Panmure Gordon and Liberum today announced an all-share merger to create the UK’s largest independent Investment Bank. Panmure Liberum will have the biggest retained base of quoted clients across the UK market and will bring together their combined entrepreneurialism, deep and broad sector knowledge, and shared ambitions to establish a market leader in UK Investment Banking. Panmure said that over the last three years it has doubled its corporate client base, made significant investment in talent and materially increased its share of the UK market across its trading and execution capabilities. Liberum said it has found a long-term partner with shared values and strategic ambitions to enable it to capitalise on the significant opportunities ahead and take both firms to the next level.
Comment: The past couple of years will have been horrific for most market participants, brave faces or otherwise. It is almost fun to guess which of the two parties here have “retired hurt.”
E-Therapeutics ( ETX) has an AI assisted computational platform which is seeking to discover life-transforming RNAi medicines across a variety of areas of high unmet medical needs. The business Update reports progress with multiple, successful case studies showcasing the power of AI within its drug discovery process combined with the speed and specificity of its GalOmic RNAi drug platform. The strategy is to build a highly differentiated therapeutic pipeline of exclusive novel target genes. These targets lead to disease-modifying therapies which should then be rapidly progressed to clinical trials and increased revenue. Revenue for the six months to July was £0.2m but is irrelevant, operating losses including £5.3m investment in R&D increased to £7m from £4.6m, although after deducting tax credits the reported loss was £5.6m. After a placing at 20p supported by the mighty M&G, Net cash is £20m which buys a comfortable 9 /12month runway.
Comment: At 14.5p the mkt Cap is £83m and you may not need to a PHD to believe they maybe onto something big but it is speculative.
THG (THG) announced its fourth quarter trading statement for the period ended 31 December 2023. Q4 and full year trading in line with expectations and guidance. Group returned to continuing revenue growth in Q4, at +1.1%. Strong balance sheet and liquidity, with c.£600m of cash and available facilities. THG said 2023 was a year that threw up many challenges for all businesses, and it was delighted in how the Group not only responded to these challenges, but grew stronger through the year.
Comment: The company which initially gained fame for putting its foot in its mouth, may win back friends with the latest update, especially the chunky cash position. At the very least, the shares should be back towards 100p range highs, rather than sub 70p as currently.
LifeSafe (LIFS), a fire safety technology business, announced the signing of a distribution agreement for the supply of its Thermal Runaway Fluid to Lingjack Fire and Life Saving PTY, a substantial Asian fire safety business located in Singapore. LIFS said it was pleased to announce this new distribution partnership with such a prestigious and trusted fire safety business such as Lingjack. The signing of the partnership extends the Company’s reach into the markets of Singapore, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Comment: Given that we seem to have electric vehicle fires et al in the news on an ever more frequent basis, the positive read across to LIFS must not be long in coming, especially at the lower share price levels we are currently seeing.
Blue Star Capital (BLU), the investing company, updated on its investee companies, Dynasty Gaming & Media Pte Ltd and SatoshiPay Ltd. Dynasty advised that it has partnered with the large media conglomerate Vera Media Group and ‘soft-launched’ its new platform Lightning Dragon. Further to the announcement on 15 November 2023 that SatoshiPay had retained Benchmark International to establish an accurate valuation for SatoshiPay and seek potential expression of interest for its acquisition, Benchmark has advised that the initial reaction to the investment memorandum has been encouraging and the Company Is pleased with progress to date.
Comment: Given how with the rebound in crypto and all things digital asset, the lay of the land would appear to be far more in BLU’s favour, it would have been helpful if the company had provided rather more detail in today’s RNS that it has.
Nostra Terra (NTOG), the international oil & gas exploration and production company, announced the signing of a Strategic Partnership with a subsidiary of Cypress. NTOG said the success of the Fouke wells in it mature Pine Mills asset has been the focus of its technical efforts over the last several years. This work demonstrated that with the benefit of modern 3D seismic, the abundance of existing well information and very detailed geologic mapping work, prospects can be generated with the potential for Fouke-like results across an extensive area.
Comment: After all this time it would be great if NTOG finally became a producer at scale. This notion though, continues to be something which remains a work in progress.
Canadian Overseas Petroleum (COPL), an international oil and gas company, announced completion on January 15, 2024, of the critical $2.5 million equity financing providing the Company with short-term working capital. COPL said it remains in a precarious financial situation with very limited liquidity.
Comment: It would appear that those catching the falling knife of COPL at the end of last week, and beginning of this, appear to have called it right. Although as the company keeps on reiterating, its position is precarious. It might be helpful if there was a little more detail in the RNS as to why things are like this, and what further remedies are required.
Blackbird (BIRD), the technology licensor, developer and seller of market-leading cloud-native video editing platform, Blackbird, announced that its new creator SaaS product, elevate.io, is on track for general release at the end of Q1 2024 after positive results from the early access testing phase. elevate.io’s website also went live on Monday, 15 January. BIRD said it announced in September that it would release elevate.io by the end of Q1 2024. Early access feedback has been fantastic, and it is excited to be opening up to a wider audience in the coming weeks.
Comment: Although the wait may be killing BIRD fans, as far as the launch of elevate, as the company reminds us, it is on time, and well anticipated.
Critical Mineral Resources (CMRS), the exploration and development company, announced that it has acquired 26 exploration permits in central Morocco prospective for copper, antimony, tungsten, lead-zinc and gold. CMR has acquired the permits through the acquisition of Hesperis Resources SARL. CMR said the acquisition of the Hesperis permits marks a key milestone in Critical Mineral Resource’s journey. The Company now possesses a significant opportunity through its ongoing roll-up of permits across a sizeable footprint within well-established Moroccan mining territories.
Comment: One hopes that CMRS has a quicker experience in Morocco than our friends at Emmerson.
CAB Payments (CABP), a business-to-business cross-border payments and foreign exchange company, announces that total income for the year ended 31 December 2023 will be approximately 25% above the prior year (2022: £109.4 million). CAB said it continues to benefit from the structural shift in its markets from incumbent providers to specialists such as CAB Payments.
Comment: Given the year from hell the shares had last year, thanks to the wonders of being listed on the London market, it may yet take a while for the stock to start reflecting the improving fundamentals to get the shares at least on the right side of 100p.
Kibo Energy (KIBO), the renewable energy-focused developer of sustainable energy solutions, provided an interim strategy update in relation to its development approach. KIBO said it is currently formulating a joint development agreement with a multinational food and beverage producer intended to be funded equally (i.e., 50-50) by Kibo and the Client. The objective of this collaboration is to build and operate a pilot plant that will produce bio-coal as a preliminary step towards the establishment of a comprehensive production-scale facility.
Comment: Given the way that theoretically KIBO is in the hot area of sustainable energy solutions, it may be said that the share price and market sentiment are not exactly on fire. Being more clear with regard to the company’s goals and what is realistically achievable might help.
Bradda Head Lithium (BHL), the North America-focused lithium development group, announced final results from core drilling at the San Domingo Central target area. This is the second of three sets of assays to be released from the Company’s 18,950 feet (5,776m) programme, and includes very encouraging results across all the target pegmatites. BHL said these results support our view of a near surface potential spodumene lithium resource in the Central section of our San Domingo (SD) property. The results complement and add to the previous reported results in the same area.
Comment: One of the problems of a company running a tight ship and getting on with the job, as BHL is currently doing, is that the stock and its news can tend to fall under the radar. This is however encouraging it is.
Equals Group (EQLS), the fintech payments group, announced, consistent with prior years, a pre-close trading update for the financial year ended 31 December 2023. Unaudited revenues for the year were £95.5 million, up 37% (FY-22: £69.7 million) with continued growth in Adjusted EBITDA. As a result, the Board expects the Group’s FY-23 results to be in-line with current market expectations.
Comment: Payments groups have been doing so well, one wonders how much the banks used to make in this space, and how much those transferring cash are getting a cost effective service. In the meantime the likes of EQLS are enjoying life.
Northcoders (CODE), a UK technology training business, announce that it has successfully secured further funding from the Department for Education Skills Bootcamp Dynamic Purchasing System 2 bid. CODE said This new round of funding provided it with a further £10 million to train individuals on the Northcoders market-leading bootcamp, deliverable over 18 months, and provides the Company with strong revenue visibility for FY-2024 and H1-2025. It also underpins an 18.6% increase in revenue per student, compared to the last nine month Wave 4 contract, in line with the Group’s focus on driving increased near term profitability.
Comment: The positive premise behind CODE for investors is that the company has and always had a decent window seat on the government gravy train. This point has been underlined by the way that there is an extra £10m being thrown at the bootcamp.
IQE (IQE), the supplier of compound semiconductor wafer products and advanced material solutions, provided a pre-close Trading Update for the financial year ended 31 December 2023. Revenue for the period is expected to be at least £115 million, reflecting a more than 20% increase from H1 to H2 2023, in line with previously issued guidance. IQE said it was pleased its business performance was aligned to guidance despite a challenging macro environment. It returned to growth from H1 to H2 2023 and expect this positive trajectory to continue in 2024.
Comment: It has been a long road to recovery for IQE, with the bear run in the shares having been in place since late 2017. This should finally be over in 2024, if announcements such as today’s become more frequent in coming months.
Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals (HEMO) announced the submission of a complete response to the previously announced Clinical Hold of the Investigational New Drug application to the US FDA for HEMO-CAR-T. A complete response is necessary to apply for the lifting of the CH which is needed to obtain consent from the FDA to commence Phase I clinical trials of HEMO-CAR-T. HEMO said it was pleased to have filed a complete response to the FDA addressing their concerns that resulted in a CH of the HEMO-CAR-T IND. It looks forward to becoming a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company once consent is received from the FDA.
Comment: Although there would appear to have been more stages to FDA approval for HEMO than there are to Nirvana, it does look as though the company is heading for clinical stage heaven.
N4 Pharma (N4P), the specialist pharmaceutical company developing Nuvec®, provided an update on its subsidiary, Nanogenics Limited. N4P said it was very excited for the potential of ECP105, which is a unique product for an unmet clinical need in the ophthalmology market. More than 75 million people worldwide are affected by Glaucoma and the total Glaucoma treatment market size in 2021 exceeded $5.5 billion and is growing. A novel product in this space alone represents a good opportunity for Nanogenics and importantly the antifibrotic siRNA sequence can also be used to investigate other fibrotic treatments for liver and lung fibrosis.
Comment: N4P may be a company which benefits from the great UK biotech rebound of 2024, a phenomenon which although so far only noted at Zakstraderscafe.com, could actually be a thing.
McBride (MCB), the European manufacturer and supplier of private label and contract manufactured products, provided a trading update for the six months ended 31 December 2023. Group revenue was 9.9% higher than the prior year on a constant currency basis, benefitting from both volume growth and the impact of pricing actions in the last financial year to recover input cost inflation.
Comment: It would appear that private labels are a safe port in the current economic storm, a point underlined at McBride, not only in the revenue rise, but also unusually as far as the ongoing share price rally.