Smartspace Software PLC (LON:SMRT) was 21% firmer at 20.5p in the wake of a reassuring coronavirus (COVID-19) trading update.

“Our enterprise software division has a small number of large multi-national customers and has seen no significant impact on its activities so far,” the provider of integrated space management software for smart buildings revealed.

The story is different at Anders & Kern, its supplier of specialist audio-visual equipment, where there has been a material intake of orders.

2.30pm: Kavango sparkles after it highlights progress

Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) shares jumped 36% to 0.85p Thursday as the explorer highlighted progress at key projects in recent months.

The group said its flagship Botswana exploration assets continue to advance and it noted that there has so far been minimal disruption as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as it had already focused work on desktop-based analysis and modelling.

For the Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ), for example, the company said it and its consultants are presently constructing a new model incorporating findings from a successful 2019 drill programme, with the aim of defining high-grade targets for the next campaign. Kavango noted that it is fully funded to the next phase of exploration at KSZ.

 

1.30pm: Luceco dims as revenues are halved by European lockdown

Luceco PLC (LON:LUCE) was down 2.6% at 82.8p, having recovered from a low of 80.1p, after its 2019 results.

The manufacturer of wiring accessories boasted of a 151% increase in adjusted pre-tax profits in 2019 from the year before but said the coronavirus outbreak had temporarily disrupted its progress.

The lockdown in Europe disrupted demand from the start of the second quarter and revenue is currently at about half of normal levels.

12.30pm: AJ Bell enjoys record quarter for new sign-ups

AJ Bell PLC (LON:AJB) moved up 5.7% to 316p as it revealed further evidence that it is benefiting from the woes of its rival, Hargreaves Lansdown.

The investment platform operator pulled in £1.3bn of new money in the three months to March, though the wealth manager said the market volatility had sharply reduced the value of assets invested through its platform.

It was a record quarter In terms of new sign-ups, said Bell, with customer numbers 9% higher to just over 248,000 while new money inflows jumped 30% from the comparable three months a year ago.

Its big rival, Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) reputation took a bashing when fallen star stock-picker Neil Woodford’s investment fund, which HL had enthusiastically promoted, went belly-up.

11.30am: Drax hit by bad debt fears

Drax Group PLC (LON:DRX) fell 11% to 204p as it warned the market is was expecting a sharp increase in bad debts among its customers.

The power generator said that while the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is still unfolding, its expectations for adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) in 2020 are currently in line with consensus inclusive of an estimated potential impact from COVID-19 of £60mln, principally in relation to its Customers business.

The market appeared to be rattled by Drax’s assessment that the pandemic is expected to result in reduced demand and a potential increase in bad debt in its Customers business. As a result, Drax has significantly increased its expectation of potential customer business failures and higher bad debt.

10.30am: Science in Sport another stock on the rise after a share placing

Science in Sport PLC (LON:SIS), the performance nutrition company, climbed (athletically no doubt) 13% to 39.5p after it completed a fund-raising.

The company placed shares at 37p each, raising roughly £4.5mln.

The money is intended to be used to strengthen the company’s balance sheet to tide it over the period of expected disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

9.30am: DFS Furniture sitting pretty after placing shares at a premium

DFS Furniture PLC (LON:DFS), up 13% at 146.4p, was sitting pretty in early trade on Thursday after completing its 150p a pop placing of shares.

The company raised roughly £64mln by issuing 42.6mln shares, representing around 19.9% of the issued ordinary share capital of the retailer.

Franklin Templeton Investment Management, which splashed out £5.9mln on DFS shares, was one of those happy to pay above the prevailing market price for DFS shares, which closed at 129p last night before the company sneaked out news of the fund-raising and a trading update.

Another stock on the up after a fund-raising was Loungers PLC (LON:LGRS), which rose 23% to 95p after placing shares at 90p each.

As with DFS, the restaurants and bars operator announced its plans to raise fresh capital after the close of business last night.

The company also revealed it has increased its bank facilities by £15mln and that it is negotiating with landlords in the hope of getting its first-quarter rental payments waived.

Proactive news headlines:

Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) shares jumped higher on Thursday as the explorer highlighted progress at key projects in recent months. In an update, the group said its flagship Botswana exploration assets continue to advance and it noted that there has so far been minimal disruption as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as it had already focused work on desktop-based analysis and modelling. For the Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ), for example, the company said it and its consultants are presently constructing a new model incorporating findings from a successful 2019 drill programme, with the aim of defining high-grade targets for the next campaign. Kavango noted that it is fully funded to the next phase of exploration at KSZ.

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has revealed that its hVIVO subsidiary has commenced the testing of an anti-viral drug for treating coronavirus (COVID-19) on behalf of its client Nearmedic International. Nearmedic is a specialist pharmaceutical, biotechnological and medical business headquartered in Moscow; it is running tests using hVIVO’s virology expertise and laboratory capability on an anti-viral drug that could potentially be used to combat SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) infections. Open Orphan said this drug has both potential anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity and as such could reduce both virus infectivity and disease severity respectively.

Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) has said its investee company Kirkstall is to collaborate with Animal Free Research UK to supply its Quasivivo proprietary testing equipment for use in coronavirus (COVID-19) research. Braveheart owns 64.7% of Kirkstall. In its update, Braveheart noted that another firm in its portfolio, Pharm 2 Farm (51.7%) is also now producing medical-grade hand sanitiser gel and plans to increase production to 2,000 litres per day by the end of May.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) has reported what it says is a “significant” increase in the mineral resource estimate for its Kiziltepe mine in Turkey. The AIM-listed explorer said the updated estimate increased the resource at the site by 25% to around 321,000 ounces of gold and 5mln ounces of silver. The increase also represents a 72% uplift over the feasibility study resource on an undepleted gold only basis.

Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC (LON:NFC) has reported a double-digit rise in full-year profit and said it continues to win new work in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. For the year ended January 31, 2020, the digital communications firm posted a pre-tax profit of £40.2mln, up 12% on the prior year, while net revenues climbed 11% to £248.5mln. The group also said it had continued to “win new work”, having recently added DuPont, Google Cloud and O2 as new clients.

Amryt Pharma PLC (LON:AMYT) has said the read-out from its phase III study of its AP101 cream, a potential breakthrough treatment for a rare skin condition is likely late in the third quarter, or early in the fourth quarter of this year. The timeline was provided in a statement in which Amryt said its Global EASE trial would be concluded slightly earlier than anticipated against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak. Independent advice suggested the impact at this advanced stage of the recruitment process the would be “statistically negligible”. The company’s AP101 cream is being developed for epidermolysis bullosa, a chronic and distressing genetic skin disorder that causes the skin layers and internal body linings to separate.

Berkeley Energia PLC (LON:BKY) has highlighted the strengthening of uranium prices amidst the coronavirus pandemic turmoil. In a quarterly update, the Spanish mine developer noted that the uranium price is up by around 30% in the year to date as firms such as Kazatomprom and Cameco have flagged supply disruption. The uncertainty has seen the uranium spot price rise to US$32.50 per pound, the company added.

Collagen Solutions PLC (LON:COS) has highlighted “positive revenue momentum” in several of its business categories despite challenges towards the end of its full-year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a trading update for the year ended March 31, the AIM-listed biomaterials and regenerative medicines specialist reported 58% growth in revenues from its tissue business alongside 10% growth from development and 1% growth in contract manufacturing.

H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT) has said it was informed on April 21 that between April 16 and 20, its chief executive, John Nichols exercised options for a total of 93,686 ordinary shares at a price of 245.5p each under the firm’s 2010 Option Scheme. It noted that Nichols sold 85,924 ordinary shares to satisfy tax only and 7,762 shares were retained as a result of the transaction. The company added that it has issued and allotted 127,601 new ordinary shares due to the exercise of the options.

Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) has been notified that well-known property investor Nigel Wray has reduced his stake in the esports company to 5%, down from the 7% previously held.

European Metals Holdings Limited (LON:EMH) said the resolution put to shareholders at Thursday’s Extraordinary General Meeting regarding the subscription for shares in Geomet was passed by proxy votes.

Chesnara PLC (LON:CSN) has announced that its 2020 Annual General Meeting will be held at the company’ offices, West Strand Business Park, West Strand Road, Preston, PR1 8UY on Tuesday May 26 at 11.00am. It added that copies of the group’s 2019 Annual Report & Accounts and Notice of AGM may be viewed in the Investor Relations section of the company’s website.

Verona Pharma PLC (LON:VRP) (NASDAQ:VRNA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on respiratory diseases,  announced that it will report its audited financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2020, on Thursday, April 30, and also host an investment community conference call at 2.00pm BST to discuss the results and provide a corporate update. To participate in the call, investors should dial one of the following numbers and reference conference ID 2667888: 866-940-4574 for callers in the United States; 0800 028 8438 for callers in the United Kingdom; 0800 181 5287 for callers in Germany. It sad a live webcast will be available on the Events and Presentations link on the Investors page of the company’s website – www.veronapharma.com – and an audio replay will be available there for 30 days.