This week: A standing Avation for new financing, Forbidden allows Youtube and Mediwatch looks to expand
December 14 2011, 8:33am
With both the FTSE and the AIM All Share dropping slightly last week (35 points and 5 points respectively), but with heavy fluctuations over the course of it, the financial markets continued to exhibit little concrete trend. Last week was marred by a series of Eurozone related discussions, which ended in a British veto of a significant shift in economic power to a central form, and the associated political tensions fed through into the market place. This week so far has seen an announcement that the UK rate of inflation (CPI) has fallen to 4.8 per cent for November, down from 5 per cent before), and the rest of the week will see unemployment and retail sales data also being announced.
The Small Cap Wrap team will be taking a holiday on 27th December and 3rd January, back on the 10th January. See you next week however.
AFF Divestment of Putu Iron Ore Project, ALO Appointment of a Geologist, AGL Research Agreement, ANGM Financial and operational update, AVAP Placing, BEM Initiates Drilling, BGBL Interims, BIOM Reclassifies Loans, CAU Acquisition of Venture Business Research, CSLT Funding Update, ECR Argentinian Gold Project and THEMAC Update, FBT FBT licenses FORscene to YouTube, HDD Preliminary results, HCM Loan facility, IKA New Contract, MDZ Half-yearly unaudited results, MDW PSAwatch developments in the UK and France, NCC Trading Update, OMPP Acquisition of Karaoke and Music Catalogue, PGH CEO Appointed, PHC Harpin results, POS New Order, PGRP Contract Win with Asian Government Agency, SLN positive outcome from Europe and US on patents, SSP Interim results, SNG recruitment complete for Phase II trial, SYNC Expansion Order, TRX Placing, TRT Strategic Partnerships and Exclusive distribution agreement, and ZYT Preliminary results.
, a TSX-V/AIM listed exploration and development company, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Mano River Iron Ore Holdings Ltd, have entered into a legally binding heads of terms agreement with Lybica Holdings, an affiliate of Severstal for the sale of its 38.5 per cent interest in the Putu iron ore project in Liberia. Lybica currently holds the remaining 61.5 per cent interest in Putu. On completion, Afferro will receive a cash payment of US$65m and an additional consideration should Putu be sold to a third party. The funds will be used by Afferro to accelerate its 100 per cent owned Nkout iron ore project in Cameroon.
, the exploration and development company focussed on Africa, has appointed a Geologist to strengthen its initial reconnaissance work at its 945.5 sq km Wayu Boda Gold Project, located in the central-southern Adola greenstone belt in southern Ethiopia. Wayu Boda is held through the company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Rift Valley Resources Ltd, following the recent acquisition.
The Company announced that Parsortix Inc, its 90 per cent owned portfolio company which specialises in medical diagnostics has signed a research agreement with the University of Surrey’s Oncology Department Professor Pandha will be leading the Department’s work to evaluate the Parsortix cancer cell separation device. The work will include a structured investigation of the Parsortix device’s capability in capturing circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from cancer patient blood and optimisation of this process compared to the “spiked blood” previously used. The first phase of work will focus on the optimisation, enumeration and characterisation of the captured CTCs.
, a gold and zinc/lead mining company with two active projects in Greenland, made a number of announcements this week regarding a rescheduling of short term debt and an operational update to one of its gold pours. The Company operates a significant amount of short term debt, which currently stands at $23.2m plus accrued interest plus accrued interest to 31 December 2011 of $4.8m, and has reached an agreement with Cyrus Capital Partners to extend the repayment date of the loan from 31 December 2011 to 31 December 2012, with interest amounts being capitalised to that date also. This marks the beginning of a more extensive refinancing plan to facilitate the Black Angel project; a high grade zinc/lead project based around a previously developed mine in the north of Greenland. On the gold dore side of the business, the Company announced a further 15.4 kilograms was poured at Nalunaq, which has now been shipped to Switzerland for refining and subsequent sale. This takes Angel to 89.6 kilograms of gold dore in total since first pour on 27 May 2010, and it continues to seek to achieve a target of 1,500 to 2,000 ounces per month by early 2012- which if achieved will certainly mark a milestone for the Company and help build its cash generation.
Aircraft rental and leasing company announced that it has raised £2m from the placing of shares at a price of 110 pence per share, which will be used to fund the exercise of five aircraft options over ATR72 aircraft and for general working capital purposes. This will take the total number of these aircraft to 13. Avation has also secured a further additional eight options for this aircraft, which are to be wet-leased in conjunction with for Virgin Australia. Last month the Company announced results for the year to 30th June 2011 in which it showed that whilst revenues were down slightly to £16.3m (2010: £17.6m), pre-tax profit was up 59 per cent to £5.63m (2010: £3.55m), and dividends per share up by 66 per cent to 1p per share. This latest bit of news should serve the Company well in continuing to make the most of this growing opportunity.
Beowulf Mining ()
Beowulf Mining, the mineral exploration company which owns several projects in Sweden, said its wholly owned subsidiary, Beowulf Mining AB, has initiated its 2011/2012 drilling campaign on the Kallak iron ore license area. The first rig has drilled 140 meters at Kallak North since the weekend at depths of 200 meters. A second much larger rig is expected to be on site and drilling in the third week of December and will complete deeper extension of holes, to depths of more than 400 meters. Initial plans are for 7,000 meters of drilling at Kallak North, the majority of which will be utilized in confirming if Kallak North and South are a single ore body.
The smart energy solutions supplier reported a 16 per cent fall in total revenues in the six months period ending September 2011. This was primarily due to the announcement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in March this year that the mass roll out for smart meters to the residential and SME markets will start in 2014, much later than anticipated. Rather than becoming beholden to government policies and the six big utilities, the management is looking to partner with a new retail entrant which already has a trusted relationship with end users. The group generated net cash just under £1m from operations as action was taken to cut costs and reduce inventories in the Bglobal metering business. Further cost cutting is expected to generate £1.5m of annual savings on top of £1m already achieved. Utiligroup, the software business acquired last fiscal year, has continued to perform in line with expectations.
Biome a growth oriented, commercially driven technology group, said Tuesday it has completed a reclassification from loan to equity of €1.25m of its shareholder loans to Biotec, its joint venture manufacturing facility in Germany. The reclassification enables Company to receive accrued interest on its shareholder loans to Biotec. In consequence the Company has now received €406,244 in accrued interest and the principal of the loans outstanding has reduced from €7.62m to €6.37m.
, the business information and events group, has acquired Venture Business Research Ltd (VBR), a specialist digital information, data and analytics business in the clean energy and global security sectors for a maximum consideration of £7.5m. The cash consideration comprises an initial payment of £2.5m at completion and a further payment, subject to VBR's performance in the year to June 2015. VBR’s subscriber base is growing rapidly and the acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing in its first full financial year of ownership.
VBR provides its services to corporates, finance professionals, lawyers and investors active in the clean energy, security and defence markets worldwide. VBR will become part of ’s Business Information Division, alongside Perfect Information, the information and workflow solution for investment banks and the corporate advisory community.
David Ross – co-founder of the Carphone Warehouse - has written to shareholders urging them to accept his vehicle Oval’s discounted offer of £400,000 for the company; which he would then delist. Earlier in the week the board of confirmed that it had agreed terms with Oval to provide a £5m unsecured facility available to the Company for drawdown with immediate effect but expiring with the offer on 22 December. If Oval's offer for the Company has not been declared unconditional, by 22 December 2011, and in the absence of any other offers of short-term funding, the board intends to seek Oval's agreement to an appropriate extension of the Facility repayment date. Should Oval's offer for the Company be declared unconditional and the Facility be repaid, Mr Ross has indicated that Oval would be prepared to provide £5m of longer-term funding as set out in the announcement of 25 November 2011.
The Company has received all environmental and other permits necessary to commence drilling at the El Abra gold prospect in Argentina. A contract driller has already been appointed, which is in the process of moving a diamond drill rig from Buenos Aires to La Rioja province in order to begin operations in the second week of January 2012. THEMAC Resources Group, a TSX-V listed company owned 21 per cent on a fully diluted basis by , has provided another batch of drill results at its Flat project in New Mexico, USA. These results show numerous high grade intercepts, of which many are at shallow depth.
announced that it has licensed its FORscene Cloud editing platform to YouTube. As is usual in bigger projects, FORscene will provide the Cloud editing element in a larger integrated system. YouTube will use ' FORscene platform to support remote video editing and publishing for web and broadcast delivery. This agreement will make a significant contribution to the performance of the Company over the next twelve months. The stock was up 84 per cent on the news on the day.
Hardide, the provider of unique metal surface engineering technology, last week announced its preliminary results for the year ended 30 September 2011. Turnover increased by 12 per cent. to £1.95m (2010: £1.74m) with losses before tax of £446,000. The chairman reported that the Company has grown revenues in each of its key sectors and that it was EBITDA positive in H2 2011 despite deliberate increases in business development expenses. Further, sales in the first few months of the current year have shown a continuing improvement across all of markets and indications from customers are reassuring. The directors are optimistic that growth will be sustained over the coming year.
Hutchison China Meditech ()
Hutchison China MediTech, the holding company of a healthcare group based primarily in China, this week announced that its wholly owned subsidiary had entered into a new HK $210m (approximately US$27.0m) three year term loan facility with an independent financial institution. Hutchison Whampoa, a substantial shareholder of the Company, guaranteed the loan facility and is to be paid a guarantee fee by the Company. The CEO commented that the loan facility it had arranged represents in the Company’s view, the most practical, cost efficient and non-dilutive financing option for the Company.
PLC an advanced cleantech and biomedical materials discovery company, said its biomedical subsidiary, Altrika Ltd., is heading up a consortium that has been awarded a £452,000 research and development grant to develop a cell label capable of being used in vivo for cell therapy applications, and have announced a Grant from the U.K. government-backed Technology Strategy Board through its Regenerative Medicine Tools & Technologies competition. Altrika has also entered into a separate joint development project with a world leading life sciences diagnostic equipment manufacturer. The Contract will utilise Altrika's high throughput, polymer screening technologies for the identification and optimization of the next generation of polymer filters, in return for stage payments.
Revenue for the period end September 2011 was £1,746,000 (2010 - £1,080,000) and the Group made a loss for the period, after taxation, of £151,000 (2010 - loss of £109,000. Turnover for the period was almost as much as was achieved in the whole of the year ended 31 March 2011. The source of this increase in revenue was due largely to enhanced spending from existing retail customers, such as O2, HMV and , as well as the securing of business from new clients such as West Bromwich Building Society. Business in the Education market proved challenging; government cut backs have affected the sector as a whole and margins are under pressure. The Group will continue to place emphasis on MV's retail offering complemented by the high quality engineering and installation services that TV provides. The Group will continue to place emphasis on improving the quality of its revenues with the longer term objective of covering monthly overhead in its entirety from this source.
The Company announced that PSA watch continues to make good progress in line with the company strategy. In the UK charitable groups are switching to using the PSAwatch as a PSA measuring device in Well-Man prostate awareness meetings. In France, a clinical study conducted at six locations across the country which involved testing over 200 men has been carried out over the course of 2011 comparing PSAwatch to laboratory PSA values. Based on the results from the first five sites, AVF Biomedical Mediwatch's distributor in France, has launched the PSAwatch system at the Annual French Urology congress in Paris which was held between 16th and 19th November 2011 and they have already received orders. The Company has begun direct marketing of the PSAwatch into Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America. A large clinical trial is scheduled to begin at the Royal Hospital in Melbourne in Australia in early 2012. In addition, the Company is looking into increasing the utility of the reader into other applications.
, the Escrow and Assurance services business, provided a trading update last week in which it noted that revenue for the period to 31 May 2012 is expected to be approximately £21m - £21.5m, which is some 27 per cent above last year’s first half performance and ahead of the £19.6m market consensus. Whilst the Escrow business continues to perform in line with Board expectations (back in October the Company stated that this business had grown at a rate of 12 per cent), it appears the Assurance division has been a star performer having apparently benefitted from the increased market awareness around information and internet security (with there being a spate of high profile attacks being focused on in the media of late). The speed of growth in revenues and margins has been unprecedented and is a reflection of how quickly the market space is evolving- certainly food for thought which could continue to be of great significance for the Company going forwards.
One Media Publishing Group* (LON:OMPP)
The PLUS quoted consolidators and acquirers of music and video rights, announced that it has acquired under license the catalogue of rights to the Mike Bennett Productions catalogue. The deal was signed for a cash consideration of $24,500 plus an onward royalty. The catalogue comprises over 6,000 karaoke tracks from over the last 50 years of the charts. In addition there are another 4,000 tracks of original artist performances of a nostalgia genre including tracks performed by The Libertines, Babyshambles, Bad Manners, The Stranglers, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Mike Bennett, Pete Doherty, Tom Pepper, and Wishbone Ash.
Personal Group ()
Personal Group was pleased to announce that Mark Scanlon's appointment has now been approved and Mark will commence his role as group CEO with immediate effect. Mark previously spent four years at FMG Support Ltd., the UK's leading incident management and roadside assistance provider, where he served as managing director, becoming chief executive in January 2011. Mark had full responsibility for approximately £100m turnover and led the board and a workforce of 400 people. Prior to that, he was general manager and managing director of Commercial Division at Dyson Ltd., where he established a new division of the business in the UK and overseas, launching the Dyson Airblade globally. From 2002 to 2005, Mark held the position of head of global business development at plc.
Provider of naturally-derived products to the agriculture industry announced that its Harpin Seed Treatment has independently demonstrated that it can increase Soybean yields beyond standards alone. Direct Enterprises, Inc., Monsanto's exclusive distributor of N-Hibit(R) HX-209 dry formulated seed treatment showed yield data that demonstrated that the technology delivers added yield over and above traditional insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combinations. The tests and results were performed and have been achieved when used in conjunction with industry standard seed treatments, which the Company feels validates Monsanto’s choice to distribute the treatment to American soybean growers.
Plexus announced it has received a £800,000 contract from Australian oil and gas explorer Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) for wellheads and related equipment, with revenues expected from the contract in August 2012. The Company believes that word of mouth played a large part in Plexus being awarded the contract and that working with one of Australia's leading gas producers, Santos Ltd., will undoubtedly strengthen their profile in the country and region, and hopefully open up further opportunities in this expanding market.
Pulse Group (LON:PGRP)
PLUS-quoted leading digital market research agency in Asia announced that it has won a major contract worth $320,000 with an Asian government agency. Under the terms of the contract, Pulse will utilise its pioneering online market research services to facilitate the development of a country branding strategy for the Agency as it aims to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the region with a particular focus on technology. Pulse Chairman Bob Chua commented: “This appointment, which follows swiftly on the back of two agreements with leading financial institutions, strongly endorses our growing reputation as a provider of reliable and highly insightful online market research, which has the capacity to fuel growth in Asia. We are focussed on building this momentum and look forward to updating shareholders regarding new contract wins over the coming months.”
A leading RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics company announced a positive outcome from the oral hearing on 6 December 2011 at the European Patent Office (EPO) over opposition to Silence's granted European Patent EP 1 536 827 "Further use of protein kinase N beta". The granted patent refers to the gene target PKN3, protein kinase N beta, targeted by Silence's lead program Atu027, which is currently in a Phase I clinical study. The Opposition division of the EPO decided to uphold the patent in amended form. Silence also announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has completed its reexamination of four key RNAi patents that form part of the foundational “Zamore Design Rule” patent families. Following a review requested by an anonymous third party during 2010, the USPTO has concluded that the reissued claims are patentable and has issued Notices of Intent to Issue Reexamination Certificates. The prior art cited in the reexaminations was unsuccessful in invalidating the patents. Thomas Christély, Chief Executive Officer of , said: “We are very pleased that the USPTO has reissued these four patents. This outcome sends a clear message regarding the strength of Silence’s intellectual property. We believe that there is significant value in the Zamore technology as a fundamental tool for the development and commercialisation of RNAi therapeutics with enhanced efficacy and will continue to work to translate this value into our own RNAi therapeutic pipeline.”
Solid State ()
Solid State, the supplier of battery power solutions, specialist electronic components and industrial ruggedized computers to the electronics market, this week announced its interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2011. Revenues increased by 10 per cent. to £11.36m (2010: £10.30m) and profit before tax increased by 28 per cent. to £704,000 (2010: £550,000) reflecting the operational gearing in the business. The chairman reported that although the Company remains mindful of the general economic environment, it is confident in the Company’s prospects, both for this year and beyond. This confidence is underpinned by its order book, which as at 30 November 2011 amounted to £11.6m, a record level, and is reflected in the Board’s declaration of a 2.5p interim dividend (a 25 per cent increase on the interim dividend paid in 2010).
Synairgen, the respiratory drug discovery and development company with a particular focus on viral defence of the lungs, announced that the last subject has been successfully recruited into its Phase II proof of concept clinical trial of inhaled IFN-beta in exacerbation-prone asthmatics. The Company is on schedule to announce the results of the study in late Q1 2012.
Synchronica, the international provider of next-generation mobile messaging services, announces that it has received an expansion order for professional services, from an existing Tier-1 mobile device manufacturer customer. The order, which is valued at US$580,000, enables Synchronica to provide the customer with continued support and product development throughout 2012. All revenue associated with the order will be recognised during the 2012 financial year; however under the terms of the order, the customer is required to make an immediate payment of 50 percent of the order's total value. The remaining 50 percent will in turn be payable to Synchronica later in 2012.
Tissue Regenix (LON:TRX)
Tissue Regenix, the regenerative medical device company, last week announced a placing to raise £25m at a discount of approximately 2.7 per cent to the closing mid-market price prior to the announcement. The placing attracted both existing and new investors and includes a significant investment in the Company by Invesco Asset Management. The placing proceeds are expected to provide the Company with sufficient working capital which potentially enables the Company to progress its key programmes through a range of key value inflection points. Part of the monies will be used to fund the development of further applications of the vascular patch through a mixture of both preclinical and clinical studies. Following its entry into the cardiac market, the Company also intends to use part of the proceeds to build on this by developing a porcine heart valve product and seek regulatory approval for a decellularised version of an existing bioprosthetic hear valve.
The Company announced that its trading division, IntelliSAW, has entered into a strategic partnership with PQClean of Taiwan, with Wuhan Fenjin Electric Power Technology Co., Ltd and signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Adperc of Brazil. PQClean will distribute IntelliSAW's range of products throughout Taiwan. PQClean is a system integrator and supplier of power conditioning, control and monitoring equipment for the electric power industry. Fenjin will provide value-added system integration services for IntelliSAW's innovative wireless/passive temperature monitoring system throughout China in electric power transmission and distribution systems. Adperc has forecast sales of the IntelliSAW monitoring system in Brazil of at least $2.8 m over the next three years and will have to achieve this to maintain exclusivity in the territory. Adperc will provide distribution, system integration and marketing services for IntelliSAW's innovative wireless/passive temperature monitoring system throughout Brazil in electric power transmission and distribution systems. The partnership provides a foundation for the adoption of IntelliSAW's technology within Brazil's high growth Smart Grid market.
AIM listed specialist manufacturer of internationally award-winning touch sensor products last week announced preliminary results for the year to 30 September 2011. Revenues for the period increased by 11 per cent to £20.5m (2010: £18.5m) and profit before tax by 22 per cent to £3.6m (2010: £2.9m), largely on the back of a 38 per cent growth in Touch product sales to £14.2m (2010: £10.3m). Interestingly, the Company proposed a final dividend of 5.6p per share, pushing up the full year by 10 per cent to 7.7p. Though sales of touch sensors into the Asia Pacific region declined slightly on the back of a fall in ATM installations, EMEA and the Americas have exhibited strong growth across the variety of applications to which the technology can be applied, though the previously announced Coca Cola dispenser contract has not matured as quickly as expected. However, with the results demonstrated and an ever expanding footprint being created using value added resellers, the Company continues to make great strides in this very exciting market space.
*A corporate client of Hybridan LLP
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The Hybridan Small Cap Wrap is a weekly review of some of the most interesting small cap stories of the past week. Our review will usually be of those companies whose market capitalisations are less than £50m although we may occasionally cover larger companies.