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Xtract Resources gains ground as drilling in Australia restarts ahead of forecast after heavy rains


A second drilling update from Australia in two days has given a lift to Xtract Resources PLC (LON.XTR).

Heavy rain over the weekend and on Monday in New South Wales had delayed work at the Racecourse Mineral Resource on the Bushranger copper-gold exploration project, and yesterday the company said it was not expected to restart until the weekend.

But now Xtract has said that drilling has begun again today, much earlier than anticipated, as the adverse weather conditions on site relented.

The news has lifted its shares by 8.28% or 0.48p to 6.28p.

2.27pm: IT specialist upbeat on outlook

Softcat PLC (LON.SCT) is one of the day’s biggest movers following an upbeat trading statement.

The provider of IT infrastructure products and services said half year operating profits had climbed 41% to £57.1m and the second half had started well. It now expects the full year results to be significantly ahead of previous forecasts.

Chief executive Graeme Watt said: “We are pleased with the strong performance in the first half of the financial year in which we continued to grow and take share in a market that has remained relatively resilient during the pandemic. We did see a reduction in income from some corporate customers during the last quarter of our previous financial year, but during the current period that effect has gradually diminished.

“In addition, the business has benefitted from a temporary reduction to some elements of the cost base, although we expect this to normalise as the second half develops.  The company has taken no form of government support during the pandemic nor made any headcount reductions and we expect that to continue to be the case.  We have been delighted to be able to put part of our Marlow head office to good use as a Covid vaccination centre over the past few months and this will continue into the summer.”

The company’s shares have purred up 14.5% or 226p to 1785p.

12.30pm: Kettle group beats expectations

Shares in Strix Group PLC (LON.KETL) are coming to the boil after the kettle controls and water filtration company unveiled what it called a resilient performance in a challenging year.

Full year profits rose 2.4% to £30.9m and it has increased its total dividend by 2% after a strong start to the new year. It is opening a new factory in China in August which will increase capacity, and despite the pandemic the company has reaffirmed its growth plans.

Chief executive Mark Bartlett said: “The group has produced revenue that is significantly ahead of our COVID-19 scenario planning expectations with a marked recovery in the second half.  In addition, the combined impact of product mix and a range of efficiency measures, including continued automation and strategic initiatives, has enabled the group to report an increase in both gross profit margin and the absolute level of EBITDA generated.

“The Board has recently outlined its strategy of doubling revenues in the next five years.  Despite recent events, the Board maintains its confidence in achieving this medium-term target, primarily through organic growth in its water and appliances categories whilst continuing to grow market share in kettle controls.”

Its shares are 5% or 13p better at 273p.

11.08am: Exploration group loses ground

Shares in Baron Oil PLC (LON.BOIL) have dropped sharply after the oil and gas exploration company announced a £3m fundraising.

It is issuing 6000mln new shares at 0.05p each via a placing and subscription. In the market its shares have fallen 28.75% or 0.02p to 0.06p.

The money will be used to help fund an increase in its share of the Chuditch discovery off the short of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste from 25% to 63.75%, as well as the work programme on the site.

9.35am: Lottery company in demand

St James House PLC (LON.SJH) has seen its shares more than double after they came back from suspension following the release of its final results.

The company, which runs the Weather Lottery and is also involved in software and gaming, has climbed 45p or 112.5p to 85p. It reported a £4.2m loss for the year to January 2020 but the six months to July last year saw an improvement, with a loss of £567,000 compared to £1.3m in the same period the previous year.

It is in advanced talks with an external investor to provide a working capital facility and expects to complete arrangements shortly.

Chief executive Graeme Paton said: “We are delighted that trading in our ordinary shares is being restored today.  This has been a difficult year for the company, but we can now see positive signs on both the operational and financial fronts.”

8.29am: Wildcat Petroleum boosted by blockchain report

It’s that word blockchain again working its magic on a company’s share price.

Wildcat Petroleum PLC (LON.WCAT) has jumped 33p or 11.38% to 3.23p as it unveiled the results of a report it commissioned from the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance into how blockchain technology could be applied to the oil industry.

The report indicates the potential benefits to Wildcat from issuing blockchain tokens for oil assets alongside cash, debt or equity. It also suggests getting the support of sovereign wealth funds in oil producing states such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where CCEG has high level contacts. It could also issue free tokens to investors to enhance shareholder returns.

All this is designed to help Wildcat gain first mover advantage in the use of blockchain in the sector.

Wildcat said CCEG had presented a number of possible business models for the company which it believed would be viable and would be accepted by UK regulators.It has appointed CCEG and specialist lawyers at gunnercooke LLP to explore the best options. 

It added that the token it is looking to launch was likely to be linked to barrels of oil in the ground when a suitable oil block had been acquired.

Wildcat chairman Mandhir Singh said:  “As we continue to have conversations about securing an oil and gas asset, we are pleased to read such positive insight into the potential for the blockchain aspect of our growth strategy. We are excited by the prospect of our token launch and what it may mean for prospective investors. The company has already begun the process of sourcing and securing legal advice in Dubai, Singapore & Switzerland in order to target new investors in these regions and we will also be looking to register on cryptocurrency exchanges in these jurisdictions. We look forward to updating the market of further developments as we continue to make progress.”

Also flying high is Immotion Group PLC (LON.IMMO). The entertainment group has added 12% or 0.48p to 4.48p after it gave a positive update a new site and the reopening of other attractions.

An Undersea Explorer theatre opened last weekend in Florida and early footfall was encouraging, said the company. Most of its US sites are now open again and it expects a good performance during spring break and Easter.

It now has three sites in Australia which are all open, and it hopes UK trading will begin again on 17 May this year.

Proactive news headlines

Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS) saw its profits jump in 2020 as a boom in the video game market during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drove demand for its development services.

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (LON:BMY) upgraded its profits expectations for a second time after an unexpected surge in demand for books in February.

DeepVerge (LON:DVRG) said it has inked a technical and commercial agreement that will see it use its Covid screening technology in miniaturised mass spectrometry equipment developed by Microsaic Systems PLC (LONMSYS).

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) said it has begun a strategy implementation review that will assess board composition, executive resourcing and remuneration.

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) reported a strong increase in first-half profits as the value of the intellectual property commercialisation firm’s portfolio grew 21% to £23.4mln. 

Guild Esports PLC (LON:GILD) said it has signed Jannis Matwin, also known as JannisZ, as the fifth member of its pro Fortnite esports team.

Feedback PLC (LON:FDBK) said it has landed a one-year deal worth £84,000 with the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust for its clinical communications platform, Bleepa.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) is extremely well placed for 2021 with active drilling campaigns at its core projects in Cameroon and Senegal as well as at its investment projects in Djibouti and Turkey, the exploration company said alongside its full-year results for 2020.

Bahamas Petroleum Company PLC (LON:BPC) has reaffirmed it commitment to high impact offshore exploration in the Caribbean, stating its intention to extend its licences and seek partners ahead of new well drilling.

Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) said it is looking forward to stronger sales growth and it has enough cash to fund operations well into 2023 after a £5.5mln fundraise in January.

ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADME) confirmed it has now closed its oversubscribed fundraising to support its new venture in Nigeria, an interest in the development of the Barracuda field.

Vanadium producer Ferro Alloy Resources Ltd (LON:FAR) said chief executive Nick Bridgen sold 16.67mln shares in the company, via a placing priced at 30p per share, raising gross proceeds of about £5mln. 

Tally, the gold-backed banking platform, will hold a live shareholder Q&A with CEO and founder Cameron Parry on the online Tally Community today from 6pm-7pm.

Emmerson PLC (LON:EML) announced that further to its announcement regarding the appointment of James Kelly to the board, the company has allotted him 600,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 5.65p each. 

Proactive news headlines: Keywords Studios, Frontier IP, XLMedia, Oriole Resources…

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