Small cap movers: Sparkling first month for Bens Creek but there’s no sugar-coating IG Design’s dism

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Bens Creek Group PLC (AIM:BEN) only floated on 19 October and already the share price has doubled on positive news flow.


On 21 October, the owner of a metallurgical coal mine in North America announced its off-take agreement with Integrity Coal Sales of New York.


This week, the shares shot up a further 55% as the company inked a contract mining services agreement with Mega Highwall, which will be responsible for the production of the company’s metallurgical coal reserves for 12 months.


The contract agreement suggests an additional 18,000 tons of coal per month will be produced over and above the off-take agreement with Integrity Coal Sales, which will be available to sell, perhaps as part of a separate off-take agreement.


E-Therapeutics PLC (ETX) enjoyed a tailwind from the announcement of a new business initiative following successful lab testing of its new lead technology.


“These excellent results show that our proprietary delivery system and siRNA chemistries are competitive relative to peer platforms,” said chief executive Ali Mortazavi.


“This is a material step in the company’s ultimate goal of developing an in-house RNAi pipeline with future scope for early-stage partnering,” he added.


e-Therapeutics PLC said it expects to offer “early-stage business development opportunities to potential partners in the coming months” following successful lab testing of its lead technology.


The company uses small interfering RNA, sometimes known as silencing RNA, and couples, or ‘conjugates’ it with a drug technology that ensures it gets to the right cells in the liver.


Shares were up 20% this week at 41.25p, helped by a bit of topping of his stake by Mortazavi. The ETX CEO bought 275,000 shares at 36.5p each/


Also benefiting from a director splashing the cash was XLMedia PLC (AIM:XLM), where non-executive director Julie Markey spent GBP26,000 on 63,064 shares, working out at about 41.22p per share.


Markey, who previously owned no shares in XLMedia, now has a stake of 0.024%.


XLMedia’s shares currently trade at 46.5p, up 24% on the week.


It is hard to tell whether Nightcap PLC (AIM:NGHT), the company behind the London Cocktail Club brand, has chosen a highly propitious time to expand like billy-o or a completely bonkers one.


This week the company confirmed it would open its three newest London Cocktail Club sites during November; one of them is even in London! (The other two are in Bristol and Reading).


The three openings will take the group’s total number of open sites from 19 to 22 sites, with an additional 11 sites currently in legal negotiations and a further 10 sites under offer, across several of the group’s brands.


The shares were up 15% at 19p this week.


Another sector going through a turbulent time is the office space … er … space. SmartSpace Software PCL, which designs room-booking and hot-desk booking software, has been dragged down with the sector but it bounced back this week with a decent set of interims (in the circumstances).


Recurring revenues were up 52% to GBP1.59mln compared to the first half of last year with the company saying the trend continued into the second half of the year.


SmartSpace shares were up 12%.


IG Design Group PLC (LSE:IGR), down 44$ at 250p, was the week’s biggest faller after a gloomy trading update.


With a market capitalisation of just under GBP250mln it is arguable whether it is truly a small-cap but it soon will be if it has many more weeks like this one.


The stationery and creative play products maker grumbled about the logistical disruption within its global supply chain, while the business has experienced worsening cost headwinds, with sea freight costs up significantly across all regions, alongside raw material and labour inflation as well as supply availability issues.


As such, the group now expects full-year operating margins will be 1.75 to 2.25 percentage points lower year on year resulting in full-year earnings being significantly below current market expectations.


No matter how you gift wrap it, that was a pretty grim trading update.


Distil (AIM:DIS) PLC, probably best known for its RedLeg Spiced Rum and Blackwoods gin and vodka brands, jumped on the “low carbon” bandwagon this week with an announcement relating to the Ardgowan Distil (AIM:DIS)lery Company, in which it recently made a GBP3mln investment.


“Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Ardgowan has announced a partnership with Briggs, a globally recognised engineering company with extensive experience in the distilling industry, to realise its ambitious for a new multi-million-pound eco-friendly distillery near Inverkip, west of Glasgow. The partnership goal will be to deliver a carbon-negative distillery in 2024 after an initial period of equipment testing and commissioning,” the announcement said.


Full marks for tying in the announcement with the forthcoming COP26 meeting but the result – Distil’s shares were down 14% at 1.5p – was not perhaps the one Distil was expecting.

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