Small cap movers: Novacyt rare riser thanks to coronavirus test

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Novacyt SA (LON:NCYT) was one of the rare risers in a bloodbath week for the UK stock market, thanks to the success of its coronavirus diagnostic test which it handily launched a few weeks ago.


The stock has been rising steadily for the past month or so, but shot up 33% to 140.14p in the last week.


It looks like the phones at Novacyt have been ringing off the hook with a major distribution agreement signed in Asia and an original equipment manufacturer deal in the US.


The group told investors on Friday that initial sales from the Asian distribution deal, which are subject to local emergency use approval, are anticipated to be GBP2.1mln during the first six months, with the first money flowing in March.


Meanwhile, the diagnostics kit – managed by Novacyt’s Primedesign unit – has been fast-tracked for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the country’s clinics.


As of 27 February, the biotech firm said it had made GBP930,000 by distributing tests for research use only.


Novacyt has boosted production capacity and continues to adjust to the increasing demand.


The week, otherwise, was a disastrous one for the wider market, with the FTSE AIM All Share index plunging 13% to 848, while the blue-chip FTSE 100 index dropped well below the 7,000 mark, plunging 11% to 6,584 as worries over the impact of coronavirus on the global economy battered markets.


Jet2 owner DART Group PLC (LON:DTG) joined a collective collapse in airline stocks, crashing 36% lower to 1,175p as the spread of coronavirus cases caused travel freezes in Europe.


Non-essential business trips have been cancelled, with analysts estimating the global airline industry will take a US$560bn hit, while tourism in the continent is paralysed by a high number of cases in Italy.


But other fallers could not blame it on the virus, although the depressed markets made their performance worse.


Affordable housing company Ashley House plummeted 52% to 1p as it candidly admitted it will go bust unless it pays its creditors, which will be difficult to do if its current nine non-contracted projects do not go ahead.


Elsewhere, remote meetings company LoopUp dropped 40% to 48p after it said its US business has been hit by macro uncertainty in the law, corporate finance and private equity sectors.


Pesticide producer Plant Health Care PLC (LON:PHC) tanked 26% to 8p as it started the week by issuing shares at 8p a pop, well below last Friday’s closing price of 14.25p.


A few directors bought 1mln shares after the big sell-off, which raised US$4.6mln to help Plant Health compensate for lower-than-expected revenue in 2019.


Advanced materials group Haydale Graphene Industries slumped 25% to 1p as it posted first-half sales that were below expectations due to issues in the US aerospace and petrochemical sectors.


Similarly, engineer Avingtrans PLC (LON:AVG) tumbled 16% to 270p as interim profits halved to GBP300,000 despite a 15% increase in revenue to GBP54.8mln.


The lower profit figure was attributed to a GBP900,000 loss in the firm’s Energy steel and Booth businesses, both of which it acquired in June last year.


On the resources front, Base Resources lost 12% to 11p as its interim production came in lower than in 2018, due to operations being moved to a nearby mine after depleting the orebody in its Central Dune project in Kenya.


Only a couple of companies managed to defy the precipitous market trend.


Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) rocketed 74% to 13p as it received approval for its d2p antimicrobial food packaging from the US Food and Drug Administration and said it expected immediate commercial interest.


And Eddie Stobart Logistics PLC (LON:ESL) jumped 30% to 9p in just two days as the logistics firm returned to AIM after a six-month suspension, although it reported a swing to an interim loss for the six months to 30 June following big impairment charges.


Trading in the trucking firm’s shares had been halted after the group discovered a GBP2mln black hole in its accounts, sparking a review of its revenue policy, while it was only saved from liquidation in December by a cash injection from a major shareholder.

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