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Amedeo Air Four gains altitude as it flogs two aircraft for £130mln

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

Audioboom - Audioboom hits the right notes as it puts up the ‘for sale’ sign

Amedeo Air Four Plus Limited (LON:AA4) saw its shares gain altitude in late-afternoon trading, rising 5.9% to 76.2p after signing a deal to sell two Airbus A380-800 aircraft to Etihad Airways for £130mln.

Subject to certain conditions, the company is expecting the transaction to complete on or around 24 February.

Meanwhile, Ebiquity PLC (LON:EBQ) bounced up 1.2% to 215.4p as the media monitoring firm reported full-year trading that was “in line” with its expectations and that it had managed to cut down its debts.

In a trading update for the year ended 31 December, the AIM-listed firm said it had experienced “good revenue growth” in its advanced analytics, AdTech and contract compliance practices while also managing to maintain “tight control” over its operating costs.

Ebiquity also said its net debt had fallen to £5.8mln from £7mln on 30 June and from £28mln at the end of 2018.

Distil PLC (LON:DIS) was also on the up, jumping 7.3% to 0.9p as it inked a collaboration deal with British Honey Company (BHC), a Distilled and infused spirit brand owner.

Each drinks firm will contribute £30,000 to the venture which aims to produce and market a new range of branded botanical spirits and other products.

1.00pm: Laura Ashley surges as its staves off bankruptcy

Laura Ashley Holdings plc (LON:ALY) surged 15.2% to 1.9p at lunchtime after the homeware and clothing retailer narrowly avoided bankruptcy by securing a financing deal with its bank, Wells Fargo.

The company said it “should be able to utilise requisite funds from its working capital facility with Wells Fargo to meet its immediate funding requirements”.

Laura Ashley is currently trying to revive its fortunes through a turnaround strategy after sales for the first seven weeks of 2020 were flat following a 10.8% drop in the 26 weeks to 31 December due to what it said was “weaker consumer trading”.

Elsewhere, Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) was jolted 65.9% higher to 1.1p as it agreed to jointly develop a lignite coal mine and associated power plant in Pakistan with the help of China National Coal Development and Dubai’s Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

A consortium agreement has been signed by Oracle where China Coal and Sheikh Al Maktoum’s private office will jointly develop the combined lignite coal mine in the Thar desert in the Sindh province of Pakistan and a 1,320 megawatt mine-mouth power plant.

Kettle safety control maker Strix Group PLC (LON:KETL) was also picking up steam, rising 8.2% to 186.1p after saying its manufacturing operations in southern China have experienced only “minimal impact” from the coronavirus outbreak.

The company’s factory near Guangzhou reopened on 10 February, only a week late after the new year holiday, with two-thirds of the workforce having so far returned to work.

11.00am: Cambridge Cognition gets a headache from weak 2019

Cambridge Cognition Holdings PLC (LON:COG) suffered a headache in late morning, tumbling 20.3% to 23.9p, as the brain health specialist reported a weaker 2019 as well as a discounted fundraising.

In a trading update for the year ended 31 December, the firm said “short-term market factors” had led to lower than expected sales from its core business, while the merger of two of its large customers had resulted in delays in finalising contracts.

As a result, revenues for the year fell to £5mln from £6.1mln as losses widened to £2.9mln from £14mln in 2018.

The group also announced plans to raise £1.4mln by issuing 7mln new shares at a price of 20p each, a 33% discount to its Tuesday closing price.

In the FTSE 250, Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG) sank 3.2% to 173.7p after analysts at Liberum slashed their target price for the post carrier to 120p from 175p saying the company’s dividend was at risk amid a squeeze on profit margins.

The threat of industrial action combined with declining letter revenues and poor productivity made Liberum pessimistic about the firm’s ongoing recovery efforts.

In the risers, British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG) ascended 0.8% to 637p after Qatar Airways Group increased its shareholding in the group to 25.1% from 21.4%.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Air’s group chief executive, said: "Our investment to date has been highly successful and the announced increase in our shareholding is evidence of our continued support of IAG and its strategy."

9.00am: Audioboom hits the right notes as it puts up the ‘for sale’ sign

Audioboom Group PLC (LON:BOOM) saw its shares jump 3.6% higher to 285p in early trading on Wednesday as the podcast firm put itself up for sale as part of a strategic review to deliver “maximum value” for its shareholders.

The company said it expects the sale process to conclude in the third quarter of this year, adding that while it has received initial inquiries from certain parties it was not in discussions with any potential offeror at this time.

In the FTSE 250, Hochschild Mining Plc (LON:HOC) rose 6.6% to 171.1p after reporting profits in 2019 that nearly doubled to US$76mln.

The Peru-based group said 2019 was a “strong” year for precious metals, especially gold, driven by declining US interest rates and heightening geopolitical and global trade risk.

Average prices for gold and silver jumped 12% and 8% over the year, which boosted revenue by 7% to US$755mln for the year.

Meanwhile, among the fallers, price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com Group PLC (LON:MONY) dipped 2.2% to 310.1p after announcing the departure of chief executive Mark Lewis, although no specific leaving date has been set.

The company is now engaged in a process to appoint a successor, during which Lewis will remain in his post to ensure a smooth transition.

The firm, which helps consumers switch contracts for better deals for energy, telecoms and other bills, noted that Lewis has got the switching bug and wishes to “pursue his career in a new direction”.

Proactive news headlines:

Sirius Minerals PLC’s (LON:SXX) takeover offer from Anglo American plc (LON:AAL) “does not represent fair value for shareholders” in the potash miner and the FTSE 100 company “would be willing to bid substantially more”, reckons hedge fund manager Odey Asset Management.

Chaarat Gold Holdings Limited (LON:CGH) said it remains on track for first production from its Tulkubash mine in the Kyrgyz Republic late next year as it updated on the performance of its operation in Armenia. The Kapan deposit yielded 60,252 gold equivalent ounces last year, up 7%, at an all-in cost of US$1,040 an ounce, down from US$1,183 a year earlier. Turning to Tulkubash, the company said project funding discussions have now moved to the “due diligence and documentation phase with a leading sector project finance group in the region”.

BigDish PLC (LON:DISH), a food technology company that operates a yield management platform for restaurants, said it was informed on 18 February 2020 that two directors made purchases of shares in the company on 17 and 18 February 2020. It noted that Monza Capital Ventures Limited, an entity connected to founder and executive director, Aidan Bishop purchased 2,000,000 ordinary shares at a price of 3.6p, taking his holding to 51,298,506 shares, representing 14.70% of the company's issued share capital. The group added that Simon Perrée, a non-executive director of the company, acquired 270,000 ordinary shares at a price of 3.4% each taking his holding to 853,905 shares, representing 0.25% of the issued share capital.

Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) told investors it wants to drill the hotly anticipated NJOM-3 well in June. Offshore Cameroon the company has just completed a well site survey and equipment is now being sourced for the planned drill programme.

Salt Lake Potash Ltd (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) has signed a binding term-sheet for the sale of premium water-soluble sulphate of potash (SOP) from its Lake Way Project in Western Australia. The company is currently developing the project, which a bankable feasibility study (BFS) released last year valued at $696 million pre-tax.

SkinBioTherapeutics PLC (LON:SKIN) is teaming up with a Dutch firm called Winclove Probiotics to develop a food supplement to combat psoriasis. The former will identify the good bacteria strains for testing, while the latter will formulate and manufacture the new product, which will be called AxisBiotix.

Supermarket Income REIT plc (LON:SUPR) has acquired the Sainsbury's store in Hessle in Yorkshire’s East Riding from Reassure for £34mln. The net initial yield is 5.5% and the site was acquired with an unexpired lease term of 14 years with annual, upward-only, inflation-linked rent reviews.

Avation PLC (LON:AVAP) said two of its ATR 72-600 aircraft have been subleased to Scottish carrier Loganair and will begin flying in the coming weeks. The two aircraft have been subleased from Flybe and will remain with Loganair until just before the end of the leases.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) told investors that the Campo La Mata Exploration well (CLM x-1) in the Tapi Aike licence, in Argentina, has made a non-commercial gas discovery. The well’s primary target (Lobe C) and secondary target (Anita) both contained gas but did not flow at sufficient rates in testing to be considered commercially viable.

Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) cut losses in its latest full-year results as its hailed “significant progress” in the development of its CS Pozzolan-Perlite project in Nevada, USA. For the year ended 30 September, the firm reported a loss of £301,738, lower than the £786,672 figure in the prior year, while it had also ended the year £27,069 in cash, although since then it has raised £200,000 in a share placing.

APQ Global Limited (LON:APQ), an emerging markets growth company incorporated in Guernsey, has announced that as at the close of business on 31 January 2020, its unaudited book value per ordinary share was 89.04 US cents, equivalent to 67.55p. The group said the figure includes the accrual for the 1.5p dividend (2.0 US cent equivalent) declared on 23 January 2020 and payable on the 2 March 2020.

AFC Energy (LON:AFC), a leading provider of hydrogen power generation technologies, said it has been invited to present at the Scottish Renewables Transport Conference 2020 in Glasgow on Wednesday alongside several of Scotland's leading environmental and energy commentators. The presentation, titled "Hydrogen: Fueling the Growth in Battery Electric Vehicles" will focus on the company's H-PowerTM EV charger solution and how it can support Scotland deliver on its commitments to deliver Net Zero across the transportation sector, utilising green hydrogen as its key fuel.

IXICO PLC (LON:IXI), the AI data analytics company delivering insights in neuroscience, announced that it is scheduled to present a scientific poster on enhancing imaging analysis accuracy for Huntington's Disease (HD) by comparing two types of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques. The group said the presentation will be seen at the CHDI Foundation 15th Annual 2020 Huntington's Disease Therapeutics Conference held from 24-27 February, 2020 in Palm Springs, California, USA.

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