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XP Power sparks as orders rise despite semiconductor slowdown

A look at some of the major risers and fallers in London on Thursday

Avacta Group PLC - ProPhotonix shines after inking supply deal with Fortune 50 firm

XP Power Limited (LON:XPP) saw its shares spark in late-afternoon, rising 3.4% to 2,420p after the electrical supply firm reported an increase in orders for the third quarter despite the lack of a “notable recovery” in end markets for its semiconductor business.

For the quarter ended 30 September, the group reported an 8% rise in orders to £55.9mln and a 2% rise in revenues to £53.8mln.

For the year to date, orders were 2% higher at £156.5mln and revenues up 5% at £152.7mln.

Despite the troubles for semiconductors, XP said its healthcare, industrial and technology markets were “robust” and it expected its full-year performance to be in line with current expectations.

Elsewhere, AIM-listed timber firm Woodbois Limited (LON:WBI) spurted 7.1% to 5.3p as it notched up record quarterly revenues in the three months to the end of September.

Revenues of US$4.9mln Q3 represented a 44% increase from 2018's average quarterly run-rate and continued quarter-on-quarter growth.

The group’s trading division was responsible for US$$3.4mln of those revenues; the division’s revenues were up 70% from the average quarterly run rate seen in 2018.

1.45pm: Shearwater surges as it locks up £8.5mln contract

Cybersecurity firm Shearwater Group PLC (LON:SWG) surged 5.5% to 166.1p in mid-afternoon trading as it secured an £8.5mln services contract with a FTSE 100 telecommunications firm.

The contract, made with Shearwater’s subsidiary Brookcourt Solutions, will involve support services and advanced monitoring for the telecoms firm’s global mobile infrastructure and will last for three years after being increased from one year.

In the fallers, FTSE 100 financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown PLC (LON:HL.) saw revenues grow slightly slower in the first quarter of its new trading year as new business was impacted by “weak investor sentiment”. 

Net revenue growth was up 6% to £128.1mln, down slightly from the 7% from the growth in the past full year but stronger than the £127.9mln analysts had forecast on average.

New business in the period was said to be “impacted by weak investor sentiment arising from continuing Brexit and political uncertainty in the UK and wider global macro issues such as trade tariffs”.

11.10am: Castleton crumbles on profit warning

Castleton Technology PLC (LON:CTP) saw its shares crumble in mid-morning trading after a profit warning sent the stock tumbling 40.9% to 55p.

The software firm, which supplies to the public and not-for-profit sectors, said the first half of its current year had been “behind expectations” due to lower revenues from its product and professional services arms.

Despite expectations that its second half would yield a “material improvement”, Castleton said this would not be “sufficient” to meet current market expectations.

Dunelm Group plc (LON:DNLM) was also on the slide, down 7% at 758p, after a “mixed” performance in September marred an otherwise solid quarter.

The homeware retailer said the September wobble reflected “in part” the weaker market, at its worst since 1995 according to data released by the British Retail Consortium earlier this week.

The firm has been focusing on its digital presence and will launch a new commercial platform before Christmas, although it said it will “retain flexibility” with the transition plans.

The current website cashed in £35.7mln in the first quarter ended 28 September, a 34.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase but the online business is still dwarfed by the bricks and mortar estate, which saw like-for-like (LFL) sales rise 2.9% y-o-y to £219.9mln.

In the risers, shares in N Brown PLC (LON:BWNG) shot up 7.6% to 107.6p after the troubled fashion retailer reported “good progress” toward digital transformation after closing all its stores last year.

Before-tax profit in the half-year rose 151.9% to £18.8mln after the company posted a dismal £27mln loss in the period last year due to exceptional costs over mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) by its financial arm, which lends credit to customers, and its store closures.

9.15am: ProPhotonix shines after inking supply deal with Fortune 50 firm

LED lighting and lasers manufacturer ProPhontonix Limited (LON:PPIX) was one of the bright spots in early trading after news of a supply deal with a Fortune 50 conglomerate sent its shares surging 30% to 2.3p.

The agreement will run for five years and involve the company supplying custom LED devices and automated software, with revenues expected to be US$1mln per annum.

Elsewhere in the small caps, pharma company Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) jumped 2.5% to 20.3p after signing a collaboration agreement with Swiss biotechnology firm ADC Therapeutics SA.

The two firms will join forces to develop drug conjugates based on Avacta’s Affimer rather than standard antibodies.

Avacta will receive option fees, development and commercialisation milestones, as well as a “single-digit royalty” on sales.

In the fallers, a bleak trading update from FTSE 100 packing firm Mondi PLC (LON:MNDI) saw the shares stumble 3.8% down to 1,488p.

The firm said that demand and prices were softer in the third quarter and that prices have softened further in the fourth, with underlying profit (EBITDA) for the third quarter down 18% year on year to €383mln and 9% below the second quarter of this year.

Proactive news headlines

Custom electronics maker discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) said trading in the July-September quarter was good and the company is on track to meet full-year underlying earnings expectations.

Woodbois Limited (LON:WBI), the African forestry and timber trading company, notched up record quarterly revenues in the three months to the end of September.

Pharma company Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) has signed a collaboration agreement with Swiss biotechnology firm ADC Therapeutics SA, developing new antibody alternatives to treat cancer. 

A new independent review has raised the estimate of the amount of tungsten and molybdenum at Thor Mining PLC’s (LON:THR) Molyhil deposit in Australia.

Europa Oil & Gas Holdings PLC (LON:EOG) chief executive Hugh Mackay used the explorer’s financial results for 2019 to highlight the plan for an ambitious growth strategy "to build a full cycle oil and gas company".

Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc (LON:CMCL) has commissioned a new oxygen plant at the Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe, designed to improve metallurgical recovery and reduce cyanide consumption, with gold recoveries expected to rise 94% from 93% this year.

Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP) told investors it has formally lodged a claim with the Spanish Government to recover €919,192.96 in costs following the company’s exit from the La Lora Concession.

Immotion Group PLC (LON:IMMO) will install one of its virtual reality cinema pods at the Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire as part of a deal with Spanish leisure firm Aspro Parks.

Nektan PLC (LON:NKTN) will extend a share placing to raise £5mln following increased interest from investors.

Kibo Energy PLC (LON:KIBO) is to raise a minimum of £1.5mln through a placing at 0.45 pence per share to fund its work on power projects in southern Africa and the UK.

Motif Bio PLC (LON:MTFB) has received official confirmation of the parameters of a new trial to get US approval for its iclaprim antibiotic.

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