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Small Cap movers: Focus on the positives helps City broker Numis Securities

A look back at some of the more interesting stories from London's junior market this last week

City of London

It has been an odd week for Numis, the AIM-listed stockbroker and corporate advisor.

It reported a 61% slide in annual profits as it was hit by lacklustre activity in the City with Brexit taking its toll.

But instead of meting out a punishment beating, the Square Mile’s price-makers opted to focus on the positives.

Where there is chaos and market meltdown there are opportunities for those strong enough to push through.

So, for survivor Numis this has translated into “best corporate client list we have ever had”, according to co-chief executives Alex Ham and Ross Mitchinson.

So, on what should have been a dour week for the group, the shares ended up almost 9% and outperformed their peers significantly, with the AIM All-Share index losing 1.7% in the same period.

It was a fairly tough week for one of the most hotly followed growth stocks in London – Hurricane Energy, which lost around 17%.

The reason? Some seeming dissatisfaction among investors at the well result from the Warwick West field in the inhospitable waters to north of Scotland.

Sticking with the oilers, Providence Resources, which is sitting on a fairly chunky asset in the Celtic Sea, bade farewell to founder and chief executive Tony O’Reilly who left by “mutual and amicable agreement”. Rather unfairly, the news prompted a 3.5% rise in the share price on Friday.

It’s been a fairly torrid few years for Providence and its supporters as the company has been made to wait for the funding to start work on its Barryroe field. The shares, which were worth almost £7 in 2012, are now changing hands for thruppence.

Making the switch from gas exploration to mining this week was James Parsons, who can best be described as a bit of a Marmite figure among aficionados of the small-cap market.

Having exited Sound Energy, which found commercial gas in Morocco, he is taking the helm of battery metals specialist Regency Mining as executive chairman.

There he will team up with non-exec Ewan Ainsworth, who was one of the architects of Kurdistan-focused Gulf Keystone’s rise.

Among the miners, Rockfire Resources is the gift that keeps on giving. Following up on its drilling success last week, the explorer has found another thick intercept of gold in Queensland Australia.

It uncovered 177 metres of ore averaging 0.5 grams per tonne. That sounds fairly low-grade, but there was a hotspot at a bonanza 22 grams per tonne.

Followers of the mining sector will know just how rare it is to get the drilling results Rockfire is coming up with.

And they come with the added kicker that the gold is near(ish) to surface, making it easier and quicker to unearth.

The shares, up 36% this week, have rocketed more than 500% in the last month.

The takeover approach for mid-cap digger Centamin, which owns a gold mine in Egypt, had a number of the juniors on bid alert this week.

Sterling’s weakness meant that overseas predators such as Centamin-chasing Endeavour Mining of Canada are getting more bang for their buck.

By extension, smaller firms with good assets are moving into the crosshairs of ‘Jonny Foreigner’, analysts said.

Ecuador focused SolGold, which has a huge copper-gold asset, looks a sitting duck for Anglo-Aussie giant BHP Billiton, which recently upped its stake.

Hummingbird Resources, which has some world-class gold assets in West Africa, also looks vulnerable.

While not on AIM – though the recent crash in its share price puts it back in that valuation range – Sirius Minerals could benefit from the consolidation craze too.

finnCap analyst Martin Potts said it was “almost inevitable” that the Yorkshire mine group will be taken over by a Chinese buyer “at a huge discount” following the failure of a $500mln fundraising in August.

Finally, investors in Chamberlin woke to a pleasant surprise on Friday morning with the shares doubling in value after the castings group said it had won a contract worth around £400,000 a year.

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