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Escape Hunt gets out of a hole

A look at some of the major movers in Lonon on Thursday

Rising chart

Escape Hunt PLC (LON:ESC) shares climbed 6.7% to 8p after the operator of “escape rooms” said trading had been promising since its venues reopened.

The venues reopened on selected weekdays on July 12. In the first eight weeks after re-opening, sales grew from an initial level of around 25% of the 7-day week's sales in the equivalent week in 2019 to over 90% of sales in the equivalent week in 2019 in the penultimate and final weeks of the period.

Since then September has, as expected, seen the pace of recovery slow, although sales in the six weeks to 20 September were down just 28% of the same period in 2019, which management regards as encouraging.

2.00pm: Braveheart leaps on update on Phasefocus, in which it has a 43% stake

Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) advanced 5.7% to 28p after it updated on its investee company, Phasefocus. in which it owns a 42.67% stake.

The investment group said a switch to online sales meetings and virtual demonstrations for Phasefocus, which develops computational imaging technology, was “proving successful” for its high-value instrument, the Phasefocus Virtual Lens.

Braveheart also said the investee firm continues to have a strong sales pipeline for its Livecyte2 instruments and has received orders from customers in Italy, Israel and China as well as software and hardware upgrades to existing Livecyte users at universities in York, Manchester and Hull and other locations.

1.10pm: Insulation specialist SIG feels the cold

SIG PLC (LON:SHI) dived 9.8% to 24.16p after it reported a slump in like-for-like (LFL) sales in the first half of 2020.

The construction products firm said LFL sales were down 23.9% year-on-year as its business was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the plus side, trading following the initial estimates of how lockdown restrictions would affect the business was better than anticipated, and the board now expects full-year sales to be moderately higher than guided in May.

12.15pm: Pets at Home lifts expectations

Pets at Home Group PLC (LON:PETS) romped 23% higher to 375.2p after it raised full-year expectations.

The pet products retailer and veterinary business said its full-year underlying pre-tax profit is estimated to be ahead of the current market expectation for £73mln.

The pet care business, which could only sell a limited amount of products during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown, said the momentum seen after all its operations restarted in the summer has continued through the past month.

11.20am: Ebiquity loses a quarter of its value after sliding into the red

Ebiquity PLC (LON:EBQ) shares lost a quarter of their value at 17.2p following the marketing consultancy’s half-year results.

The company posted an underlying loss before tax of £1.9mln, compared to a profit of £2.9mln in the same period of 2019.

The company said it expects to return to profitability in the second half of the year.

10.10am: Cineworld horror story

Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) staged a share price horror show, slumping 15% to 41.45p after it flagged up the possibility of raising fresh capital.

The cinemas operstor warned it may need to raise additional liquidity if further restrictions are imposed by governments, forcing the closure of venues or pushing back movie releases.

In the six months to June 30, 2020, it posted an eye-watering US$1.6bn loss before tax from last year's US$139mln profit, while revenue slumped by 67% to US$712mln.

9.15am: Integumen's share price surge raises value of its all-share offer for Modern Water

Modern Water PLC (LON:MWG), up 23% at 5.95p, was the top riser in London's early trade on Thursday, piggybacking on a surge by its merger partner, Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN).

Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN) shot up 20% to 63.5p after it unveiled a new personalised coronavirus breath test, Microtox BT, and a complimentary digital health pass platform, which it says has the potential to enable instant real-time testing for the virus.

READ Integumen agrees to buy Modern Water for £21mln (28/8/20)

The AIM-listed firm said the new test, adapted from its wastewater test Microtox PD, can analyse the breath and detect the spike protein of the coronavirus in real-time for those with a high viral load. Following extensive internal testing, the company said the test will now transition to the University of Aberdeen containment level 3 laboratory to undergo tests directly on the virus followed by a joint trial of up to 5,000 participants, results of which are anticipated before the end of the year.

Nuformix PLC (LON:NFX) was trading 2.7% higher at 3.75p after hitting 4.3p at one point on news it has struck a commercial deal for one of its drug formulations.

The company, which repurposes existing drugs for new uses, has granted a company called Oxilio a six-month option over NXP001, which the latter will develop as a cancer treatment.

Proactive news headlines:

Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN) has unveiled a new personalised coronavirus breath test, Microtox BT, and a complimentary digital health pass platform which it says has the potential to enable instant real-time testing for the virus.

The AIM-listed firm said the new test, adapted from its wastewater test Microtox PD, can analyse the breath and detect the spike protein of the coronavirus in real-time for those with a high viral load. Following extensive internal testing, the company said the test will now transition to the University of Aberdeen containment level 3 laboratory to undergo tests directly on the virus followed by a joint trial of up to 5,000 participants, results of which are anticipated before the end of the year.

Nuformix PLC (LON:NFX), which repurposes existing drugs for new uses, has struck a commercial deal for one of its promising targets. The firm has granted a company called Oxilio a six-month option over NXP001, which the latter will develop as a cancer treatment. If the option is triggered, Nuformix will receive a “significant upfront payment”, additional development milestones and a royalty on net sales capped at £2mln a year. In return, Oxilio will get a licence to the patent estate and ”know-how” related to NXP001.

TomCo Energy plc (LON:TOM) has updated on the Greenfield Energy LLC venture in Utah, where upgrades are underway on the Petroteq Energy oil sands plant (POSP) at Asphalt Ridge. The project aims to demonstrate POSP’s commerciality and to establish a 10,000 barrel per day production facility. It is currently planned that the plant will restart in November. Following a management visit to POSP, Tomco noted recent and ongoing developments, with work underway for plant evaluation, verification and debottlenecking.

Faron Pharma Oy (LON:FARN), the AIM-listed drug developer, told investors it expects data from a global coronavirus (COVID-19) trial involving its Traumakine drug in the final quarter of the year, as the firm posted its half-year results. Traumakine, an intravenously administered interferon beta -1a treatment, is part of the World Health Organisation’s global SOLIDARITY trial, which involves the drug as a treatment on its own and in combination with others. Faron also noted that its cancer drug development Clevegen is also making good progress through the phase I/II of the ongoing MATINS trial.

Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) has issued an update on the operations of its investee company Phasefocus Holdings Limited, in which it owns a 42.67% stake. The investment group said a switch to online sales meetings and virtual demonstrations for Phasefocus, which develops computational imaging technology, was “proving successful” for its high value instrument, the Phasefocus Virtual Lens. Braveheart also said the investee firm continues to have a strong sales pipeline for its Livecyte2 instruments and has received orders from customers in Italy, Israel and China as well as software and hardware upgrades to existing Livecyte users at universities in York, Manchester and Hull and other locations.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) saw its revenue treble in the first half of 2020 despite the constraints imposed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The period saw the producer and supplier of graphene-based products continue to grow strongly in its key selected industry sectors, securing important new contracts and new intellectual property rights, it told investors in its half-year report. Revenue rose to €2.81mln in the six months to the end of June 2020, up from €894,693 in the first half of last year. Revenue from the group's textiles division declined to €0.54mln from €0.82mln, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting demand. On the plus side, the division’s Co-mask anti-bacterial and anti-viral mask is seeing “significant and growing customer interest”, having received to date orders worth more than €400,000.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) said each of its divisions is “currently on course to reach profitability in the current financial year” after a busy start to 2020 commercially. In an outlook statement running alongside its interim results, the specialist in functional foods and ingredients based on ‘good’ bacteria also told investors it was exploring the potential for “a dual international listing in the USA or other international markets”.

IXICO PLC (LON:IXI) said it has entered a five-year collaboration with the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) to become a member of the TRACK-FA neuroimaging consortium, focused on exploring novel imaging markers for Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA). FA is a rare genetic disease that causes difficulty walking, a loss of sensation in the arms and legs and impaired speech. The disease can also damage parts of the brain and spinal cord and affect the heart. IXICO, an AIM-listed neuroscience data analytics specialist, said it will support the consortium to implement novel analysis algorithms with the aim of providing a trial-ready imaging solution for FA clinical trials.

Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) has highlighted significant operational progress with the early production facility (EPF) at the West Rustavi project, in Georgia, where gas sales are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020. Oil production at West Rustavi was suspended in April amidst coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, lower oil prices, and to preserve reserves. Today, Block revealed that some US$570,000 worth of crude was sold from its inventory, taking advantage of improving oil prices.

Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) is to acquire an existing gold royalty over tenement E28/1610, which hosts the entirety of the million ounce Lake Rebecca Gold Project. The 1.5% net smelter royalty is being acquired for a total consideration of A$8mln, of which A$1mln will be satisfied in Trident shares. Lake Rebecca in Western Australia is a high-quality resource stage asset that shows potential for fast-track development within a world-class mining jurisdiction, Trident told investors. It is currently owned by ASX-listed Apollo Consolidated.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) has announced a strategic partnership with Evergent, the revenue and customer-life-cycle management software firm. The AIM-listed data-driven commerce specialist said the two companies would work together to expand their over-the-top (OTT) offerings, thereby keeping customers “online and entertained”. OTT services typically include streaming media, such as video on demand, audio streams or even voice over internet protocol services. Evergent is based in Silicon Valley in California and has a software platform that helps companies reduce time to market for products and services, cut down on subscriber churn and run back-office processes more efficiently.

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) said its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia has applied for two new exploration licences in eastern Victoria, Australia. The licences, which are contiguous, will comprise the Tambo gold project. The areas cover portions of the Swifts Creek/Omeo and Haunted Stream goldfields that have recorded historical gold production of 205,000 and 25,000 ounces respectively, according to figures published by the Geological Survey of Victoria.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) told investors it has signed-up drill contractor Capital Limited (LON:CAPD) for a 3,000-metre programme at the Bibemi exploration licence in Cameroon. Mobilisation of crew and equipment is expected to take six to eight weeks, so this maiden drill programme at Bibemi is likely to start during the fourth quarter. The programme is planned include 17 drill holes in Bibemi’s high-grade Bakassi prospect area, which will account for around 1,940 of the programme. It is also intended that the programme will target the northern end of Bakassi, which remains open along strike.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC (LON:GSF), the industrial battery investor, saw its net asset value (NAV) increase by 1.7% to 96.2p in the quarter to end June 2020. The trust said its portfolio of UK battery assets did well helped by recent acquisitions while the construction of its Irish assets is on track. The dividend for the quarter is 2p, which is in line with the fund’s annual target of 7p.

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (LON:COPL) (CSE:XOP) has told investors it is confident that the exploration licence for OPL 226 will be extended, with confirmation expected in the fourth quarter. Earlier this year, in August, shareholders in COPL’s Nigerian affiliate executed an agreement to resolve their disputes and that agreement was subject to OPL 226 being extended beyond September 30, 2020. The Nigerian affiliate applied in June to extend the exploration licence and since then a number of constructive meetings with the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). COPL is expecting the extension to be confirmed in the fourth quarter and noted that coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are creating delays within the NNPC.

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP), the developer of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, has announced the appointment of Susan Clement Davies as a non-executive director of the company with immediate effect. It added that, for health reasons, Dr Alan Lewis is standing down as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Clement Davies is an experienced life sciences financier with over 25 years of capital markets and investment banking experience, including managing director of Equity Capital Markets at Citigroup Global Markets Limited and most recently until 2018, managing director at Torreya Partners LLC, a global investment banking firm serving companies in the Life Sciences industry. Commenting on the appointment, Dr John Chiplin, Scancell’s chairman of Scancell, said: "On behalf of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan Lewis for the contributions he has made to the Company since he was first appointed to the Board in 2016 and wish him all the best for the future. In addition, I am very pleased to welcome Susan to the Board of Scancell. Susan's considerable experience in investment banking will be invaluable for any potential future licensing and corporate transactions." Clement Davies added: "I am delighted to be joining the Scancell Board at this very exciting time and look forward to working with the team to maximise the potential value of the Company's platform technologies."

Condor Gold PLC (LON:CNR) (TSX: COG) has announced that on September 23, 2020, Galloway Limited, which is indirectly wholly owned by Jim Mellon, a non-executive director of the company, purchased 100,000 Condor Gold ordinary shares at a price of 43p each for a total purchase consideration of £43,000. Accordingly, further to the purchase, the group said Mellon owns, directly and indirectly, a shareholding of 18,726,963 ordinary shares or 15.9% of the company.

Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL) said it has been notified that Leigh Wilson, the company’s chairman, has sold a total of 12,000 common shares of the company. Wilson now holds 40,000 shares which represent a holding of approximately 0.033% of the share capital of the company.

Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM), a company focused on mineral exploration in Canada and Australia, has announced that a new, updated, corporate presentation is available on the company website: www.panthermetals.co.uk

Stobart Group PLC (LON:STOB), the aviation and energy infrastructure group, has announced that its CEO Warwick Brady and CFO Lewis Girdwood will provide a live investor presentation via the Investor Meet Company (IMC) platform on October 2, 2020, at 2.00pm. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add Stobart Group via https://www.investormeetcompany.com/stobart-group-ld/register-investor

S&U PLC (LON:SUS), the motor finance and property bridging specialist has announced that Anthony Coombs, its chairman; Graham Coombs, deputy chairman; Chris Redford, group finance director; and Graham Wheeler, CEO of Advantage Finance will provide a live presentation relating to its half-year results for the six months ending July 31, 2020, via the Investor Meet Company platform on October 2, 2020, at 9.30am Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add to meet S&U PLC via: https://www.investormeetcompany.com/s-u-plc/register-investor

Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) has announced that further to its announcements regarding the cost-saving initiatives implemented by the company as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and its intention to make up for the decrease in pay for all staff, including directors, contractors and those who have been furloughed, it will issue a total of 545,645 new ordinary shares at an issue price of 10p per share, to certain of the applicable contractors. The company said it will also issue 850,432 new ordinary shares at a price of 10p per share to Trudy Norris-Grey in settlement of outstanding director's fees and expenses under existing contractual arrangements. The company also announced that it has agreed with The Takeover Panel that Clive Morton is no longer to be considered to be a member of the concert party. The remaining concert party members consist of David Ciclitira and Serenella Ciclitira who, taking into account the issue described above, will have interests in 29,586,436 ordinary shares of the company 33.12% of its issued share capital and voting rights.

If the option is triggered, Nuformix will receive a “significant upfront payment”, additional development milestones and a royalty on net sales capped at £2mln a year. In return, Oxilio will get a licence to the patent estate and ”know-how” related to NXP001.

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