M&A activity picks up in lithium and copper
Atalaya Mining (ATYM LN) – Environmental permit for Proyecto Masa Valverde.
Bluejay Mining* (JAY LN) – Drilling continues to test new targets indicated by results from ENON0028 near the old Laukunkangas nickel, copper, cobalt mine
Castillo Copper (CCZ LN) –Cangai mineral resources update and appointment of mining consultant to optimise ‘the Big One’.
Condor Gold* (CNR LN) – Annual results confirm progress on plans for the sale of La India
Galantas Gold* (GAL LN) – C$2.9m equity placing completed
Liontown Resources (LTR AU) – Liontown rejects $A5.5bn $3.7bn bid from Albemarle
Lundin Mining (LUN CN) – Lundin takes controlling 51% stake in Caserones copper/molybdenum mine in Chile for $950m.
Red Rock Resources (RRR LN) – EIA submission for Zimbabwean lithium project.
IGTV: 23/03/23: Mining in a banking crisis – how does it work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiL9Ea88o-w
VOX Markets Podcast: 24/03/2023: https://audioboom.com/posts/8269467-john-meyer-why-gold-is-rallying-plus-atlantic-lithium-celsius-resources
- 10/03/2023: https://audioboom.com/posts/8261642-john-meyer-is-china-s-growth-ambitions-believable-plus-amur-atlantic-lithium-cornish-metals
ii Interactive Investor: Battery Metals – Four Stocks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fwy6PXUe6s&t=5s
- Battery Metals Market – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfdOAUO46tw&t=3s
- Gold – Four Companies – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mVzyw4heDQ&t=3s
*SP Angel almost invariably acts as nomad or broker or nomad and broker to companies mentioned in the above videos and podcasts. We speak more about these companies as we have a good understanding of their business and can talk with a greater degree of confidence. As ever, however, it should be noted that our views do not take into account the circumstances and needs of any particular investor or investor type. So enjoy the talks, but please do your own research, including other companies not mentioned by us but operating in the same areas, and get professional advice where appropriate.
Copper – Deleverage and uncertainty turn record copper long positions into small net short as funds cut risk
- Commodity traders, funds and companies have rushed to cut positions on copper and other metals.
- The bailouts of SVB and more pertinently, Credit Suisse have spooked the banking sector into withdrawing liquidity from anything that looks remotely risky.
- Funds have gone from massive net long positions in anticipation of China reopening to small net shorts
- LME and SHFE physical stock levels remain relatively low with forecasts for extreme tightness in the physical market this year assuming China recovers much lost growth
- We read this as short term deleveraging and risk-off trading. While nobody wants to get caught out in the bear trade, investors remain bullish for the longer term.
Graphite – Talga reckons Sweden is only EU member set to produce spherical graphite by 2030 in a tweet today
- We suspect GreenRoc and Beowulf could also produce graphite for spheronisation within this time scale.
- Beowulf could have an anode materials hub up and running in in 3+ years though this would be reliant on imports.
- This would give Finland added incentive to permit a number of graphite mining projects within the Beowulf and other portfolios.
- GreenRoc could feed natural graphite material into the European graphite processors from the reopening of its Amitsoq graphite mine in Greenland
- Amitsoq already has a JORC Inferred Mineral Resource to be 23.05mt grading 20.41% Gc ‘Graphitic Carbon’ with a total graphite content of 4.71mt.
- The mine is located in coast of South Greenland for easy access. We expect the Greenland government to be supportive of the mine reopening.
- We reckon GreenRoc could produce graphite concentrate in Greenland followed by HPSG ‘High Purity Spherical Processing’ by 2027 if sufficient finance comes available.
|Dow Jones Industrials||+0.60%||at||32,432|
|HK Hang Seng||+1.10%||at||19,782|
US agrees critical minerals trade deal with Japan on EV batteries
- The US and Japan have agreed to the basis for a new trade agreement for critical minerals for EVs batteries according to a senior Japanese minister.
- The deal should enable critical materials processed in Japan to qualify for tax credits under Biden’s IRA ‘Inflation Reduction Act’.
- While critical materials from Japan might be included in the IRA we suspect imported EVs will not.
China – The government provided at least $240bn in bailout funding to developing nations including Argentina, Pakistan and Nigeria since 2000 amid mounting debt pressures, Bloomberg cites the latest study.
- Three quarters of that or $185bn was deployed between 2016 and 2021 as nations struggled with financial difficulties made worse by the pandemic.
- The study estimates that 22 countries drew down on at least $170bn in foreign-currency credit lines with the PBOC with the remaining $70bn coming via loans to governments from Chinese state owned banks and companies.
- The surge in lending came in the wake of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI) that funded $900bn in infrastructure and other project around the world.
- The study argues that recipients of funds used them to increase foreign reserves during times of crisis to avoid credit rating downgrades as well as to help fund government budgets.
- That would suggest the PBOC has turned into a source of emergency funds and a lender of last resort for many governments, the report concludes.
Economic recovery slower and weaker according to Maersk
- Trading volumes associated with the Chinese economy remained resilient with little sign of negative impact from US-led efforts to “decouple” from China according to the Maersk CEO.
- Maersk reckons Chinese consumers remain ‘stunned’ by Covid disruptions (FT)
- China is also suffering a Flu epidemic in a similar manner to that seen in the UK and other Western nations
- The IMF is now predicting growth of 5.2 per cent in China this year following recent pronouncements following the recent CCP National People’s Congress .
- The slow recovery is said to have some parallels with the recovery from SARS in 2003.
Germany – Unions hold one of the largest walkouts in decades demanding higher pay amid high inflation rates, Reuters reports.
- 24-hour Mega Strike to halt German rail, airports and bus stations across Germany on Monday.
- Protests kicked off three days of wage talks with companies offering 5% increase in wages over 27 months with a one-off payment of €2.5k.
- Unions rejected the offer demanding a double digit rise in pay.
- Consumer prices inflation averaged 8.6% in 2022 and is expected to come in at 6.1% this year.
UK – Supermarket grocery prices are reported to have climbed 17.5%yoy in March hitting the highest pace on record since records started in 2008, according to market researcher Kantar data.
- This marked the ninth month of double digit grocery price inflation.
- Surging prices as well as higher borrowing costs drive higher costs of living weighing on British consumer.
US$1.0830/eur vs 1.0761/eur yesterday. Yen 131.21/$ vs 131.13/$. SAr 18.242/$ vs 18.270/$. $1.233/gbp vs $1.224/gbp. 0.669/aud vs 0.665/aud. CNY 6.886/$ vs 6.880/$.
Dollar Index 102.55 vs 103.11 yesterday.
Gold US$1,954/oz vs US$1,969/oz yesterday
Gold ETFs 92.9moz vs US$92.9moz yesterday
Platinum US$970/oz vs US$973/oz yesterday
Palladium US$1,420/oz vs US$1,400/oz yesterday
Silver US$22.92/oz vs US$23.03/oz yesterday
Rhodium US$8,350/oz vs US$8,350/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 8,994/t vs US$8,910/t yesterday
Aluminium US$ 2,381/t vs US$2,340/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 23,900/t vs US$23,340/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 2,910/t vs US$2,872/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,148/t vs US$2,120/t yesterday
Tin US$ 25,665/t vs US$25,030/t yesterday
Oil US$78.4/bbl vs US$75.8/bbl yesterday
- Crude oil prices bounced back with the US equity markets yesterday as demand sentiment improved following the purchase of Silicon Valley Bank by First Citizens BancShares Inc.
- European gas prices remain rangebound despite expectations for a weather front to move in from the north next week bringing another cold spell.
Natural Gas US$2.095/mmbtu vs US$2.107/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium UXC US$50.35/lb vs US$50.35/lb yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$120.4/t vs US$119.5/t
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$611.9/t vs US$612.3/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$134.5/t vs US$134.5/t
Thermal coal swap Australia FOB US$195.0/t vs US$195.0/t
Coking coal swap Australia FOB US$340.0/t vs US$340.0/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$34,180/t vs US$34,180/t
NdPr Rare Earth Oxide (China) US$80,240/t vs US$81,023/t
Lithium carbonate 99% (China) US$31,442/t vs US$32,336/t
China Spodumene Li2O 5%min CIF US$4,710/t vs US$4,780/t
Ferro-Manganese European Mn78% min US$1,338/t vs US$1,329/t
China Tungsten APT 88.5% FOB US$325/mtu vs US$325/mtu
China Graphite Flake -194 FOB US$790/t vs US$790/t
Europe Vanadium Pentoxide 98% 9.5/lb vs US$9.5/lb
Europe Ferro-Vanadium 80% 38.85/kg vs US$39.05/kg
China Ilmenite Concentrate TiO2 US$343/t vs US$344/t
Spot CO2 Emissions EUA Price US$93.0/t vs US$93.7/t
Brazil Potash CFR Granular Spot US$450.0/t vs US$450.0/t
Atalaya Mining (ATYM LN) 347.5p, Mkt Cap £476m – Environmental permit for Proyecto Masa Valverde
- Atalaya Mining reports that it has been awarded Unified Environmental Authorisation (AAU) for its Proyecto Masa Valverde in southern Spain by the regulatory authorities in Andalucia.
- The AAU “is an integrated process that combines the Environmental Impact Assessment and other authorisations and specifies requirements to avoid, prevent and minimise a project’s impacts on the environment and the cultural heritage of the area”.
- The project area is located around 28km south of Atalaya Mining’s 15mtpa capacity processing plant at Riotinto and the company is evaluating “underground mining of the Masa Valverde and Majadales deposits, which would be accessed by constructing a ramp … [with] … Mined material … transported by public road to the existing Riotinto plant for processing”.
- In April last year, the company announced a mineral resources estimate for the project of 16.9mt classified as ‘Indicated’ at an average grade of 0.66% copper, 1.55% zinc, 0.65% lead , 27g/t silver and 0.55g/t gold described as 1.51% copper Equivalent (CuEq) as well as an additional inferred resource of 73.4mt classified as ‘Inferred’ at an average grade of 0.61% copper, 1.24 zinc, 0.61% lead , 30g/t silver and 0.62g/t gold (1.37$ CuEq) as well as an initial inferred resource of 3.1mt at an average grade of 0.94% copper, 3.08% zinc, 1.43% lead, 54g/t silver and 0.32g/t gold (2.55% CuEq) at the nearby Majadales project.
- The company’s website shows the ‘Measured & Indicated’ resources at its Cerro Colorado deposit at Riotinto at 200.7mt at an average grade of 0.37% copper, 0.15% zinc and 0.04% lead and the company has previously discussed the possibility of substituting some of the higher grade material from Masa Valverde and the deposits at San Dionisio and San Antonio into the plant feed at Riotinto as a means of increasing copper output from the existing facilities without incurring major capital expenditure.
- Atalaya Mining is now expecting to “complete further metallurgical testing and infill drilling in order to upgrade the existing Mineral Resource to higher confidence levels … [and to deploy three drilling rigs to undertake] … step-out drilling at the Masa Valverde deposit, resource definition drilling at the Campanario Trend and step out drilling around the new discovery made at the Mojarra Trend”.
- CEO, Alberto Lavandeira, described the approval as a key milestone and confirmed that additional exploration completed so far to upgrade the mineral resource “has yielded positive results”.
- He said that the 15-months approval time for the AAU “highlights that Andalucía is a world-class mining jurisdiction … [and is a] … testament to our focus on developing sustainable operations which show respect to the natural environment and contribute to the development of the regions where we operate”.
Conclusion: Proyecto Masa Valverde provides Atalaya Mining with one of a number of opportunities to provide higher grade ore feed to its processing plant at Riotinto and increase copper output from the existing facilities. Further resource definition work and metallurgical testing will be required to implement the plan but Environmental Approval takes the plans a step closer to fruition.
Bluejay Mining* (JAY LN) 3.18p, Mkt cap £33.8m – Drilling continues to test new targets indicated by results from ENON0028 near the old Laukunkangas nickel, copper, cobalt mine
- Bluejay Mining report the start of a short follow-up drilling program at the Enonkoski nickel, copper, cobalt project in Finland.
- The joint venture is drilling a quick 400m diamond drill hole to test the Laukunlampi intrusion which is within 1km south-east of the old Laukunkangas nickel, copper, cobalt mine.
- The Bluejay team drilled two holes for a total of 951.1m into the Laukunlampi target in January with tantalising grades reported over relatively short intersections including from ENON0028:
- 0.66m grading 0.41% nickel, 0.09% copper and 0.03% cobalt for 0.49% NiEq at 285m depth.
- 3.43 m grading 0.15% nickel, 0.05% copper and 0.01% cobalt for 0.18% NiEq at 296m depth
- The increasing sulphide content and Nickel tenor in drill hole ENON0028 suggests that drilling along strike to the northwest of this hole may lead to the discovery of sulphide droplet zones with higher nickel grades.
- The team are utilising the drill rig due to its availability at site in a particularly busy market for drilling.
Conclusion: Bluejay are working in joint venture with Rio Tinto in exploration around a number of historic high-grade nickel mines in Finland. The theory is, that the best place to find a new mine is somewhere around an old one.
*SP Angel acts as nomad and broker to Bluejay Mining. The analyst has visited the historic Enonkoski mine site and holds shares in Bluejay Mining
Castillo Copper (CCZ LN) 0.73p, Mkt Cap £9.4m –Cangai mineral resources update and appointment of mining consultant to optimise ‘the Big One’
- Castillo Copper has announced the appointment of mining consultants, Entech Mining, to optimise pit design at its ‘Big One’ copper deposit in Queensland where it has identified an inferred, JORC compliant resource of 2.1mt at an average grade of 1.1% copper.
- The company says that if the optimisation work is successful, it will help determine “the optimal path to market and effective use of third-party processors”.
- In parallel, further drilling will test “known targets north of the line of lode”. We expect that additional infill drilling will also be required to upgrade the current inferred resource prior to a commitment to mine the deposit.
- The company also confirms that additional work to incorporate the results of post 2017 drilling, including 34 reverse-circulation drill holes, into the resource update for its Cangai copper deposit in New South Wales is currently being completed by its geologists.
- Currently Cangai has an inferred, resource estimate of 3.2mt at an average grade of 3.35% copper, 0.005% cobalt, 0.37% zinc, 0.8g/t gold and 20.17g/t silver which was completed in 2017.
- The company has previously announced key intersections from the post 2017 drilling including:
- An 11.5m wide intersection at an average grade of 5.94% copper, 2.45% zinc and 19.13g/t silver from a depth of 40m in drill hole CC0023R, originally reported in September 2018; and
- An intersection of 5m at an average grade of 1.56% copper, 4.43g/t silver and 0.4% zinc from 92m depth in hole CC004RC (March 2018); and
- An intersection of 4.39m at an average grade of 5.06% copper, 2.56% zinc and 20.1g/t silver from 49.9m depth in hole CC0036D (December 2018)
- Down hole electro magnetic survey work “in 2018-19 identified several untested bedrock conductors that are open at depth” at Cangai which remain to be fully tested.
Conclusion: We look forward to the new resources estimate for Cangai and to plans to progress the Big One deposit in Queensland.
Condor Gold* (CNR LN) 23p, Mkt Cap £40.6m – Annual results confirm progress on plans for the sale of La India
- In its results report for 2022, Condor Gold reports a loss of £2.53m (2021 – loss £2.33m) and 31st December 2022 cash balance of £2.44m.
- Chairman, Jim Mellon, highlighted that with its La India gold project in Nicaragua “very close to mining with substantial proven reserves, and a carefully costed mining plan” the company is “at an important point in its history”.
- He confirmed the previously announced decision that it “is now the time for a larger company to take on the reins of our key assets and our CEO, Mark Child, has been working hard to find the right partner”.
- Condor Gold confirms that the proposed sale of the asset referred to by Mr. Mellon “is now entering the end of its first phase with various parties having conducted site visits and others ongoing. Three formal expressions of interest including 2 non-binding offers (subject to further due diligence) have been received by the Company and further offers are expected as 9 companies are under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)”.
- Mr. Child also confirmed that Condor Gold’s “focus for 2023 is to execute on a successful sale of the assets while maintaining a social license to operate at the fully permitted La India Project”.
- The company takes the opportunity to confirm the key findings of its 2022 Feasibility for the La India open-pit which shows that, at a gold price of US$1,600/oz, an initial capital investment of US$105.5m generates an after-tax NPV5% of US$86.9m and IRR of 23% from a project producing an average of over 81,000oz of gold annually for the first six years of an 8.4year mine life.
- We have previously observed that the feasibility study plan does not incorporate the development of the nearby satellite operations at America, Mestiza and Central Breccia or the emerging Cacao deposit which, we understand will all be accessible to the La India processing plant providing an opportunity to blend higher grade mineralisation into the mill-feed and enhance gold production during the initial years of production.
- The plan for La India, which also has mineralisation amenable to underground mining, envisages treating ore from the La India open-pit at a rate of 0.89mtpa over 9 years to produce an average of 81,545oz of gold for the first five years of production with higher grades treated in the earlier years and lower grade material stockpiled for later processing
- The La India project hosts an indicated mineral resource of 9. 7mt at a grade of 3.5g/t gold (1,088,000 oz gold) and an additional inferred resource of 8.6mt at an average 4.3 g/t gold for (1,190,000 oz) and has permits for a 2800tpd processing plant as well as for the satellite deposits at Mestiza and America pits.
- In our opinion, as well as examining the feasibility study for the La India pit in fine detail, evaluating the wider resource potential of the other deposits at America, Mestiza, Central Breccia and Cacao, where there are indications of a largely intact epithermal gold vein, and of the exploration potential of the wider licence area are likely to be an important focus of the current efforts of potential purchasers.
Conclusion: Condor Gold confirms that its plans to sell the La India project in Nicaragua have attracted the interest of nine companies evaluating the data under non-disclosure agreements and non-binding offers have been received from two interested parties so far. In the current supportive gold price environment we expect that much may depend on the potential purchasers’ perception of the wider exploration potential of the satellite deposits and Condor Gold’s licence area in Nicaragua.
*SP Angel act as a broker to Condor Gold
Galantas Gold* (GAL LN) 19.3p, Mkt Cap £22m – C$2.9m equity placing completed
- The Company completed a previously announced equity placing raising C$2.9m.
- The placing is reported to have seen strong demand with a total of 8.2m units sold at C$0.36 per unit which includes one common share and a one warrant (C$0.55 exercise price, five year maturity).
- Existing investor Ross Beaty acquired 1m units for C$360k while Ocean Partners put in C$0.2m for 0.7m units.
- Additionally, Brendan Morris (COO) acquired 0.5m or C$0.2m worth of units.
- Separately, 2.1m units will be issued to cover C$0.7m in debt repayments.
- Proceeds will be used for drilling at the Joshua Vein and the Kerr Vein target, development works at the Omagh Gold Project and exploration at the recently acquired 217km2 property in Scotland covering a highly prospective, 10km long gold bearing VMS trend.
*SP Angel act as Broker to Galantas Gold
Liontown Resources (LTR AU) A$2.57, Mkt cap A$5.65bn – Liontown rejects $A5.5bn $3.7bn bid from Albemarle
- Liontown Resources shares rose 68.5% today to A$2.57 on news that Albemarle had bid $A5.5bn (US$3.7bn) for the company.
- Albemarle has made two previous lower bids in October and in early March
- A subsidiary of Albemarle is said to have built a 2.2% stake in a potential move towards a hostile takeover
- Liontown has signed lithium offtake deals with Ford and Tesla for production from its Kathleen Valley and Buldania mine developments.
- The Albemarle Group have accused the Liontown board of failing to consult with shareholders .
- While it is customary for Australian miners to reject a first bid, rejecting a third is almost unprecedented.
Conclusion: It is interesting to see Albemarle offering to buy Liontown and increasing its exposure to hard-rock spodumene production in Australia. This suggests to us that Spodumene remains the preferred source material for lithium production outside of the Atacama Desert region. The offer is a massive vote of confidence for hard-rock spodumene producers.
Lundin Mining (LUN CN) C$7.81, Mkt cap C$6bn – Lundin takes controlling 51% stake in Caserones copper/molybdenum mine in Chile for $950m
- The Company will pay Japan’s JX Nippon Mining and Metals $800m in upfront cash with a further $150m spread over six years from the completion of the deal.
- The deal also includes an option to acquire an additional 19% stake in Caserones for $350m valid over a five year period from the anniversary of the dea.
- The mine was commissioned in 2013 with $4.2bn in invested capex and is reported to have produced ~95kt Cu in concentrate and 15kt Cu in cathodes as well as 2.3kt Mo in 2021.
- The transaction highlights increasing M&A activity in the copper space on the back of strong demand projections driven by transport electrification and emissions reduction initiatives.
Red Rock Resources (RRR LN) 0.23p, Mkt cap £3.1m – EIA submission for Zimbabwean lithium project
- Red Rock Resources reports that it has received approval for its Environmental Management Plan for the Tin Hill lithium project in Zimbabwe and that it has now submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment for approval.
- Although it says that the “Appearance of illegal miners on site in February caused two weeks delay while they were removed” the company says that EIA approval “may occur from mid-April onwards (to be confirmed in due course), and then additional geologists and staff will be mobilised to site and after two weeks of pre-mining preparatory work trial mining can begin”.
- The company has previously indicated that it plans to “produce and sell Lithium ore with a target grade of 2% (1.5%-3%) into the local market, on a pick-up basis” firstly from “ALR’s … [African Lithium Resources] …Tin Hill property, 29 km North-West of Bikita in South-East Zimbabwe … [and later from] … its Beatrice site where there are lithium ore stockpiles and test results have been positive”.
- Red Rock Resources has also said that, in the longer term “When the operation has been stabilised, ALR plans to introduce a flotation unit in order to beneficiate the ore to 4.5%-5%, so that it may be sold into the export market. There are no immediate plans to delineate a mineral resource estimate”.
No.1 in Copper: “The winner of the 2020 Fastmarkets Apex contest for copper was the team at SP Angel comprising John Meyer, Sergey Raevskiy and Simon Beardsmore, with an accuracy score of 93.8%”
No1. In Gold: “SP Angel’s trio took the top spot for the gold price prediction throughout the year, with an accuracy score of 97.59%”
The SP Angel team also ranked 1st in Palladium, 3rd in Tin and 5th in Silver in the fourth quarter of 2020
John Meyer – [email protected] – 0203 470 0490
Simon Beardsmore – [email protected] – 0203 470 0484
Sergey Raevskiy –[email protected] – 0203 470 0474
Richard Parlons –[email protected] – 0203 470 0472
Abigail Wayne – [email protected] – 0203 470 0534
Rob Rees – [email protected] – 0203 470 0535
Grant Barker – Grant.Barker@spangel.co.uk – 0203 470 0471
Prince Frederick House
35-39 Maddox Street London
*SP Angel are the No1 integrated nomad and broker by number of mining brokerage clients on AIM according to the AIM Advisers Ranking Guide (joint brokerships excluded)
+SP Angel employees may have previously held, or currently hold, shares in the companies mentioned in this note.
|Sources of commodity prices|
|Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Silver||BGNL (Bloomberg Generic Composite rate, London)|
|Gold ETFs, Steel||Bloomberg|
|Copper, Aluminium, Nickel, Zinc, Lead, Tin, Cobalt||LME|
|Natural Gas, Uranium, Iron Ore||NYMEX|
|Thermal Coal||Bloomberg OTC Composite|
|Lithium Carbonate, Ferro Vanadium, Tungsten, Spodumene, Ferro-Manganese, Graphite||Asian Metal|
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