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hVIVO (HVO), the world leader in testing infectious and respiratory disease products using human challenge clinical trials, announced that it has signed a £16.8m full-service contract with an existing top five global pharmaceutical client to test its RSV antiviral drug candidate using the hVIVO RSV Human Challenge Study Model. HVO said this contract is another example of the end-to-end full service offering that hVIVO has already successfully provided to several clients. It is also delighted with the Company’s strong operational performance in 2023 and now expects to exceed the previous market guidance and look forward to updating the market further in the new year.

Comment: Raising market guidance in current economic conditions is no mean feat, but we have already known the merits of the HVO model and the special place it has in its space for quite some time.

Avacta Group (AVCT), a life sciences company developing innovative, provided detailed pre-clinical, clinical and pharmacokinetic data from the Phase 1a dose escalation study of its lead pre|CISIONTM programme, AVA6000, a tumour activated form of doxorubicin. AVCT said the potential of the pre|CISIONTM platform to change the way in which potent cytotoxic drugs are delivered, improving cancer patients’ quality of life and treatment outcomes, is truly remarkable.

Comment: Given the ongoing progress made during the course of 2023 by AVCT, one would have expected the shares to be rather nearer the best levels of the year through 180p, rather than 135p currently.

Reabold Resources (RBD), the oil & gas investing company, announced the restart of its share buyback programme. On 31 October 2022, Reabold announced its intention to commence a share buyback programme with the intention to return £4 million of excess cash to shareholders upon receipt of £9.5 million of deferred net proceeds to Reabold from Shell, relating to the sale of the Victory asset. RBD has now received £5.2 million of the deferred consideration from Shell in respect of the sale of the Victory asset, and is recommencing the Programme with up to a further £593,846 to be returned to shareholders.

Comment: It will be interesting to see whether shares of RBD can finally re-rate in a meaningful way, backed by the Shell receipts and the new share buyback.

Greatland Gold (GGP) announced the results of its 2023 drilling and geophysical exploration program at the 100% owned Scallywag tenement in the Paterson Region of Western Australia.  Scallywag is located adjacent to Greatland’s flagship Havieron gold-copper project. GGP said it was happy to report the effective completion of another phase of geological testing at its 100% owned Scallywag project, where drilling tested previously defined EM and geological targets, once again building on its understanding of the structure, stratigraphy and geochemistry of its landholding.

Comment: After briefly peaking near 11p at the beginning of the month, fans of GGP will be hoping that newsflow such as today’s will be the trigger for further recovery, even though it is of a rather technical nature.

Wishbone Gold (WSBN) announced an update regarding the current diamond drill program at its Cottesloe project located in the Paterson Range in Western Australia. The project consists of three tenements totalling 50 blocks covering an area of 165km2 and is considered highly prospective for precious and base metals. WSBN said to have more visually encouraging results from the new holes drilled at Cottesloe is a great sign. It looks forward to having the assays completed and mapping the mineralisation for next year’s drill campaign to get a clearer view of the asset.

Comment: WSBN has done and said enough in the recent past with respect to Cottesloe to deserve a rather better stock market valuation to date. This is also a valuation which has not taken into to account the sizzle regarding EV related metals.

Hummingbird (HUM) announced that further to the release on 7 December 2023, the Company has completed the conversion of its 51% interest in the Dugbe Gold Project in Liberia, into a 51% controlling interest in TSX-V listed Pasofino Gold Limited, providing clear visibility and control to facilitate more efficient decision-making and project advancement.

Comment: HUM continues to finesse its position as an increasingly serious gold operator, with the latest news regarding its controlling interest in Pasofino Gold. Recent funding news should be the last piece of the jigsaw in terms of recovery both in the company’s share price rebound, and timelines.

Allergy Therapeutics (AGY), the integrated commercial biotechnology company, provided an update on the data analysis of its pivotal G306 Phase III trial of Grass MATA MPL, the Group’s short-course subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy (SCIT) candidate that aims to address the cause of symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis due to grass pollen. AGY said it was very pleased that the primary and secondary endpoints from this trial strongly align, and all data analysed demonstrate the beneficial effect of its Grass MATA MPL product. These data, alongside the results from its earlier G309 field study, provide a strong, significant and consistent data package for its discussions with relevant health authorities.

Comment: Shares of AGY have been making generally positive noises in the past few weeks, something which today’s news, and the prospect of “discussions with relevant health authorities,” should accelerate.

Westminster Group (WSG), a supplier of managed services and technology-based security solutions, announced that it will be changing its accounting reference date and financial year end from 31 December to 30 June, effective immediately. WSG said that it has now received $500,000, representing around 12 months contributions, in full and final settlement of its dispute with Scanport regarding the Ghana port operations. Whilst the figure is less than the carrying figure in its accounts, the Company believes the terms of the settlement are favourable and timely given the future targeted growth anticipated in early 2024 in the Group’s managed services business as mentioned above.

Comment: One would expect the post November recovery in the shares from brief new lows to continue, perhaps in an accelerated manner, backed by both the settlement news and growth expectations for next year.

OPG Power Ventures (OPG) said that H1 FY24 revenue increased by 158 per cent to £69.9 million due to increased operations (H1 FY23: £27.0 million). Net cash as at 30 September 2023 was £14.37 million against net debt of £16.2 million as at 31 March 2023, owing to prompt payment from the consumers for supply of electricity through Energy Exchange. OPG said its business model is robust and designed to capitalise on opportunities in the Indian Power sector. The Company has weathered a tough period of Covid followed by increased coal prices and the change in customer mix is a testimony to the resilience of the model. With the market correction in coal prices, generation at the Chennai plant and revenue have significantly increased.

Comment: A transformation in the coal price has been transformational for OPG. Of particular note is the swing in net cash by such a great margin.