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171895  Motif Bio Plc 2017-01-19 15:53:00  2017-01-19 16:00:06  2017-01-19 16:00:06  Milestones passing by rapidly for Motif Bio  Milestones passing by rapidly for Motif Bio      milestones-passing-by-rapidly-for-motif-bio-171895.html    <p> 2016 was a fairly momentous year for Motif Bio (NASDAQ:MTFBF, <a href="-##!##-/LON:MTFB/Motif-Bio-Plc/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="10670">LON:MTFB</a>) on both the pharmaceutical and financial fronts.</p> <p> In March, it passed a major milestone when it dosed its first patient in one of two phase III clinical trials it is carrying out on its next-generation antibiotic, iclaprim.</p> <p> It completed its long-mooted listing on Nasdaq where, some would argue, pharmaceutical companies (and how to value them) are better understood.</p> <p> That coincided with a US$25mln fund-raising, which will be used to complete the REVIVE-1 phase III clinical studies of iclaprim.</p> <p> The studies will assess the drug’s potential in treating acute bacterial skin and skin structure infection, a life threatening condition.</p> <p> They will look at efficacy and safety and compare them with the standard treatment vancomycin.</p> <p> In all 1,200 patients will take part in the global trials run by Motif’s partner Covance.</p> <p> Researchers are hoping iclaprim can deliver at least a 20% reduction in lesion size in two to three days.</p> <p> The secondary, but key goal is a clinical cure at one to two weeks after treatment.</p> <p> The trials are expected to be completed by the second half of 2017.</p> <p> “Iclaprim has the potential to be a major addition to the armamentarium of antibiotics much needed for the treatment of serious and life-threatening infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria in hospitalised patients," said Motif chief executive Graham Lumsden.</p> <h3> The drug</h3> <p> Iclaprim is being developed for the treatment of the most common and serious bacterial infections such as acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) and hospital acquired bacterial pneumonia (HABP).</p> <p> This includes hard-to-treat conditions caused by resistant strains such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MDRSP (multi-drug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae) that have become prevalent in patients in both the community and hospital settings.</p> <p> Motif is also in discussions with pharmaceutical companies and universities to build a pipeline of innovative antibiotics targeting Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria.</p> <h3> Progress</h3> <p> Since listing in April 2015, Motif has met an aggressive timetable to get to the point of dosing patients with iclaprim.</p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">It has obtained regulatory approvals to commence phase III trials</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Raised money to fund the trials</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Appointed Covance to conduct the trials.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Obtained qualified infectious disease product designation, giving iclaprim up to 10 years of US market exclusivity.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Obtained fast-track designation for iclaprim; prepared trial supplies of the drug; and now dosed first patients.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Listed on Nasdaq</span></li> </ul> <h3> From the boss</h3> <p> Graham Lumsden, chief executive, speaking to Proactive’s Juliet Mann:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wCiFCPzPu0U" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> <em>On vancomycin…</em></p> <p> “The comparative antibitioic is called Vancomycin and that is used today in up to 80% of patients in hospitals with some of these nasty infections, so we think it is the right competitor to use, because it is the standard of care today.”</p> <p> On iclaprim’s comparison to vancomycin…</p> <p> “Iclaprim has been compared to vancomycin in two Phase II trials and&nbsp; looks really effective compared to vancomycin, so we are very confident for our Phase III programme that we have just embarked upon.”</p> <p> <em>On the trial’s progress…</em></p> <p> “I think it is great news for investors because it keeps us on track with what we have been promising to get the trials underway and to complete them in the second half of 2017.”</p> <h3> What the broker says</h3> <p> Northland Capital has a price target 114p, versus a current share price in London of around 25p.</p> <p> “Iclaprim is set to fill a major market void in the wake of a global public health crisis driven by rampant antibiotic resistance,” said Northland Capital analyst Vadim Alexandre in a note to clients.</p> <p> “Completing a NASDAQ listing represents another milestone for Motif,” he added.</p> <p> Recently, the company added someone with strong experience in private and public healthcare companies in the US with the appointment of Robert Dickey as its new chief financial officer.</p> <p> “Robert is a strong addition to the Motif team, particularly due to his considerable experience in the biotech sector. Also, his NASDAQ experience will prove useful to the company given its recent dual-listing on the market,” suggested Alexandre.</p>   2016 was a fairly momentous year for Motif Bio on both the pharmaceutical and financial fronts. In March, it passed a major milestone when it dosed its first patient in one of two phase III clinical trials it is carrying out on its next-generation antibiotic, iclaprim. It completed its long-mooted listing on Nasdaq and raised fresh capital to fund the phase III trials  ARTICLE        View Edit Delete
171867  Orosur Mining Inc 2017-01-19 08:44:00  2017-01-19 16:18:07  2017-01-19 08:49:38  Orosur Mining to step up Colombia exploration  Orosur Mining to step up Colombia exploration  Gold, Colombia, exploration, samples, grade    orosur-mining-to-step-up-colombia-exploration-171867.html    <p> <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:OMI/Orosur-Mining-Inc/" rel="4567">Orosur Mining Inc</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:OMI/Orosur-Mining-Inc/" rel="4567">LON:OMI</a> ASX: OMI) is to push ahead with a drilling programme at Anzá in Colombia after initial work indicated a significant amount of gold mat=y be present.</p> <p> A model based on re-working historic drill data from the Aragon-Pastorera Trend Area (APTA) suggested exploration potential of 1.6mln - 2.3mln tonnes averaging between 3.2 - 3.7g/t of gold per tonne.</p> <p> Orosur believes the mineralized zones in the APTA continue, both at depth and at the surface, to the north and south of the limited area. As such, there is the potential for a much larger resource base to be identified.</p> <p> The drill campaign will be between 15,000m - 30,000m &nbsp;and will lead to a&nbsp; maiden NI 43-101 report for Anza.</p> <p> Ignacio Salazar, chief executive, said: “Orosur acquired Anzá in July 2014, through its nil premium all share acquisition of <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/CVE:WYM/Waymar-Resources/" rel="7876">Waymar Resources</a>, at a time when little to no value was being given to exploration projects.</p> <p> “The company believes that Anzá has significant upside and we expect the project to take a more prominent standing in our suite of South American gold assets in the months to come.”</p> <div> Broker Cantor &nbsp;added that today’s announcement begins to put some meat on the bone in terms of quantifying the project’s potential while the planned 2017 drilling campaign shows Orosur's commitment to fully assessing Anza’s mineral potential.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Furthermore, the project benefits from having existing mine and environmental permits as well as good supporting infrastructure, it said.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Cantor said its 32p target price includes just 2.4p for Anza at present, reflecting the price paid by OMI for the project in 2014.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Shares rose 1.6% to 16.8p.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <em>-- update for broker comment --</em></div>   Ignacio Salazar said: “Orosur acquired Anzá in July 2014, through its nil premium all share acquisition of Waymar Resources, at a time when little to no value was being given to exploration projects. “The company believes that Anzá has significant upside and we expect the project to take a more prominent standing in our suite of South American gold assets in the months to come.”  NEWS        View Edit Delete
171853  Sirius Minerals PLC 2017-01-19 07:25:00  2017-01-19 08:05:33  2017-01-19 07:32:34  Sirius Minerals: Development work continues apace   Sirius Minerals: Development work continues apace       sirius-minerals-development-work-continues-apace-171853.html    <p> Work on Sirius Minerals’ PLC’s (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:SXX/Sirius-Minerals-PLC/" rel="914">LON:SXX</a>) polyhalite fertiliser project in North Yorkshire continues apace.</p> <p> Site investigation and geotechnical studies have been underway since the end of last year, while an additional drilling rig, similar to that used during the company's exploration campaign, is expected on site at the end of February. This will gather more detailed information for the upcoming shaft sinking. &nbsp;</p> <p> The full site preparation phase is expected to start in the second quarter, while highway work will get underway on January 30 (ending April 7).</p> <p> At the same time, detailed engineering, design and commercial work has begun.</p> <p> Investors will be provided with quarterly updates starting the weeks commencing March 27, June 26, September 25 and January 8, 2018.</p> <p> For more information go to <a href="http://www.siriusminerals.com/">www.siriusminerals.com</a>, or follow the company on social media.</p>   Work on Sirius Minerals’ polyhalite fertiliser project in North Yorkshire continues apace. Site investigation and geotechnical studies have been underway since the end of last year, while an additional drilling rig, similar to that used during the company's exploration campaign, is expected on site at the end of February.   ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171893  Goldman Sachs 2017-01-19 10:10:00  2017-01-19 16:25:27  2017-01-19 10:16:36  Hard Brexit reportedly has Goldman Sachs mulling more London transfers  Hard Brexit reportedly has Goldman Sachs mulling more London transfers      hard-brexit-reportedly-has-goldman-sachs-mulling-more-london-transfers-171893.html    <p> German newspaper Handelsblatt reports that US investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/NYSE:GS/Goldman-Sachs/" rel="6007">NYSE:GS</a>) is planning to halve the number of employees it has in London.</p> <p> If true, it would entail Goldman shifting 3,000 staff from the capital of the United Kingdom, which is half as many again as the previously mooted 2,000 job transfer.</p> <p> As Britain prepares to exit from the European Union, Goldman is reportedly planning to transfer 1,000 people from London to Frankfurt, and is also mulling moving operations staff from Europe’s financial capital to Warsaw and New York.</p> <p> Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany’s central bank, has previously warned that UK-based banks would be denied “passporting rights”, i.e. the right to operate across the member states of the European Union (EU), &nbsp;should the UK opt to relinquish membership of the single market – the so-called “hard Brexit” option - when it leaves the community.</p> <p> British prime minister Theresa May rejected membership of the single market in her speech on Tuesday.</p> <p> That prompted a number of banking bosses to indicate that they would probably move more staff out of London than previously anticipated, including the head honchos at JP Morgan, <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:HSBA/HSBC/" rel="3429">HSBC</a> and <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/NYSE:UBS/UBS/" rel="7840">UBS</a>.</p> <p> Even Lloyds of London, established in the City of London since 1688, has committed to moving some of its operations to the European mainland following the June vote by Britons to leave the EU.</p>   German newspaper Handelsblatt reports that US investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) is planning to halve the number of employees it has in London. If true, it would entail Goldman shifting 3,000 staff from the capital of the United Kingdom, which is half as many again as the previously mooted 2,000 job transfer.   ARTICLE          View Edit Delete
171886  Fitbug Holdings 2017-01-19 14:05:00  2017-01-19 14:25:11  2017-01-19 14:23:38  Bulletin boards in meltdown over Fitbug   Bulletin boards in meltdown over Fitbug   Fitbug Holdings, technology, corporate wellness, healthcare, contract, share price, bulletin board, investors, share price    bulletin-boards-in-meltdown-over-fitbug-171886.html    <p> The Fitbug Holdings (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:FITB/Fitbug-Holdings/" rel="3834">LON:FITB</a>) bulletin boards were in meltdown this afternoon after the company confirmed that the value of yesterday’s contract is just £60,000.</p> <p> The £60,000 is for “ongoing service revenue” throughout 2017 Fitbug said, but the group failed to clarify how much, if any, profit it made from the sale of the devices themselves.</p> <p> The digital wellness group only mentioned that the ‘orbs’ are supplied to corporate consumers at “low margins”.</p> <p> Fitbug’s share price more than quadrupled yesterday after news of the order – which was placed by an Asian financial services group for 14,000 devices – filtered through.</p> <p> The stock's rapid rise cause shares to be suspended late yesterday afternoon.</p> <h3> <a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/171792/fitbug-shares-more-than-double-as-it-announces-new-customer-win-171792.html" target="_blank">READ: Details of Wednesday's customer win and Fitbug's back story</a></h3> <p> On top of the disappointing contract value, this afternoon’s update stated that revenue for the year to 31 December 2016 is expected to be lower than that generated a year earlier.</p> <p> The company added that it “remains mindful of the funding needs of the business moving forward” and said it would keep a close on this going forward.</p> <p> There was some good news though; Fitbug said losses for the year should narrow by almost 50% to around the £3.5mln mark thanks to the group’s turnaround strategy implemented last summer.</p> <p> Given the update, many on the bulletin boards were quick to sentence the stock to a swift crash once shares were restored to trading.</p> <p> “Might just turn off and pray for a few hours…” wrote one user, while another commented: “think I need some digital wellness…”.</p> <p> Others were more upbeat though, slamming the so-called ‘de-rampers’. “This is just the beginning folks, don’t be scared out” wrote one investor.</p> <p> Shares tanked by almost 50% initially, before recovering slightly to sit at 0.56%, 28% down on yesterday’s close.</p> <p> Those who got in yesterday morning will still be in the black though, given that Fitbug started Wednesday trading priced at around 0.16p.</p>   The Fitbug Holdings PLC (LON:FITB) bulletin boards were in meltdown this afternoon after the company confirmed that the value of yesterday’s contract is just £60,000. Fitbug’s share price more than quadrupled yesterday after news of the order – which was placed by an Asian financial services group for 14,000 devices – filtered through.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171882  Pearson 2017-01-19 13:46:00  2017-01-19 14:20:28  2017-01-19 13:49:12  Pearson's divi cut plan shocks investors but who's next?  Pearson's divi cut plan shocks investors but who's next?      pearson-s-divi-cut-plan-shocks-investors-but-who-s-next-171882.html    <p> <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" rel="3058">Pearson</a> PLC (LON: PSON) put the cat among the pigeons on Wednesday with plans to cut its dividend in order to shore up its threadbare balance sheet – news that was greeted with a £2bn collapse in the value of the publisher.</p> <p> It was part of a wider plan to muster funds, including the possible disposal of the company’s 47% stake in Penguin Random House.</p> <p> Analysts reckon the payout will have to be chopped in half to 25-26p a share to get dividend cover back above two-times earnings.</p> <p> Ideally cover should be above two; <a href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="3058">Pearson</a>’s was 1.2-times, which, as the Russ Mould, investment director at funds group <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/PRIVATE:AJB/AJ-Bell/" rel="14262">AJ Bell</a>, points out was just a “little too skinny” and left little margin for error.</p> <p> Of course, the company’s well-publicised problems in the US higher education market provided that error margin and the guillotine fell.</p> <p> Pearson’s woes have left income investors scrutinising the FTSE 100 to assess which of the blue-chip index’s big dividend payers will be next to wield the axe.</p> <p> Helpfully, investment firm <a href="-##!##-/PRIVATE:AJB/AJ-Bell/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="14262">AJ Bell</a> has drawn up a list using that two-times dividend cover as the litmus test.</p> <p> There are ten possible divi nobblers if you include the services firm Capita PLC (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:CPI/Capita-Group/" rel="3285">LON:CPI</a>) at just over two-times cover.</p> <p> Among the most vulnerable, according to AJ Bell’s analysis, are <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:RDSA/Royal-Dutch-Shell/" rel="3891">Royal Dutch Shell</a> (LON:RSDB) and <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:BP./BP-plc/" rel="3120">BP plc</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:BP./BP-plc/" rel="3120">LON:BP.</a>), with cover of around one-times.</p> <p> Thus far both have resisted following the lead of the miners and reducing the payout.</p> <p> In fact it has been reported in some quarters that at the nadir of the oil cycle these two actually borrowed to maintain the yield at around 6%.</p> <p> Insurer Admiral (LON: ADM)– with a 7.1% yield – is in trouble, according to AJ Bell with cover of 0.93-times, while <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:SL./Standard-Life/" rel="3424">Standard Life</a> isn’t too far behind.</p> <p> Builders <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:BDEV/Barratt-Developments/" rel="3520">Barratt Developments</a> PLC (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:BDEV/Barratt-Developments/" rel="3520">LON:BDEV</a>) and <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:TW./Taylor-Wimpey/" rel="3455">Taylor Wimpey</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:TW./Taylor-Wimpey/" rel="3455">LON:TW.</a>) are also exposed at 1.5 and 1.2 times respectively.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <img alt="" src="/upload/CKEditor/TW_1.png" style="width: 642px; height: 244px;" /></p> <p> AJ Bell’s Mould believes out of the ten listed, Capita is most at risk.</p> <p> “Although the support services firm offers cover of 2.1-times, the company has already dished out two profit warnings and the experiences of sector peers like Mitie, Serco and <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:IRV/Interserve/" rel="3296">Interserve</a> suggest that when things start to go wrong they can really go wrong, as complex contract bidding processes soak up cash.”</p> <p> He thinks big oil should be “safe for now”, while house builders have firm foundations.</p> <p> The latter group tends to offer low cover but, generally, the firms have net cash balance sheets, Mould points out.</p> <p> Looking at financial services, he added: “While lots of questions are asked about the others, no-one ever seems to question whether <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:DLG/Direct-Line/" rel="4065">Direct Line</a> and Admiral’s 7%-plus dividend yield are safe, even though earnings cover is scanty at just over or just below 1.0 times, so if there is to be a nasty surprise from left field perhaps it will come from one of these two.”</p>   Pearson PLC (LON: PSON) put the cat among the pigeons on Wednesday with plans to cut its dividend in order to shore up its threadbare balance sheet – news that was greeted with a £2bn collapse in the value of the publisher. It was part of a wider plan to muster funds, including the possible disposal of the company’s 47% stake in Penguin Random House.   ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171880  Sound Energy PLC 2017-01-19 13:03:00  2017-01-19 16:08:08  2017-01-19 13:08:56  Sound Energy shows no sign of slipping as it starts 2017 in a big way  Sound Energy shows no sign of slipping as it starts 2017 in a big way      sound-energy-shows-no-sign-of-slipping-as-it-starts-2017-in-a-big-way-171880.html    <p> <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:SOU/Sound-Energy-PLC/" rel="927">Sound Energy PLC</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:SOU/Sound-Energy-PLC/" rel="927">LON:SOU</a>) is showing no sign of slipping in eastern Morocco where it has seen success at the Tendrara gas project.</p> <p> The AIM quoted share is up some 330% over the past twelve months thanks to a series of good wells at Tendrara, and it has now delivered its first significant Moroccan newsflow for 2017.</p> <p> Ahead of significant new drilling, the TE-8 well starting in February, the company has agreed a considerable acquisition to consolidate the group’s acreage position.</p> <p> It gives Sound Energy an extra 20% of the Tendrara discovery, taking its stake to 75%, and importantly gives the group 75% of additional nearby acreage – the neighbouring Meridja project and an area close to Tendrara that had previously been relinquished.</p> <p> The timing of the land grab may prove significant as next month’s TE-8 well, located some 12 kilometres from the most recent TE-7 well, aims to prove that Tendrara is spread across a much larger area.</p> <p> Chief executive James Parsons says the new acquisition gives the company a “hugely attractive, material and consolidated portfolio” across Eastern Morocco as well as significant additional upside.</p> <h3> <strong>TE-7 delivered close to one billion cubic feet of gas in tests</strong></h3> <p> Whatever comes of next month’s well, Sound Energy has already had considerable success at Tendrara.</p> <p> Results from its latest impressive well, TE-7, were also revealed on Thursday January 19 with the company telling investors that over a 56 day period of continuous flow the well has yielded just under 1bn cubic feet of gas.</p> <p> That figure is made all the more impressive given that the gas flow was constrained in test conditions, at a maximum of 40% drawdown, in order to protect the integrity of the well completion to date.&nbsp;</p> <p> No formation water was produced during testing – as the company had expected – and there were no indications of barriers.</p> <p> As such Sound Energy said that the result had confirmed a “significant connected volume” of gas is present at Tendrara, and it would now monitor pressure across past wells to confirm the physical connectivity of the reservoir.</p> <p> These results will all be valuable as Sound Energy advances field development planning.</p> <h3> <strong>TE-8: A ‘step out’ appraisal well</strong></h3> <p> Sound Energy is now preparing the next well at Tendrara.</p> <p> The TE-8 well will be a ‘step out’ appraisal that aims to confirm the continuation of the large gas project some 12 kilometres to the northeast of the TE-7 well site.</p> <p> This morning the company confirmed that civil works are now underway at the TE-8 well site and it expects drilling work to begin in February.</p> <p> TE-8 could potentially confirm a larger reservoir exists, and that may see gas resources at the top end of some of the more blue sky estimates from market experts and commentators.</p> <h3> <strong>OGIF deal secures Sound Energy’s upside potential</strong></h3> <p> On January 19, the company announced a non-binding agreement to acquire all of Oil &amp; Gas Investment Fund's (OGIF) assets in Eastern Morocco – that includes 20% Tendrara, 75% of the Meridja project and a 75% stake in acreage close to Tendrara.</p> <p> In return the AIM quoted company offers OGIF some 272mln new Sound Energy shares, notionally worth nearly £200mln based on Sound’s present market price. It will mean that OGIF – a fund owned by seven Moroccan financial institutions – will own around 29% of Sound Energy’s enlarged share capital.</p> <p> “We are pleased to have entered into heads of agreement with OGIF following the successful extended well test and I look forward to welcoming them to our shareholder register,” James Parsons said.</p> <p> “I have worked closely with the OGIF team for over 18 months now and their access to Moroccan debt capital and their relationship and influence in country are second to none."</p> <p> Meanwhile, OGIF chief executive Mohammed Benslimane said: “Sound Energy has already played a critical role in unlocking the Eastern Moroccan gas promise over the last eighteen months and we remain hugely impressed by James and his team.</p> <p> “This new partnership aligns the interests of OGIF and Morocco's largest financial institutions with those of Sound Energy. We see huge short term upside potential in the equity of Sound Energy and look forward to what will certainly be a successful future together."</p> <p> Sound Energy and OGIF have also agreed that they will together identify and secure a low cost and high quality solution for the Tendrara infrastructure, which may include using OGIF's shareholders to fund the pipeline.</p> <p> Sound Energy shareholders will be asked to approve the proposed transaction at a general meeting, the details of which have yet to be disclosed.</p> <h3> Expert says OGIF deal is ‘one of the best’</h3> <p> Analyst Malcolm Graham-Wood spoke with Proactive Investors to outline the significance of Sound Energy's deal, its well results and plans for Tendrara.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ksdh93hBulE" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> ''The fact that Sound have tied all this up means that if the plan in a year or two's time was to sell this asset in one go ... then you've just made it possible for that to happen,” he said in an interview.</p> <p> Graham-Wood adds: ''Sound shareholders should like this very much''.</p> <h3> Don’t forget about Badile in Italy!</h3> <p> The fact that recent news from Sound’s Italian operations weren’t taken with a great deal of excitement perhaps reflects that most investors are now interested mainly in the group’s Moroccan success.</p> <p> Sound’s shareholders are naturally focussing on Morocco – with the standout success there who could blame them – but, over in Italy, meanwhile, the company has been looking forward to Badlile for some time.</p> <p> Earlier this month, the company told investors that drilling the Badile well in Italy will begin in March.</p> <p> Much of the preparation such as ground work has already been done, while the conductor pipe at the top of the drill hole has been set.</p> <p> At the same time the rig has been mobilised and should be on site and assembled by the end of next month, the company added. Badile, in Italy’s Piedmont Lombard Basin region, is being drilled as an exploration well.</p> <p> The plan is to go to a total depth of 4,600m to test the hydrocarbon potential of the Lower Jurassic Conchodon Dolomite.</p> <p> An independent assessment suggests the target could be host to around 178bn standard cubic feet of gas with a net present value of £400mln. That figure is what’s called a ‘best case’, unrisked estimate. It sits at in the middle of the range with the ‘high case’ forecast being 670bn cubic feet and the ‘low case’ 46bn cubic feet.</p> <p> Badile is part of a portfolio of Italian assets on which the original Sound Oil was founded.</p> <p> It includes smaller producing assets Casa Tiberi and Rapagnano as well as a host of exploration and appraisal opportunities that could help turn the valuation dial.</p> <p> Recently Sound expanded its collaboration with oil service giant <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/NYSE:SLB/Schlumberger/" rel="5866">Schlumberger</a> from Morocco to Italy with the latter helping fund Badile after agreeing to provide €7.5mln of drilling services.</p>   Sound Energy is showing no sign of slipping in eastern Morocco where it has seen success at the Tendrara gas project. The AIM quoted share is up some 330% over the past twelve months thanks to a series of good wells at Tendrara, and it has now delivered its first significant Moroccan newsflow for 2017.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
123523  Aggregated Micro Power Holdings plc 2016-03-10 11:43:00  2017-01-20 08:12:55  2016-03-10 11:50:50  Aggregated Micro wants woodchips with everything  Aggregated Micro wants woodchips with everything  biomass, boilers    aggregated-micro-wants-woodchips-with-everything-123523.html    <p> <a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.com/articles/edit/http:/www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/LON:AMPH/Aggregated-Micro-Power-Holdings/">Aggregated Micro Power Holdings</a>&nbsp;PLC’s (<a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.com/articles/edit/http:/www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/LON:AMPH/Aggregated-Micro-Power-Holdings/">LON:AMPH</a>) acquisition last year of Forest&nbsp;Fuels made it one of the UK’s largest woodchip suppliers.</p> <p> It’s a position it has since consolidated with further acquisitions to build the ‘verticals’ for this supplier of biomass-fuelled boilers used by schools, care homes and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/119764/aggregated-micro-power-urges-osborne-to-come-clean-on-green-energy-cuts-119764.html" id="itxthook0"><span id="itxthook0p"><span id="itxthook0w">business</span></span></a>&nbsp;parks,</p> <p> The most recent deal was the acquisition of PEL Fuel.</p> <p> The consideration was £5mln, mostly in&nbsp;shares, while AMP is raising a further £1.9mln through a convertible issue.</p> <p> Richard Burrell, AMP’s chief executive, said that with the addition of PEL its Forest Fuels operation is now also one of leading suppliers of wood fuels in the UK.</p> <p> PEL generated revenues of £10.1mln and profits of £0.27mln in the year to last March.</p> <p> Allied to the core biomass boiler business, revenues in the year to March 2017 should exceed £15mln, Burrell added.</p> <h3> Boilers the core</h3> <p> Once a boiler project is finished it is taken over by a special purpose investment vehicle AMPIL, which frees up capital to fund more new projects.</p> <p> AMP provides fuel for the boilers (wood chip and wood pellets) and commissions and installs them on a long term contract.</p> <h3> <strong>What the government wants</strong></h3> <p> The government's recent Renewable Heat Incentive changes through to 2021 have also helped the strategy of installing larger biomass installations with commercial heat users.</p> <p> Thresholds increased the amount of heat available under tier 1 from 15% to 35%.</p> <p> “These changes together with a lock-in mechanism for the tariff during construction of&nbsp;consented projects, helps to de-risk the development process and should enable us to develop out our pipeline of new installs through to 2021,” said Burrell.</p> <p> A second investment vehicle to run boiler projects installed by AMP, AMPIL2, was launched in October and this will utilise both AMP to install boilers but also buy fuel from&nbsp;Forest&nbsp;Fuels.</p> <h3> Peaking plant progress</h3> <p> AMP is also branching out into power supply and has over 80Mws of grid balancing projects with planning permission and grid connection offers. These peaking projects kick-in when demand is overwhelming the grid.</p> <p> In January, it got funding (£14mln) for its first peaking plant.</p> <p> Located on the Kingsnorth Industrial Estate in Kent the Ashford Power project will comprise some 21Mw of natural gas reciprocating engines, which will sell into the grid at times of peak demand.</p> <p> The financing is provided by funds managed by Triple Point Investment Management.</p> <p> "This is our first peaking plant project to reach financial close,” said Burrell.</p> <p> “AMPH will earn project development fees, on-going operation and maintenance fees and has shares in the project which are subject to a hurdle return being achieved by Triple Point.”</p> <p> The market liked the development sending the shares up 7% to 72.9p and valuing the company at just short of £26mln.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <br /> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p>   Combining Forest Fuels business with its existing biomass and CHP boiler operations should boost development fee income and generate revenues from wood fuel contracts. Broker finncap added Forest Fuels is a good fit with AMP’s existing biomass operations, both geographically and in terms of its target customer base for the supply of wood chip and pellets.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171878  LoopUp Group PLC 2017-01-19 11:39:00  2017-01-19 16:26:27  2017-01-19 11:43:42  Putting the "up" in LoopUp  Putting the "up" in LoopUp      putting-the-up-in-loopup-171878.html    <p> Investors who got in early doors when remote meetings enabler <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:LOOP/LoopUp-Group-PLC/" rel="14684">LoopUp Group PLC</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:LOOP/LoopUp-Group-PLC/" rel="14684">LON:LOOP</a>) floated in August must be happy bunnies.</p> <p> The shares, which floated at a pound a pop, had risen to 118p by the end of the year and received a further boost in the middle of January from an upbeat trading statement.</p> <p> The group said underlying earnings, or EBITDA, more than doubled in 2016 to £2.1mln from £1.0mln.</p> <p> Revenue rose 34% to £13.6mln from £10.1mln the year before, while revenue from the core LoopUp product and associated add-ons jumped 39% to £12.8mln from £9.2mlm.</p> <p> To put the latter into context, the group said growth in LoopUp product revenue the previous year had been 36% and the year before that 38%.</p> <h3> So what is the LoopUp product?</h3> <p> In a nutshell, the company’s core product aims to make audio conferencing a whole lot simpler, and more productive.</p> <p> It is estimated that 13 minutes – or around a third of these sessions – are wasted trying to patch people or repeating information for the late-comers.</p> <p> It is an irritant, but if you look at the impact on an international scale and frame it in terms of lost man hours, then it adds up to a £14bn-a-year brake on productivity in the UK and US alone.</p> <p> So, the company is addressing a potentially massive market.</p> <p> Sure, there are alternative communications platforms out there developed by software firms and telecommunication companies, but they either fail to address the familiar chaos or are just too complicated to encourage widespread adoption.</p> <p> LoopUp, on the other hand, thinks it has cracked the problem with its system.</p> <p> Using <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/NASDAQ:MSFT/Microsoft/" rel="5094">Microsoft</a> Outlook it takes just two clicks to organise a meeting and LoopUp sends out alerts to the host when their first guest joins the meeting.</p> <p> It uses traditional telephony supplied by tier-one operators across four centres globally, but dial-in numbers aren’t the preferred method for joining LoopUp meetings.</p> <p> Rather, you simply click a link displayed on your computer, smartphone and tablet, and LoopUp then calls you on the phone of your choice.</p> <p> Onscreen is displayed the participants – so you know who is there and who exactly is talking.</p> <p> Users can even share biographical details via <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/NYSE:LNKD/LinkedIn/" rel="6773">LinkedIn</a> and there is a “big, orange, Fisher Price-type button” on the desktop that allows them to share documents and presentations.</p> <h3> What the broker says</h3> <p> House broker Panmure Gordon said 2016 sales and EBITDA levels were 3% above its forecasts.</p> <p> The tech firm has been profitable at the EBITDA level since the final quarter of 2013, so this is no pipe-dream company.</p> <p> “LoopUp’s patented software guarantees ease of use, and its scalable model addresses a £4.7bn market in which it has grown revenues by 36% CAGR since 2013,” Panmure’s Michael Donnelly said.</p> <p> Between now and 2018, Panmure Gordon sees a compound annualised growth rate (CAGR) for profit in excess of 100%.</p> <p> It describes its 150p price target as “conservative”.</p> <p> Based on its earnings (EBITDA) forecasts, &nbsp;LoopUp’s enterprise value (market capitalisation adjusted for cash and debt) is just 10.1 times EBITDA.</p> <p> International software-as-a-service sector peers trade on a multiple closer to 15 to 20.</p> <h3> What the management says</h3> <p> Co-chief executive Steve Flavell said the company offers a “premium experience” and that the product differentiation is showing through in increased market share.</p> <p> The group has managed to provide consistent top-line growth: 39% in 2016; 36% in 2015 and 38% in 2014.</p> <p> Flavell told Proactive Investors he was pleased with progress in 2016, not just with the top line, but also in profitability and strategic priorities.</p> <p> “The strategic priorities we laid out – expanding our distribution, introducing in-bound marketing and continuing to innovate in our product – we made progress on all of those lines,” Flavell said.</p> <p> Flavell made the point that in years gone by it had been achieving those high levels of growth without doing any in-bound lead-generation marketing.</p> <p> 2016 saw the company form a marketing team, which launched a new corporate web site that included “refreshed messaging and positioning”.</p> <p> “Progress has been pretty swift,” Flavell said, although the lead-generation process is still at the experimental stage.</p> <p> The product has been available since 2006, and has always been popular with the professional services community.</p> <p> “With remote meetings, all the common frustrations, like ‘who just joined?’, when people come on the call, people don’t always know who’s on; the topics discussed, particularly in the professional services world, where everything is very sensitive, the differentiation that LoopUp brings and the additional security of your remote meetings, means we’ve always done well in those sectors,” Flavell said.</p> <p> That assertion was underlined by landmark customer wins last year that included a global 'magic circle' law firm and a North American financial services firm.</p> <h3> Future growth opportunities</h3> <p> The more people a company employs in diverse locations, the greater the need for LoopUp’s technology, which means the company naturally sees mid-to-large enterprises as a growth opportunity.</p> <p> However, as alluded to above, the professional services sector is also a rich seam for the company to mine, even at the smaller end of the scale, as these customer-facing companies typically have a need to hold remote meetings with their clients.</p> <p> “We see growth continuing to come from both of those target groups,” Flavell said.</p>   Investors who got in early doors when remote meetings enabler LoopUp Group PLC (LON:LOOP) floated in August must be happy bunnies. The shares, which floated at a pound a pop, had risen to 118p by the end of the year and received a further boost in the middle of January from an upbeat trading statement.   ARTICLE          View Edit Delete
128137  Allergy Therapeutics plc 2016-07-13 07:25:00  2017-01-20 06:57:27  2016-07-13 07:33:52  Allergy Therapeutics' revenues rising across hay fever portfolio  Allergy Therapeutics' revenues rising across hay fever portfolio  allergy, hay fever, grass pollen, tree pollen, injection, inoculation, revenues    allergy-therapeutics-revenues-rising-across-hay-fever-portfolio-128137.html    <p> <a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/LON:AGY/Allergy-Therapeutics-plc/">Allergy Therapeutics plc</a>&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/LON:AGY/Allergy-Therapeutics-plc/">LON:AGY</a>) &nbsp;latest news on trading demonstrated stronger than expected growth across its portfolio, according to broker Finncap.</p> <p> The pollen vaccine specialist gained share in a “flat” European market as it said sales had grown strongly in the first half of its&nbsp;latest financial&nbsp;year.</p> <p> The company, which has developed short course inoculations against hay fever, said turnover was £40.4mln in the six months to December.</p> <p> That represents an increase of 18% at constant currencies or 39% when the translational currency effect of the weak pound is brought into&nbsp;play.</p> <p> “We are excited by the prospects of the company as we continue expanding our operations in Europe, progressing our development pipeline and moving forward with a world-class portfolio of allergy vaccines,” said chief executive Manuel Llobet.</p> <p> “We are confident about the full year and look forward to updating shareholders on further progress throughout 2017."</p> <p> The drug development programme in the US and Europe is proceeding to plan, Allergy said.</p> <h3> <a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/LON:AGY/Allergy-Therapeutics-plc/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;" style="font-size: 14px;">AT A GLANCE: All facts and figures</a></h3> <h3> Broker reckons the stock could almost double in value</h3> <p> The shares rose 2% to 24p, valuing the&nbsp;business&nbsp;at £142mln.</p> <p> As a result, Finncap's revenue forecasts for the year have been upgraded to £62mln (+4%), while the loss forecast is trimmed £0.5mln to £3.2mln.</p> <p> The broker’s target price on the shares rises to 43p.&nbsp;</p> <h3> About the company&nbsp;</h3> <p> Allergy Therapeutics has an 80-year history and is no “jam tomorrow” drug development company.</p> <p> It has a profitable core business and, as the name suggests, a number of ground-breaking allergy vaccines that trade under various brand names. Its most commonly prescribed vaccines are used to treat pollen-related allergies, particularly allergies to grasses and trees.</p> <p> It has a strong presence in Europe with established operations in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, while in other markets it often makes its products available through distribution partners.</p> <p> Its Pollinex Quattro vaccine for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) from grass, tree or ragweed pollen allergy is already established in Europe, and the company wants to replicate that in the US, where it will enjoy first mover advantage in a market potentially worth $2bn.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <em>--- updates for January 2017 trading statement &nbsp;---</em></div>   Allergy Therapeutics PLC (LON:AGY) said revenues for the year ended June were slightly ahead of market expectations. Updating investors, the company said turnover will be around £48.5mln, representing a rise of 12%, or 19% once the figure is adjusted for currency movements.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171877  JD Sports 2017-01-19 11:19:00  2017-01-19 11:41:49  2017-01-19 11:41:49  JD Sports’ overseas possibilities make it fashionable with Cantor  JD Sports’ overseas possibilities make it fashionable with Cantor  broker, recommendation, JD Sports Fashion Group PLC, Cantor Fitzgerald, sportswear, retailer, UK, overseas, growth, share price, valuation, Nike, Adidas     jd-sports-overseas-possibilities-make-it-fashionable-with-cantor-171877.html    <p> <a href="-##!##-/LON:JD./JD-Sports/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="3179">JD Sports</a> Fashion Group PLC (<a href="-##!##-/LON:JD./JD-Sports/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="3179">LON:JD.</a>) is in vogue with <a href="-##!##-/PRIVATE:CANT/Cantor-Fitzgerald/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="15527">Cantor Fitzgerald</a>, with the broker hailing the “significant potential” for growth in overseas markets.</p> <p> The Bury-based sportswear retailer reported a sparkling Christmas performance last week, adding that it expects pre-tax profits for the year to the end of January to come in up to 15% of current market expectations of £200mln.</p> <p> Cantor analyst Mark Photiades said the results showed that the “core sports fashion business is carrying significant momentum in the UK”.</p> <p> Given the solid trading at home, Photiades has upgraded his full-year profit before tax forecast for 2017 to £225mln (previously £220mln).</p> <p> The analyst hasn’t stopped there though. He’s also upgraded his full-year PBT expectations for 2017 and 2018 by 24% and 27% respectively.</p> <p> Despite the strong performance in the UK, it isn’t where Photiades expects the strongest growth to come from in future years, insisting in his research note that the “real potential remains overseas”.</p> <p> “JD is now fully recognised by the leading global sportswear brands as a major European partner and player and the opportunity for further international growth in Europe and beyond is significant,” the analyst says.</p> <p> Photiades has maintained his ‘buy’ recommendation and 380p target price for the stock, which implies an upside of almost 10%.</p> <p> “The [current] valuation, in our view, still does not reflect the true value of the JD concept, which is trading in a rapidly expanding segment of the retail market,” he explains.</p> <p> “JD has a strong growth record, is clearly differentiated from competitor <a href="-##!##-/LON:SPD/Sports-Direct/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="3495">Sports Direct</a>, has the support of the leading sports brands and has significant potential to be developed overseas, where it now has momentum.”</p>   JD Sports Fashion Group PLC is in vogue with Cantor Fitzgerald, with the broker hailing the “significant potential” for growth in overseas markets. The Bury-based sportswear retailer reported a sparkling Christmas performance last week, adding that it expects pre-tax profits for the year to the end of January to come in up to 15% of current market expectations of £200mln.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171876  Acacia Mining 2017-01-19 10:38:00  2017-01-19 10:54:33  2017-01-19 10:54:33  Strong finish sees Acacia beat gold production forecasts in 2016  Strong finish sees Acacia beat gold production forecasts in 2016  gold, mining, production, Acacia Mining, Endeavour Mining, AISC, precious metals, 2016    strong-finish-sees-acacia-beat-gold-production-forecasts-in-2016-171876.html    <p> Strong gold production in the final quarter of 2016 saw <a href="-##!##-/LON:ACA/Acacia-Mining/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="10678">Acacia Mining</a> PLC (<a href="-##!##-/LON:ACA/Acacia-Mining/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="10678">LON:ACA</a>) post forecast-beating full-year production results.</p> <p> For the three months to December, gold production increased to 212,954oz – 12% up compared to the same period last year.</p> <p> The strong finish helped to push up full-year production of the yellow metal to 829,705oz – a 12% increase on 2015’s figures.</p> <p> That was ahead of analysts’ expectations of around 823,000oz, and significantly up on original guidance of between 750,000oz and 780,000oz.</p> <p> It sold on 816,000oz of the precious metal throughout the year, up more than 11% compared to 2015.</p> <p> One of the biggest differences was the price of gold, which rallied throughout much of last year, with the average realised price in 2016 of US$1,240 an ounce, considerably higher than the US$1,154/oz it received a year earlier.</p> <p> Importantly, all in sustaining costs (AISC) for the year came in at US$958/oz, towards the bottom end of the original US$950 to US$980 target range. Yuen Low at Shore Capital said he was hoping for that figure to, at worst, stay the same throughout 2017.</p> <p> With the much improved AISC, Acacia was able to add to its cash reserves, which totalled US$318mln come the turn of January (2015: US$233mln).</p> <p> Net cash at the end of the period came in at US$219mln (2015: US$115mln), although this was below City broker Panmure’s forecast of US$240mln.</p> <p> There was no update on the possible merger with <a href="-##!##-/TSE:EDV/Endeavour-Mining/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="6847">Endeavour Mining</a> (<a href="-##!##-/TSE:EDV/Endeavour-Mining/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="6847">TSE:EDV</a>).</p> <p> The two parties have held preliminary discussions about a deal that would create a £3bn Africa-focused gold miner.</p> <p> Shares were down almost 5% to 410.7p.</p>   Strong gold production in the final quarter of 2016 saw Acacia Mining PLC (LON:ACA) post forecast-beating full-year production results. For the three months to December, gold production increased to 212,954oz – 12% up compared to the same period last year.  ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171875  Greatland Gold 2017-01-19 10:29:00  2017-01-19 10:40:27  2017-01-19 10:37:31  Greatland Gold up again as grades from Ernest Giles please  Greatland Gold up again as grades from Ernest Giles please  gold, Australia, development, drilling,     greatland-gold-up-again-as-grades-from-ernest-giles-please-171875.html    <p> <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:GGP/Greatland-Gold/" rel="404">Greatland Gold</a> PLC (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:GGP/Greatland-Gold/" rel="404">LON:GGP</a>) has found latest drill assays from the Ernest Giles site in Western Australia were better than first thought after re-sampling.</p> <p> Last week, Greatland reported that it had identified a Western&nbsp;Zone 6km in length and 1.5km in width and an Eastern zone 2km by 1.5km.</p> <p> Several of the zones were up to 60 metres thick and reasonably shallow.</p> <p> A new more detailed analysis of the cores has indicated gold grades of up to 2 g/t with silver also present in some cores.</p> <p> It was the first wide-spaced drill campaign at Greatland’s 100% owned Ernest Giles licence.</p> <p> Greatland is targeting 5mln ounce deposits and clusters of&nbsp;one million ounces.</p> <p> The surrounding region is host to the Tropicana discovery, which contains over 7mln ounces and Yamarna with over 6mln.</p> <p> Shares rose 24% to 0.23p.</p>   It was the first wide-spaced drill campaign at Greatland’s 100% owned Ernest Giles licence. Greatland is targeting 5mln ounce deposits and clusters of one million ounces. The surrounding region is host to the Tropicana discovery, which contains over 7mln ounces and Yamarna with over 6mln.  NEWS          View Edit Delete
171874  Pearson 2017-01-19 10:21:00  2017-01-19 14:42:00  2017-01-19 10:22:50  Pearson - Deutsche Bank slashes price target  Pearson - Deutsche Bank slashes price target      pearson-deutsche-bank-slashes-price-target-171874.html    <p> The first broker changes are starting to trickle out for <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" rel="3058">Pearson</a> PLC (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" rel="3058">LON:PSON</a>), a day after it unveiled the full-scale of the challenges facing it in the US higher education market.</p> <p> The influential media team at <a href="-##!##-/NYSE:DB/Deutsche-Bank/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="7150">Deutsche Bank</a> has cut its price target for the stock by 130p to 600p. But as this is still 15p higher than the current share price, its has moved its recommednation to 'hold' from 'sell'.</p> <p> Interestingly, it now thinks the publisher will pay a dividend of 26p next financial year - half the figure it previously distributed.</p> <p> The company unveiled a cut to the divi as part of its self-help plan without saying just how much it would hack back the income payment.</p> <p> As part of its refinancing strategy, <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" rel="3058">Pearson</a> did say it was considering plans to sell its stake in the paperbacks group Penguin Random House to further bolster the balance sheet.</p> <p> “For the past several years <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:PSON/Pearson/" rel="3058">Pearson</a> has consistently failed to recognise the depth and range of the challenges it faces, particularly in US college textbooks,” Deutsche said in a note to clients.&nbsp;</p> <p> “The company has taken some steps to address the problems; cutting the dividend, selling non-core assets, reducing certain prices and investing in the product.&nbsp;</p> <p> “Although there are no quick fixes, the change of direction is welcome.”&nbsp;</p> <p> At 10.10am, the shares were little changed at 575.25p each.</p> <p> On Wednesday City broker Panmure cut its price target back to 650p a share from 870p and dropped its recommendation to ‘hold’ too, while Liberum repeated its 'sell' all the way down to 470p.</p> <p> Panmure thinks the dividend will fall to 25p a share to provide cover of two-times' earnings.</p>   The first downgrades are starting to trickle out for Pearson PLC (LON:PSON), a day after it unveiled the full-scale of the challenges facing it in the US higher education market. The influential media team at Deutsche weighed in with a cut to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’, chopping its price target back to 600p a share from 730p.   ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171873  Royal Mail 2017-01-19 10:11:00  2017-01-19 10:17:21  2017-01-19 10:17:21  Wait for pension settlement at Royal Mail, broker says  Wait for pension settlement at Royal Mail, broker says      wait-for-pension-settlement-at-royal-mail-broker-says-171873.html    <p> Uncertainty over the group’s pension scheme and its letters business is hanging over <a href="-##!##-/LON:RMG/Royal-Mail/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="718">Royal Mail</a> Group PLC (<a href="-##!##-/LON:RMG/Royal-Mail/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="718">LON:RMG</a>) like a cloud.</p> <p> <a href="-##!##-/PRIVATE:CANT/Cantor-Fitzgerald/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="15527">Cantor Fitzgerald</a> said the investment case for the shares remains finely balanced following this morning’s brief trading update, which was slightly weaker than the broker had expected.</p> <p> “The main reason was a weaker performance in addressed letters, and advertising and business letters were also reportedly weaker. That said, parcels in the UK and Europe have performed about in line and we think that full year forecasts will remain unchanged with this brief update,” the broker said.</p> <p> Royal Mail (RMG) is currently consulting with members on closing its main defined benefit pension scheme.</p> <p> The process will complete in early March, and until then there will be some uncertainty around future pension costs.</p> <p> “We think that the eventual outcome will be a new defined contribution scheme covering all 130k pensionable employees but negotiations with members and the CWU may prove tough. Our initial estimate is that additional payments will be in the range of c.£70mln-c.£140mln but with costs recognised in FY18,” Cantor said.</p> <p> The uncertainties are probably reflected in the current share price, Cantor believes, with RMG trading at around a 20% price/earnings discount to the European postal sector.</p> <p> The stock has under-performed the FTSE 100 by around 20% over the last six months, despite offering an attractive projected dividend yield of 4.9%.</p> <p> The broker remains sitting on the fence, with a ‘hold’ recommendation, though its target price of 500p, derived from a discounted cash flow model over 10-years, is comfortably above the current share price of 422p after this morning’s 28p fall.</p> <p> It’s also a full pound above Liberum’s target price and, not surprisingly, Liberum is a seller of the stock.</p> <p> “We see downside risk to consensus, with current revenue trends broadly consistent with our forecasts, which are bottom end of the range. There remain risks in pensions restructuring, and we believe the group is still priced for long-term growth, which we do not consider plausible,” Liberum said.</p>   Uncertainty over the group’s pension scheme and its letters business is hanging over Royal Mail Group PLC (LON:RMG) like a cloud. Cantor Fitzgerald said the investment case for the shares remains finely balanced following this morning’s brief trading update, which was slightly weaker than the broker had expected.   ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171871  Watchstone 2017-01-19 09:41:00  2017-01-19 10:47:52  2017-01-19 09:55:38  Investment in underperforming businesses to hit Watchstone’s 2017 results  Investment in underperforming businesses to hit Watchstone’s 2017 results  Watchstone Group, InnoCare, BAS, ingenie, Hubio, technology, solutions, insurance, markets, forecasts    investment-in-underperforming-businesses-to-hit-watchstones-2017-results-171871.html    <p> Technology solutions provider <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:QPP/Watchstone/" rel="4042">Watchstone</a> Group PLC (LON:WTG) has warned investors that its 2017 results will be hit by the continued investment into some of its underperforming businesses.</p> <p> New initiatives, launches and restructuring in its Hubio division – which provides technology solutions to the insurance sector – mean it won’t post a profit or positive cash flows this year.</p> <p> Its health tech business, InnoCare, also needs some investment in its products and on the marketing side of things which will impact its earnings in the immediate future.</p> <p> “Underlying earnings for 2017 are not expected to be positive due to the need for continued investment in new products and business lines,” said a pre-close trading update this morning.</p> <p> Despite the bleak outlook for the coming year, the group – formerly known as Quindell – enjoyed a solid 2016.</p> <p> ingenie – a car insurance telematics unit – saw new business sales rise 17% year-on-year, and <a href="-##!##-/LON:QPP/Watchstone/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="4042">Watchstone</a> expects further revenue growth in 2017.</p> <p> Similarly, new business sales at the BAS energy brokerage were up 30% compared to last year, a trend which the firm is expecting to build upon this year as well.</p> <p> Rehabilitation clinics operator ptHealth also enjoyed a strong 2016, with record numbers of patients, while of the loss-making clinics from 2015 have either been turned around or sold off.</p> <p> Overall, Watchstone said group revenue for the year to 31 December 2016 will rise to £63.8mln – a 9% increase on the £58.8mln posted in 2015.</p> <p> “We have made good progress in dealing with losses and those businesses that were not viable or non-core as well as developing profitable platforms in ptHealth, ingenie and BAS,” said chief executive Indro Mukerjee.</p> <p> “Our offerings remain relevant in segments that will see substantial growth in the next few years and we are focussed on building propositions for growing markets.”</p> <p> Shares were down 2%, or 4p, to 185.9p.</p>   Technology solutions provider Watchstone Group PLC has warned investors that its 2017 results will be hit by the continued investment into some of its underperforming businesses. New initiatives, launches and restructuring in its Hubio division – which provides technology solutions to the insurance sector – mean it won’t post a profit or positive cash flows this year.  NEWS          View Edit Delete
171870  Pets at Home 2017-01-19 09:18:00  2017-01-19 09:24:19  2017-01-19 09:24:19  Merchandise sales fall flat at Pets at Home  Merchandise sales fall flat at Pets at Home      merchandise-sales-fall-flat-at-pets-at-home-171870.html    <p> <a href="-##!##-/LON:PETS/Pets-at-Home/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="8338">Pets at Home</a> Group PLC (<a href="-##!##-/LON:PETS/Pets-at-Home/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="8338">LON:PETS</a>) was the dog stock of the FTSE 250 as it reported slowing like-for-like sales growth.</p> <p> Group revenue in the 12 weeks to 5 January rose 4.4% from a year earlier to £203.7mln, but like-for-like (LFL) sales were up just 0.1%.</p> <p> Services saw LFL revenue growth of 7.0%, but merchandise sales were down 0.5% on a LFL basis.</p> <p> At the halfway point of the group’s financial year, it had reported LFL revenue growth of 2.5%, so the 0.1% growth over the Christmas trading period is a substantial slow-down.</p> <p> Today’s statement will have raised alarm bells as over the full-year the market is expecting the group to post LFL sales growth of 2.6%.</p> <p> The group attempted to calm nerves, saying the profit outlook for the current financial year remains in line with market expectations.</p> <p> "Vet services yet again performed strongly this quarter, where our strategy of providing a quality service to clients across both primary opinion and specialist referral centres is delivering results, and is a platform for continuing strong growth,” said Ian Kellett, chief executive officer of Pets at Home.</p> <p> “In Merchandise, whilst overall sales were softer than anticipated, online grew strongly, reflecting the momentum gained from our investments in seamless shopping. We saw a good performance in our Christmas range, where customers are responding to innovative products at great value for money, which we will reflect in new range launches later this year. We will also focus on delivering best value, starting with a very clear message to customers about the benefits of our high quality, UK produced private label foods, where we will be leveraging our competitive advantage,” Kellett claimed.</p> <p> Liberum Capital Markets remained dubious about that competitive advantage, reiterating its ‘sell’ recommendation and restating its view that the retailer is facing a number of structural challenges.</p> <p> “Merchandise revenues were flat QoQ [quarter-on-quarter], but on a LFL basis they declined -0.5% from a +1.9% run-rate at the H1 stage,” the broker said.</p> <p> “This has to be seen as very disappointing result which remains the core drum-beat of profits at c.85% of EBITDA [underlying earnings].</p> <p> The services side was a bright spot, as were online sales, but Liberum wonders whether the growth in online sales merely signals the need for store closures.</p> <p> “Telling was the comment that online grew strongly in reference to merchandise but with declining LFLs we question whether this signals the need for greater discounting or is a proxy for a future store closure programme. Services appears to be doing well on the top-line, but our overall concern is that the margin is not flowing through as we had expected and remains well below these initial expectations,” it said.</p> <p> Shares in Pets at Home were down 7.6% at 220p.&nbsp;</p>   Pets at Home Group PLC (LON:PETS) was the dog stock of the FTSE 250 as it reported slowing like-for-like sales growth. Group revenue in the 12 weeks to 5 January rose 4.4% from a year earlier to £203.7mln, but like-for-like (LFL) sales were up just 0.1%. Services saw LFL revenue growth of 7.0%, but merchandise sales were down 0.5% on a LFL basis.   ARTICLE            View Edit Delete
171869  Rambler Metals and Mining PLC 2017-01-19 09:07:00  2017-01-19 09:20:53  2017-01-19 09:20:53  Rambler Metals optimistic over DMS benefit at Ming   Rambler Metals optimistic over DMS benefit at Ming   copper, Newfoundland, DMS, Lower Footwall    rambler-metals-optimistic-over-dms-benefit-at-ming-171869.html    <p> <a href="-##!##-/LON:RMM/Rambler-Metals-and-Mining-PLC/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="841">Rambler Metals and Mining PLC</a> (<a href="-##!##-/LON:RMM/Rambler-Metals-and-Mining-PLC/" class="companyPopupTrigger" rel="841">LON:RMM</a> CVE:RMB) has received more data to suggest pre-processing would boost returns from its new Lower Footwall Zone at the Ming copper mine.</p> <p> Dense Media Separation (DMS) of a batch of low grade ore last year produced an increase in grade of 1.4 times.</p> <p> Norman Williams, chief executive, said Rambler is working on plans for a commercial–sized DMS plant at Ming as, along with shaft rehabilitation, this could further enhance project economics over both the short and long term.&nbsp;</p> <p> The LFZ mineral resource estimate is currently 26 million tonnes with 1.47% copper at a copper cut off of 1.0%.&nbsp;</p> <p> Of this resource less than ten million tonnes was evaluated and incorporated into the Phase II mine plan as a mineral reserve.</p> <p> Should DMS pre-concentration be implemented at the mine site, there may be an opportunity to re-evaluate the LFZ reserve criteria with the goal to convert more of the in-situ mineral resource into reserve, Rambler added.</p>   Norman Williams, chief executive, said Rambler is working on plans for a commercial–sized DMS plant at Ming as, along with shaft rehabilitation, this could further enhance project economics over both the short and long term. The LFZ mineral resource estimate is currently 26 million tonnes with 1.47% copper at a copper cut off of 1.0%.   NEWS          View Edit Delete
171857  W Resources PLC 2017-01-19 07:38:00  2017-01-19 09:15:24  2017-01-19 07:58:33  W Resources making good progress with finance and development at La Parrilla  W Resources making good progress with finance and development at La Parrilla  W Resources, mining, tungsten, financing    w-resources-making-good-progress-with-finance-and-development-at-la-parrilla-171857.html    <p> <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:WRES/W-Resources-PLC/" rel="176">W Resources PLC</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:WRES/W-Resources-PLC/" rel="176">LON:WRES</a>) has told investors it is making good progress with the financing and development of its La Parrilla tungsten mine in Spain.</p> <p> Terms have now been agreed with leading vendors for the financing, supply and installation of the crusher and the jig/ mill plant – two of the three core equipment packages.</p> <p> W expects the vendors to provide finance for 50% of the two equipment packages, with formal contracts to come in the next month or so.</p> <p> The explorer has also applied for grants of between 20% and 30% of the equipment value from the Extremadura Regional Government in Spain.</p> <p> W added that it will also apply for grants for the third core equipment package – the concentrator.</p> <p> The remaining costs of the equipment that aren’t covered by either vendor financing or grants will likely be funded by a convertible note, the company said.</p> <p> “It is very encouraging to see tangible progress on both the development and finance fronts at La Parrilla,” said chief executive Michael Masterman.</p> <p> “Our suppliers and engineers have made significant progress to greatly enhance the integrity and expansion potential of our core equipment.</p> <p> “We are in a strong position to significantly advance financing and development in the first half of 2017,” he added.</p> <p> The new state-of-the-art Sandvik crusher is expected to be installed by the middle of this year, which should result in a “very substantial” reduction in crusher costs.</p> <p> Given the potential for these savings and recovery improvements, W has decided to temporarily halt production with a view to re-staarting once the new, more cost-efficient crushing circuit is installed.</p> <p> The group added that the work carried out on the design of the crusher and jig/ mill plants will take La Parrilla's output to 3.5 million tonnes per annum of ore feed, up from 1.95mtpa.</p> <p> This will be done at a low incremental cost and with minimum plant shut down time, W said.</p> <p> Shares were down slightly to 0.48p on Thursday morning.</p> <p> -- Updates for share price --</p>   W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has told investors it is making good progress with the financing and development of its La Parrilla tungsten mine in Spain. Terms have now been agreed with leading vendors for the financing, supply and installation of the crusher and the jig/ mill plant – two of the three core equipment packages.  NEWS          View Edit Delete
171861  FairFX Group Plc 2017-01-19 07:59:00  2017-01-19 09:05:53  2017-01-19 08:23:58  FairFX hails “exciting” acquisition of Q Money   FairFX hails “exciting” acquisition of Q Money   FairFX, money, currency, FX, exchange, Q Money, e-money licence    fairfx-hails-exciting-acquisition-of-q-money-171861.html    <p> Multicurrency payments services provider <a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:FFX/FairFX-Group-Plc/" rel="10652">FairFX Group Plc</a> (<a class="companyPopupTrigger" href="-##!##-/LON:FFX/FairFX-Group-Plc/" rel="10652">LON:FFX</a>) has snapped up digital business banking firm Q Money – and its associated e-money licence – for £425,000.</p> <p> FairFX said the deal - which is expected to go through next Tuesday (24 Jan) - opens up “many exciting opportunities” for the business going forward and should help drive future growth.</p> <p> The e-money licence could help to cut costs by allowing FairFX to internalise parts of the supply chain, something it wouldn’t be able to do without it.</p> <p> With lower costs and fewer external hoops to jump through, the company believes it can steal a march on the competition and more rapidly grow its product portfolio.</p> <p> FairFX said the licence also allows the group to build on its popular expense management platform and create a digital banking product for business, diversifying revenues.</p> <p> “The acquisition of Q Money is an important strategic step for FairFX,” said chief executive Ian Strafford-Taylor.</p> <p> “The e-money licence will allow us to rationalise our supply chain, thereby reducing costs, but more importantly it widens our horizons in terms of the products and services we can provide to our customers and the speed at which we can deploy them.”</p> <p> FairFX will pay £110,000 from its existing cash reserves, with the rest being paid for through the issue of 724,136 shares at 43.5p each.</p> <p> Further consideration of up to £825,000 may also be payable to Q Money over the next three years depending on performance. These add-ons will also be paid for in shares at 43.5p a pop.</p> <p> As part of the acquisition, Tony Quirke – who previously worked at Kalixa Pay – will become the group’s chief financial officer.</p> <p> It’s been a good week so far for FairFX after the company announced on Tuesday that <a href="http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/171718/fairfx-group-says-2016-revenues-are-ahead-of-expectations-171718.html">revenues were better than expected in 2016</a>.</p> <p> Shares were up 7% in early deals to 46.4p.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>-- Updates for background info and share price --</em></p>   Multicurrency payments services provider FairFX Group PLC (LON:FFX) has snapped up Q Money – and its associated e-money licence – for £425,000. FairFX said the deal opens up “many exciting options” for the business going forward. The deal is expected to go through next Tuesday (24th January).  NEWS          View Edit Delete

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