Superdry shares climb as it turns the corner and cuts losses

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Fashion retailer Superdry PLC (LSE:SDRY) reckons it has turned the corner after it announced reduced full year losses.


Sales for the year to the end of April fell by 21.1% but losses were cut from GBP166.9mln to GBP36.7mln.


It has since returned to revenue growth in the 18 weeks to August 28, with sales up 1.9% as COVID-19 restrictions eased.


It expects the trend to continue although it added that costs would increase by GBP35mln-GBP45mln due to the return of UK business rates and the end of furlough support. So it did not expect a change in market expectation for profits for full-year 2022.


It also plans to open a new flagship store in London’s Oxford Street.


Chief executive Julian Dunkerton said: “I’m in no doubt that we’re turning the corner and there’s a lot to be excited about. Trading has been encouraging since the reopening of our stores, and we’ll take a big step forward as a brand with the opening of our global flagship store in Oxford Street later in the autumn.”


The optimism was catching, and the company’s shares climbed 11.05% or 31.5p to 316.5p.


1.58pm: ValiRx moves higher after evaluation agreement for breast cancer treatment


ValiRx PLC (AIM:VAL) is in demand after it signed an evaluation agreement with a London university to investigate a novel technology designed to treat breast cancer.


Under the agreement, the life sciences company will carry out a series of preclinical tests on the drug candidate molecule over the next nine months to validate the technology and determine its suitability for commercialisation. This preclinical evaluation, the cost of which will be borne by ValiRx up to GBP75,000, will investigate the action of the molecule against Triple Negative Breast Cancer and other indications.


At the conclusion of the evaluation period the company has an option to license the technology on pre-agreed terms.


ValiRx chief executive Dr Suzy Dilly said: “I’m delighted to have secured our next evaluation programme, which, if successful, will achieve the dual objective of building a pipeline in both women’s health and oncology. We are also delighted that the principal investigator of this exciting technology is keen to remain actively involved in the next stages of development.”


ValiRx shares have climbed 12.33% or 2.65p to 24.15p.


12.29pm: Hilton Food positive after results and Dutch vegan deal


Hilton Food Group PLC has served up some tasty results and seen its shares respond accordingly.


The company, which supplies meat, seafood, ready-to-cook and vegetarian meals, said half year revenues rose 35.3% with pretax profit up from GBP28.1mln to GBP35.8mln. The interim dividend is lifted by 17.1%.


The company is also moving further into vegetarian and vegan products by buying the remaining 50% of its Dutch joint venture partner Dalco Food.


It said: “This acquisition is in line with our strategy to further diversify and strengthen our protein offering within the fast-growing vegan and vegetarian market. Following this agreement there will be investment to significantly increase capacity to customers, grow its ranges and develop new, innovative, plant-based products.”


Chief executive Philip Heffer said: “This has been another strong performance, delivering both volume and profit growth in the face of ongoing disruption as a result of COVID-19. The results we have published today demonstrate the resilience of our business model and our ability to create sustainable value by working in dedicated partnerships with our customers and suppliers around the world.”


Looking ahead it said the full year results were expected to be in line with expectations.


Its shares have added 4.2% or 46p to 1140p.


11.00am: PCI-PAL hit by competitor’s patent infringement lawsuit


PCI-PAL PLC (AIM:PCIP) has seen its shares drop sharply after the secure payments specialist was hit with a patent infringement lawsuit by a competitor.


Semafone Ltd has filed the claim in the UK and US courts claiming PCI-PAL’s Agent Assist secure card payment technology infringes its own masking technology which provides a secure method for processing cardholder payments by telephone.


Semafone said it was seeking “damages and injunctive relief to prevent further sales and marketing of the Agent Assist product in violation of Semafone’s patent rights.”


Semafone chief executive Gary E. Barnett added: “Semafone has invested significant resources in its call and contact centre…solutions that protect confidential cardholder data and in building an intellectual property portfolio around those solutions.


“The company intends to diligently and vigorously protect its patent rights for the benefit of our investors, customers, partners and employees and prevent infringing use of our patented technologies by others. Semafone remains confident in the value of its patent portfolio.”


PCI-PAL dismissed the claims as “unfounded allegations.”


It said: “The directors strongly refute the claims being made by Semafone and believe that the Semafone claims have no basis.


“As a technology company, PCI-PAL has consistently obtained specialist patent legal advice (both within the UK and US) and is wholly confident that no patent infringement is taking place. PCI-PAL will defend itself robustly against all allegations of patent infringement.”


The dispute has seen PCI-PAL shares fall 14.12% or 12.5p to 76p.


10.11am: IGas Energy lifted by geothermal agreement


IGas Energy Plc (AIM:IGAS) has seen its shares flare up after it signed a deal with CeraPhi Energy, a specialist in repurposing oil and gas assets for geothermal energy.


The two companies will jointly develop geothermal energy projects using specific wells in IGas’s asset portfolio.


The first project will be sited in the Lincoln area on one of IGas’s existing sites.


This will be used to demonstrate the commercial potential for geothermal energy production from repurposing existing oil and gas assets for direct heat for agriculture, residential heating and cooling, and the development of hybrid energy systems generating both heat and power.


IGas chief executive Stephen Bowler said: “The signing of the agreement with CeraPhi is another important step in IGas’s drive to diversify its operations, adding to the ongoing work on hydrogen production and carbon storage and bolstering our established geothermal offering.


“As local authorities and other large-scale users of heat transition away from fossil fuels we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries looking to geothermal as a solution and through this growing pipeline of development opportunities, IGas is well-positioned to deliver a solution to the long-term decarbonisation for heat in the UK.”


Its shares are up 10.97% or 1.7p at 17.2p.


9.01am: Eco Animal Health slumps as China slowdown continues


Shares in Eco Animal Health Group PLC are looking distinctly unhealthy after the company warned of a slowdown in its key Chinese market.


The company, which specialises in pharmaceuticals for the global animal health market, said in a statement for its annual meeting that a slowdown in China in the first quarter had continued in the subsequent three months, due to a decline in pork prices.


Revenue from China in the five months to the end of August was significantly lower than budget, although it expects some recovery in the remainder of the financial year.


Elsewhere, overall revenues in the period have been behind a budget which assumed no seasonality but ahead of the prior year.


All in all, the impact of China resulted in five month revenues being 6% lower than the same time last year.


Chief executive Marc Loomes said: “The commodity price reduction seen in China since our year end has put additional pressure on the pork production industry. Many producers are trading at or below breakeven point, and this has resulted in significant headwinds in our sales efforts. We expect ongoing improvements in the prospects for sales in China, as the current imbalance of supply and demand is rectified and the typical seasonal increase in the demand for [antibiotic] Aivlosin in the winter months develops. Notwithstanding the first half shortfall in China we are encouraged with the revenue performance elsewhere in the group’s international markets.”


But the company’s shares have dropped 60p or 17.14% to 290p.


8.26am: Zenith Energy reports record profitability from Italian electricity business


Shares in Zenith Energy Ltd (ASX:ZEN) have sparked into life after it reported record profitability from its electricity generation business in Italy.


It has been producing an average of around 900 MWh per month at the Torrente Cigno concession, where low-grade natural gas production is used to generate electricity.


The electricity has been sold at an average price of around EUR110 per MWh, compared to the EUR45-EUR55 per MWh seen in September 2020.


The company has brought in net revenues of around EUR110,000 a month, while the current net production costs are approximately EUR35,000 per month.


Luca Benedetto, chief financial officer and managing director of the company’s Italian operations, said: “We are delighted with the record profitability of our electricity production at Torrente Cigno made possible by the favourable price of electricity in Italy at this time…


“It is our intention to replicate our successful model of electricity production at Torrente Cigno on a larger scale in certain African jurisdictions, following the identification of a suitable oil and gas production asset.


“It is important to underline that gas-powered electricity generation is significantly more environmentally friendly than using coal because of the comparatively much lower carbon content.”


The news has seen Zenith’s shares jump 14% to 1.14p.


Elsewhere Enwell Energy PLC has seen a 66% jump in half year revenues to US$41.1mln, thanks to increased production at its Ukraine fields and rising gas prices.


Pretax profits climbed from US$1.2mln to US$13.8mln.


Chief executive Sergii Glazunov said: “2021 has been an excellent operational year so far, with strong production from the MEX-GOL, SV and VAS fields, coupled with the significant recovery in gas prices, contributing to our much improved profitability in the period. We are looking forward to the results of the SV-29 development well and to further progressing our development programme over the remainder of the year. “


The company’s shares have climbed 9.29% to 35.52p.

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