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XP Power surges after sharp increase in order intake

A look at some of the major movers in London on Monday

Versarien PLC -
Hardide's coating can improve wear and tear on metal surfaces

XP Power Limited (LON:XPP) surged to 4,370p, up 15%, after its half-year report.

The manufacturer of critical power control solutions for the electronics industry reported a 45% increase in order intake at £145.8mln for the first half of the year compared to £100.6mln in the first half of 2019.

The gross margin improved to 44.9% from 44.6% the year before and the adjusted profit before tax edged up to £17.0mln from £16.6mln.

2.15pm: Hardide scrubs up well as chairman and chief executive top up their holdings

Hardide PLC (LON:HDD), the developer and provider of advanced surface coating technology, rose 19% to 28p as senior management bought shares.

Philip Kirkham, the chief executive officer, bought 20,000 shares at 27p a pop and the chairman Robert Goddard bought 37,000 at the same price.

Kirkham’s holding in the company now stands at 101,490 and Goodard’s at 406,807, representing roughly 0.2% and 0.8%, respectively, of the issued share capital of Hardide.

1.00pm: Non-Standard Finance slumps as FCA orders probe

Non-Standard Finance PLC (LON:NSF) shares lost a quarter of their value at 3.96p after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) put it under the spotlight.

The FCA has raised a number of concerns regarding certain aspects of the operating procedures and processes at NSF’s guarantor loans division.

NSF is now conducting an in-depth review, working closely with the FCA, to clarify the scope and scale of its concerns and to develop a possible redress methodology and will make a further announcement in due course.

11.45am: HSBC's profits below expectations

HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA) saw its shares fall 4.7% to 326.1p as the Asia-focused bank reported a 65% drop in first-half pre-tax profit.

The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on businesses forced the bank to hike bad debt provisions.

The lender posted a pre-tax profit of US$4.32bn for the half-year to June 30, 2020, down from US$12.41bn and below the analyst consensus estimate of US$5.67bn.

10.30am: K3 Capital climbs as it buys insolvency specialist

K3 Capital Group PLC (LON:K3C) shot up 13% to 162.5p after it announced the acquisition of Quantuma Advisory Limited, a restructuring and insolvency specialist.

The company is being acquired on a cash-free and debt-free basis for an initial consideration of £26.95mln, to be satisfied through a combination of shares and cash. The acquisition price could rise by £15mln depending on whether earn-out targets are hit.

In the year to the end of March, Quantuma generated profit before tax and members’ remuneration of £7.83mln on revenue of £23.19mln.

9.30am: Versarien surges as launch of facemask gets off to a flying start

Versarien PLC (LON:VRS) saw its shares surge 22% higher to 49.9p in early deals on Monday after the group revealed it has launched a graphene-enhanced protective facemask.

The company is a bit late to the scene – Directa Plus’s G+ graphene-enhanced facemasks have been on sale for almost two months, for example – but the launch has got off to a good start with the company announcing two orders it has received following recent prelaunch sales activity, which resulted in 100,000 masks being delivered to a leading British university while 20,000 masks have been ordered by a UK electrical and mechanical servicing and repairs business.

Versarien's graphene-enhanced mask is a filtering face-piece (FFP2 rated version), which is designed to help provide enhanced protection against airborne bacteria and to minimise the spread of viral infection.

Among other coronavirus (COVID-19)-related news, IP Group Plc (LON:IPO) said one of the companies it is backing, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, has partnered with the UK government to roll out a new generation of COVID-19 test.

Shares in the intellectual property commercialisation company rose 11% to 74p after it said Oxford Nanopore’s groundbreaking technology, which can produce results in less than two hours, would provide hundreds of thousands of fast, accurate, low-cost COVID-19 tests, with the potential to build to millions of tests per month.

Under the agreement with the Department of Health and Social Care, an initial 450,000 LamPORE SARS-CoV-2 tests will be made available for use by many NHS testing laboratories. As well as providing a large number of tests for existing labs, the programme will help the UK to understand the different use cases for the technology, for example, the potential asymptomatic screening of frontline staff.

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Applied Graphene Materials (LON:AGM) said it has signed an exclusive agreement with Ohio-based Maroon Group to distribute its graphene coatings in the US and Canada. The agreement also gives it a direct route into the coatings and polymers sectors in North America, Applied Graphene added. Maroon Group has distributed speciality chemicals and ingredients across both countries since it was formed in 1977.

Seeing Machines Ltd (LON:SEE) saw its revenue, profit and cash all come in ahead of target for the year to end-June, 2020, and it is looking forward to the launch of two new vehicles featuring its technology in the coming months. Annual revenue is expected to be A$39.7mln, versus guidance of A$36.6mln and up around 24% on the previous year despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic on its core markets, while total income is expected to be A$42.6mln, up 30% on the previous period, the provider of driver monitoring systems said in a trading statement.

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF) (OTCQB:NQMIY) said it has appointed international legal firm Hill Dickinson in London to prepare the necessary prospectus and documentation to have its shares traded on a tier-1 stock exchange. "Now that the company's annual accounts have been published, showing solid year on year revenue growth, the board of the company has determined that the company has reached a size and stage of development that it is appropriate to consider what other platforms and exchanges exist to position the company to take maximum advantage of the company's maturing operating status,” said executive chairman David Lenigas in a statement.

Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) has said it is cautiously optimistic of hitting full-year targets after a first half that saw revenues rise 43% year-on-year. The cyber-security company acknowledged there is a lot of uncertainty over the outlook for the rest of the year, particularly with the probable ending of employee furlough schemes, but said full-year results should be in line with market expectations if it can get a few major product bids over the line in the next few months and continue to convert its healthy prospects pipeline into sales. For the first six months of 2020, the company expects to report revenues of £674,000, up 18% on the first half of 2019.

United Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UOG), the high growth oil and gas company with a portfolio of production, development and exploration and appraisal assets announced that it has received approval from the Jamaican Government to take forward the Walton Morant Licence, Jamaica, on a 100% operated basis.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) said the Oil and Gas Authority has given the green light to its acquisition of a 12.5% additional stake in the onshore licences that host the Wressle operation in Lincolnshire. It takes UJO’s holding to 40%, providing 200 barrels of additional daily output if Wressle comes on stream at an initial rate of 500 barrels a day. Break-even at US$17.62 a barrel, Wressle will be a significant money-spinner with oil trading at around US$40 a barrel.

Europa Oil & Gas Holdings PLC  (LON:EOG) has welcomed the commencement of site works at the Wressle onshore oil field in Lincolnshire, which will usher in first production on schedule in the second half of the year. Operator Egdon Resources Plc (LON:EDG) is currently overseeing the construction, which includes the installation of items such as a high-density polyethelene impermeable membrane, a French drain system and a surface water interceptor. Europa holds a 30% interest in the licences that host the operation, alongside Egdon (30%) and Union Jack Oil & Gas (40%).

San Leon Energy PLC (LON:SLE) has revealed that it is investing US$15mln in Energy Link Infrastructure (Malta) Ltd, the company which owns the Alternative Crude Oil Evacuation System project. The ACOES is being constructed to provide a dedicated oil export route from the OML 18 asset, comprising a new pipeline from OML 18 and a floating storage and offloading vessel. Once commissioned, the system is expected to reduce the downtime and allocated pipeline losses currently associated with the Nembe Creek Trunk Line to below 10%.

Ncondezi Energy Ltd (LON:NCCL) has submitted the Transmission Integration Study for the integrated 300MW coal-fired power project and coal mine that it plans to build in Tete, Mozambique to Electricidad de Moçambique  The study evaluated many transmission connection options for the project, taking into account current and planned changes to the network since the completion of the last study with EDM. "It's a fantastic step forward that we have submitted the final draft of the Transmission Integration Study to EDM for review,” said Ncondezi chief executive Hanno Pengilly in a statement.

Bushveld Minerals Limited (LON:BMN), the integrated primary vanadium producer and energy storage provider, has revealed that its 84%-owned Enerox Holdings Ltd has acquired a further 65.1% of the share capital of Enerox GmbH. The investment is in line with the company's strategy of establishing a vanadium redux flow battery investment platform to lead investments in VRFB original equipment manufacturers with attractive upside potential. The Enerox battery product is one of the most widely deployed over the past 10 years, offering a unique value proposition in the industry.

Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (LON:TILS, NASDAQ:TLSA) said it plans to raise a gross US$57.25mln from US investors to fund work on three separate drug programmes. Just over 11mln new American depositary shares are being issued at US$5.20 each as part of the fundraiser, organised by ThinkEquity. The proceeds will be used “advance the clinical development” of Foralumab, its promising fully-human anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody.

Blue Star Capital PLC (LON:BLU) said it has raised £550,000 via a share placing. In a statement, the technology investor said part of the proceeds will be deployed to maintain its 13% stake in Dynasty eSports, which, separately, is about to embark on a £1.5mln (US$2mln) funding round. Cash will also be set aside “additional working capital”. The new shares, issued at 0.15p, come with a warrant attached, exercisable at 0.25p.

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR), the London Stock Exchange AIM listed investor in natural resource opportunities, has noted that Southern Gold Ltd (ASX:SAU), in which Metal Tiger owns an approximate 17.1% equity interest, has published an update concerning its Gubong and Kochang joint venture projects with Bluebird Merchant Ventures PLC (LON:BMV). Southern Gold said it is seeking to realise value from its 50% equity interests in the Gubong and Kochang projects in the Republic of Korea by offering them to joint venture partner Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd (LON:BMV).

Argentex Group PLC (LON:AGFX), a provider of foreign exchange services, saw a significant increase in underlying earnings in its first year as a listed company. Profit before tax in the year to the end of March 2020, shot up to £10.2mln from £2.1mln the previous year on revenue that rose to £29.0mln from £21.9mln the year before as foreign exchange passing through the Argentex system topped £12bn – up 32.3% year-on-year. Argentex revealed 380 new corporate clients traded during the period, lifting the number of active corporate clients to 1,212, up 12% on the previous year.

Zoetic International PLC (LSE: ZOE), the London-listed vertically integrated CBD and natural resources company, has provided a further update on the sale of DTU and its Kansas nitrogen assets to Path Investments PLC as previously announced on May 27, 2020, and July 8, 2020. The group said the transaction has not yet completed due to matters beyond the company's and Path's control, but its board remains hopeful that matters will be concluded shortly.  The company and Path have agreed to an extension to allow the transaction to complete., it added, and the delay has no material impact on the financial performance of the company.

Verona Pharma PLC (LON:VRP) (NASDAQ:VRNA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on respiratory diseases, has announced that David Zaccardelli, its chief executive officer and president, and Mark Hahn, its chief financial officer, will present a company overview at the following virtual investor conferences in August: BTIG Virtual Biotechnology Conference on Monday, August 10, 2020, at 2.30pm ET; Wedbush PacGrow Healthcare Virtual Conference on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, at 11.30am ET; and the 40th Annual Canaccord Genuity Growth Conference on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 4.30pm ET. A live webcast of each event will be available on the Events and Presentations link on the Investors page of the company’s website - www.veronapharma.com - and an audio replay will be available there for 30 days.

OKYO Pharma LTD (LON:OKYO), the life sciences and biotechnology company, focused on the discovery and development of novel molecules to treat inflammatory dry eye diseases and chronic pain, announced that its CEO, Kunwar Shailubhai shared insight into the company’s development pipeline and upcoming milestones during an investor webinar, hosted by RedChip Companies, on Sunday, August 2, 2020. The investor webinar can be viewed at https://youtu.be/l8onUtOvSqQ.

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