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Connect Group shares rise as it hikes final dividend on confident outlook

A look at some of the biggest risers and fallers in London today
Connect Group owns UK magazine and newspaper distributor Smith News

Connect Group PLC (LON:CNCT) shares were higher after the newspaper distributor hiked its final dividend and said a restructuring is underway.

The company, which owns UK magazine and newspaper distributor Smith News, reported a 3% drop in revenue to £1.59bn in the year to August and a 4.6% fall in pre-tax profit to £48.0mln. The decline reflected a weaker performance at its mixed freight distributing business, Tuffnells, and in the fledgling Click & Collect division.

However, the group said it was confident it would return to growth in fiscal year 2018 on the back of its restructuring and raised its dividend by 3% to 9.8p.

 Shares edged up 12.95% to 102.59p.

Enquest PLC (LON:ENQ) shares fell 3.74% to 25.75p as it said it has more than US$100mln of additional financing from a crude oil prepayment transaction and the refinancing of its Tanjong Baram project in Malaysia.

The oil and gas company said a US$80mln crude oil prepayment was made with Mercuria Energy Trading SA. It involves repayments in equal monthly instalments over 18 months, through the delivery of an aggregate of about 1.8 million barrels of oil. 


The Tanjong Baram financing US$37.25 was entered into with Castleton Commodities Merchant Asia Co. Pte. Ltd and is intended to replace the existing US$11.35mln financing with the Development Bank of Singapore.

2.30pm: Advanced Medical Solutions shares up on patent deal 

Advanced Medical Solutions Group PLC (LON:AMS) shares climbed as the company and Organogenesis Inc. entered into an out-licensing agreement on a US patent for a collagen-based wound dressing.

Under the terms of the agreement, Organogenesis has been granted an exclusive license in the US to the patent and in exchange AMS will receive a minimum payment of US$2.5mln that will be recognised in 2017.

AMS, the surgical wound care specialist, will also receive a minimum royalty revenue of US$1mln for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for its patent on the wound dressing, which contains Polyhexamethylene Biguanide.

“The group's ability to out-license our patent technologies is another endorsement of the quality of our innovation and we are confident that our partner will be able to use the AMS patent in order to help patients across the US,” said AMS chief executive Chris Meredith.

Shares rose 6.43% to 318.50p.

Shares in China Nonferrous Gold PLC (LON:CNG) lost their shine after saying that discussions about refinancing the business are ongoing.

As announced in its interim results, a refinancing is needed to repay US$20mln of its loan to CNMC International Capitals Company Limited due on 26 November 2017 as well as short term financing due shortly afterwards.

The company signed a US$6.5mln loan agreement with CNMC in September to provide working capital. Its subsidiary Kryso Resources Limited Beijing Representative Office also entered into a short-term loan agreement with China Nonferrous Metals International Mining for RMB 1.5mln, which is due for repayment in January 2018.

“The company continues to engage in discussions regarding a wider refinancing of the business,” it said.

Shares declined 11.63% to 19p. 

11.30am: Collagen Solutions in the red on revenue warning

Collagen Solutions PLC (LON:COS) has warned that first half revenue will likely be lower than last year after expected orders were delayed or failed to materialise, sending its shares down 11.76% to 3.75p.

The manufacturer of medical grade collagen-based biomaterials for use in research, diagnostics, medical devices said revenue is expected to be £1.86mln in the first half, compared to £1.89mln the same period a year earlier.

Revenues from sales orders that were not recognised in the first half will flow through to the second half, Collagen said.

As previously stated in August’s annual general meeting, revenue growth this year is expected to occur in the second half of the financial year. Collagen said “directors believe that the strength and quality of our sales pipeline continues to have the potential to deliver in line with these expectations”.

Flying Brands Limited PLC (LON:FBDU) shares edged up 9.09% to 3.0p as it said prototype testing and evaluation of its StoneChecker kidney stones medical imaging software has been successfully completed.

The group added that the semi-automatic calculation of important clinical information had been well received by clinicians.

Flying Brands also said it now expects to obtain CE (Conformité Européene) marking -- the seal that confirms a product meets the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation – before the end of the year following a previously announced delay.

10.00am: Ashley House boosted by Theresa May's U-turn on housing benefit cap

Ashley House PLC (LON:ASH) said the government’s decision to drop its plans to cap housing benefits for social housing tenants in line with the private rented sector will allow it to push ahead with key schemes.

Shares rose 18% to 7.38p as the health and social care property group welcomed's Prime Minister Theresa May announcement on Wednesday of the major U-turn on the Local Housing Allowance (LCA) cap. 

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, May said: “I can also say today that as part of our response to the review, we will not apply the Local Housing Allowance cap to supported housing.

“Indeed we will not be implementing it in the wider social rented sector and the full details will be made available when we publish our response to the consultation.”

Ashley House said LHA rates are already substantially below the level of rent and service charge to make supported living schemes viable. 

The government’s change of heart on LHA will allow the company unlock many schemes in its large Housing pipeline, predominantly in extra care.

"The threat of the LHA cap on supported housing has stifled development and investment in the sector and put many of our important pipeline schemes on hold,” said Ashley chief executive Antony Walters.

“Subject of course to Tuesday's Government paper on the future of Supported Housing not holding any further unwelcome catches, the company is now able to push forward on these schemes enabling hundreds of vulnerable people, particularly the elderly to receive suitable housing with care provision.”

HydroDec Group PLC (LON:HYR) shares edged higher after the cleantech industrial oil re-refining company reported record quarterly underlying earnings (EBITDA).

EBITDA in the quarter to 30 September is expected to exceed US$330,000, representing an improvement of US$605,000 on the comparable period last year. The growth was driven by improved pricing and margins and reductions in corporate costs, HydroDec said.

Shares were up 15.79% to 1.65p.

On the downside, Cogenpower PLC (LON:CGP) shares plunged 88% to 0.3p as it resumed trading following a temporary suspension.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) was also on the back foot after saying it needs to raise capital to maintain its ongoing operational activity.

The company said it has been presented with a number of potential non-dilutionary finance options from metal traders and debt providers.

While negotiations on financing are “proceeding well” the company needs new capital in the meantime, so it will issue a “small amount” of equity share capital.

Shares fell 13.56% to 0.51p. 

Proactive news headlines:

Sirius Minerals PLC (LON:SXX) has struck an offtake deal to sell a large volume of the fertiliser product that will be produced from its North Yorkshire mine. The mine developer has agreed a deal with Wilmar Group, a Singapore-listed agribusiness group, for the use and resale of the POLY4 exclusively in South East Asia.

Medical-grade collagen manufacturer Collagen Solutions PLC (LON:COS) has hailed the “strength and quality” of its sales pipeline ahead of what it expects will be a busy second half of the year. The AIM-quoted company has said all along that it expects this year’s results to be second-half weighted, a point it reiterated again on Thursday.

One of the world’s leading microbiome scientists is to present OptiBiotix Health PLC’s (LON:OPTI) latest research at a large industry conference in San Diego next week. Professor Bob Rastall will speak at the Microbiome R&D and Business Collaboration on 2-3 November.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) told investors it intends to raise ‘a small amount’ of equity capital to maintain its ongoing operational activity. The company, in a statement, highlighted that it has been presented with a number of potential non-dilutionary finance options from metal traders and debt providers.

Flying Brands Limited (LON:FBDU) is hoping to use the data from its StoneChecker kidney stones medical imaging software product for a wider range of commercial applications than originally intended. There is also a higher level of interest than expected in publishing post-marketing research on the clinical usefulness of the StoneChecker software, the company said.

Giant observation wheel specialist Challenger Acquisitions Ltd (LON:CHAL) remains confident that full construction of the New York Wheel (NYW) project will recommence in the near-term. A court hearing is scheduled today in New York where the New York Wheel and the former wheel contractor will discuss the transition matters related to the extensive work done by the various subcontractors for the NYW Project.

Kin Group PLC’s (LON:KIN) return to AIM has been delayed after  the group decided first to carry out a share consolidation. Shares in the shell are suspended and trading had been expected to resume this week but the share consolidation will require the approval of shareholders in a general meeting.

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) chief executive Reza Vaziri on Thursday told investors that the junior miner has been “extremely busy” on the ground in Azerbaijan. As production from the Gedabek mine has been ramping up and output has started at the Ugur open-pit, the company has turned its attention to exploration.

Jubilee Platinum PLC (LON:JLP) has seen a big increase  in revenues and profits  as platinum production from its tailings operation at the Hernic mine ramped up. Output from Hernic, in South Africa, rose to 2,874 ounces of platinum (PGM) in the three months to September compared to 808oz in the previous quarter.

Cadence Minerals PLC (LON:KDNC) revealed that its investee company, Auroch Minerals is now half way through its Tisová drilling programme in the Czech Republic and has intersected the sulphide blanket as predicted in its 3D model.

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