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Although the London stock market did not remain open long enough to feel the full benefit of the fresh bullishness on international equity markets, the near one percent gain for the FTSE 100 at least counteracted the effect of a torrid Thursday in small caps.
Interestingly a couple of stocks which were certainly among the highlights of 2020 popped up on the same day to deliver significant news. First up was Open Orphan (ORPH), where the sprawling clinical services group saw its shares deliver a new all time high close via a 7% rise to 34.5p. This was helped along by another characteristically strong piece of newsflow from the company, as it announced that its hVIVO subsidiary has entered into a £7.5m contract with a biotechnology company to run a human viral challenge study for a respiratory syncytial virus prophylactic and treatment. Cathal Friel, CEO at Open Orphan said that through signing deals like the latest one, the company continues to reinforce its position as the clear world leader in human challenge studies. A new note from Arden Research underlined these worlds adding that the company’s asset quality leaves it well placed to continue to capitalise on the high levels of industry activity.
The other big play of last year, still very much in focus this year, has been Eurasia Mining (EUA). The latest news from the palladium focused group, still in sale talks, is that it has signed a legally binding agreement to create a new joint venture with Russian state-owned company, expanding Eurasia’s world-class portfolio of mining assets on the Kola Peninsula. The Rosgeo Agreement allows Eurasia to gain a 75% equity stake in each of the nine new mining assets for just $0.5m. The remaining 25% equity stakes will continue to be held by Rosgeo. On the face of it this seemed to be something of a steal for Eurasia, instantly growing the already near £1bn valuation company to a new higher net asset value. Interestingly enough, if any sale price / deal had been in the mix before the latest announcement, it would either be much more easily justified, or may have to be revised upwards. As is EUA’s wont, the news came after the stock market close, ahead of which the shares were up 5%.
Multidivisional new media and technology business Iconic Labs (ICON) announced that it has signed a settlement agreement with EHGOF with respect to claims made by EHGOF in connection with alleged breaches of various finance agreements. New CEO Brad Taylor said that settling these claims with EHGOF was an immediate priority, with the goal now being to continue to work productively with EHGOF. The result of peace breaking out between the two parties was a 33% share price rise for Iconic.
While almost all the testing stocks have seen an element of disappointment/cooling off of their share prices in the recent past, Braveheart International (BRH) has been able to celebrate with a 48% share price rise. This came in the wake of the company’s revelation that the Paraytec team has used isolated lab-grown COVID-19 virus to optimise the operational sensitivity of its instrument for the detection of pre-symptomatic and early-stage symptomatic virus levels. Using this approach, the team has established a lower limit of detection of 1,000 virions per millilitre of sample fluid analysed. This would represent a significantly better performance than the lateral flow tests that are currently authorised for emergency use to detect infectivity and which typically have a lower limit of detection of 10,000-100,000 virions per sample.
As well as being on the zeitgeist as far as the cryptocurrency boom at the moment, it would appear that crypto-miner Argo Blockchain (ARB) is set to be well in step with the ESG / Woke brigade, in the wake of its latest news. Indeed, the shares bounced 10% off the revelation that Argo has partnered with crypto technology firm DMG Blockchain Solutions to launch the first Bitcoin mining pool powered exclusively by clean energy. The pool effectively creates the first opportunity to create green bitcoin mostly generated by hydroelectric resources.
Finally, there was a delayed appreciation of Microsaic (MSYS), following this week’s news from the company. Shares of the micro-engineering, miniaturised chip-based mass spectrometry developer for point-of-need analytical detection were up nearly 7% in the wake of announcing it has signed a multi-year, full technical and commercial agreement with clinical research / life science’s group DeepVerge’s (DVRG) subsidiary, Innovenn UK Limited.
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Share Talk.)
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