Small cap movers: Dart Group shares take off after Jet2 holiday brand owner ups profit expectations

A look back at some of the more interesting stories from the junior market this week

Jet2 aircraft
Tough competition in the travel sector had led to heavy discounting by businesses but Dart said it has seen a more normalised pricing environment over the past year

Shares in the owner of the Jet2 holiday brand, Dart Group PLC (LON:DTG) took off this week after the AIM-listed firm raised its full year profit expectations on the back of continued growth in its leisure travel business and reduced levels of discounting in the market.

In a brief trading update on Monday, Dart said it now expects underlying profit before tax for the year to the end of March 2018 to be “materially ahead” of market forecasts.

Tough competition in the travel sector had led to heavy discounting by businesses but Dart said it has seen a more normalised pricing environment over the past year.

Investors responded positively, with its shares jumping 22% higher over the week to 795.5p.

Collagen Solutions boost

There was a big boost this week for Collagen Solutions PLC (LON:COS) after it revealed it is to make an initial submission for a European CE certification mark after positive results from a clinical study of ChondroMimetic implants..

The developer and manufacturer of medical grade collagen and tissue components for use in regenerative medicine on Wednesday announced successful results from an eight-year extension clinical study of 15 patients who received ChondroMimetic implants as a bone and cartilage scaffold for the repair of cartilage defects in the knee.

The eight-year study found there was an improvement in patients' clinical symptoms, including alleviation of pain; improved function; and increased activity level.

Collagen shares shot higher on the news, gaining over 37% on the week to 16.128p.

Plant Impact PLC (LON:PIM) was the week’s biggest riser again, advancing another 72% to 10p following news the previous week that the Europe subsidiary of Croda International PLC (LON:CRDA) has agreed to buy the crop enhancement technology firm for £10mln.

Shareholders in Plant Impact will receive 10.57p in cash for each ordinary share, representing a 79.9% premium to the closing price on February 15, the day before the bid was unveiled.

Xpediator trucks on

Elsewhere, Xpediator PLC (LON:XPD) shares gained over 18% to 44.37p after the UK provider of freight management services said 2017 revenues are expected to rise 59%, boosted by acquisitions, with trading profit expected to be “significantly ahead of the previous year”.

The group delivered strong trading across all three of its divisions and results included a £10mln revenue contribution from three acquisitions completed during 2017.

Xpediator, which listed on AIM last August, acquired EMT Logistics, Benfleet Forwarding, and Regional Express during 2017.

Baron Oil PLC (LON:BOIL) was also a strong gainer this week, jumping 63% higher to 0.42p on news it has entered into a North Sea-based exploration venture and also detailed its plans over in Peru.

It said it wants to drill a well in Peru but the project is in “force majeure” amid disagreement with local government. But Baron still said it believes the Peru well could be drilled in the next six months.

UKOG shares under pressure

Shares in UK onshore explorer UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (LON:UKOG), however, went the opposite way, shedding almost 40% over the week as investors reacted unfavourably to the latest well results from southern England.

On Tuesday, the company revealed that the Broadford Bridge well - which is testing the Kimmeridge play within the Weald basin - flowed between 10 and 72 barrels per day via pumping of the KL5 zone.

UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson described it as “positive and encouraging” though the share trading trends looked to disagree.

Residential gas and electricity services specialist Flowgroup PLC (LON:FLOW) was the week’s biggest loser, plunging by 52% to 0.14p after it revealed on Wednesday that while current trading is in line with management expectations, its market is becoming more competitive and it is considering long-term financing options.

Flowgroup said it has agreed to £5.0mln funding facility, provided by its loan note holders Palm Ventures and Lombard Odier Asset Management, with a £2mln tranche to be drawn down immediately.

The company also said: "The board continues to work with its advisers, and in consultation with its loan note providers, to closely evaluate the company's strategic positioning including its longer-term financing requirements.”

Not so much a Milestone

Also on the downside, Milestone Group PLC (LON:MSG) shares dropped over 51% to 0.10p after the digital media and technology company reported a wider loss and drop in profits for 2017.

The group posted a net loss for the year of £2.2mln, up from £1.6mln a year ago, and revenues of £29,395, down from £71,359.

Anthony Sanders, who became Milestone’s interim chief executive after Deborah White resigned in September, said it had been a “challenging year” that saw a shift in the company’s management and its strategic focus.

Starcom Plc (LON:STARS) was also under the cosh this week, dropping 36% in value to 2.56p after saying it expects to report a 2017 loss.

The company, which makes wireless trackers, said it is likely to report a consolidated net loss after taxation “materially higher” than the breakeven to small loss previously indicated.

“The major variances relate to share-based payment costs, unrealised exchange differences and certain holding company costs,” it said.

Overall a topsy-turvy trading week saw the FTSE 100 index lose around 0.9% to 7,229, while the FTSE AIM All-Share index managed to tick very fractionally higher to 1,040.

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