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Small cap movers: Genedrive skyrockets with coronavirus test production ramp-up

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

AstraZeneca -

Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) shot up more than 150% this week after it said it could “quickly” ramp up production of its coronavirus (COVID-19) test.

The diagnostics firm has been discussing with suppliers its plans to increase output to 10,000 new kits per hour.

This would make the product “a material revenue generator for the company and a significant contributor to addressing the global pandemic”, Genedrive said.

The test doesn’t need refrigeration, making it easier to transport. The company is also developing a second coronavirus assay for clinics and intensive care units, where a read-out is required more rapidly.

The shares rocketed 157% to 21p over the week.

Turning to the wider market, the AIM All-Share bounced back 8%, tracking the blue-chips, after losing a fifth of its value in what was a bloodbath for international bourses last week.

It should be said the smaller companies suffered more egregious damage than their larger peers as investors went into ‘risk-off’ mode, taking billions of speculative cash off the table internationally.

The mini-revival on AIM has unearthed some anomalies that are hard to fathom, or indeed, justify. Take Quiz PLC (LON:QUIZ), for example. Puzzling was its 46% rise to 6p.

The occasion-wear clothier, struggling well before coronavirus forced its shops to shutter, has been hit by customers returning their dresses as there are no events to attend. At the same time, there has by the company’s own admission been a substantial fall in traffic online.

Perhaps the market drew a crumb of comfort from the fact the company, as of Tuesday, had £8.3mln in the bank and a £4mln loan facility that expires next month.

The monthly cash burn will be £1.25mln, so problems aren’t imminent; however, broker Peel Hunt warned: “This is not one to bottom fish.”

Another riser was temporary seating specialist Arena Events Group PLC (LON:ARE), which shot up 124% to 10p, after shoring up its balance sheet with a £9.5mln share issue and an additional £4.75mln loan from HSBC.

Unsurprisingly, the pharma sector was in good shape. Yourgene Health PLC (LON:YGEN) soared 42% to 15p on the back of a manufacturing agreement to produce Novacyt SA's (LON:NCYT) coronavirus test, with the first batch expected to be shipped over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, ultrasound artificial intelligence software developer Intelligent Ultrasound Group PLC (LON:MED) leapt 30% to 10p after it announced the launch of a coronavirus training module for its BodyWorks ultrasound simulator.

Byotrol PLC (LON:BYOT) was up 26% to 5p after it revealed “exceptional demand” in recent weeks for its infection prevention and control technologies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, so full-year results are expected to exceed guidance.

Similarly, Ergomed PLC (LON:ERGO) gained 22% to 390p after reporting high levels of interest in COVID-19 clinical research, while it also posted a 26% increase in revenue and confirmed an order book of £124.1mln.

Unrelated to the virus, Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) surged 23% to 470p following a deal worth an initial US$80mln, plus US$400mln in milestone payments, with major AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) to use its gene silencing technology to develop treatments for liver, heart and lung diseases.

Many miners also enjoyed an uptick thanks to a higher gold price, such as Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU), up 31% to 2p, thanks to the Kiziltepe gold mine in Turkey now generating profit. The weaker oil price, which feeds into fuel costs, and the fall of international currencies against the dollar (in which gold is priced) has made the difference for those unearthing and selling the yellow metal.

Elsewhere, Caledonia Mining PLC (LON:CMCL) advanced 30% to 788p after announcing it can manage the likely knock-on effects to its Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe of the 21-day shut-down in South Africa.

Sector-mate Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) jumped 20% to 98p. While it continues producing gold from its operations in Azerbaijan, it is currently unable to ship material to refiners in Switzerland because of travel restrictions.

Among the fallers, recruiter Gattaca PLC (LON:GATC) tumbled 17% to 37p due to reduced activity, as it is focused on the engineering and technology sectors.

Coronavirus issues hit oiler Bahamas Petroleum, down 17% to 1.4p, after it had to reschedule drilling operations at the Perseverance well to October from the initial May/June date.

Meanwhile, Africa-focused airline Fastjet PLC (LON:FJET) tanked 14% to 0.1p after suspending all operations in Zimbabwe due to travel restrictions.

Finally, geotechnical engineer Van Elle Holdings PLC (LON:VANL) dropped 12% to 30p after warning results for the year ending 30 April will be below market expectations.

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