross value of minerals produced from the mining claims. The principal focus of Highlands is still the oil and gas sector.
Hearing and mobility products marketer and retailer DHAIS (DHAP) slipped into loss last year after operating costs rose faster than gross profit because revenues did not grow as fast as expected. In the year to June 2015, revenues grew from £9.65m to £10.6m, while a profit of £161,000 was turned into a loss of £83,000. The interim profit had been flat but there was a larger second half increase in costs. However, there was a cash inflow after capital expenditure of £133,000, which helped to pay down debt – although this is mainly an interest free loan from a hearing aid manufacturer. Hearing aid sales were 15% ahead and mobility sales were 12% higher. At 30.5p (28p/33p) a share, DHAIS is valued at £19m. In May, Spain-based GN Hearing Care acquired the 4.76% stake previously owned by Eurohearingaids.com Ltd.
The new board at Lombard Capital Group (LCAP) has written down two investments in its portfolio by £141,000. At 4.5p (4p/5p) a share, Lombard is valued at £86,400. The NAV is £99,000 or 5.19p a share and that includes £16,000 in cash. Russell Darvill and Charlotte Argyle stepped down from the board and Mark Jackson, Graham Jones and Nigel Fitzpatrick were appointed to replace them early in November.
Miton Group took up all of the 15 million shares issued at 1p each by Wheelsure Holdings (WHLP), which gives it a 9.25% stake in the rail track safety products developer. Daniel Stewart, which became Wheelsure’s corporate adviser and broker in August, handled the subscription and has been issued warrants to subscribe for 1.4 million shares at 1p each any time in the next five years. At 1.125p (1p/1.25p) a share, Wheelsure is valued at £1.8m.
Titania Internet Ventures (TITP) has raised £25,200 from an issue of convertible unsecured loan notes maturing in November 2020. There is no interest income. The conversion price is 0.56p a share compared with the current market price of 2.5p (2p/3p) a share, which values the current share capital of the investment company at £44,000. The holder of the loan notes will not be allowed to have a stake of 30% or more in Titania on conversion. Titania is being run on a care and maintenance basis. Alexander David Securities has replaced SVS as corporate adviser.
Trading in the shares of Gowin New Energy Group Ltd (GWIN) has been suspended “due to a change in circumstances with its operating subsidiaries in China”. The suspension price is 0.55p (0.4p/0.7p) a share, which values the LED lighting products supplier at £2.5m.
Playtech has pulled out of its bid for Plus500 (PLUS) because of its failure to gain regulatory approval in an appropriate time scale. An interim dividend of $0.2121 a share has been announced – the plan is it to pay 60% of retained profit in dividend – and a share buy back programme of up to $20m will be put in place. Plus500 says that it had cash of $95m at the end of June 2015 and more has been generated since then. The dividend will cost $24.4m. Plus500 has had problems with regulators but it states that it “is not subject to restrictions imposed by any of its regulators”. Overall profit will be lower in 2015. Two non-executive directors have been buying shares but JP Morgan Chase has reduced its stake to 6.8%.
Motor dealer Cambria Automobiles (CAMB) reported slightly better than expected results, even after recent upgrades, and this has led to upgrades for 2015-16 and 2016-17. Underlying pre-tax profit improved from £5.4m to £7.7m in the year to August 2015. Cambria sold more new cars and made more profit on each of them. Used car and servicing revenues also increased. The dividend increased from 0.6p a share to 0.75p a share. Net cash was £1m and there is a £37m, five year bank facility that can be used for acquisitions. N+1 Singer has upgraded its profit forecasts by around 5% to £9m this year and £9.3m next year.
Pure Wafer (PUR) has agreed to sell its US wafer reclaim plant for $16m (£10.5m) and it will return the cash to shareholders. Pure Wafer had already decided not to rebuild the Swansea plant so it also has cash from the insurance claim. A decision on how much will initially be distributed will be made in December. WH Ireland believes that a distribution of at least 175p a share is possible. The company will leave AIM and be liquidated.
ASX-listed Tlou Energy (TLOU) raised £1.2m at 6.5p a share and joins AIM on 30 November. There is already £1m in the bank and no debt. Tlou has a coal bed methane project in Botswana, which has contingent recoverable resources of 3.3 trillion cubic feet. The Lesedi project in south east Botswana is 100%-owned but the Botswana government has an option to take a 15% stake when the mining licence is granted. The government will have to pay its share of the previous costs if the option is taken up, which could be around £6m. Broker Brandon Hill has already written a note on Tlou (http://tlouenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/150721-Brandon-Hill-UK-Initiating-Coverage.pdf). First commercial gas sales could be in the second half of 2016. Botswana has a power shortage and expensive diesel generation can be replaced by gas. Tlou has been in discussions with a number of potential partners for power generation projects. The initial project would be a 10MW gas-to-power plant and then further generation plants would be developed. Tlou still has to secure government permits and approvals.
Kefi Minerals (KEFI) has raised £2.64m at 0.3p a share in order to provide cash to progress with its Ethiopian gold project at Tulu Kapi. Odey Asset Management has increased its stake to 26%. This will provide enough cash until the middle of next year. Construction of the project should start in 2016 and Kefi has managed to substantially reduce the cost of the project. Gold production could start at the end of 2017.
Waterman (WTM) says that its revenues were 8% higher in the first few months of the financial year and cash levels are better than expected. Public sector demand for infrastructure services is growing and property-based business is spread around the UK not just in London. The professional services business wants to reach an operating margin of 6% by 2018-19. Sanlam forecasts a rise in profit from £2.7m to £3.7m in the year to June 2016 and a 40% increase in dividend to 2.8p a share.
Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd plans to join the standard list in early December. Bluebird is involved in trading copper concentrate from the Philippines and has an option to acquire a 50.1% stake in Red Mountain Mining Singapore, which is developing a gold project. Clive Sinclair-Poulton, who has been a director of a number of AIM resources companies, is involved in Bluebird.
Netalogue Technologies (NTLP), which is an ecommerce platform developer, has announced its first dividend since 2012 when it paid 0.123p a share. The latest dividend of 0.246p a share and the shares go ex-dividend on 17 December. Netalogue had cash of £807,000 at the end of September 2015 and the dividend will cost around £120,000. Interim revenues fell from £689,000 to £552,000 and profit dipped from £165,000 to £38,000. Netalogue has withdrawn from the hosting business. At 3.95p (3.7p/4.2p) a share, Netalogue is valued at £1.9m.
Hydro Hotel Eastbourne (HYDP) is maintaining its annual dividend at 18p a share. A dividend of 6p a share will be paid on 14 January (ex-dividend 17 December) and the 12p dividend on 5 May (ex-dividend 21 April). A slight increase in profit is expected this year. At 750p (725p/775p) a share, the yield is 2.4%.
Titania Internet Ventures (TITP) is considering changing its investment strategy so that it can become involved in the renewable energy sector. The proposal involves entering into a relationship with a British wind turbine manufacturer. Titania had been involved in online penny auctions, but this business ceased more than two years ago, and before that it investigated a nursing home acquisition in Finland. The company was originally called Uranium Prospects. At 2.5p (2p/3p) a share, Titania is valued at £44,000.
Leni Gas Cuba (CUBA) had net assets of £4.1m at the end of September 2015. Since then, £200,000 was raised at 5p a share but that went towards paying the £326,000 cost of joining ISDX. The pro forma NAV is around 0.8p a share. David Lenigas has bought one million shares at 1.437p a share, taking his stake to 142 million shares (28.7%).
Lombard Capital (LCAP) has raised a further £122,500 at 3.5p a share via a share issue to one of its directors, Mark Jackson. His stake is 28.2%. At 4.5p (4p/5p) a share, Lombard is valued at £102,000.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) services provider Strat Aero (AERO) is acquiring communications, flight control and hardware technology developer Aero Kinetics for $1.2m plus the taking on of working capital commitments. This will be financed by the issue of a $775,000 convertible promissory note with a 7.5% interest rate and a 6p a share conversion price, with the rest in cash. There will also be $80,000 0f legal fees and $150,000 will be required to finance an application for FAA Certification, which could be achieved in the middle of next year. There is potential contingent consideration, including warrants depending on certification and achievement of sales targets. This deal is part of the strategy to develop a vertically integrated business, which can offer a full solution to global clients. It also brings Aero Kinetics founder W Hulsey Smith to the group and he will take charge of the group’s technology operations. The acquired operations made a loss of $269,000 on revenues of $246,000 but this is under US accounting rules and all R&D is written off – more than $5m has been invested so far. Strat Aero is also raising £1.6m at 6.25p a share.
Moving into software has helped to offset the volatility of the hardware division but it will not prevent Vislink (VLK) reporting disappointing 2015 figures. The broadcast and surveillance technology supplier has found market conditions for the hardware business tough and new product launches have yet to generate the hoped-for sales. Expected full year revenues will be in the range of £54m-£58m. The company’s debt facility has been increased from £10m to £15m because late hardware sales will increase debtors. Net debt is expected to be £5.8m at the end of 2015. The 2015 profit could be as low as £4.2m, down from £7.1m. There could be a partial profit recovery to £6.3m in 2016 – helped by cost savings. Standard Life trimmed its stake to 4.6%.
Begbies Traynor (BEG) is expanding its property services business in order to offset the weakness of its core corporate insolvency business. In the six months to October 2015, revenues improved from £20.8m to £25.5m, while pre-tax profit rose from £2m to £2.5m. That is after a contribution from property of £6.11m in revenues and £1.16m in EBITDA, compared with nothing in the corresponding period. Corporate insolvency revenues and profit were lower. The interim dividend was unchanged at 0.6p a share. Net debt was £11.9m at the end of October 2015. A full year profit of £4.6m is forecast.
Surface coatings developer Hardide (HDD) had a tougher second half as oil and gas demand declined. In the year to September 2015, revenues were flat at £3m and Hardide fell from profit to loss. The majority of revenues were in the first half. This year it is likely to be the other way round. The new facility in Virginia should be open soon. An £800,000 loss is forecast for this year and a much smaller loss expected next year. There was £2.33m in the bank at the end of September 2015, which provides enough headroom on current expectations.
Snoozebox (ZZZ) is raising £5m at a hefty discount to the market price. The placing price is 6p – a 28.2% discount. The cash is required for the 2016 events season plus the evaluation of other opportunities. Snoozebox has already said that it has established a partnership with Dutco in the Gulf region. An EBITDA loss of £5m is forecast for 2015. Further cash will be required to take advantage of growth opportunities.
Investment group Cathexis has taken advantage of the recent weak trading statement by construction and fit-out company ISG (ISG) and bid 143p a share. ISG believes that this unsolicited offer is too low. The bid values ISG at £70.8m. US=owned Cathexis has been an investor since 2012, when the share price was below the bid level, and it made a bid approach in June. It currently owns 29.6%. The current year profit forecast for ISG had been slashed from £17m to £11m. The bid is at two-fifths of the share price 12 months ago.
Educational services provider Wey Education (WEY) made its move from ISDX to AIM on Friday and it raised £1.75m at 3.5p a share. Wey is capitalised at £3.29m.
Retail stockbroker Share (SHRE) is taking on up to 3,000 nominee share dealing accounts from Barclays, which is exiting the services. The accounts will be transferred by the end of February 2016. Share previously took on nearly 8,000 certificated dealing customers from Barclays.
Property services provider Waterman (WTM) has set a 6% target for its operating margin by 2019. Waterman’s business is predominantly in the UK and both the property and infrastructure sectors are strong. Sanlam forecasts a rise in profit from £2.7m to £3.7m in 2015-16. If Waterman can achieve its margin target then pre-tax profit could be around £6m in 2018-19. A dividend of 2.8p a share is forecast for this year.
Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd, which plans to join the standard list,has a copper concentrate trading business combined with a stake in a potential gold mining project. The former can generate cash for investment in the mining project and other projects in the Philippines. Bluebird’s management lives in the Philippines so it has local knowledge. Bluebird’s trading operation is taking advantage of the difference between the price of copper concentrate in the Philippines and the international price. So far, 18MT has been shipped and once Bluebird is shipping 100MT /month then it should be generating enough cash to cover its corporate overheads. The plan is to increase monthly shipments to 500MT/month, which would provide a sizeable surplus of cash to invest in other ventures. This includes other commodity trading opportunities as well as mining projects that are near to production or have been in production in the past and can be reopened. The potential gold mine will cost $15m to bring into production. It will take around 18 months to construct the mine once the necessary permissions are obtained from the authorities. At a gold price of $1,160/ounce, the NPV of the project would be around $13m. That is based on production of 100,000 ounces over five years.
Challenger Acquisitions (CHAL) has finally completed its deal to acquire the businesses of Starneth, which develops observation wheels, and been readmitted to the standard list. AIM-quoted Teathers has sold its stake for an average price of 50.3p a share, raising nearly £72,000 – a gain of £21,000. The Challenger share price ended the week at 41p.
Latest edition of AIM Journal, including why AIM volumes are likely to decline and Purplebricks flotation, available here.