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hVIVO (HVO), a rapidly growing specialist contract research organisation (CRO) and world leader in testing infectious and respiratory disease products using human challenge clinical trials, announced that JP Morgan have issued a new TR1 this morning bringing their shareholding to 6.9%.

Comment: HVO has already been one of the small cap highlights of recent years, with the latest news that it has further backing from JP Morgan, only serving to underline this further. Indeed, JPM is the kind of investor that can take a company from being a small cap to blue chip status.

ECR Minerals (ECR), the exploration and development company focused on gold in Australia, announced that it has successfully raised £585,000 at a price of 0.30 pence per Placing Share. ECR said this fundraising is a significant achievement for ECR, coming at a more than 70% premium to its raise last September.  It is now fully funded for its 2024 exploration programme.  With its ongoing payments for the rig sale covering its G&A expenses, and its continued policy of settling supplier fees through the issue of shares, where possible, it has a strong balance sheet and believes it is well positioned to take advantage of any future opportunities that may arise.

Comment: ECR takes advantage of the recent share price breakout of the stock to raise half a bar. It will be interesting to see how quickly the shares settle down, as investors look forward to the 2024 exploration programme.  The key going forward is whether ECR can achieve scale, something that many of its exploration contemporaries have found it hard to do. But today’s raise is a start.

Abingdon Health (ABDX) improved interims to December are reported with revenue up 117%  to £2.1m and Gross Margins jumping from 26% to 53%.  Consequently, the Operating Loss fell 50% to £1.2m and further cost savings and robust current trading are anticipated to drive continued improvement. After floating at 100p to develop lateral flow tests it managed, to miss the Covid boost. It sells Simply Test™, which is a range of self-test products and sold on-line and through distribution partners. It launched the first ever saliva pregnancy test, into 400 Superdrug stores, Tesco stores & online and online, via Amazon and its own website.  The strategy to be a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) making lateral flow tests for third party customers across a range of sectors, including self-test and point-of-care clinical testing, animal health, plant health and environmental testing.  The other primary objective is to breakeven and become cash flow positive which it forecasts to be achieved in 2024, without the need for additional funding. Net Cash in December was £2m.

Comment: At 6.75p and a £8.2m mkt cap after a testing time during Covid, the shares seem  all clear to improve.

Smarttech247 (S247), a cybersecurity services provider, announced it has secured a new contract with a global packaging company, worth approximately €1 million over three years. S247 said this collaboration ensures its client will have a robust defence mechanism for its extensive digital operations, encompassing everything from corporate data to critical operational processes and email security.

Comment: Shares of Smarttech have bottomed out below 20p to start 2024, and one could expect this improvement to continue as the company reels in deals such as the one announced today.

Neometals (NMT) advised on the release of the financial report of the Company and its subsidiaries for the half-year ended 31 December 2023.

Comment: The sharp share price recovery ahead of today’s RNS has been an interesting contrast to the contents of update, something which makes War and Peace appear relatively brief. At least having a director comment near the beginning of the release would have been helpful.

Bezant Resources (BZT) announced that EPL 7170 owned by the Company’s 80% owned subsidiary Hope Namibia Mineral Exploration (Pty) Ltd has been renewed for 2 years from 22 October 2023 pending the obtaining of an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism. The Company has engaged an experienced environmental consultant well-versed in Namibian environmental legislation to assist with the application for the ECC.

Comment: One gets the feeling that BZT shares have been bumping along the bottom so far in 2024. It will take more significant newsflow to get the company back in focus in the kind of positive way they were during the pandemic.

Wildcat Petroleum (WCAT), a company targeting investment opportunities in the petroleum industry announced its interim results for the period from 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023. Post period, on 19 February 2024, the Company announced that it had passed a due diligence process conducted by the South Sudanese Ministry of Petroleum (MOP) and that process included the evaluation of the Company’s technical competency as well as its financial capability to complete a major multi-million/billion dollar oil production purchase. The clearance from the MOP being required before Wildcat could undertake any petroleum deal in the country including the purchase of large-scale oil production.

Comment: We are playing a waiting game as far as the big deal is concerned with WCAT. But at least the MOP giving the company the due diligence thumbs up, means that as soon as it is unveiled WCAT will be good to go.