Henry Boot lifts full-year guidance

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Investors raised a glass to The Artisanal Spirits Company PLC (LON:ART), after its half-year trading update, sending the shares 3.2% higher to 96.5p.


UK online sales rose 28% year-on-year in the first half of the year, contributing a 20% increase in total sales to GBP7.9mln.


This was achieved despite the owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society reporting a 2% decline in the number of UK members to 13.4mln from 13.7mln at the end of 2020. Overseas members picked up the slack, with membership rising 4% to 15.3mln from 14.6mln.


2.30pm: DX (Group) delivers


DX (Group) PLC (LON:DX.) delivered an upbeat half-year trading update, resulting in a 2.3% uplift in the share price at 32.74p.


The parcel distribution company said adjusted profit before tax for the 53 weeks to 3 July will be significantly ahead of existing market forecasts.


Reflecting the increase in profitability, net cash at the year-end is also better than expected at GBP16.8mln (2020: net cash of GBP12.3mln), a rise of 37% year-on-year, DX said.


1.35pm: Power Metal lifted by exploration update


Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) shares advanced 4.9% to 2.15p after an exploration update on the Kalahari Copper Belt.


A total of 150 kilometres (km) of soil sampling lines have now been completed over South Ghanzi’s Acacia and Morula targets. The Morula Target geochemical anomaly is now over 18km long (up from 12km previously announced on 21 June 2021) and varies between 800 metres and 2.4km in width. The geochemical anomaly remains open along strike in both directions towards the northeast and southwest, Power Metal told investors.


In addition to this, a third sub-parallel geochemical anomaly has been identified immediately to the south of the Morula Target. This target (designated name “Happy”) is about 5km long and roughly 700 metres wide.


12.40pm: Henry Boot kicks on


Boot (Henry) PLC shares jumped 6.5% to 278p after the group raised full-year expectations.


“The near- and long-term implications of the pandemic remain open to debate, but increased home working, higher demand for homes and offices that fulfil the need for more space and air, more calls for urban and suburban sites that make it easier to get to work and ever-higher levels online activity are all possible results – and few firms are well placed to provide solutions as Henry Boot,” said AJ Bell’s investment director, Russ Mould.


“The South Yorkshire firm’s upbeat trading statement is therefore perfectly understandable, as its expertise in land development, construction, residential property and logistics sites means the valuation of its assets continues to rise, thanks to strong demand from investment, industrial and private buyers.


“Net asset value per share at the end of 2020 was 235p, so the shares trade at a premium to that of nearly 20%. That prices in some of the future growth that Henry Boot looks capable of generating, although the shares do trade a fifth below their 2018 all-time high. It is also worth noting that the private equity bid for St Modwen, a firm that also offers exposure to land development, residential building and logistics sites, came in at nearly 1.3 times historic net asset value per share,” he added.


11.45am: Nothing ventured, nothing gained


Forward Partners Group PLC (LON:FWD) made a healthy start to life on AIM with shares in the venture capital firm trading at 110p compared to a 100p list price.


Tech investor Draper Esprit was a cornerstone backer taking GBP15mln of a placing ahead of the listing with giant-sized fund manager Blackrock subscribing for GBP2mln.


In total, the placing was for 35mln new shares with 1.7mln additional shares sold through the Primary Bid platform.


10.55am: Napster slides after announcing board changes


Napster Group PLC (LON:NAPS) tumbled 13% to 1.265p after Andy Botha resigned from the board to pursue his other commitments.


The company announced two new non-executive directors will join the board. Lanse Davis, an investment management veteran, and Peter Read, who spent 37 years at KPMG (presumably getting three years off for good behaviour).


“I am delighted to welcome Lanse to the Board who brings with him a wealth of financial experience. and would like to welcome Peter back to the board, his experience at KPMG and subsequent board positions will further strengthen the governance and oversight of our non-executive directors,” said Anthony Matchett, the chief executive officer of Napster.


10.00am: Poolbeg off to solid start as independent company


Poolbeg Pharma PLC (LON:POLB) has started trading on AIM after being spun out from Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH).


After raising GBP25mln in its initial public offer (IPO) at a price of 10p, the shares rose to 10.5p in early deals on Monday.


The clinical-stage infectious disease pharmaceutical company said it will use the funds from the placing, which was increased from original plans to raise GBP20mln, for clinical trial costs associated with the development of a drug to treat severe influenza and potentially other areas, as well as for work on advancing other portfolio assets to monetisation.


9.05am: Sumo Group agrees to takeover by existing stakeholder Tencent


Sumo Group PLC (LON:SUMO) has agreed to a 513p per share cash offer from Tencent Holdings.


Shares in the provider of services to the video games industry shot up 42% to 151p on the news.


Tencent, the Chinese technology conglomerate, already holds an 8.75% stake in Sumo (read more on the story here).


Bradda Head Holdings Limited (LON:BHL), up 9.1% at 6p, made a fast start on its first day of dealings on AIM.


READ Bradda Head makes AIM return under new guise to develop portfolio of lithium assets


The company came to AIM via an oversubscribed placing of 112.7mln shares at 5.5p, raising GBP6.2mln in the process.


The proceeds raised will principally fund a number of phased exploration work programmes for the group’s projects in Nevada and Arizona.

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