Toople topples as investors sell the half-year news

A look at the day's major movers in London on Wednesday, including Yu Group, Argo Blockchain, Tavistock Investments, Finablr, Moss Bros, Speedy Hire and Indivior

Shares in telecoms specialist Toople were dialled down

The biggest faller in Wednesday afternoon trading was telecoms tiddler Toople PLC (LON:TOOP) as investors who had followed the first part of the "buy on the rumour" adage followed it up with the "sell on the fact" kicker as interim results landed.

Chief executive Andy Hollingworth said it had been an “excellent” period for the company, with period-end cash of £1.15mln “sufficient” to allow the business to continue to keep up its marketing strategy, which has led to a record month in April and a “healthy” new business pipeline.

Half-year revenues were up 57% to £1.1mln and gross profit more than doubled to £0.21mln, but pre-tax losses persisted.

The shares, having trundled along at around 0.29p since September, had doubled in the three weeks leading up the release of numbers to heady heights above half a penny, but by mid afternoon Toople had toppled 14% to 0.47p.

Way up in the FTSE 100, the biggest fallers were in the paper and packaging industry, with DS Smith (LON:SMDS) bent out of shape by a downgrade from broker Goodbody, which pointed to weak product pricing. Sector peers Smurfit Kappa Group PLC (LON:SKG) and Mondi Plc (LON:MNDI) was also on the back foot.

13.35pm: Indivior gets shot in the arm

Directors of embattled drug developer Indivior (LON:INDV) gave the shares a shot in the arm as directors got their wallets out.

Chief executive Sean Thaxter shelled out £44,640 at a price of 44.64p, while two executive directors combined to spend more than £31,500.

Shares in the opioid addiction specialist, which in April lost around three-quarters of their value and hit an all-time low of 21p as US prosecutors hit the company with 28 fraud charges, were up more than 10% in afternoon trading on Wednesday to 50.02p.

12.15pm: Moss Bros brushes up well

Also looking a bit smarter was Moss Bros Group plc (LON:MOSB), up almost 5% to 22.41p, as the suits and boots chain reported 1.5% growth in group revenue over the first 15 weeks of the year.

While like-for-like sales were broadly flat due to a decline in wedding hire, the retail performance was strong, up 2.2% on LFL basis, driven by 18.7% growth online.

“Moss is proving the offer remains relevant to consumers, with 32% growth in Tailor Me a highlight,” said broker Peel Hunt.

Hiring of a different sort was going well for Speedy Hire Plc (LON:SDY), sending its shares was revving up more than 1% to 63.2p.

Final results showed adjusted profit before tax up 19% to £30.9mln, above the highest of analyst forecasts as self help efforts and better product mix contonued to drive the recovery in margins.

The board's outlook was confident, with boss Russell Down saying the numbers demonstrate the progress being made, including a significant increase in the SME customer base. "The business has a strong platform for future growth."

11.30am: Finablr's feebler debut

Finablr PLC (LON:FIN), the owner of the Travelex chain of bureau de change shops, was finding life as a listed company harder than it might have expected after its Wednesday debut.

The payments and foreign exchange outfit had already slashed the pricing of its initial public offer to 174p per share from the initially anticipated 210p-260p range, giving it a starting market cap of roughly £1.23bn.

Its first day of trading, however, has seen Finablr's shares fall more than 7% to 162.5p.

Backed by United Arab Emirates billionaire Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, the group had perhaps expected a warmer welcome, after seeing rival UAE-based payment solutions provider Network International Holdings PLC (LON:NETW) surge to a sizeable premium its IPO price on its debut in London a month ago.

A rebound in the price of oil in Edmonton, Canada, has given Cabot Energy PLC (LON:CAB) a little more time to negotiate a long-term funding package, though its shares were not enjoying the same bounce.

Cabot raised £2.53mln from a share issue in March and has enough working capital to last until the end of May, but majority shareholder High Power Petroleum has said it will provide limited short-term funding, pending the satisfactory progression of the debt finance discussions.

Scott Aitken, Cabot's chief executive, said crude sales prices were significantly above the company's assumptions, helping give a longer period to negotiate the debt funding for the planned drilling and workover operations in the summer.

10.30am: Yu jolts back to life 

Yu Group PLC (LON:YU.) sparked back into life in early trade on Wednesday after the energy supplier to SMEs posted a smaller than expected loss for last year, after a detailed accounting review was carried out into previous accounting problems.

In October the AIM-listed outfit lost more than 80% of its market value following a warning that £10mln would have to be chopped from full year profits after admitting it had estimated and invoiced for more electricity than it actually sold.

Wednesday’s results showed an adjusted loss before tax of £6.6mln, which was lower than the £7.35mln-£7.85mln indicated in January, even though revenues jolted up 77% to £80.6mln.

As well as apologising to shareholders for “the mistakes made”, chief executive Bobby Kalar said: “We have made significant progress in implementing new systems and processes and the board is confident that we have weathered the storm.” The shares were up more than 30% to 120.85p.

Elsewhere, Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) climbed to a five-month high after peace broke out with activist investor First Investments just days before a crunch meeting.

As well as Jonathan Bixby, chair of the Argonauts, falling on his sword to be replaced by fellow founder Mike Edwards, the crypto-currency miner will also consult First Investments on the appointment of a new non-executive director at next month’s annual meeting.

Furthermore, First Investments, the vehicle of colourful entrepreneur Frank Timis, has signed an outline agreement to become Argo's first enterprise-level mining-as-a-service customer, ploughing in up to US$1mln a month.

Argo’s shares were up 26% to 5.76p, earlier topping 6p for the first time since November.

And Tavistock Investments PLC (LON:TAVI) was another early gainer, rising more than 5% to 3.21p, as it unveiled plans to pay out a maiden interim dividend after earnings doubled in its latest full year.

The investment manager reported earnings of £1.48mln for the year to 31 March, up 101% on the prior year, even as gross revenues fell 5% to £27.3mln.

Buoyed by funds under management increasing for the fifth consecutive year, along with a near-ninefold increase in cash generated from operations, Tavistock said it would pay an interim dividend of 0.01p per share, marking “a long held strategic objective”.

Chief executive Brian Raven said that going forward the group aimed to improve its profitability and manage a “regular and growing dividend stream”.

Proactive news headlines:

Peace has broken out between Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) and activist investor First Investments just days before a crunch meeting, helping its shares soar higher. The two now plan to work together, though Jonathan Bixby will step down as chairman to be replaced by fellow founder Mike Edwards.

Tavistock Investments PLC (LON:TAVI) shares jumped on Wednesday as it unveiled plans to pay out a maiden interim dividend after earnings surged just over 100% in its latest full year.

Be Heard Group PLC (LON:BHRD) is expecting its full year performance to be “comfortably in line with expectations” after good growth in the first quarter.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) expects to be able to “significantly” increase the existing resource and potential life of mine at its Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal as the ongoing drill programme continues to yield high grade intersects.

Oncimmune Holdings PLC (LON:ONC) has received regulatory approval to sell its early stage lung cancer detector, EarlyCDT-Lung, in Israel. Lung cancer kills more people in Israel than any other form of the disease, said the company.

Specialty pharma Clinigen Group PLC (LON:CLIN) has taken back direct control of its Ethyol and Totect oncology drugs from Cumberland Pharmaceuticals.

Stobart Group Ltd (LON:STOB) performed a mini boardroom shake-up as it named a new chairman and announced the departure of a senior independent director. Turnaround specialist David Shearer, who currently chairs Speedy Hire, will replace Iain Ferguson at the head of the company, which owns Southend and Carlisle airports. He joins on June 1 and will assume his new role at the next AGM.

Alba Mineral Resources plc (LON:ALBA) announced a maiden resource for the Thule Black Sands (TBS) project in north-west Greenland. An independent mineral sands specialist, IHC Robbins, detailed a 19mln tonne inferred resource comprising 43.6% ‘total heavy minerals’. It also noted an in-situ Ilmenite grade of 8.9%, giving 1.7mln tonnes of contained ilmenite.

A bounce in the price of oil in Edmonton, Canada, has given Cabot Energy PLC (LON:CAB) a little more time to negotiate a long-term funding package. Cabot raised £2.53mln from a share issue in March and has enough working capital to last until the end of May.

Afarak Group PLC (LON:AFRK) has issued a profit warning for the first quarter of 2019 after some of the challenges from 2018 persisted into its new financial year. The chrome alloys specialist said in a trading update in late-afternoon on Tuesday that the ferrochrome price had fallen in the quarter due to weaker demand for stainless steel from China, and as a result the company expected its performance for the period would be “below market expectations” with an expected EBITDA loss of around €5mln.

Eurasia Mining plc (LON:EUA) has posted a maiden annual gross profit following the first full season of mining at its West Kytlim platinum and gold alluvial mine in Russia. Total sales soared to £2.57mln in 2018, compared with just £0.18mln a year earlier.

Premier African Minerals Limited (LON:PREM) is in talks over the final terms of the contract to drill the Zulu lithium deposit in Zimbabwe. KME was supposed to carry out the drilling once the rainy season ended at a cost of US$400,000, but Premier said today a long form drilling contract has yet to be agreed.

Tlou Energy Limited (LON:TLOU) investors will be looking forward to further clarification over an apparent positive result of its tender for a coal bed methane based pilot power plant in Botswana. The formal process got underway in 2018 after the Botswana authorities requested tenders for the development of a plant with up to 100 megawatts capacity. Big Pic in April.

Bushveld Minerals Ltd (LON:BMN) said it ended the first quarter on a “very strong note” with its best monthly production from its South African vanadium plant in 21 months. During the three months ended March 31, the Vametco operation produced 649 metric tonnes of the metal, which is found in alloys used in jet engines. That was broadly in line with the same period last year.

Tharisa PLC's (LON:THS) half year results revealed the impact of lower chrome prices and reduced sales, though the company told investors that it expects a strong operational performance for the remainder of the year.

APQ Global Limited (LON:APQ), the emerging markets growth company announced that, as at the close of business on 30 April 2019, its unaudited book value per ordinary share was 90.96 US cents, equivalent to 69.77p. It said that figure includes the accrual for the 1.5p (2.0 US cent equivalent) dividend payable on 31 May 2019.


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