Corporate finance group Marechale Capital (LON.MAC) was under pressure earlier, its shares falling sharply after serial entrepreneur Chris Akers cut his stake from 9.97% to 2.98% (see below 10.13am).
Now the business, founded by a descendant of William Booth of Salvation Army fame, has just put out a trading statement, presumably in an attempt to limit the damage.
It said it had recently completed a strategic fundraising to strengthen its balance sheet, allowing it the flexibility to take shares or warrants in lieu of cash in connection with client work.
The company has recently made such investments in an energy business, a global technology group and a hospitality brand. It said: “The board believes these investments and other maturing warrants and equity and founder equity investments in the Marechale corporate finance portfolio have the potential to generate material value to shareholders.”
Its shares have recovered from their low of 1.75p but are still down 1.31p or 39.25% at 2.04p.
2.25pm: Bars business positive
Revolution Bars Group PLC (LON.RBG) has cheered its investors with an upbeat assessment of the outlook following the Budget and the government’s plans for reopening hospitality venues.
Its shares have climbed 11.31% or 3.2p to 31.5p after it said it planned to reopen 20 bars next month with the other 46 due to start trading in May when indoor service will be allowed.
It said the April 12 date for initial opening was later than it had hoped but expected significant pent-up demand when lockdown is lifted.
On the Budget measures it said: “The…support announced for the hospitality sector by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget on 3 March 2021, particularly the restart grants, continued reduction in business rates, low VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks and other measures are also welcome. This support will give further certainty to all our stakeholders and allow the Company, together with the wider hospitality industry, to regain a financial position from which it can again develop and thrive.”
It said it had sufficient liquidity resources to take it well through 17 May, the date it can restart trading indoors.
12.30pm: Franchise business thrives despite lockdown
Franchise Brands PLC (LON.FRAN) is in demand after a positive update despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Its B2B franchise operations, which include Metro Rod, Metro Plumb, and Willow Pumps and provide plumbing services, which were designated by the Government as essential and continued to operate throughout the lockdowns. It was a different story for its B2C division – ChipsAway, Ovenclean and Barking Mad – which had to suspend trading for most of the second quarter.
Even so, full year revenues rose 12% to £49.3m, with a first full year contribution from Willow which was bought in October 2019. Pretax profits climbed 19% to £4.8m.
So the company’s shares have jumped 8.87% or 9p to 110.5p.
1.23am: Wealth management group resilient
Rathbone Brothers PLC (LON.RAT) is among the risers after its final results.
The wealth management firm said funds under management rose 8.5% to £54.7bn while underlying profits grew by 4.3% to £92.5m. It is paying a final dividend of 47p a share taking the total to 72p, up 2.9%. The news has lifted its shares 82p or 5.2% to 1660p.
Chief executive Paul Stockton said: “Rathbones delivered a resilient performance in an immensely challenging year…
“Whilst we expect 2021 to remain volatile, our balance sheet is robust with a strong capital position. Our near-term focus is to execute our growth strategy, to build our market share, to balance ongoing investment in the business, and to continue to apply strict cost discipline. Rathbones will emerge stronger after the challenges of the pandemic begin to subside.”
10.13am: Cryptocurrency company warns of scepticism
Online Blockchain PLC (LON.OBC) is under pressure after a warning about the prospects for the cryptocurrency sector.
In a trading update it said it had raised enough funds to meet its medium term needs but added:
“We do remain however, cautious with our cash resources as crypto is a volatile asset segment and it is possible at any time that blockchain may be about to enter another cycle of boom, bubble and bust. The potential upside we expect will be delivered in the medium to long term rather in the shorter time frame that so many new entrants and investors in this this field expect. While impossible to accurately predict the short-term outlook for blockchain based assets and businesses, we continue to believe that the blockchain technologies we are working with are part of a development as potentially fundamentally promising as computing in the 1970’s and the internet in the 1990s.
“There remains, nevertheless, a significant challenge from institutional resistance and scepticism to emerging blockchain technology businesses. At times, it is hard to come to any conclusion other than that blockchain is not yet welcome reflecting the position of established ‘gatekeepers’ whose commercial position is threatened by blockchain…
“Whilst being wary of these institutional and regulatory challenges, we are hopeful of continuing progress for our existing products in the months ahead and for new developments. We remain excited at the prospects for blockchain, irrespective of the value of bitcoin in 2021, and our plans to develop a potentially major blockchain protocol.”
Its largest asset is an investment in financial company ADVFN, which has reported a half year profit of £264,000 compared to a £399,000.
Also falling is Marechale Capital (LON.MAC), founded by a descendant of William Booth of Salvation Army fame. The corporate finance group is down 1.55p or 46.27% at 1.8p after serial entrepreneur Chris Akers cut his stake from 9.97% to 2.98%.
8.37am: Payments group jumps on valuation update
AIM-listed ThinkSmart Ltd (LON.TSL) has seen half-year profits more than triple thanks to a revaluation of its remaining stake in digital payment group Clearpay.
It sold 90% of Clearpay to Australia’s AfterPay in 2018 and has an option to sell the rest which is exercisable from 2023.
Its latest results show that the 10% stake is now valued at £106.6m, compared to £53.7m a year ago.
Including this non-cash gain, ThinkSmart’s half year profits have jumped from £15.9m to £53.7m. Its total assets are worth £116.6m, equivalent to 109.44p a share. In the market its shares have jumped 8.22% or 6p to 79p
Clearpay, which went live in the UK in 2019, recently reported a near tripling of half year sales, and added new customers including Superdry UK, Signet Brands (Ernest Jones and H Samuel) and Pandora.
ThinkSmart’s own operating business is being wound down.
Executive chairman Ned Montarello said: “The value of our shareholding in Clearpay is underpinned by the rapid consumer acceptance and subsequent compelling growth of the Buy Now Pay Later market coupled with the trading performance of Clearpay…
“Our investment in Clearpay has now generated over £116 million of profit for shareholders, with further upside potential for our retained stake from Clearpay’s ongoing progress. Our agreement with Afterpay provides shareholders with a clear and agreed legal mechanism for realisation of the value of our Clearpay holding in 2023/24.
“While our strategic efforts are focused on further value creation for shareholders via our holding in Clearpay, the managed wind down of our legacy operations continues to generate positive cash flow as we control costs while rightsizing the operations to lower volumes. This leaves our balance sheet robust. There is inherent, tangible value within our proprietary payments technology and we are continuing to consider how best to optimise the value of this asset.
“Ultimately, the company is well placed to continue accruing material value for our shareholders, subject to Clearpay’s ongoing progress, and we thank them for their ongoing support of the strategy.”
Consumer finances group Morses Club PLC (LON.MCL) has climbed 10.15% or 7p to 76p after it said full year profits would be ahead of expectations. The advent of the pandemic has meant the company accelerating its digital strategy,
It said: “We quickly moved to a remote home collect credit lending model, which was made possible by the group’s previous investment in its digital capability, and our well-advanced digital platform enabled us to re-commence lending to existing customers just three weeks after lockdown was announced in March 2020. 64% of lending in our HCC division is now cashless and transacted through our portal, with customers signed up to the portal rising by around 70% during the period… We expect this to be a permanent shift in customer behaviour and our research clearly indicates that both customers and agents see digital lending as the future of the HCC market.
“The group has focused on the quality of lending since the start of the pandemic, with strong collection rates and levels of impairment reflecting this.”
Proactive news headlines
Supermarket Income REIT PLC (LON:SUPR), has acquired a Tesco supermarket in Prestatyn, North Wales for £26.5mln. In a separate announcement, the REIT announced plans to raise around £100mln by placing shares at 106p each (versus last night’s closing price of 109.5p.
Franchise Brands PLC’s (LON:FRAN) final results for 2020 highlighted positive trading through the current lockdowns. It said that trading started 2021 strongly in the first quarter, with business-to-business sales described as resilient.
Westminster Group PLC (LON;WSG) said it hopes to get back to double-digit revenue growth in 2021.
Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) said the ongoing metallurgical test work programme at its Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal has highlighted the potential for lower capital and operating costs.
Westmount Energy Ltd (LON:WTE, OTCCQ:WMELF) has relayed the results of the Bulletwood exploration well, on the Canje block offshore Guyana, which encountered quality reservoirs but sub-commercial volumes of hydrocarbons.
Shares in Black Bear Energy Resources Plc (LON:), an oil and gas company with onshore assets in the USA, are now being traded on the JP Jenkins share dealing platform. Anthony Mason, founder and CEO of Black Bear said: “This will give Black Bear Energy Resources tremendous visibility and a strong presence in the London market.”
Induction Healthcare (LON:INHC) has hired N+1 Singer as Nominated Adviser and its sole broker with immediate effect.
Filta Group Holdings PLC‘s (LON:FLTA) chief executive, Jason Sayers, will be introducing the company and taking questions at the Proactive One2One Investor Forum on 25 March, with the online forum due to start at 6pm GMT. Registration details can be found at https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/register/event_details/327.
Touchstone Exploration Inc‘s (LON:TXP, TSX:TXP) president and CEO Paul Baay will present at the Shares and AJ Bell investor evening webinar on 10 March at 6pm GMT, followed by a virtual Q&A session. To register for the event please use the following link: https://www.sharesmagazine.co.uk/events/event/shares-investor-evening–webinar-100321
BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRD) chairman Mike Houston and finance director David Facey will provide a live investor presentation via the Investor Meet Company platform on Monday 8 March at 11am GMT. Existing and potential shareholders can sign up at: https://www.investormeetcompany.com/bluerock-diamonds-plc/register-investor
Accesso Technology Group PLC (AIM: ACSO) will announce its preliminary results for 2020 on Tuesday 23 March.