A good day for most oil companies but not Amerisur or Hardy Oil and Gas

A look at the day's major movers, featuring Hardy Oil & Gas, Amerisur Resources, ECR, CMC, Low & Bonar, Corero Network Security and Learning Technologies Group

Onshore oil rig
The Dimmocks Main Shale targets sit between two large gold producing areas in Victoria, Australia

With the price of Brent crude rising, it was generally a good day for oil companies bit not so Hardy Oil & Gas PLC (LON:HDY).

The company’s shares plunged to 7p from 9.5p overnight after the Supreme Court of India issued an order upholding the Union of India's (UOI) civil appeal against an earlier ruling relating to an arbitration award in Hardy’s favour.

It was not a great day either for South American oiler Amerisur Resources PLC (LON:AMER), which lost a sixth of its value after an operational update.

The Pintadillo-1 well in Colombia, targeting the N sands anomaly, the M2 sand, U sand and T sand in the north of the Platanillo field, was drilled to a total depth of 8,465 feet. The well encountered but has not, as yet, recovered hydrocarbons.

"While it is disappointing not to have encountered the N Sand as expected, we are encouraged by the development of the T and U sands in this area, in light of our success to date at Platanillo-8 and Platanillo-20. On success these accumulations offer reserves upside and useful bolt-on production volumes and I look forward to updating the market on test results,” said John Wardle, the chief executive officer of Amerisur.

1.30pm: ECR as good as gold​

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) has identified a large gold system in the Dimmocks Main Shale (DMS) exploration targets, part of the wider Creswick project.

The news sent the shares 19% higher to 0.95p, its highest level for a month.

The Dimmocks Main Shale targets sit between two large gold producing areas in Victoria, Australia, where it is estimated historically 15 million ounces of gold has been produced.

ECR Minerals will now drill test the DMS to establish the gold endowment. Rock chip sampling is already underway.

Noon: CMC Markets tumbles after profit warning

Spread betting firms tend not to care which markets move, so long as they move.

CMC Markets PLC (LON:CMCX) saw its shares tumble 15.4p to 150p – not the sort of volatility it was looking for – after having a major grumble about lack of volatility in the market in the second quarter.

READ: CMC Markets blames new regulations and low market volatility for latest profit warning

It also had a grouse about a crackdown on the spread-betting industry as it warned on full-year profits.

CMC had already guided for a 10-15% drop in contracts-for-difference (CFDs) and spread-bet revenue this year after European regulator ESMA brought in a range of new controls designed to protect customers; it now believes that the changes, alongside the low market volatility, mean revenues are likely to be 20% below last year’s figures, while net operating income forecasts have also been lowered.

Some commentators are now suggesting that it could be a good time to short the spread-betting firms – sell shares in them that one does not own in the hope of buying them back cheaper later.

Broker Peel Hunt remains a fan of the stock, with a target price of 230p, although it has downgraded fiscal 2019 earnings forecasts by around a fifth.

“Implementation of ESMA measures has reduced UK and European retail client activity as expected- however it is just 2 months in and it is too early to draw any conclusions to how clients may change their trading,” the broker said.

“On ANZ – all on track,” it added. Talking of which ...

10.30am: Things continue to unravel at Low & Bonar

It has not been a great year for performance materials group Low & Bonar PLC (LON:LWB), which issued a profit warning this morning.

Technically, the annus horribilis started at the fag-end of last year when the company’s chief executive officer, Brett Simpson, jumped ship to Fenner on the day of a profit warning.

At that time – just before Christmas – the shares were trading at around 67p; they are now trading at around 40p, down 11p on the day.

In its trading update, the company listed a number of reasons to be cheerful but the main bugbear was the company’s inability to pass on price increases of key polymers to customers owing to strong competition in the market.

As a result of this, full-year profitability is now expected to be significantly lower than previously anticipated.

Simon Webb, the group’s chief financial officer, has notified the company that he wishes to quit for personal reasons. He will continue in his role while a search for his successor is undertaken.

He will follow chairman Martin Flower out of the door; Flower announced last month he would step down from the board on September 11.

Broker Peel Hunt responded to the trading update by moving its shares to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and slashing its target price to 60p from 80p.

“The short-term focus remains cash and costs; however, the reduced profitability in H2 [second half] and the impact of the RM [raw material] inflation are constraining the group’s ability to reduce net debt by the level previously anticipated,” Peel Hunt said.

The broker cuts its 2018 profit before tax forecast by 24% to £19mln and advised that Low & Bonar’s ability to hit even the reduced target would require a strong fourth quarter performance.

9.30: Tech stocks to the fore

There was a decidedly techy look – as opposed to tetchy look – to the early risers with Corero and Learning Technologies in demand.

US network products giant Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) is to resell Corero Network Security PLC's (LON:CNS) SmartWall software products and services globally.

Juniper is a US$10bn company so the deal is potentially very big news for Corero, which is valued at £39.5mln, even after this morning’s 12.4% increase.

READ: Corero Network Security jumps after networking products titan Juniper Networks adds SmartWall to its products list

The view inside Corero is that this is a breakthrough deal for the company as it will broaden its routes to market.

Shrewd acquisitions seem to be behind the current success of learning solutions provider Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG), which was 11.1% higher at 140p this morning.

The company has raised full-year guidance, citing better-than-anticipated margins at recently acquired PeopleFluent.

The integration of PeopleFluent into the LTG empire is ahead of schedule while the group revealed that NetDimensions, which it bought last year, is also doing better than expected; in the first half of 2018, NetDimensions returned to organic growth at a substantially lower cost base.

House broker Numis increased its target price to 165p from 132p after it made material upward revisions to its forecasts.

“Management note a strong pipeline of future potential acquisitions,” Numis said,

“Importantly, given recurring revenue base, management confirm good visibility into 2019,” the broker added.

Other Proactive news headlines:

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) has identified a large gold system in the Dimmocks Main Shale (DMS) exploration targets, part of the wider Creswick project. The Dimmocks Main Shale targets sit between two large gold producing areas in Victoria, Australia, where it is estimated historically 15 million ounces of gold has been produced.

Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC (LON:NFC) has hiked its interim dividend in its half-year results as its pre-tax profit for the period rose by a quarter.

Demand for the service and products provided by motor finance and bridging loans specialist S & U PLC (LON:SUS) remains strong, the company said in its interim results statement.

WYG PLC (LON:WYG) has issued an ‘in-line’ trading update for the first half of the financial year ahead of its annual general meeting (AGM) later today.

ValiRx PLC (LON:VAL) is in “detailed discussions” with external partners as it looks to take its VAL401 anti-cancer compound into final-stage clinical trials.

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP) boss Cliff Holloway has hailed a “strong” year for the drug developer as it continues to make “significant progress” with its pipeline of cancer immunotherapies.

Motif Bio PLC (LON:MTFB) hopes to launch its next-generation antibiotic in the first half of 2019 as it waits on the green light from US regulators.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) doubled first-half revenues as more products containing its graphene additives were launched. Clothing and accessory brands such as Alfredo Grassi, Arvind and Oakley are developing graphene-enhanced items using Directa’s G+ technology, while Grafysorber is a treatment to treat water contaminated with oil.

Risk management software specialist KRM22 PLC (LON:KRM) has recorded its first revenues since joining AIM in April. Set up by serial tech entrepreneur Keith Todd, the group raised £10.3mln to acquire businesses to plug into a platform that can instantly assess business and financial risks.

Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) shares rose in early trading Tuesday after its subsidiary, Bricklive Education Limited (BLE), secured a content agreement with digital education firm ImmersiveMinds Limited.

Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) shares were up in early deals Tuesday as it launched a new distributor for its d2w oxo-biodegradable plastics in Jordan.

Rose Petroleum PLC (LON:ROSE) chief executive Matthew Idiens described as “period of intense activity” as the US-focused oil and gas junior reported interim results. “We are at a really exciting time in the company's development as we look to evolve from an oil explorer to an oil producer in the next quarter," Idiens said.

Cradle Arc PLC (LON:CRA) has put production targets at the Mowana copper mine in Botswana under review for the second half of the year. However, chief executive Kevin van Wouw is confident that the issues will be resolved and that the project has "decades" of production ahead of it.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) has acquired an option to buy the 2.94 square kilometre Aldeia Mining Lease application proximal to the 20mln tonne Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal. Savannah’s technical and legal due diligence has highlighted excellent lithium prospectivity focusing on a large scale pegmatite in Block A.

Plexus Holdings PLC (LON:POS) told investors that it is seeing an increasing level of interest in its POS-GRIP HG metal-to-metal seal technology amid growing global concerns over the leaking of methane from gas wells.

Solo Oil PLC (LON:SOLO) has confirmed the completion of its deal to sell out of the Horse Hill project and simultaneously acquire a 4.3% shareholding in UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (LON:UKOG). The transaction was valued at £4.5mln, or 234mln new UKOG shares.

Ceres Power Holdings PLC (LON:CWR), a world-leading developer of low cost, next-generation fuel cell technology, has announced the appointment of Caroline Hargrove as a non-executive director of the company effective from the 1 October 2018. The group said Hargrove replaces Mike Lloyd who retired from the board in July 2018. The company also announced that as part of its continued growth and focus on the development of both its PLC and executive boards, Mark Selby, its chief technology officer, will step off the PLC board from 1 October 2018.

Premier African Minerals Limited (LON:PREM) has said it plans to publish its interim financial statements for the period ended 30 June 2018 on Friday 28 September. The company added that, therefore, it plans to postpone the webinar announced on 17 September to Wednesday 3 October 2018 at 13:00 pm London time in order to allow shareholders the opportunity to review the Accounts and submit questions pertaining to the Accounts prior to the webinar. To register for the event click here.

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