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RNS Hotlist August 4: Argo Blockchain, Caracal Gold, Helium One, Ilika, XP Factory

04/08/2023

RNS Hotlist August 4: Argo Blockchain, Caracal Gold, Helium One, Ilika, XP Factory

Helium One Global (HE1), the primary helium explorer in Tanzania announced changes to the Board of Directors.  Robin Birchall has decided to step down from his position as Non-Executive Director. Russel Swarts, currently Finance Director, will also step down from his executive role with immediate effect, but will remain a Non-Executive Director of the Company. The company announced the appointment of Graham Jacobs as Financial and Commercial Director with immediate effect.  HE1 said it was very pleased that Graham has agreed to join the team on a permanent basis in the role of Financial and Commercial Director.  He is well known to the team and in the past year has contributed significantly to the company’s ongoing operational activities. I have no doubt he will be hugely valuable member of the team during the company’s next phase of its development as well as in the lead up to the spudding of Tai-C in September.

Comment: There would appear to be quite a degree of musical chairs going on at HE1 ahead of the all important spudding in September. Presumably, the company is looking to get an A Team in place ahead of its moment of truth, when it becomes the Saudi Arabia of helium.

Caracal Gold (GCAT), the East African gold producer with over 1,300,000oz JORC-compliant gold resources, provides a corporate update and progress report on its operations and exploration activities for the quarter ended 31 June 2023. The company said after a difficult first quarter it has been great to see Kilimapesa run in a steady state over the second quarter. The production numbers confirm that the operation is running well. Activities to secure the Kilimapesa expansion funding have progressed well and the transaction is into the final documentation phase which when complete means it will announce financing deal and move to drawdown of the funds. The approval process for the prospectus by the FCA continued during the quarter and getting this approved is a priority.

Comment: It has to be said that the FCA prospectus process really is an outdated and time consuming way about doing things in the 21st century, one of many. However, waiting game aside, the market may appreciate the operational process that GCAT is making, and at current share price levels, take a more positive view of the company.

Argo Blockchain (ARB), a company involved in cryptocurrency mining provided the following operational update for July 2023. The company said it was thrilled that it was resuming growth in its total hashrate capacity with the deployment of the BlockMiner machines. This was a testament to the efforts of its technical and operations teams, and it looks forward to deploying the remaining machines. It was also pleased with its economic curtailment programs that contribute to the stability of the Texas grid during periods of peak demand while simultaneously reducing its total power costs.

Comment: We seem to have a steadier ship at Argo, especially in the wake of the recent fund raise. It is now all about proving to the market that the company can scale up, and hopefully be in a good place when / if there is a decent rally in the crypto space.

Ilika (IKA), a solid-state battery technology company, announced that, further to its announcement on 16 January 2023, it has concluded contractual negotiations with Cirtec Medical, an industry-leading strategic outsourcing partner of complex medical devices including minimally invasive and active implantable devices, by signing a ten-year manufacturing licence for the production of the Stereax range of mm-scale batteries at Cirtec’s facility in Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S. IKA said it was delighted to be working with Cirtec for the commercialisation of Stereax. Cirtec has a very strong track record in the commercialisation of miniature medical devices and it believes this partnership is well-positioned to ensure a high quality, reliable and scalable supply of Stereax batteries to its customers.

Comment: Solid state batteries should be regarded as being part of the new rock and roll in the battery space. The recent rally in IKA should continue not only off the back of today’s announcement, but also a greater appreciation of this niche market.

XP Factory (XPF), the experiential leisure businesses operating the Escape Hunt and Boom Battle Bar brands, provide an update on trading for the six months to 30 June 2023. Group turnover of £18.8m up 131% (H1 2022: £8.1m). Double digit like-for-like sales growth delivered across both owner-operated brands. The company said it was delighted to have delivered such transformational growth compared to the same period in 2022. The performance in Escape Hunt has been outstanding and we are delighted to see the young Boom business continue to mature with ongoing improvements to its operating metrics. It was mindful of the pressures on consumers and on its cost base which bring an element of short term caution but it remains optimistic for the future of both of its businesses and for the 2023 outlook.

Comment: Anyone who has spoken or who is aware of this company will be aware that it is brilliantly run, and doing very well thank you. Indeed, although the company has tried to bring a frisson of caution into its RNS, the momentum here looks extremely encouraging. XPF is in the running for being one of the best non resources companies in the small cap space.

Disclaimer & Declaration of Interest:
The information, investment views, and recommendations in this Zaks Traders Cafe interview are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this interview should be construed as a promotion or solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or referred to or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engage in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the commentator but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. The commentators may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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