EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (LON:EKF) shot 9.7% higher to 40.6p in late-afternoon after the firm inked a contract to supply coronavirus sample collection kits to Source BioScience, a company which provides laboratory testing services for the NHS.
The company said using its sample collection kits will remove the need for cold chain transportation that is usually necessary for similar kits.
Meanwhile, education firm Malvern International PLC saw its shares crash 67.8% to 0.15p in late-afternoon trading as the firm said there was “considerable uncertainty” around its prospects as its learning centres in the UK and its school in Singapore remained closed due to lockdown measures.
As a result of the closures, Malvern said there was “no certainty as to when and how [coronavirus] restrictions will be lifted or how quickly trading activity will be able to resume”, adding that it anticipated its working capital facilities will be exhausted by the end of May.
1.10pm: NWF Group tracks higher as demand surges in March and April
Shares in NWF Group plc (LON:NWF) bobbed higher in early afternoon, climbing 17.6% to 194p after the fuel, food and feed distributor said it had seen “a significant increase in demand and activity levels” over March and April.
The upsurge, combined with lower oil prices, meant the firm was “encouraged” and confident in its long-term prospects despite the coronavirus pandemic.
NWF added that as it provides critical products and logistical support, its employees are designated as key workers and it has not needed any government support or furloughed any staff.
Elsewhere, Pembridge Resources PLC (LON:PERE) jumped 19.1% to 3.1p as it announced that the first shipment to Japan of copper concentrate from its Minto mine in Yukon Canada has now left the port of Skagway.
The group said that the news is a major landmark since the re-opening of the Minto mine last year, with the copper concentrate shipment representing mine’s production since re-opening until the end of March.
Also on the rise was Dixons Carphone PLC (LON:DC.), which surged 19.4% to 81.8p as sales in its online operation soared amid the coronavirus lockdown.
In the five weeks to 25 April, group electricals sales dipped 3%, though online were up by 166% in the UK and Ireland, 98% in Nordics and 597% in Greece.
However, in order to save cash, the firm also said it has furloughed 16,500 staff, while upper management and senior leaders have taken a pay cut of 20% and 10% respectively.
11.00am: Stanley Gibbons comes unstuck as coronavirus dents revenues
The stamp dealer and philatelic publisher said revenues since the end of March dropped 45% against budget.
The AIM-listed firm added that it can carry on for another three to four months with its current cash balance, without taking other mitigating steps, while it has access to a £2mln debt facility.
The investor placed 1.6mln new shares at a price of 17p each, raising £275,000, to new and existing investors.
The AIM-listed firm said the new funds boost investments into its portfolio firms, namely Paraytec, Pharm 2 Farm, Kirkstall, Gyrometric Systems, Phasefocus Holdings and Sentinel Medical.
9.15am: Baron Oil gushes higher as it inks work sharing agreement for North Sea licence
Baron Oil Plc (LON:BOIL) shares gushed 38.8% higher to 0.08p in early trading on Wednesday as the AIM-listed firm inked a work-sharing agreement with its joint venture partners for the P2478 licence in the North Sea.
The announcement was accompanied by the company’s final results for 2019, where it reported that its pre-tax losses had fallen substantially to £1.67mln from £3.28mln in 2018.
Meanwhile, among the miners, Condor Gold PLC (LON:CNR) jumped 15.7% to 29.5p after it landed an environmental permit for the development and exploitation of gold in the high-grade Mestiza open pit project in Nicaragua.
The pit project is host to more than 100,000 ounces of contained gold resources and it is described as complementary to the company’s flagship La India mine, also in Nicaragua.
In the FTSE 250, insurer Hiscox Ltd (LON:HSX) fell 4.4% to 700.6p as it said it is mulling over several options to cope with uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including a potential fundraise.
In an update responding to press speculation, the insurer said it has enough capital to meet expected liabilities but rates could harden across US wholesale and reinsurance markets. However, it has not decided whether to go ahead with the fundraise, or planned its timing and size.
Proactive news headlines:
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) and Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR) have begun a new joint venture partnership with the aim of building a strategic gold exploration portfolio in Australia. It sees Power taking a 49.9% interest in Red Rock Australasia, which as a joint venture vehicle will be renamed. This vehicle has now already applied for exploration license area EL007271, with Power covering the application fees (£1,125). This asset is being referred to as the ‘Blue Whale’ project. The area spans some 130 square kilometres in the south-western portion of the Victoria Goldfields.
Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) has reported an eleven-fold increase in revenues for 2019 following a 306% increase in its cryptocurrency mining capacity. For the year ended December 31, 2019, the firm said that its operating loss had been reduced by 80% to £830,000 as its revenues rose to £8.62mln from £760,000 in 2018. The company also said it had mined around 1,330 Bitcoin (BTC) over the course of the year, while it had ended the period with 7,000 pieces of mining hardware which had increased to 17,000 in the first quarter of 2020.
Condor Gold PLC (LON:CNR) (TSE:COG) has landed an environmental permit for the development and exploitation of gold in the high-grade Mestiza open pit project, in Nicaragua. The pit project is host to more than 100,000 ounces of contained gold resources and it is described as complementary to the company’s flagship La India mine, also in Nicaragua.”It is a significant development, after a 15-month process, that Condor has been granted the key environmental permit to develop and exploit gold from the high-grade Mestiza open pit,” Mark Child, Condor chief executive said in a statement.
Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN) said portfolio firm IOV Labs has seen its technology used to develop a recently launched decentralised finance (DeFi) platform. The RIF on Chain platform was launched on April 21 by Money on Chain (MOC) and has three main assets – RIF Dollar, RIFpro and RIFX.
Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL) (TSE:CAL) has declared a quarterly dividend of US$0.07 per share after having deferred the payment at the start of April. However, since then, the AIM-listed firm said, it has been “encouraged” by continued operations at its Blanket mine and the re-opening of important supply lines. The company said Blanket’s supply chain of consumables and spares parts was now “close to normal” and the mine was re-establishing full production after having operated at 93% of capacity during lockdown in Zimbabwe.
Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) highlighted its strong financial position as it released its results for the twelve months ended December 31, 2019. The exploration company noted that it had US$13.1mln of cash at the end of 2019 and it was debt-free. Its position was further strengthened recently by a new additional farm-out transaction with Beetaloo partner Origin Energy, which secured funding cover for an expanded phase of work. In the financial results, Falcon emphasised its continued focus on strict cost management. It also noted that general and administrative expenses decreased 7% year-on-year, to US$1.78mln.
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV), the exploration company targeting the discovery of world-class mineral deposits in Botswana, has announced the publication of a new independent technical review on the exploration potential of its Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ) Project. The group said the review concludes that the KSZ “is a prime setting for a magmatic Nickel-Copper-PGM deposit.” Kavango is searching for ‘Norilsk-Style’ deposits in the KSZ. The review has been completed by Dr David Holwell, of D&D Geoconsultants using a Mineral Systems Approach. Dr Holwell is a leading authority on the development of Copper-Nickel-Platinum Group Metals (PGM) sulphide deposits associated with magmatic systems.
Mkango Resources Ltd’s (LON:MKO) full-year results have confirmed it had a US$9.53mln cash position at the end of 2019, whilst the company also noted that work on the Songwe rare earth project’s feasibility study is continuing. Workstreams for the study are ongoing though the company noted that because of the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic it is inevitable that some elements will be impacted and the precise extent of the delay is uncertain. Nonetheless, Mkango is presently targeting completion of the study in the second half of 2021.
Honye Financial Services Ltd (LON:HOYE), the standard market listed company, said it continues to review possible acquisitions and hopes to identify a sufficiently attractive one in the coming months as it released half-year results. It said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel as we see China beginning to return to normal after several months and there are tentative steps in Italy, Austria and Denmark to slowly lift restrictions allowing people to return to work.” Honye’s losses for the half-year to end January were £161,000, while the company had net cash of £1.7mln at the end of the period.
Pembridge Resources PLC (LON:PERE) has announced the first shipment to Japan of copper concentrate from the Minto mine in Yukon Canada has now left the port of Skagway. In a statement, the group said that the news is a major landmark since the re-opening of the Minto mine last year, with the copper concentrate shipment representing mine’s production since re-opening until the end of March. Gati Al-Jebouri, Pembridge’s chief executive officer and chairman said: “This is an important event for the Minto mine, both commercially and symbolically.
Custodian REIT PLC (LON:CREI) has reported a total return of 1.1% in the year just ended but said that in the current coronavirus (COVID-19) environment its focus is on rents and cashflow. In an update, the firm said its net asset value for the year ended March 31, 2020, was 101.6p per share, albeit down from 104.4p as at end-December 2019, alongside of which the investment trust is paying a 6.65p total dividend. The company has now changed its dividend policy, however, which will be based for the time being on how much rent comes in, trust manager Richard Shepherd-Cross said in the statement.
Scotgold Resources Ltd. (LON:SGZ) said it has further renegotiated the terms of the loan facility of up to £7.5m from Bridge Barn Limited, a company owned and controlled by the explorer’s chairman Nat le Roux, obtained on May 18, 2018, and subsequently amended up from an initial £5mln facility. The group said that, with the placement of the Cononish Project on care and maintenance as per governmental guidance during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and with an adequate current cash balance on hand, the amendments will mean the remaining two tranches of the facility can be drawn down over a significantly longer period – up to December 31, 2021 – and in smaller sub tranches of £0.5mln. The company said this provides it with far greater flexibility to manage its cash balances in the light of the uncertainty of the impact of COVID-19 and to minimise its debt position and consequent finance costs. The company has to date drawn down the first and second tranches, totalling £4mln, and under the terms of the loan facility was required to draw down the third tranche of £2mln on or before April 25, 2020.
Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) has raised £275,000 via a share placing to inject more capital into its strategic investments. The company said it had raised the funds through the placing of around 1.6mln new shares at a price of 17p each, a 24% discount to its closing price on Tuesday. Braveheart said the new funds will allow it to “continue to provide additional financial investment” into its portfolio firms, namely Paraytec, Pharm 2 Farm, Kirkstall, Gyrometric Systems, Phasefocus Holdings and Sentinel Medical.
C4X Discovery Holdings PLC (LON:C4XD) hailed a productive six months as it exited the first half in a strong financial position. Posting interim result, the group said its closely-watched NRF-2 activator programme for sickle cell disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension is “progressing” and it is down to a short-list of three molecules. Discussions with potential partners have persuaded the company to enhance its supporting data, it added.
Zoetic International PLC (LON:ZOE) has appointed Trevor Taylor and Antonio Russo as its co-chief executives as the group re-affirmed its commitment to exit natural resources and focus on its cannabidiol (CBD) business. The company said Taylor and Russo, who previously served as its chief strategy officer and chief revenue officer respectively, were “instrumental” to the success of its US CBD business and that it was “an appropriate time to implement these changes to the management structure”. Meanwhile, the company’s CEO Nick Tulloch and chairman Paul Mendell have both resigned, although Tulloch will continue to partner with Zoetic by leading a new joint venture in the UK. In a trading update, Zoetic also said it had received approval for loans from the US government totalling US$290,000 and expected to receive the funds this week. The company has also received a UK government grant of £10,000.