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SThree expects profits to beat forecasts after strong demand for science staff

SThree PLC (LON:STEM) has jumped more than 7% after the staffing group said full year profits would beat City forecasts.

The company, which specialises in recruitment roles in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics said its trading performance in the second quarter had been stronger than expected, especially in Life Sciences and Technology. There were also good erformances from its US, German and Dutch businesses.

It added: “Whilst there remains a level of uncertainty around the second half of the financial year, particularly in regard to new COVID-19 variants and the impact of annual leave backlogs for both contractors and our own employees, the strength of the first half means that the board now expects profit before tax for the 12 months to 30 November 2021 to be materially above market consensus [of pretax profits of £39.7mln].”

The company’s shares are 30.5p better at 454.5p.

2.54pm: Mining group raises £1mln as it sees encouraging results

Contango Holdings PLC (LON:CGO) has issued a positive update on its gold project, and its shares have moved higher.

The natural resources company said it had seen encouraging exploration results from both the Garalo permit in Southern Mali and the more recently acquired Ntiela concession.

It has raised £1mln via a convertible loan, with the backing of major shareholder RAB Capital.

Chief executive Carl Esprey said: “Our exploration and development activities at Garalo and the newly acquired Ntiela permit continue to deliver highly encouraging results which point to the project having the potential to be a major new mine in the region.  Our work in the short-term is focussed on properly assessing the upside potential to the current 2Moz gold resource we are contemplating at Garalo and establishing the optimum route to first production by the end of 2021. As a result, we have made the decision to undertake a short, low-cost drill programme to help with our understanding and optimisation.

“To fund this expanded pre-production work programme, the company has sourced £1mln, primarily from existing investors at the current market price. The convertible is a zero-coupon instrument and has a mandatory conversion at 6p at the end of 2021, highlighting the belief of the subscribers in the inherent value Contango offers. The subsequent development to first production of Garalo is still intended to be funded via a mixture of royalties and debt as previously outlined.”

Contango shares are up 8.29% at 6.5p.

12.04pm: Sun shines on oil business

Shares in Caspian Sunrise PLC (LON:CASP) are shining.

The company said its subsidiary Eragon Petroleum had farmed out the outstanding work in the 3A Best contract area in Kazakhstan to a local partner, who in return will take a 15% stake in the site.

The work comprises the drilling of a 2,250 meter well at an expected approximate cost of US$2.5mln in an area which has previously shown signs of oil and gas.

The partner has also been granted an option to acquire the remaining 85%  at a price to be determined by an independent expert.

Meanwhile the company has also announced the first charter for the Caspian Explorer, a shallow water drilling vessel acquired in 2020 and specialising in operations in the shallow northern Caspian Sea.

The charter is with North Caspian Operating Company, the principal operator in the region, comprising the Republic of Kazakhstan working through KazMunaiGas  and international oil companies including Shell, ExxonMobil, Eni, Total and CNPC, the consortium operating the Kashagan field.

The charter, which will be undertaken this year, is safety related rather than new drilling.  So the period of the charter is shorter than for a new drill and the fee much lower, but the company hopes for longer and more rewarding contracts in the coming years.

Non-executive chairman Clive Carver said: “Both the farm out at 3A Best and the first Charter for the Caspian Explorer are very welcome.

“Cash constraints, in part following the impact of COVID-19, have severely limited what we have been able to achieve at the 3A Best Contract area, which was acquired in 2019. In the event the drilling is successful it should be recognised in any independent valuation of our remaining 85% interest.

“The contribution from the first charter for the Caspian Explorer under our ownership will cover its operating costs for the year and demonstrates its potential contribution when new wells are drilled in the oil rich northern Caspian Sea.”

The news has sent Caspian’s shares 8.7% higher to 2.5p.

10.35am: Drug discovery firm hits new milestone

Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX), a drug discovery firm focused on cancer and fibrosis, has hit a new milestone and seen its shares respond accordingly.

The company said the first subject has been dosed in a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers evaluating its lead fibrosis drug candidate RXC007.

It said the main objective of this first-in-human study was to evaluate the safety profile of the orally bioavailable, small molecule. Results from the study are expected to be available in the second half of next year.

Chief executive officer Lisa Anson said: “Today’s news announcing the start of our first clinical study with RXC007 is an important milestone for Redx. This is the company’s first clinical fibrosis programme and means we now have two wholly-owned products in clinical development. RXC007 is also the third molecule discovered by the company to enter the clinic, providing significant validation of our in-house medicinal chemistry and drug discovery expertise. We believe there is enormous potential for RXC007 to treat multiple fibrotic diseases and we will initially focus on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a severe and life-threatening chronic lung condition with very poor prognosis and limited treatment options.”

Redx has risen 6.46% to 69.2p.

Also heading higher is Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO), which develops proton therapy systems for cancer treatment called LIGHT systems.

Its shares are up 13.43% at 38p after Geneva-based investment group Saba Partners signed a letter of intent to buy a three-treatment room LIGHT system for up to US$107mln.

The system is to be installed in a proton therapy centre in Glion, Switzerland.

9.14am: Radio specialist in demand

CyanConnode (LON:CYAN), which specialises in narrowband radio frequency networks allowing machine to machine communication, has successfully raised £3.15mln to boost its balance sheet.

The company issued new shares at 9.5p each in a heavily oversubscribed placing and subscription, with three directors taking part.

It said the funds would be used to strengthen its balance sheet and increase working capital, to allow it to continue to take advantage of its significant growth opportunities and to execute its  growing order book and pipeline.

In particular it has won business in India related to the country’s roll out of smart meters.

At the same time it has had to cope with supply problems.

It said: ” Despite seeing a worldwide shortage of semiconductors, CyanConnode has taken steps to mitigate such shortages by purchasing components from alternative suppliers.  However, in some cases it has become necessary to make advance payments to secure the supply of semiconductors used in the module manufacturing process.”

Executive chairman John Cronin said: “We are pleased to announce this fundraising, at this time of growth and with an increasing number of opportunities being presented to the company. As we have recently announced, last financial year was our most successful to date and we expect further improvements during this current financial year.  The funds raised by this placing will strengthen our balance sheet and allow us to maintain momentum and enable further expansion.”

Its shares are 18.28% higher at 11p.

8.38am: Food business sees first half earnings soar – partly thanks to rain

Zambeef Products PLC (LON:ZAM) is on the menu for investors after the agribusiness issued a positive trading update.

The business – which supplies not just beef but chicken, pork, dairy and cereals across Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana – confirmed its previous expectations that profits for the year to September would be 20%-30% ahead of market forecasts.

Earnings for the half year to March are now expected to be 2167% higher in dollar terms than the same time last year, after a strong start to the year.

It benefited from cost controls, and also the weather.

It said: “Improvements in the load shedding situation, following the good regional rains, resulted in reduced generator fuel expenditure and improved production efficiencies.”

There were some caveats: “The half year period continued to present challenges in the operating environment, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the previous 2020 economic uncertainties, despite greater stability compared to the second half of the 2020 financial year.

“Rising inflation put pressure on consumer disposable incomes and reduced the share of wallet going towards food spend. Supply constraints on some of Zambeef’s product lines further put pressure on cost of inputs. Despite the challenges, demand for products, particular poultry products, remained strong allowing the company to remain inline with revenue expectations.”

The company’s shares have jumped 14.82% or 1p to 7.75p.

Elsewhere Kazera Global PLC, the mining group seeking financing for its Tantalite Valley project in Namibia, now has two investors interested in providing funding.

The company already had on board an initial investor who was prepared to provide €9,130,000, which will fund the development of the mine and the building of the Orange River pipeline.

Now a second Namibian investor has signed agreed initial terms to subscribe US$11mln for 290,576,383 shares in the Company.

Either transaction would give a price of approximately 2.7 pence per share and give the investor 29.34% of the company.

The company said it would complete a transaction with the first of these investors who was able to deliver the funds.

Larry Johnson, Kazera joint chief executive officer, said: 

“Our focus remains on finding a financial solution for the creation of the Orange River pipeline, which, once completed, will support the restarting of production from our Tantalite Mine. Whilst we await completion of one of these financing solutions, DJ Drilling [the mine’s operator] and Kazera have turned our attention to making sure that the mine is ready to restart operations and that our road networks and equipment currently on site are ready.”

Meanwhile tantalum assay results have attracted the interest of two large end users and negotiations are now progressing for long term supply.

And at its diamond mine, drilling continues and “meaningful” cash flow is now being generated.

Kazera’s shares are up 18.64% at 1.75p.








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