Minoan Group plc (LON:MIN) was the biggest gainer in late afternoon trading, with its shares jumping 40.9% higher to 7.40p after the luxury resort developer revealed it has signed an exclusivity agreement with an unnamed potential buyer for its Travel & Leisure division.
The AIM-listed firm, which said the sale would leave the company debt free, added that first-quarter trading in the division is significantly ahead of the same period last year with unaudited gross sales up 15%, and commission ahead 10%.
Minoan also said it has recently received an approach from a credible party which has expressed an interest in acquiring a significant stake in its project in Greece, with discussions at an early stage.
Elsewhere, Greatland Gold plc (LON:GCP) shares gained 10.2% to 0.60p as the natural resources developer reported on what it saw as a period of operational progress across key projects.
The AIM-listed firm, in its interim results statement, highlighted that it had successful exploration campaigns at the Ernest Giles, Paterson and Panorama projects.
It noted that it is well financed with £4.5mln of cash and equivalents at the end of December.
The company is paying US$68,134 in cash and issuing 11mln shares to the vendor, though there is an option for Flying Brands to pay a cash equivalent of 4p a share in lieu of issuing shares.
Imaging Biometrics (IB) is based in Wisconsin, USA.
2pm: Polymetal shares rally as Numis upgrades gold miner to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ following 2017 numbers
Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY) shares rallied 2.4% higher to 789.8p in early afternoon trading as Numis Securities upgraded its rating for the gold miner to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ following falls on Monday after 2017 results.
In a note to clients, analysts at Numis said Polymetal’s full-year numbers were in line with their expectations and the development of the Kyzyl mine project in Kazakhstan was on track for the third quarter.
Analysts at the Swiss bank reaffirmed an ‘underperform’ rating on the FTSE 250 stock and cut their price target to 77p from 111p.
They said: “We believe Countrywide's underperformance of the sector will continue as the group struggles to implement its recovery plan in an unsupportive UK housing environment. We believe the group is facing its most significant challenge since its IPO, and as such we place Countrywide on the bottom of its through-cycle multiple range.”
And blue-chip insurer Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (LON:DLG) shed 2.4% to 383.8p after Deutsche Bank downgraded its stance to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and lowered its target price to 440p from 400p after last week’s full-year numbers.
“We believe Direct Line is now entering a transitory phase where the capital management story is well understood by investors (hence reflected in the current share price), whereas the benefits of positive strategic initiatives may still be a couple of years away from showing tangible benefit,” the bank said.
12.15am: Greencore Group shares fall as sandwich maker warns on profit growth and restructures US network
Investors took a big bite out of Greencore Group PLC (LON:GNC) on Tuesday, with its shares dropping 24.5% to 137.9p in lunchtime trade as the sandwich maker announced a restructuring of its US network and warned that profit growth will be slower than expected.
The FTSE 250-listed firm said its 2017 earnings per share are expected between 14.7p -15.7p with approximately two-thirds of that contribution delivered in the second half. That contrasts with current market expectations of 15.7p-16.6p.
As part of the US restructuring, Greencore said its CEO Patrick Coveney will take a direct role in the business and spend half of his time in US to improve the results.
Elsewhere, ECSC Group PLC (LON:ECSC) shares shed 15.9% to 137.5p as the cyber security provider reported an increased loss in its first year since going public, reflecting costs associated with scaling-up the business.
The AIM-listed company posted a pre-tax loss of £3.4mln in 2017, a big increase from the £517,000 deficit for the 15 months to the end of December 2016, although revenues rose by 9.5% to £4.1mln.
However, Ian Mann, ESCS’s CEO said: “The rate of revenue has been significantly less than expected in our plans.” ESCS shares were priced at 167p each when they floated in December 2016.
And Bango PLC’s (LON:BGO) shares lost 9.4% to 173.5p as the mobile payments platform posted a loss for 2017, albeit narrower than a year earlier, thanks to an increase in end-user spend (EUS) on its platforms.
The AIM-listed firm said EUS rose to £271.4mln in 2017 from £132.3mln in 2016 while revenue increased 62% to £4.2mln from £2.6mln, a shade ahead of the consensus forecast of £4.1mln.
The group’s adjusted loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation narrowed to £1.6mln from £2.8mln the previous year.
10am: French Connection jumps as clothing retailer sees operating loss narrow, says close to profitability
French Connection Group (LON:FCCN) shares jumped 18.7% higher to 40.00p in early morning trading as the high street clothing retailer reported a smaller annual operating loss and said it is close to returning to profitability.
The FTSE fledging firm saw its operating loss for the year ended January 31 was £2.3mln, down from a £5.3mln loss a year earlier as its revenue increased by 0.5% to £154.0mln, up from 153.2mln.
French Connection said it closed 11 non-contributing stores during the year and added that the retail market in the UK is “particularly challenging.”
The stock also got a boost as the Financial Times reported that the retailer received an unsolicited bid approach from a US third party during the year, which ultimately did not lead to an offer for the group.
Elsewhere, HemoGenyx Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HEMO) was the market's biggest gainer, with the AIM-listed shares leaping 24.4% to 3.82p as the group said it has entered into a collaboration with a major US biotechnology company in a deal worth up to approximately US$250,000.
The firm said the collaboration follows on from the announcement made by the company on 26 February 2018, which confirmed the filing of a provisional patent application relating to its development of a new type of humanized mice with a chimeric mouse-human blood system.
And Active Energy Group PLC (LON:AEG) shares rose 5.5% to 4.38p as the timber supply company announced it will work with Polish group Cobant on a new "Super Fuel" combining its CoalSwitch product and reclaimed coal from slurry dumps in Upper Silesia.
The group said the joint venture will assess the best ratio for a combination of reclaimed coal and Active Energy's wood-derived CoalSwitch biomass alternative for sales initially in Poland and eventually across the European Union and central Europe.
Other Proactive news headlines:
Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM), which is developing a gel that helps men with erectile dysfunction, has announced “encouraging” interim data from a pharmacokinetic study. The definitive results will be used to guide a Phase III clinical assessments of MED2002.
Genedrive PLC announced that it has commenced commercial sales and shipments of its Genedrive HCV ID Kit, a qualitative molecular assay for HCV and Genedrive platform into EMEA region, with an initial focus on Africa. In addition, the AIM-listed firm revealed its first commercial sales and shipment of the HCV ID kit and platform are expected to commence in the Asia Pacific region in the coming weeks.
Interim results from Sareum Holdings PLC (LON:SAR) charted a period of significant progress for the cancer drug developer and its licence partner Sierra Oncology. Sareum said Sierra had made “strong progress” with the two clinical studies of its Checkpoint kinase 1, or Chk1 inhibitor, SRA737.
Medical services and software company Flying Brands Limited (LON:FBDU) has pulled the trigger on its proposed acquisition of Imaging Biometrics. The company is paying US$68,134 in cash and issuing 11mln shares to the vendor, though there is an option for Flying Brands to pay a cash equivalent of 4p a share in lieu of issuing shares.
Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) is to initiate a three-year rolling exploration programme across its ground in Azerbaijan. The aim is to replace mined ounces, to boost resources, and to delineate new discoveries that can be quickly put into production.
Telit Communications PLC (LON:TCM) said trading in the first two months of 2018 were comfortably ahead of the same period of 2017. The Industrial Internet of Things specialist also revealed it has agreed a new and revised set of financial covenants with its main lender.
A booming personal loan book and strong sales of luxury second-hand watches and jewellery lifted pawnbroker H & T Group PLC (LON:HAT) last year. Group profits jumped 45% to £14.1mln in 2107, helped by a near doubling of personal lending to £18.3mln while impairment charges were also lower.
End user spend (EUS) on Bango PLC’s (LON:BGO) mobile payments platform more than doubled in 2017 and are on course to do so again in 2018. EUS rose to £271.4mln in 2017 from £132.3mln in 2016 while revenue increased 62% to £4.2mln from £2.6mln, a shade ahead of the consensus forecast of £4.1mln.
NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) revealed that its portfolio company Vortex BioSciences has signed a collaboration deal with BioView Ltd, a provider of automated cell imaging and analysis solutions with the aim of providing clinicians with deeper insights into cancer biology. BioView is a publicly traded company on the Tel Aviv Stock exchange, and currently has strategic collaborations underway with international scientific leaders and institutions.
Atlantis Resources PLC (LON:ARL) expects to finalise the terms of its acquisition of the Uskmouth power station in Wales in the second quarter of 2018. When the terms have been agreed, Atlantis will convene an extraordinary general meeting to allow shareholders to vote on the deal, which, if approved, would see the company recommence trading as SIMEC Atlantis Energy.
Greatland Gold PLC (LON:GGP) reported on what it saw as a period of operational progress across key projects. The company, in its interim results statement, highlighted that it had successful exploration campaigns at the Ernest Giles, Paterson and Panorama projects. It noted that it is well financed with £4.5mln of cash and equivalents at the end of December.
Scotgold Resources Ltd (LON:SGZ) turned in a net loss of A$769,000 for the six months to December 2017. The company had net cash of around A$4.5mln, which is around a third of the money it will need to put the Cononish gold mine into production. That process is now underway, as long-lead items are now being ordered following the granting of permission to mine earlier this month, and the company is now actively out seeking the remainder of the required funding.
Alba Mineral Resources PLC (LON:ALBA) has incorporated recently shot aerial photography into its understanding of the Thule Black Sands project in Greenland. The data has been compiled by GEUS, the geological survey of Greenland and Denmark, and will be used to aid sedimentary mapping and the determination of any future resource estimates.
OPG Power Ventures PLC (LON:OPG) has highlighted a 23% increase in power generation during its third quarter. The company said that the 1.3bn units in the three-month period was its “highest ever” to date, whilst reporting the production of some 3.7bn units for the cumulative nine-month period (representing a 9% improvement from the comparative period of the preceding year).
Mporium Group PLC (LON:MPM), the technology firm delivering event-driven marketing, has announced the appointment of Glyn Shadwell as its chief operating officer, a non-board role, with immediate effect. The group said Shadwell has over 20 years' experience in the marketing sector and was most recently Head of Strategy & Client Partnerships at Quantcast, a global technology company that specialises in AI-driven advertising and real-time audience measurement.