Several retail stocks are getting a lift from reports that the Budget will see £5bn of grants offered to high street shops, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers to help them through the difficulties of lockdown.
But Card Factory PLC (LON.CARD) has gone above and beyond. Its shares have jumped 19.39% or 8.95p to 55.1p in the wake of a late announcement on Friday updating the market on discussions with its bankers.
The company said: “The banks have provided further waivers in respect of anticipated covenant breaches through until 31 March 2021, taking account of the company’s cash flow projections, subject to certain conditions. We are engaged on a plan to refinance the company, and will provide a further update in due course. Coupled with the expected reopening of the vast majority of the store estate during April, the Board is confident the business is well placed to deliver for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
2.20pm: Energy business gives positive financing update
Tlou Energy Limited (LON.TLOU) has seen its shares spark up after positive news on the financing of its Lesedi power project in Botswana.
The company has been working with a number of possible partners to provide project financing to build a transmission line from the Lesedi project to the existing electricity grid as well as electrical sub-stations, gas and solar generation assets.
The most advanced discussions are with “a very reputable Botswana based entity” which it cannot name at the moment due to confidentiality agreements. But Tlou said the potential partner was favourably disposed to its proposal: “They are now proceeding to get a third-party technical review of the project as part of their due diligence process. Once this report is assessed an investment decision can be made”
Tlou shares have added 0.73p or 23.39% to 3.83p.
12.01pm: Healthcare group in demand
MyHealthChecked PLC (LON.MHC), has seen its share price soar on talk of a significant contract in the pipeline.
The Welsh healthcare group, whose COVID-19 testing service was added to the UK government’s approved providers list at the end of last year, has played down some of the speculation.
Responding to the price rise it said: “Whilst the company is engaged in commercial discussions with a number of parties for the supply of COVID-19 testing kits, no contracts have been signed to date, nor is there any certainty that any of these discussions will result in commercial agreement.”
That has done little to dampen enthusiasm for the shares. They are up 0.75p or 23.08% at 4p, only marginally down from the day’s high of 4.05p.
10.37am: Wagamama owner ready for reopening
Restaurant Group PLC (LON.RTN), the owner of Wagamama and Garfunkel’s among others, is in demand after it announced a new long term financing arrangement and unveiled plans for re-opening outlets when lockdown ends.
The company has signed new debt facilities of up to £500mln, which will not mature until at least 2025.
This will improve its liquidity at a time when it is burning cash at the rate of £5.5mln per four week period of shutdown. It said: “The cash burn rate is expected to stay at this level until the end of the current restrictions for hospitality businesses, which as per government guidance on 22 February are due to end no earlier than 17 May 2021.”
But it has been doing well selling takeaways from around 200 sites, with sales during the current lockdown running at 2.5 times pre-COVID-19 levels at Wagamama and 5 times at other businesses.
It said: “With this strong operating platform in place, the group has good capability to deliver an accelerated reopening plan for dine-in trading, once the current restrictions for hospitality businesses end, with all viable sites being reopened within two weeks.”
Its shares have climbed 9.7p or 8.91% to 118.6p.
9.40am: Oil company surges
Another day, another blockchain fueled rise.
Wildcat Petroleum (LON.WCAT) has jumped 16% or 0.2p to 1.45p after the company appointed cryptocurrrency specialist Professor Olinga Taeed as a blockchain advisor with immediate effect.
The company said: “[Professor Taeed} was the first person to achieve a professorship in blockchain when he was appointed to the position at Birmingham City University in 2018. He is also currently an advisor to the Chinese government, the largest and most developed blockchain market in the world, with a Digital Yuan currently being piloted.”
Wildcat describes itself as targeting investment opportunities in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry as well as exploring the implementation of blockchain technology within the sector.
Mandhir Singh, chairman of Wildcat, said: “[Professor Taeed’s] extensive experience of the regulatory and technical issues surrounding the launch of new cryptocurrencies will be invaluable as we seek to transform the way the Oil & Gas industry transacts.
“We believe that many of the oil producing Gulf States are looking to diversify their economies and have an interest in blockchain technology, particularly in its applications towards current global sustainability and climate change agendas. Professor Taeed has advised a number of these states on the use of this technology, and his contacts in the region could also prove useful to Wildcat and its growth ambitions.”
8.46: McColl’s in demand as it extends Morrison deal
Investors are snapping up shares in McColl’s Retail Group (LON.MCLS) after the convenience store operator extended a partnership with Morrison Supermarket and unveiled a new agreement with its banks.
Morrison has supplied a range of Safeway branded products to McColl’s estate of 1,200 shops since 2017, and under the new deal this agreement will now run for a further three years to January 2027.
On top of that, some 31 of McColl’s stores have been converted to a Morrisons Daily format, selling Morrison own branded goods, and the plan now is to extend that to 300 stores. McColls said: “The 31 existing Morrisons Daily stores in the McColl’s estate have consistently delivered positive like-for-like sales performance, driven by their higher mix of grocery sales, breadth of offer and value proposition. These stores have performed strongest during the pandemic and are in the best position to meet customer demand in the future.”
The company’s banks are supporting the deal by offering improved headroom against banking covenants and an extended maturity date to February 2024.
On current trading McColl’s said it saw like for like sales growth of 7.9% in the 12 weeks to 21 February 2021, although a shift away from more expensive impulse buys led to lower gross margins overall. It admitted to uncertainty over the outlook but added: “As lockdown restrictions ease through the course of the year, the Company would expect the sales mix to normalise. Regardless, McColl’s will adapt its business to changing customer demand, whilst focusing on its strategy to become a grocery-led convenience retailer.”
The news has pushed up McColl’s share price by 1.8p or 7.56% to 25.6p in early trading.
Elsewhere Speedy Hire PLC (LON.SDY) has jumped 7.19% or 4.6p to 68.6p after it sold its Middle East business to its principal customer ADNOC Logistics and Services for US$18m.
It also issued a positive trading update, saying full year profits would be well ahead of expectations after a pick up in its equipment and tool hire business.
Chief executive Russell Down, said: “The successful exit from the Middle East operations is an important strategic step for Speedy and we wish the whole of the ADNOC team every success in the future. Looking ahead, we are well positioned to take advantage of the market opportunities in the UK and Ireland as activity levels continue to improve.”
Proactive news headlines
CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC) said revenues and underlying profits soared in 2020 helped by organic growth combined with acquisitions.
AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) said the level of global investment in hydrogen is at unprecedented levels with an increasing awareness of the benefits of its technology. AFC reported a cash balance of £31.6nmln at the end of October.
Plant Health Care chief executive Chris Richards said its soybean seed treatment has the potential to be ‘truly disruptive’ following the preliminary results from trials of its technology in Brazil.
Instem PLC (LON:INS), the life sciences data specialist, agreed to acquire software group The Edge for up to £8.5mln as part of a growth strategy where it is aiming to become a consolidator of software and technology businesses in the pharmaceutical and life sciences market.
Minexia has announce the completion of a partnership agreement with Ragnar Capital Partners LLP, a successful London-based finance house with a strong focus on corporate finance advisory and capital raising in the technology and Fintech sectors. The Minexia and Ragnar team have been working together for some period and have decided to formalise an exclusive arrangement for access to the www.NRPrivateMarket.com platform for the purposes of ‘fintech’ deals.
BATM Advanced Communications Limited (LON:BVC) announced it has exercised the option to sell its subsidiary NGSoft, a software provider, for US$33mln (£23mln).
Sativa Wellness Group Inc (LON:SWEL, CNSX:SWEL) said its CBD therapeutics division has achieved the highest food safety standards.
Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) has provided an operational update on exploration activities in the second half of calendar 2020. The exploration programme resulted in a new discovery at Zafer, announced in January 2021.
Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG) has announced the acquisition of getBridge LLC and related assets (Bridge) has now completed.
Curzon Energy PLC (LON:CZN) told investors it has extended the exclusivity period for its letter of intent with Poseidon Enhanced Technologies, until April 1. If concluded the agreement will see a reverse takeover.
Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR) has begun the Canadian listing process for its joint venture with Power Metal Resources (LON:POW), Red Rock Australasia Pty Ltd. Red Rock Australasia has gold exploration interests near the historic mining centre of Ballarat in the Gold Fields of Victoria.
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) has released an operational update for shareholders. “Through the past two years, as evidenced by our market updates, we have built a global resource exploration and development company, with precious, base, and strategic metal interests in North America, Africa, and Australia,” said chief executive Paul Johnson.
Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML)(USOTC:SMCDY) has confirmed the rollover of access to the magnetite stockpile in New Mexico. Meanwhile, at the Leigh Creek copper mine in Australia, the impact of higher copper prices is being assessed.
Bacanora Lithium PLC (LON:BCN) said it has received £21.8mln from Sonora Lithium Ltd (SLL) after Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd exercised a share option.
4d Pharma PLC (LON:DDDD) has further prepared for its New York listing by appointing a chief financial officer and a non-executive director with extensive US corporate experience.
E-Therapeutics PLC (LON:ETX) said Professor Trevor Jones will be its new non-executive chairman, with Ali Mortazavi to continue in his role of chief executive and dropping the title of executive chairman that he has held since October.
Bango (LON:BGO) appointed Matt Garner as its new chief financial officer after Carolyn Rand announced her intention to step down after almost two and half years in the role.
Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN, OTCQB:CINGF) has appointed Federica Velardo as a non-executive director of the company with immediate effect. She is a qualified solicitor in England and Wales and, having applied for dual qualification in Italy, also practices Italian law.
IXICO PLC (LON:IXI) will present at the upcoming AD/PD 2021 conference taking place online on 9-14 March 2021, one of the most presigeous conferences on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in the year. IXICO will make one presentation and two poster presentations.
Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) will provide a live presentation to accompany the interim results, presented by CEO, David Budd and CFO, Matthew Fowler, on Friday 26 March at 10.00am. The presentation will be hosted through the Investor Meet Company platform.
Cadogan Petroleum PLC (LON:CAD) told investors that a loan, of €14.85mln, to Proger Managers & Partners srl reached maturity on February 25 and payment must now be made within the next five business days.
Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) said it is posting a circular to shareholders convening a general meeting to be held at 11am on 18 March 2021, to approve the £25mln placing and subscription agreed last Friday.
Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) reported the vesting of restricted stock units to the executive management team, under the company’s incentive plan. Chief executive Rusty Hutson sees his equity holding in the company increase to 20.92mln shares (2.96%) and chief operating officer Brad Gray now has 2.36mln shares (0.33%).