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Xeros shares spike higher on news of US acquisition

A look at some of the biggest risers and fallers in London on Thursday
Acquisition Handshake
Xeros said Gloves Inc. was acquired for a cash consideration of US$800,000

Xeros Technology Group PLC (LON:XSG) saw its shares leap 11.5% in mid-afternoon trading to 164p after expanding its US coverage by acquiring Gloves Inc.

The cleaning product developer said Gloves, a firefighter equipment maintenance company, was acquired for a cash consideration of US$800,000 with a further US$300,000 contingent on growth targets.

Xeros said the acquisition, combined with its previous purchase of MarKen Personal Protection Equipment in July 2017, represented key milestones towards its goal of having four US sites by the end of 2018, with national US coverage expected in 2019.

Meanwhile, Interserve PLC (LON:IRV) shares climbed 11.2% to 97.7p as it reported a milestone on a new financing agreement.

The support services and construction company said it had reached an agreement with lenders and other financial stakeholders on major commercial terms as well as extending the covenant test deferral date to 30 April 2018.

Interserve said it will receive £196.6mln in cash and up to £95mln through bonding facilities by September 2021.

The company added that it will use £45mln from "new facilities" to repay borrowings, which expire on April 30. Upon completion of the payback, the company's total loan will be reduced to £834mln.

Analysts at Liberum commented: “We update our forecasts to reflect the impact of the re-financing. We now expect net PnL interest in FY 2018 of £56m, up from £28.2mln previously, and for this to increase to £65mln in FY 2019.

“Together with the effect of the warrants, we reduce our FY 2018 FD EPS by 53% to 18.6p, and FY 2019 FD EPS by 60% to 18.5p. We continue to expect no dividend is paid to the end of the forecasting horizon”, they added.

In other news, Prairie Mining Limited (LON:PDZ, ASX:PDZ) soared 11.5% to 53p after investment banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) became a substantial shareholder.

The Poland-focused miner said the bank had purchased a total of 8,466,223 shares, representing 5.05% of the company’s issued share capital.

12:35pm: Cambridge Cognition shares fall as contract delays hit profits

Cambridge Cognition Holdings PLC (LON:COG) shares slid 12.8% to 99p in lunchtime trading as it reported losses for 2017.

The neuroscience company posted a pre-tax loss of £0.28mln, from a £0.11mln profit the previous year on slightly declined revenues of £6.73mln from £6.88mln previously.

The results came off the back of a trading update on 10 January when the group said two contracts expected at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 materialised later than expected, causing the company to downgrade its revenue for the year to below 2016 levels.

Meanwhile, doorstop lender Provident Financial PLC (LON:PFG) saw its shares plunge 23.6% to 681p as the shares from its February rights issue began trading.

The company announced in February that it was launching a fully underwritten rights issue of more than 104 million new ordinary shares to raise about £331mln on the basis of 17 new shares for every 24 held.

Provident has said it would use the proceeds of its cash call to pay off almost £200mln in fines and to strengthen its balance sheet.

In other news, shares in oil and offshore services group Lamprell Plc (LON:LAM) dropped 5.4% to 66p after it revealed a near halving of revenue and confirmed a loss for 2017. Revenue for 2017 amounted to US$370mln, from US$705mln in 2016.

The United Arab Emirates-based engineering firm reported an EBITDA loss of US$70.5mln, slumping from positive earnings of US$30.6mln in the preceding year.

Chairman John Malcom acknowledged that the group “experienced significant challenges throughout 2017” whereas chief executive Christopher McDonald described his first full year in charge as one of “repositioning”.

11:08am: Vipera shares soar on news of potential offer from Italian fintech platform

Vipera PLC (LON:VIP) saw its shares leap up 10% in mid-morning trading to 6.8p after a possible takeover offer was announced.

The mobile payment company said Sella Open Fintech Platform was contemplating making an offer at 7.5p per share, valuing the company at £24.03mln.

Meanwhile, shares in online broker IG Group (LON:IGG) rose 3% to 844.5p as it delivered a 30% jump in third-quarter revenue, boosted by a boom in cryptocurrencies trading.

The company also reported that active client numbers rose 16.5% from a year earlier with revenue per client increasing 12%.

Analysts at Numis commented: "As the CFD [contracts for difference] industry matures and regulation is introduced to restrict the activities of the less scrupulous providers, we believe IG's market position should improve."

Elsewhere, Tri-Star Resources PLC (LON:TSTR) shares jumped 8% to 0.03p after good news from Oman.

The mineral processor said its associate company, Strategic & Precious Metals Processing LLC (SPMP), in which Tri-Star holds a 40% equity interest, had entered into a new banking agreement with Alizz Islamic Bank to provide US$30mln to be used for a combination of project and trade finance.

Tri-Star added that the construction of SPMP’s new roasting facility in Oman was 86% complete and the company expected the first antimony metal to be produced in June 2018, with SPMP targeting a ramp-up to a production rate of 2,000-3,000 tonnes per month by year-end.

9:40am: De La Rue shares drop as it loses out on Brexit passport contract

De La Rue plc (LON:DLAR) saw its shares drop 5.6% in early morning trading to 475p after losing out on the contract to produce the new UK passport.

The banknote and anti-counterfeiting provider said Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) had decided not to award the contract to De La Rue when its existing contract expires in July 2019.

In a twist of Brexit irony, the £490mln passport contract was instead awarded to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto (AMS:GTO).

Meanwhile, Flybe Group PLC (LON:FLYB) shares tumbled 25% to 35.1p after Stobart Group Limited (LON:STOB) pulled out of bid talks to acquire the airline.

Stobart Group and Flybe enjoy a range of shared interests as well as a growing franchise arrangement between the two groups' airlines and it is Stobart Group's intention to continue the collaborative working relationship between both companies, Stobart’s statement said.

Flybe’s board said it intends to press ahead with plans to reduce the airline’s fleet size to what it believes is an optimum level for the number of identified profitable routes and make the business demand-driven rather than capacity-led.

Elsewhere, Ted Baker PLC (LON:TED) dropped 4.3% to 2,810p after the fashion retailer warned about challenging trading conditions across many of its global markets.

The group also said that recent unseasonal weather across Europe and East Coast of America has had an impact on the early part of trading for Spring/Summer.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, commented: “As with many other retailers (and indeed corporates) of late, however, it [Ted Baker] has fallen foul of its outlook statement, with management anticipating trading conditions will remain challenging across many of its global markets.

“More cautious investors are clearly not prepared to look through this observation, for fear of it actually sugar-coating what could be a worsening in recent trading conditions. After all, the message from the high street this week was hardly one of optimism” he added.

Proactive news headlines:

Stobart Group Limited (LON:STOB) will not be proceeding with a bid for regional airline, Flybe GroupPLC (LON:FLYB). Stobart Group and Flybe enjoy a range of shared interests as well as a growing franchise arrangement between the two groups' airlines and it is Stobart Group's intention to continue the collaborative working relationship between both companies, Stobart’s statement said.

Aerial reconnaissance specialist Strat Aero PLC (LON:AERO) said it has made considerable and rapid progress in its cost reduction programme. At the same time, management has been enhancing the performance and prospects of its main operating business, Geocurve.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU), in its financial results statement, reaffirmed its belief that its assets onshore Morocco have the potential to become a material hydrocarbon province. “We remain hugely excited about our future and look forward to success together,” said chairman Richard Liddell.

Range Resources Ltd (LON:RRL) has detailed plans for a new work programme for the Perlak field, in Indonesia,  where the company is targeting first production in mid-2018. The field programme, targeting early production, is due to start in the second quarter and it said that the planned work programme is expected to add up to 200 barrels of oil production per day.

Coinsilium Group Ltd (NEX:COIN) announced that it has exercised an option to acquire a further 3.5% of the share capital of Indorse Pte. Ltd. via its wholly owned subsidiary Seedcoin Limited, taking its total holding to 10%.

A good performance by its healthcare division kept profits moving higher in 2017 at Cello Group plc(LON:CLL) . The marketer intends to underline healthcare's growing importance, especially in the US, by a name change to Cello Health Group.

In line with its strategy to focus in on its cancer and fibrosis pipeline, Redx Pharma Plc (AIM:REDX) has found a prospective partner for its next-generation antibiotics. For the drug developer has signed an option and licence agreement with Deinove of France that effectively outsources its novel bacterial topoisomerase inhibitor (NBTI) programme.

Bezant Resources plc (LON:BZT) is to switch its focus back to copper in the Philippines and Argentina after failing to get the finance to develop the Choco alluvial gold deposit in Colombia. Laurence Read, chief executive, said the decision stemmed from a strategic review of the junior’s activities following the halt to mining at Choco at the end of 2017.

Cadence Minerals Plc (LON:KDNC) says it has begun an initial exploration programme on the six ‘high-quality’ lithium assets in the San Luis province of Argentina it agreed to acquire in December. The AIM-listed mineral sector investment firm said the exploration programme, targeted to complete in 4-6 months, will aim to provide the company with an understanding of the pegmatite geology and the extent of lithium mineralisation.

Alba Mineral Resources PLC (LON:ALBA), the diversified mineral exploration and development company, announced that its Mineral Exploration Licence (MEL) 2013/06, comprising the Amitsoq Graphite Project in southern Greenland, has been renewed for a further five years commencing from 2018.  Furthermore, it added, the government of Greenland has confirmed that the exploration expenditure commitment for the Project has been reduced to zero for 2018.

Base Resources Limited (LON:ASX) (ASX:BSE) advised that the latest company presentation, which was presented today at the Australian Mineral Sands Conference in Perth, Western Australia, has been released to the Australian Securities Exchange and is available on the company’s website.

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