Cohort climbs after record results despite pandemic

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Cohort PLC (AIM:CHRT) has climbed higher after reporting record results despite the impact of the pandemic.


The defence specialist said full year revenues had climbed by 9% while operating profits rose 2% to GBP18.6mln. Its order book jumped by 32% to GBP242.4mln.


Sales to non-Ministry of Defence customers dominated for the first time, helped by increased exports and a higher than expected contribution from ELAC, the solar systems company bought in December.


Chairman Nick Prest said: “The 30 April 2021 order book of GBP242.4mln underpins nearly GBP100mln of in-year revenue, representing 64% of the consensus forecast. Following further contract awards of over GBP50mln since the start of the financial year, that cover now stands at 70%.


“Looking forward we expect that strong performance across most of the group in 2021/22 will be partly offset by a weaker year at [Lisbon-based communications business] EID. Overall, we expect to achieve continued growth in 2021/22, albeit at a modest level, and to have zero net debt at the year end.


“Prospects for 2022/23 depend on order progress in the current year. We are optimistic that the group will return to a higher rate of growth in 2023/24, based on current orders for long term delivery and our strong pipeline of opportunities.”


Cohort shares have added 3.81% or 18.8p to 512.8p.


2.51pm: Caspian Sunrise brightens on Kazakh drilling news


Caspian Sunrise PLC (AIM:CASP) is looking bright after a positive update from its key project in Kazakhstan.


The company’s first horizontal well was drilled at the MJF structure in the BNG area and produced 645 barrels of oil per day for three days.


At this level of production, the total would be increased by around 50%.


It intends to drill further horizontal wells on the MJF structure and once the final licence upgrade is received at the South Yelemes structure.


Chairman Clive Carver said: “For some time we have believed that the shallow structures at the BNG Contract Area, namely the MJF structure and the South Yelemes, would be suitable for a horizontal well.


“The company now plans to drill further horizontal wells on each structure.”


The news has lifted Caspian shares by 19.15% or 0.45p to 2.8p.


1.17pm: Kitwave falls as lockdowns hit its hospitality and leisure customers


Kitwave Group PLC (AIM:KITW), an independent wholesaler specialising in confectionery, soft drinks and groceries, has seen its shares go on sale after a trading update.


The company, which floated in May at 150p, said full year operating profit fell from GBP7.6mln to GBP0.8mln as its business was hit by COVID-19 lockdowns and closures in the leisure and hospitality sector.


Since April it said trading had returned close to pre-pandemic levels and is currently in line with market expectations.


Chief executive Paul Young said: “All of the group’s divisions have experienced some level of impact from the stop-start nature of COVID-19 restrictions during the period. Supply to pubs, restaurants and vending machine operators was severely disrupted as these businesses were either closed or operating under constraints. In contrast, our Frozen & Chilled division was extremely resilient and operated close to pre-COVID-19 levels throughout the period.


“Since mid-May 2021, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have been eased and trade has accelerated. Thanks to a period of warmer weather and consumer interest in the Euros, we are already experiencing sales volumes that are moving toward pre-pandemic levels; this was the case even before the highly anticipated 19 July 2021 ‘Freedom Day’. As such, we remain confident that the group is on track to achieve its full year expectations.


“This belief is further supported by the timing of the return to normal, as it allows the group to take full advantage of the second half of our financial year, when trading is traditionally stronger due to the seasonality of the Frozen & Chilled division.”


In the market however, the company’s shares have lost 5.9% to 162.55p – still above the flotation price.


11.56am: Foresight Group sees the benefits of its recent stock market listing


Foresight Group Holdings Ltd, the infrastructure and private equity manager, is already seeing the benefits of its listing in February.


The company’s full year revenues rose 21% to GBP69.1mln, with earnings up 89% to GBP23.9mln.


Assets under management climbed 59% to GBP7.2bn, with GBP1.7bn coming from the acquisition of Pensions Infrastructure Platform.


It has also made its first investments in forestry, fibre broadband and refuelling stations, and added that joining the stock market was already leading to increased visibility and opportunities.


Chairman Bernard Fairman said: “These are transformational times for Foresight Group as we work to cement and develop our position as market leader in both sustainable infrastructure and real assets and in regional UK private equity.


“Foresight performed very strongly during the year to the end of March and this momentum has continued into the current year…


“And we are already seeing the benefits of our February listing as we leverage our fast-growing platform to scale our business and to deliver on our ambitious growth plans.”


Its shares are up 29p or 7.84% at 399p.


10.38am: Reaching for the stars after good news


Reach PLC (LSE:RCH), the business formerly known as Trinity Mirror, has published some good news for investors.


It said half year revenues were up 2.6%, with print down 5.2% but digital soaring 42.7%.


Operating profits for the period jumped 25.5% to GBP68.9mln, and current trading is ahead of expectations.


It said digital revenues were now 23% of business, up from just 15% in 2019.


The company said: “While macro uncertainty remains, the business is well placed to progress further against our strategic objectives and is trading ahead of full year expectations.


“Trading during the first half, specifically the second quarter, benefited from relatively soft comparatives due to the impact of the first UK lockdown during spring last year. This benefit will unwind during the second half as we begin to annualise a more normal pattern of trading.


“Despite this, we expect underlying momentum will continue, in particular the improvement we’re seeing in print circulation and growth in digital revenues, which has also been supported by the broader sector shift to online. Efficiencies, driven by last year’s transformation programme, will continue to support increased digital investment, further expansion of our profit margin and a strong cash position.”


Reach’s shares have climbed 7.67% or 24p to 337p.


9.49am: Itaconix slumps as it warns of order delays and supply chain issues


Itaconix PLC (LSE:ITX, OTCQB:ITXXF) has slumped after warning of order fluctuations and supply chain volatility.


The company, which specialises in plant-based polymers for consumer products, said first half revenues rose 26% to US$1.4mln compared to this time last year but fell 36% compared to the second half of 2020.


The fall was expected due to major customers changing their order requirements. The decline accelerated towards the end of the period, especially in the detergents and personal care sectors as brands and retailers adjusted their inventories after the lockdowns upset consumer buying habits.


Overall it said it had made a loss before tax for the period, although this was in line with management expectations.


It expecs further delays in new orders in the personal care sector but remained confident of the overall major market potential for its products.


It said it had increased prices and adjusted inventories to take account of rising costs and delays for key raw materials, with the proceeds from a recent US$1.5mln fundraising helping to support its supply chain.


Chief executive John Shaw said: “We continue to make significant progress capitalising on the revenue potential in every household for our plant-based technologies. Supply chain delays with both our customers and our suppliers are causing some short-term issues, but our revenue opportunities are growing through the increasing recognition of the value of our ingredients in sustainable consumer products and through new additions to our offering of plant-based products. Underlying consumer demand for these products also remains strong.”


But the market is looking at the negative rather than the positive, and the company’s shares are down 3.2p or 29.36% at 7.7p.


8.29am: 7Digital boosted by healthcare deals


7Digital Group PLC (AIM:7DIG) is seeing a healthy rise after unveiling two new contracts from companies using its music platform for patient therapy.


The first is with US group MedRhythms Inc, which uses digital therapeutics including prescriptiion music to measure and improve walking among patients.


The second is with a company creating a music-based health application for people with dementia.


Both companies will use 7digital’s music platform-as-a-service to access its licensed catalogue and will design their therapeutic and interactive experiences using the 7digital playlisting tool.


7digital said the contracts were both for 24 months and included upfront set-up fees, recurring monthly fees and usage based payments.


It said the new contracts provided additional visibility over full year revenues and anticipated significant growth for 2021.


Chief executive Paul Langworthy said : “These new customer wins are further evidence of the growing commercial momentum across 7digital as we continue to convert our busy sales pipeline into a raft of multi-year contracts with recurring revenues. We are proud to support innovative and forward-thinking companies, and this is particularly the case in the emerging wellness space where music is used as an effective form of therapy to treat specific neurological functions and conditions. This also builds on our expanding reach across fitness and health brands, with new clients Barry’s and Volava announced in recent weeks. These contracts provide us with increasing visibility over our projected revenue growth for 2021 and the delivery of a full year of positive EBITDA for the first time in 7digital’s history.”


In early trading the company’s shares climbed 13.6% to 1p.


Elsewhere Verici Dx PLC (AIM:VRCI) is 4.61% better at 79.5p after the diagnostics company receiived a certificate of registration for its newly established laboratory in Tennessee.


The certificate allows the company to begin commercial operations as a diagnostic laboratory.


Verici Dx’s two leading commercial clinical offerings, Clarava and Tuteva, are designed to support clinician management and short and long-term graft health in kidney transplant patients.


The company’s chief medical officer Michael J Donovan said: “


Michael J. Donovan, Chief Medical Officer of Verici Dx, said: “This Certificate of Registration is a key milestone in the … approval pathway essential for commercial launch of the company’s two lead products. ”



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