Zoltav shares jump as it discovers reservoir on Bortovoy licence may be larger than expected

A look at some of the biggest risers and fallers in London on Wednesday

Zoltav intends to defer final interpretation to allow for an additional 76 square kilometres of data to be contributed from the ongoing 3D seismic acquisition programme.

Zoltav Resources (LON:ZOL) shares rose 9.3% to 23.5p in the early afternoon trading as the oil and gas exploration company said a prospective field in the reservoir on the Bortovoy licence in Russia might be larger than initially expected.

The AIM-listed company announced it intends to defer final interpretation to allow for an additional 76 square kilometres of data, which covers the full extent of the prospective field, to be contributed from the ongoing 3D seismic acquisition programme.

This will enable the company to delineate the prospective field and plan the optimal location for the first Devonian exploration well.

Meanwhile Dignity PLC (LON:DTY) shares jumped 15.7% to 987.5p as the funeral homes operator revealed it has hired a consultant to advise on reshaping the business.

The FTSE 250-listed firm said the plan for the funeral business would focus on developing a modern, efficient, central operating model to support the reconfigured network.

Dignity reported underlying profit before tax of £77.8mln in 2017, up 3% from the same period last year, while its revenue rose 3% to £324.0mln from £313.6mln.

Elsewhere Diurnal Group PLC (LON:DNL) shares dropped 7% to 199.0p as the pharmaceutical company said it conditionally raised up to £11mln through the placing of 5.8mln discounted shares.

The AIM-listed firm said it has already conditionally raised £10mln by the placing of 1.6mln enterprise investment scheme and venture capital trust shares and a further 3.7mln general shares at a price of 190p each.

Diurnal said the proceeds will be used to progress the development and commercialisation of its products.

1:30pm: Burford Capital shares rise 30% as full year profits moving more double

Burford Capital Limited (LON:BUR) shares jumped 29.7% to 1.414p in lunch time trading as the investment management firm said profit for 2017 more than doubled.

The AIM-listed company said its net profit increased 130% to US$264.8mln in 2017 from US$115.1mln a year ago.

Analysts at the investment bank Liberum said the results and outlook suggested meaningful upside risk to their forecasts: “Therefore, we have moved our recommendation and price target to under review (previous: HOLD, TP 1108p) until we have finalised our estimates following today's excellent results.”

EMIS Group PLC (LON:EMIS)  shares rose 12.5% to 810p as Numis recommendation moved to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’, although the price target was slashed to 880p from 1000p, reflecting the dismal share price performance in 2018.

The software firm's nominated adviser admitted that today's full-year results were largely as trailed in January's trading statement, although as a consequence of slightly higher-than-expected guidance on costs Numis has trimmed its 2018 earnings per share forecasts by 2%.

The shares are now “too cheap”, although Numis concedes there is still much to do to reinvigorate growth.

11:30am: Sportech shares slump as it fails to find a buyer, warns on 2017 results, “challenging” start to 2018

Sportech plc (LON:SPO) was the biggest loser in late morning trading, dropping 55% to 35p as the betting company revealed that takeover talks have failed and said 2017 profits will miss expectations, while trading in the first ten weeks of its current year has been “fairly challenging”.

The FTSE SmallCap firm said it has terminated all sale discussions with interested parties after concluding that the discussions were “unlikely to result in an offer for all or a material part of the Group that it would be able to recommend to shareholders.”

Sportech also said its adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) for 2017 are anticipated to be below prior expectations at around £6.5mln due to a series of accounting corrections including write-downs of old stocks and "doubtful" debtors.

The group also announced that it has appointed a new chief executive, Andrew Gaughan with immediate effect to take the betting firm forward as an independent company.

Elsewhere Alumasc Group PLC (LON:ALU) shares dropped 21% to 132.5p as the building products group said it expects pre-tax profit and revenue for the current financial year to drop below expectations.

The FTSE Fledgling firm said that revenues for the year ending 30 June 2018 will be 4%-5% below previous expectations, with a consequential reduction in previously expected underlying pre-tax profit of around 15%.

Alumasc said this was due to continued delays in building contractor customers committing to new work following recent margin pressures, and broader economic and political uncertainties.

And Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) shares fell 5.9% to 40.0p as the group confirmed it was loss-making for the six months to December 31.

The AIM-listed firm reported a half-year net loss of £3.7mln – marginally above the deficit posted at the same point last year.

However, Futura announced that negotiations over a deal with a partner that would help commercialise its breakthrough erectile dysfunction treatment Med2002 are at an advanced stage.

9:30am: Aura Energy shares jump as it continues to progress Haggan Battery Metals spin-off

Aura Energy Limited (LON:AURA) (ASX:AEE) was the biggest gainer in early morning trading, with its shares jumping 33.4% higher to 1.70p as the group said it continues to progress plans for a separate international spin-out of the Haggan Battery Metals asset, which it added will result in "a clear and separate valuation" being attributed to the group.

In a statement saying it has no knowledge of the specific reason for an increase in the company’s share price during trading hours in Australia, the AIM-listed firm said some shareholders ‘maybe anticipating that action.’

Aura also revealed it has continued to press the Mauritanian Department of Mines and Government for the granting of the gold exploration tenements it applied for in 2017 which are "very prospective and adjacent to significant gold resources and shareholders may be anticipating the granting of these licences."

The dual-listed firm added that it expects to publish its half-year results over the course of the next few days.

Elsewhere, Physiomics Plc (LON:PYC) shares rose 2.6% to 6.00p as the  cancer technology firm announced it has been awarded a new grant by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The AIM-listed firm said the grant, awarded as part of Innovative UK’s Precision Medicine competition, will support its "Prostate Cancer Chemotherapy Precision Dosing” project.

The group said the total cost of the project is expected to be £97,000, the majority of which relates to internal staff costs, and Innovate UK will contribute a total of £68,000 to the project over a nine-month period commencing April 2018.

And AfriTin Mining Ltd shares jumped 6.9% to 2.30p as the mining company said completion of detailed geological mapping has confirmed the presence of mineralisation throughout the unmined surface extensions over the V1 and V2 pegmatite bodies at the Uis tin mine in Namibia.

The AIM-listed firm said the information acquired during the mapping expedition will be used to create a 3-D geological model to be utilised to generate a block model from which a provisional mine production plan will be produced.

Other Proactive news headlines:

Concern over waste plastics is driving customers towards Symphony Environmental Technologies plc (LON:SYM) and its biodegradable plastics additive, d2w. Michael Laurier, chief executive, said the desire to find a solution to the plastics problem has reached “tipping point”. Revenues rose 22% to £8.3mln in 2017 while underlying profits before R&D jumped 58% to £1.2mln.

SDX Energy Inc (LON:SDX) (CVE:SDX) has struck a new oil discovery in the Rabul 5 well in the West Gharib Concession in Egypt, where the well will shortly be completed for production. The Rabul 5 well was drilled down to 5,280 feet and it encountered some 151 feet of net heavy oil pay, across the Yusr and Bakr formations.  The average porosity was said to be 18%.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) said negotiations over a deal with a partner that would help commercialise its breakthrough erectile dysfunction treatment are at an advanced stage. MED2002 is a rapid onset gel designed for those men where the current pill-based treatments aren’t appropriate or carry significant side-effects.

Annualised recurring revenue (ARR) grew by more than a third in 2017 at StatPro Group PLC (LON:SOG), driven by the acquisition of Delta from UBS. The portfolio analytics software provider said ARR rose 35%, or 39% on a constant currency (CC) basis, to £53.04mln in 2017 from £93.27mln the year before.

Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) has received two new orders for its SmartWall Threat Defense System technology and said two additional incremental orders are expected later in 2018. The AIM-listed cybersecurity provider said the new contract wins, with a combined value of US$0.9mln, consist of a new deal with a UK-based multi-brand media company and an ongoing development for an existing customer.

International specialist staffing group Empresaria Group plc (LON:EMR) has racked up 18 consecutive quarters of net fee income growth. The group said that worldwide economic conditions are “largely positive” and the main markets in which it operates are expected to grow – even the poor old UK, which continues to operate “under a cloud of Brexit uncertainty”.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has updated investors on the process that will deliver shareholders stakes in Saffron Energy, as part of the divestment of the group’s Italian assets. The company is selling the Italian assets to Saffron, which is being relaunched as Coro Energy, in a share based deal though it won’t retain any of the stake. Instead, the shares will be redistributed to shareholders.

Europa Oil & Gas Holdings Plc (LON:EOG) told investors that it intends to fast-track ongoing technical work on the Licensing Option 16/20, an exploration area in the vicinity of the Corrib gas field, offshore Ireland. It is picking up the pace because of positive findings in the work carried out to date.

Touchstone Exploration Inc (LON:TXP, TSE:TXP) told investors that it has optimised the wells drilled in 2017 and updated on the 2018 drill programme. Oil sales averaged 1,521 and 1,552 barrels per day for the months of January and February respectively, at average prices of US$61.17 and US$57.79 per barrel.

Alba Mineral Resources PLC (AIM: ALBA), which has oil interests in the emerging Weald Basin in the south of England, has appointed a heavy hitting technical consultant. She is Sue Corrigan, a geologist and geoscientist with 40 years' industry experience in both exploration and development geology.

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