Investors in 88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E) must be getting used to a rollercoaster ride.

Its shares are up 48.23% or 0.55p to 1.68p, on further consideration of a drilling report on Tuesday which had sent them lower.

The company had said that drilling the Merlin-1 well at Project Peregrine in Alaska provided encouragement but equipment failure prevented hydrocarbon samples from being taken yet. 

“We appreciate that these early results may be difficult to interpret. That is because we do not yet have all the data required to allow interpretation,” said managing director David Wall.

“This means some uncertainty remains; however, it is already clear that Merlin-1 has delivered by far the best outcome of any of the five wells drilled by 88 Energy in Alaska over the last six years.”

Even though they are off their peak the company’s shares have more than tripled since the start of March.

3.31pm: HSS higher on Irish sale

HSS Hire Group PLC (LON:HSS) has built up a good gain after announcing the sale of its Irish large plant hire business for €11.2mln in cash.

It is selling Laois Hire Services Limited to Briggs Equipment Ireland, and the proceeds will be used to invest in its core tool hire business. It said Laois represented just 4% of its annual revenues, so the deal was a good one for shareholders.

HSS also said trading in 2020 was in line with its expectations, and since then it had seen encouraging momentum in the first three months of the current year with earnings for the period comfortably ahead of the same time last year.

Chief executive Steve Ashmore said: “Over the last four years, we have made substantial progress against all three of our strategic priorities: to de-lever the group, transform the tool hire business and strengthen our commercial proposition…Today’s announcement is another step forward on our strategy, enabling us to increase focus on our core tool hire business.”

The company’s shares have climbed 10.2% or 2p to 21.6p on the news.

Also heading higher is energy infrastructure specialist Petrofac Ltd (LON:PFC).

Its shares are up 9.95p or 10.22% at 107.3p after it extended US$700mln of its banking facilities. It expects to report net debt of US$116mln as at the end of 2020, better than expectations, and continues to target eliminating net debt as market conditions and contract awards recover.

2.30pm: Payment specialist sees shares climb by a fifth

Universe Group PLC (LON:UNG) is on the up after it said full year profits were likely to be ahead of previous expectations.

The company, which specialises in payment and loyalty systems for the petrol forecourt and retail sector, also had some positive contract news.

It announced a five year extension to an existing contract with “a major international oil and gas group for the provision of loyalty services Europe-wide.” It is also optimistic about progress on a separate project for another existing customer.

And it is in discussions about an extension of its borrowing facility to support any increase in working capital.

Chief executive Jeremy Lewis said: “COVID-19 profoundly affected many aspects of our daily lives in 2020 and remains with us still. The retail sector felt the impact and so we are pleased to have navigated the pandemic challenges of last year as well as we did. Furthermore, it is very encouraging to see our major retail partners renewing their multi-year relationship with us now, a good indication of our standing as their managed service provider of choice.”

The news has lifted its shares 21.28% or 1p to 5.7p.

11.40am: Oil and gas group loses a fifth of its value

Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has seen its shares blown off course after a downbeat reserves report on its West of Shetland assets and a warning that shareholders could be wiped out.

The latest report shows a downgrade in reserves and a statement that “there can be no certainty of any further activity” on the assets including the key Lancaster field.

Hurricane is seeking new investment including repaying or refinancing a convertible bond and said: “The company continues to engage with an ad hoc group of its convertible noteholders over the company’s forward work programme, strategy, financing and balance sheet recapitalisation

“It should be noted that there is a risk of significant dilution to existing shareholders from a possible restructuring and/or partial equitisation of the convertible bonds and of potentially limited or no value being returned to shareholders.

“If no agreement can be reached with the company’s stakeholders on additional development activity at Lancaster, the field could continue to produce from the P6 well before reaching its economic limit, the timing of which would depend on oil prices, actual production levels delivered and the level of cost savings achievable. The field may then be decommissioned, with potentially limited or no value returned to shareholders.”

Its shares have slumped 21.5% or 0.77p to 21.5p.

10.32am: VR group shares jump

Virtual reality technology group VR Education Holdings PLC (LON: VRE) is doing well in the real world after a positive update.

The company’s shares have climbed 17.5% or 1.75p to 11.75p as it said revenues for its ENGAGE software had jumped 138% quarter on quarter in the first three months of 2021 to €0.4 million. This compares to total revenues of €0.6 million for the whole of last year.

Some 28 new customers have signed up since January, including the US State Department.

Chief executive David Whelan said: “ENGAGE usage continues to grow as more and more organisations worldwide see the benefits of the kind of immersive experience that ENGAGE offers versus traditional video-based communications tools such as Zoom and MS Teams. We are focused on building on the ENGAGE client, user and revenue momentum we generated in 2020.  Over the coming year, we will be targeting enterprise and institutional clients in our key geographies of Europe, Asia and North America and grow ENGAGE usage.”

9.02am: Home safety group boosted by German deal

Shares in FireAngel Safety Technology Group PLC (LON:FA.) have been fired up by a significant new partnership which could be worth up to €21mln for the company.

The home safety product specialist is linking up with a German business – which supplies services to 12mln apartments worldwide –  to set up an R&D programme for a new generation of smoke alarm. 

The German company will fund the development phase of the alarm, with FireAngel receiving a fee of £1.4mln for use of its intellectual property during the development phase. Once production has started, a royalty fee per product will be payable to FireAngel with a multi-million volume fee agreed for the initial 30 months. Manufacturing is expected to begin in early 2024, with an estimated 7mln new devices being produced.

John Conoley, executive chairman of FireAngel, said:  “This is the most significant development for FireAngel for several years and is expected to be transformational for the group. The directors estimate that, during the life of the partnership, the company should earn up to €21mln in royalty, management and support fees. [The partnership] will be materially cash positive and contribute financially to the company for the long term.”

FireAngel shares have more than doubled on the news, up 14.7p to 29.2p. 

8.25am: Network group jumps after surge in revenues

CyanConnode Holdings PLC (LON:CYAN) has signalled a positive update and seen its shares soar in response.

The company, a specialist in smart mesh networks which allow machine to machine communication, said full year revenues were above market expectations and around 2.5 times the £2.5m seen in the previous 15 month period.

It shipped 481,000 modules to customers during the year, up from 115,000, with £5.3m of cash received compared to £4.1m.

Executive chairman John Cronin said: “I’m delighted with the progress made during the financial year ended 31 March 2021, which has delivered our highest annual revenue to date..With deployments being secured against Letters of Credit or advance payments, cash collection has significantly improved, and together with ongoing cost control, our cash position at 31 March 2021 is higher than at 31 March 2020.

“This has been an extremely challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nevertheless we have continued to pursue a number of opportunities which we expect to bear fruit in due course.  We also expect revenues to materially increase during the current financial year and note market expectations of £8.8m of revenue for the financial year ended 31 March 2022.”

The optimistic tone has lifted Cyanconnode 15.28% or 1.02p to 7.67p.

Also on the move is DeepMatter Group PLC (LON:DMTR), up 10.21% or 0.24p to 2.59p and more than recovering a loss of around 5% on Tuesday.

The company, a specialist in digitising chemistry, unveiled a collaboration with the University of Nottingham’s School of Chemistry, providing access to its DigitalGlassware platform to support the University’s sustainable chemistry initiatives.  

DeepMatter chief executive Mark Warne said: “Having worked with the University of Nottingham previously in their Digital Teaching Laboratory, we are delighted to be working with [project leader Professor Jonathan Hirst] in his challenge to design, make and ultimately manufacture new molecules in a more sustainable fashion. We recognise that significant changes are required in the way science is organised and conducted for there to be progress towards a more sustainable environment and we are pleased that our technology will play a role in developing the industry’s sustainability.” 

Professor  Hirst said: ” At the moment, there are all kinds of inefficiencies, which are largely neglected in the search for new chemicals with specific desired properties. This project will provide machine learning tools for chemists and chemical engineers that will help them address two questions. How do we find greener synthetic routes to chemicals? And how do we identify greener target molecules from the outset?”

Proactive news headlines

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it has generated record profits and revenues from its cryptocurrency mining operations for the third month in a row as it capped off what it said was the best quarter in its history. 

Woodbois Limited (LON:WBI) has hailed record output from its facilities in Gabon in the first quarter of 2021 as demand for its products increased amid a global economic rebound from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

FinnCap Group PLC (LON:FCAP), the small-cap broker and finance group, said the strong market for IPOs and secondary funding continues to filter through into its results.

Guild Esports PLC (LON:GILD) said the total viewership of its network is set to double as a result of signing German content creator Nikita Sembowski.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) said its portfolio company Artios Pharma Limited, in which it owns a 12.4% stake, has agreed a global research collaboration with Swiss pharma giant Novartis to create a new generation of DNA Damage Response (DDR) cancer therapies.

IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) said it started drilling at the Kineta North gold licence in north-eastern Ivory Coast and has already observed visible gold in the first hole completed.

Construction materials specialist SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC) has unveiled the €13mln acquisition of Belgian concrete assets alongside the formation of a second construction materials platform. The company also announced that it expects to publish its full year 2020 results on 13 April 2021.

Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) is seeking to drill two wells, each targeting initial production of 600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), and spud a third well by the end of 2021, the company said as it set out its objectives for the year.

AdEPT Technology Group PLC (LON:ADT) said it expects to meet current market forecasts for revenue and EBITDA for the financial year to end March 2021.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy PLC (LON:SAE) surged on Wednesday after giving investors an update on its recent operations.

Lab work carried out researchers at the world famous Johns Hopkins in the US appears to underline the potential of Evgen Pharma PLC’s (LON:EVG) lead drug in COVID-19.

Curtis Banks PLC (LON:CBP) said it weathered the coronavirus storm and made good progress on a number of strategic initiatives in 2020.

Jersey Oil and Gas PLC (LON:JOG) said it has completed the £150,000 deal to  take full ownership of Licence P2170, which hosts most of the Verbier discovery and is one part of the Greater Buchan Area (GBA) development project.

Xpediator (LON:XPD) confirmed that it will announce final results for calendar year 2020 on Monday 12 April 2021. Chief executive Robert Ross and chief financial officer Mike Williamson will provide a live investor presentatio on the Investor Meet Company platform at 10.30am UK time on the day.

Personal Group Holdings PLC (LON:PGH) announced the grant of share awards under its  2021 long-term incentive plan (LTIP) to reward and incentivise senior executives, after its 2012 plan expired. The awards are subject to attainment of targets over three areas, including total shareholder return, EBITDA and ESG measures.

Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN, NASDAQ:SLN) chief executive Mark Rothera will present a company overview followed by Q&A at the Needham Virtual Healthcare Conference on Wednesday, April 14 at 8:45am EDT/1:45pm BST. A live webcast of the presentation will be available via the company’s website (www.silence-therapeutics.com) and an archived replay of the webcast will be available there afterwards.

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