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Fevertree shares bubble up after rise in off-trade sales during lockdown

Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR) was toasting a rise in its shares after it reported strong sales for its posh mixers from stay-at-home drinkers during lockdown.

And while it expected the reopening of pubs and restaurants to give another boost to its business, it believed “at-home consumption of long mixed drinks is becoming increasingly established, supported by both the retailers and spirit companies.”

UK off-trade sales in the 13 weeks to the middle of April rose by 10.1% year on year, while US sales jumped 38.2% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to the end of March.

Overall it said it was trading in line with its expectations for the full year, providing the uncertainty over the pandemic continues to subside.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Fevertree has no choice but to take the global recovery in socialising one step at a time. The picture’s very much the same as before – supermarket sales are doing well, but in-venue trade is predictably tough. That’s especially true in Europe, while only about a third of UK venues are open, and at reduced capacity. Given about half of UK revenue comes from bars and restaurants, Fevertree is stuck in limbo until the taps are turned back on.

“The group seems to think the pandemic’s triggered a longer-term shift in at-home consumption of its higher end mixers. Given the tough job ahead of keeping sales moving at the heady rate expected by the market, this would certainly be a bonus. But whether this turns out to be true remains to be seen, somehow we suspect this tailwind may blow a little more softly than expected when the reality of normal life resumes.”

Still, investors are shrugging off any such concerns and have pushed its shares 6.82% or 175p higher to 2741p.

3.03pm: Technology group in demand

IQE PLC (LON:IQE) is heading higher after the semiconder wafer supplier launched a new product for high speed communication.

The company has introduced its Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) epiwafers; the VCSEL is the key component for high-speed communication and advanced sensing applications.

Dr Rodney Pelzel, IQE’s chief technology officer of IQE, said: “In order to allow our customers to respond to the opportunities enabled by VCSEL technology, IQE has evolved and expanded its VCSEL portfolio… These solutions are a value-add product and a portion of a wider portfolio enabling such applications as 3D Sensing, advanced health care, and LiDAR [Light Detection and Ranging].”

Its shares have added 7.61% or 3.7p to 52.3p.

1.58pm: Polymers business boosted by green credentials

Green is good for Itaconix PLC (LON:ITX).

The sustainable polymers business has seen its shares soar 17.94% to 13.15p after it received the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark.

Itaconix generated 96% of its 2020 revenues from the sale of plant-based products. To qualify for the mark, first introduced in 2019, companies must have more than 50% of their revenues from products and services that contribute to the global green economy.

Itaconix chief executive John R. Shaw said: “We are just starting to tap into the potential that our proprietary plant-based technologies have to transition brands and consumers to a low carbon economy, with almost all of our 2020 revenues derived from plant-based products.

“The London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark is an important recognition for our current work and will support our efforts to communicate our green credentials to investors and other stakeholders.

“It is a real honour and achievement for Itaconix to be recognised as an early leader for the Mark in the Advanced Materials industry sector.”

11.58am: Piping specialist sees strong start to the year

Genuit Group PLC (LON:GEN) is on the move after a positive update.

The piping and ventilation specialist – formerly known as Polypipe – said it had made a good start to the year and now expected full year profits to be at the top end of the £80mln-£88mln range expected by analysts.

Three acquisitions were completed in February this year and are performing well

Its residential business benefited from merchants forward purchasing ahead of price increases, while strong new housing starts also boosted revenues. Supply problems are an issue and its costs have increased as a results, but it has managed to pass this on by raising its own prices.

Chief executive Martin Payne said: “The group has delivered a positive performance so far this year as well as completing the acquisitions of Adey, NuHeat and Plura.

“The strength of trading conditions and that of the structural growth markets we operate in, leads the board to expect that these improved trends will continue for the remainder of the first half of this year.

“There is some remaining uncertainty about how the pandemic will evolve, but the board believes the group is in a strong position to make continued progress in the current year.”

Genuit’s shares are 4.02% or 23p higher at 595p.

11.04am: Cannabis company flying

Shares in Kanabo Group PLC (LSE:KNB) are higher after the medical cannabis group unveiled a manufacturing deal for its products.

It said Pure Origin Group will manufacture, package and supply Kanabo’s cannabidiol (CBD) range from its manufacturing facility in Wales, which uses EU good manufacturing practices – a system to ensure finished products are effective and safe for distribution.

Pure Origin and Kanabo will establish a dedicated production line for the VapePod’s CBD Wellness formulas that will use Kanabo’s equipment, production protocols and IP.

Kanabo will supply raw materials to Pure Origin for the preparation of CBD formulations and final packaging. The current production line will have an initial capacity of 44,000 units a month with the ability to further increase production when necessary.

The company said the new agreement marked the end of the period of pilot sales and was the prelude to a full product launch internationally.

Its long-term strategy involves continued research and development activities to develop a range of unlicensed medical cannabis oils, which will be sold as unlicensed medical products.

Kanabo is up 6.38% at 20p.

10.21am: Power company faces working capital pressure

Shares in Rurelec PLC (LON:RUR) have blown a fuse.

They are down 11.11% to 0.6p after the power company updated the market on its problems in Argentina.

It has a 50% interest in Energia del Sur, a power plant in the country owned by Patagonia Energy.

After the expiry in September of an agreement on tariffs for power generated by the plant’s steam turbine, the companies have been trying to negotiate a new deal with the regulator CAMMESA, so far to no avail.

Until a contract is signed, revenues have been set at spot prices.

Ruralec said: “If this pricing is not corrected it will have significant adverse implications for EdS’s revenue and cash generation, which in turn would affect the timing and amounts of any of the cash payments due from EdS to Patagonia Energy and ultimately to Rurelec. Since the expiry of the resolution in September 2020 the only cash the Company has received from EdS via PEL was US $224k  on 23 October 2020.”

EdS has contingency plans to reduce costs, including shutting down the steam turbine. This means it is unclear whether EdS will be able to generate enough cash to pay anything to the company.

The Argentinian economy remains weak, and the government is struggling with COVID-19, which is helping to delay any resolution to the tariff talks.

Rurelec said the the future viability of EdS – the main source of funds for the company in the absence of asset sales – remains uncertain.

So Rurelec will continue to experience significant working capital pressure.  

It is seeking other sources of funding, including loans from third parties, and is also looking at selling its other assets, particularly turbines in Chile and Italy.

8.29am: Pharma group signs key deals

N4 Pharma PLC (LON:N4P) has pleased investors with news of two potential link-ups.

The company, which is developing a delivery system for cancer treatments and vaccines called Nuvec, has signed material transfer agreements – the first stage towards a formal collaboration – with two pharma businesses.

The first is with an international company working in the gene therapy space.

The second is a pharmaceutical company developing its own proprietary vaccine for Covid-19 using a DNA plasmid.

N4 also gave a positive update on the latest studies on Nuvec, although some expected results may be delayed into the third quarter as the company assesses how best to make sure various pieces of research complement each other.

Chief executive Nigel Theobald said: “”We are delighted to have entered into two MTAs with these respected companies, each one addressing different markets.

“Whilst there can be no guarantee of either agreement resulting in a commercial collaboration, it marks a major step forward as we apply third party materials to Nuvec.

“Furthermore, it validates all the hard work that has been done in optimising Nuvec that major players in their fields are prepared to invest their time and resource to see how Nuvec may be applied to their technologies and IP.

The update has lifted its shares 17.72% or 1.4p to 9.3p.

Also heading higher is financial advisory and insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor Group PLC (LON:BEG) after it said full year results would be comfortably ahead of market expectations.

A strong fourth quarter means it now expects revenues of around £83.7mln and profits of £11.5mln compared to analyst forecasts of £77.1mln-£78.5mln and £10.5mln-£11.1mln respectively.

Part of the growth came from four acquisitions during the period.

It made a point of saying the insolvency market remained suppressed due to “government financial support measures and temporary legislation changes.” Which of course has an effect on its revenues in that sector.

But it was appointed as administrators to a number of companies including Football Index, Brooks Brothers and Ralph & Russo.

Analyst Rachel May at house broker Shore Capital said: “With over 70% of Begbies’ revenue coming from counter-cyclical activities, and insolvency volumes well below historic levels, we see further upside to our forecasts as government support measures are scaled back which should result in an increase in insolvency volumes.”

Begbies is up 7.12% at 1129.4p.

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