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SMALL CAP MOVERS: 7digital Group PLC rockets

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small cap movers 7digital group plc rockets

7digital Group was the top riser this week, rocketing 143 per cent to 1p on the back of a contract with US video platform Triller.

The digital music company’s catalogue of more than 80million tracks will be available to Triller users when editing videos.

Triller has been on the news lately as it could potentially to replace TikTok in the US if the White House ban goes ahead.

TikTok’s parent ByteDance has just over a month to find a potential buyer in the US, otherwise transactions with the Chinese company will be prohibited under an order signed by Donald Trump.

7Digital Group is a digital music firm which has a catalogue of more than 80million tracks

7Digital Group is a digital music firm which has a catalogue of more than 80million tracks

7Digital Group is a digital music firm which has a catalogue of more than 80million tracks

Washington is looking to disrupt the company’s activity over concerns of personal data use.

If it goes ahead, Apple and Google wouldn’t be able to provide it on their app stores, hindering its growth.

As events unfold, Triller is reportedly seeking fresh funding of US$250million that value it at US$1billion, a huge jump from October’s valuation of US$130million.

Graphene was supposed to be the new super-strong, superconductive nano-material destined to transform all areas life.

Who would have thought it would have found commercial traction in ‘super-safe’ Covid facemasks? Directa Plus, up 9 per cent, is the second AIM firm to come to the market with a graphene-enhance mask, following Versarien, which has significant orders for its PPE product lines.

Turning to the wider market, the AIM All-Share was up 2 per cent to 951, outperforming the FTSE 100 index which was flat at 6,043.

Sticking to the risers, N4 Pharma soared 67 per cent to 9p on the back of positive results of its study to evaluate COVID-19 applications of Nuvec, its delivery system for cancer treatments and vaccines.

Oiler Westmount Energy surged 44 per cent to 21p after it was announced that the Stena Carron drillship has arrived at the Tanager-1 wellsite, offshore Guyana.

Directa Plus is the second AIM firm to come to the market with a graphene-enhance mask

Directa Plus is the second AIM firm to come to the market with a graphene-enhance mask

Directa Plus is the second AIM firm to come to the market with a graphene-enhance mask 

Sector-mate Angus Energy climbed 34 per cent to 1p after securing an off-take agreement with Royal Dutch Shell for the entire production from the Saltfleetby Gas Field onshore England. It is also to submit its application for an extended well test at the nearby Balcombe site next week.

In the IT sector, digital transformation firm The Panoply Holdings shot up 37 per cent to 137p after unveiling two significant contracts signed with HM Land Registry worth up to £4.8million in total.

On the contracts front, remote site service provider RA International jumped 20 per cent to 55p on the back of a new US$60million deal with a large engineering and construction firm in Southern Africa.

Meanwhile, Horizonte Minerals advanced 22 per cent to 4p after signing up five international banks – BNP Paribas, ING Capital, Mizuho Bank, Natixis, and Société Générale – to arrange a US$325million debt facility to get work underway at the Araguaia ferro-nickel project in Brazil. This was seen by the market as a major tick in the box for the asset and a vote of confidence in the management team, led by Jeremy Martin.

Online retailer ASOS added 10 per cent to 4,754p after lifting the profits expectations for the full-year after stronger than anticipated demand for its clothing lines.

Online retailer ASOS added 10 per cent after lifting the profits expectations for the full-year after stronger than anticipated demand for its clothing lines

Online retailer ASOS added 10 per cent after lifting the profits expectations for the full-year after stronger than anticipated demand for its clothing lines

Online retailer ASOS added 10 per cent after lifting the profits expectations for the full-year after stronger than anticipated demand for its clothing lines

Among the fallers, pharma services provider Proteome Sciences tanked 25 per cent to 3p after admitting the 71 per cent jump in half-year revenues to £600,000 saw a disproportionate increase in costs due to re-stocking, so loss before tax widened 15 per cent to £480,000.

Satellite communications equipment firm Global Invacom Group dropped 20 per cent to 6p after admitting a fall in anticipated orders as the US, one of its significant markets, continues to be severely impacted by COVID-19.

Likewise, computer training company Pennant International slipped 18% to 33p after warning turnover for the 2020 financial year will be around £14mln, against last year’s £20mln revenues, due to continued coronavirus disruption to its contracts.

PetroTal shed 14 per cent to 11p after shutting down the Bretana Oil Field in Peru following protests against the government, as activist groups feel local communities are not receiving their fair share from oil activities.

Finally, oncology drug development consultancy Physiomics lost 7 per cent to 6p after chief executive Jim Millen sold 597,332 shares at 6.45p each to cover the cost of his exercise of options, so he now owns 1.42 per cent.

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UK car production crawl to a 45% decline in August

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uk car production crawl to a 45 decline in august

Car factory production in the UK fell by a massive 45 per cent in August ,as weak demand for new motors during the Covid-19 pandemic continued to strangle the automotive industry.

Just 51,039 new motors left UK assembly lines last month compared to 92,153 in the same month of 2019. 

That’s despite a predicted surge in sales in September with the industry pinning hopes on motorists flocking to dealerships to order vehicles with the latest 70 plate.

The trade body said any efforts to ramp up manufacturing in August had ‘stalled’ amid the coronavirus crisis and warned that weak demand in key overseas markets will now be compounded until the end of 2020 by the latest measures implemented by the government to curb the nation’s rising infection rate. 

'Increasingly disturbing times' for UK car manufacturing: The reduced global demand for new cars caused by the pandemic has seen vehicle production slump another 45% in August, new figures released today have revealed

‘Increasingly disturbing times’ for UK car manufacturing: The reduced global demand for new cars caused by the pandemic has seen vehicle production slump another 45% in August, new figures released today have revealed

The SMMT said August outputs had suffered a secondary blow from some vehicle plants implementing annual maintenance shutdown periods, which have been delayed from April when car factory workers were forced to stay home.

As a result, production for UK dealers fell by 58 per cent, with just 7,795 new cars built for customers in Britain last month compared to 18,710 in August 2019.

Export demand also shrank, meaning production for foreign markets fell by 31 per cent. 

A total of 43,244 new motors were built for overseas sales, meaning more than four in five new cars leaving factories are exported. In August 2019, 73,443 vehicles were produced for customers outside of the UK.  

So far this year UK car production is down 40 per cent, representing a loss of 348,821 units.  

Slump: UK car production has been hammered by the pandemic, with the fall in demand and restrictions imposed on factories resulting in some 13,500 job losses in the sector in 2020

Slump: UK car production has been hammered by the pandemic, with the fall in demand and restrictions imposed on factories resulting in some 13,500 job losses in the sector in 2020

August outputs saw 2020 car manufacturing limp over the half-a-million unit mark. By the end of the same month last year some 867,000 vehicles had left UK assembly lines

August outputs saw 2020 car manufacturing limp over the half-a-million unit mark. By the end of the same month last year some 867,000 vehicles had left UK assembly lines

The news comes as the UK braces for a second wave of coronavirus, with local lockdowns in place across parts of the country and tighter social and business restrictions to curb the rate of transmission. 

This is likely to limited an expected rise in demand for new cars this month, with the industry desperate for a strong September performance.

‘These are increasingly disturbing times for UK car makers and suppliers with the coronavirus crisis weighing heavily on the sector 
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive 

The ninth month of the year is traditionally one of the most popular times for consumers to buy cars due to the arrival of a new registration number – in this case the 70 plate – and a raft of deals offered in showrooms to encourage motorists to splash their cash. 

With this predicted spike in dealer activity now strangled, the SMMT said Thursday’s announced Job Support Scheme will be critical for the industry to survive while market demand and production capacity remain diminished.

So far this year UK car production losses due to the crisis have cost manufacturers more than £9.5 billion, losses that will be impossible to catch back, the trade body said. 

Meanwhile at least 13,500 jobs are known to have been cut across the entire UK automotive sector in 2020, with a recent SMMT member survey highlighting that one in six auto jobs are at risk of redundancy when the current job support scheme ends.

UK car production losses throughout 2020 have cost manufacturers more than £9.5 billion - losses that won't ever be recovered by the motor industry

UK car production losses throughout 2020 have cost manufacturers more than £9.5 billion – losses that won’t ever be recovered by the motor industry

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘These are increasingly disturbing times for UK car makers and suppliers with the coronavirus crisis weighing heavily on the sector. 

‘Companies are bracing for a second wave with tighter social and business restrictions making the industry’s attempts to restart even more challenging. 

‘The UK industry is fundamentally strong and agile, and the measures announced yesterday by the Chancellor are welcome and essential, although we await more details of how they will work for all businesses and crucially large manufacturers. 

‘Companies need to retain skilled jobs and maintain cashflow and we may need more support to boost business and consumer confidence later this year. 

‘Moreover, with fewer than 100 days until the Brexit transition period ends, we need urgent agreement of an ambitious free trade deal with our largest market to avoid the second shock of crippling tariffs.’ 

SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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MARKET REPORT: Smiths shares in sick bay despite dividend pledge

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market report smiths shares in sick bay despite dividend pledge

Promise of a dividend at Smiths Group was not enough to put the engineering group in investors’ good books.

The company, which creates items from intensive care devices to airport security scanners, announced plans to cut jobs after its profits for the year to July 31 tanked by 23 per cent to £327million.

And even though it became the latest company to reinstate its dividend, at 35p compared to last year’s 45.9p, shares still fell by 7.5 per cent, or 107.5p, to 1324.5p.

Smiths Group, which creates items from intensive care devices to airport security scanners, announced plans to cut jobs after profits for the year to July 31 tanked by 23 per cent to £327m

Smiths Group, which creates items from intensive care devices to airport security scanners, announced plans to cut jobs after profits for the year to July 31 tanked by 23 per cent to £327m

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘The understandable lack of any earnings guidance for the 2021 financial year, emphasis on investment for the company’s long-term future which could weigh on short-term profits, and the absence of a firmer timetable for the delayed, and long-awaited, spin-off of the medical division are all possible reasons for the share price slide.’

Smiths began attempts to sell off its medical division late last year, in a deal it hoped would value the unit at around £2.4billion. 

The medical arm has been burdened with extra costs this year as it rushed to make coronavirus ventilators for the NHS, and Smiths gave no further update about the sale.

Stock Watch – SIG 

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Building products firm SIG tumbled as it revealed its first-half losses had continued into the second half of the year.

The Sheffield-based company said its like-for-like sales were down 23.9 per cent in the first half of the year, as the pandemic put the building market on hold. 

This pushed it from a £2.2million profit over the same time last year to a £125.4million loss. 

But revenue for the year would be down by less than the £500million it had originally predicted. 

Shares fell 10 per cent, or 2.68p to 24.1p.

It is part of a wider restructuring designed to cut costs, and the company added yesterday that there would be job cuts. It declined to reveal how many.

The slide at Smiths weighed on the FTSE 100, which ended the day down 1.3 per cent, or 76.48 points, at 5822.78 points.

Rolls-Royce, which has been battered by a lack of demand for its aeroplane engines, was the only blue-chip stock to perform worse as it slid 7.6 per cent, or 12.3 per cent, to 150.1p. 

With investors around the world worried about a second wave of Covid-19 – and fresh curbs to stop the virus from spreading – the FTSE 250 also slipped 1.1 per cent ,or 190.3 points, to 16802.69.

It was dragged down by Cineworld, which plunged 14.8 per cent, or 7.2p, to 41.4p, after revealing a £1.3billion half-year loss.

African telecoms firm Airtel added to the index’s woes, as it fell 7.2 per cent, or 4.3p, to 55.8p amid signs of worsening economic performance in the countries it operates in.

Pets at Home was one of the few bright spots on the index, bounding higher by 27.8 per cent, or 84.8p, to 390p as it posted better-than-expected results.

And while most of the travel sector has been stuck in the doldrums for the majority of 2020, National Express managed to claw back a 12 per cent, or 15p rise, in its share price to 140p. 

The coach company said it was ‘resolutely optimistic’ about its long-term prospects, revealing that trading had been ‘slightly better’ in recent weeks than it had expected. 

Its gloomy base case had forecast revenue to be 50 per cent lower than last year until the end of August.

Hostel company Safestay was also doing remarkably well despite lockdown. In its half-year results, the firm – which operates 20 hostels across 11 European and four UK cities – said occupancy for the first six months of the year had been just 55 per cent.

This pushed revenues down 58 per cent to £3.4million. But losses were a relatively subdued £1.2million, as Safestay took advantage of government aid schemes and reduced as many costs as possible.

In July and August, the firm was even managing to trade at the higher end of its forecast. Shares climbed 3.8 per cent, or 0.5p, to 13.5p.

While Covid has been an obstacle for most firms, some have tried to bend it to their advantage.

Science company Open Orphan confirmed speculation it was in negotiations with the Government to run a £7million coronavirus vaccine trial on humans. But shares fell by 13.3 per cent, or 2.5p, to 16.3p.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Rishi Sunak slaps dividend ban on big companies

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rishi sunak slaps dividend ban on big companies

Britain’s biggest firms have been told they cannot pay dividends, dish out bonuses or sack staff if they want to benefit from Rishi Sunak’s latest coronavirus bailout.

With the furlough scheme due to close at the end of next month, the Chancellor unveiled his new job support scheme to help pay the wages of staff brought back part-time.

But unlike the existing lifeline, which was used by big firms such as British Airways and Philip Green’s Arcadia before they laid off workers, the new jobs scheme will come with strings attached. All small and medium-sized firms will be eligible for support.

With the furlough scheme due to close at the end of next month, the Chancellor unveiled his new job support scheme to help pay the wages of staff brought back part-time

With the furlough scheme due to close at the end of next month, the Chancellor unveiled his new job support scheme to help pay the wages of staff brought back part-time

In contrast, larger firms will have to undergo a financial impact test to demonstrate their business has been hit by Covid-19.

There was no such requirement for the Job Retention Scheme, which has been used by 1.2m firms to support 9.6m jobs – at a cost of more than £39billion so far.

Yesterday Sunak told MPs he wanted to ensure support ‘is targeted where it is most needed.’

He added: ‘Similarly there will be restrictions on larger companies in terms of capital distributions to shareholders, whilst they are in receipt of money for their workers on this scheme, and indeed they will not be able to make redundancy notices to those workers who are on this scheme throughout its duration.’

Further details will be published in the coming days but it is understood larger firms such as those in the FTSE 350 will also be banned from paying executives bonuses.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the restrictions make ‘perfect sense’ but would come as another blow to investors and pension funds, which have already seen dividends slashed at a number of major firms.

He added: ‘The loss of dividends is another blow in the short term but better that than the long-term damage to a company’s reputation or finances from paying dividends with money it does not really have.’

The Chancellor wants to avoid a repeat of firms claiming taxpayer support to save jobs, only to announce mass lay-offs. 

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BA’s decision to furlough nearly 23,000 staff shortly before announcing plans to cut 12,000 jobs angered MPs, despite the airline battling for survival. Arcadia, which owns Topshop, also accepted millions of pounds before axing hundreds of jobs.

Measures announced by Sunak yesterday were part of efforts to avert another wave of job losses after ministers tightened up social distancing rules to tackle a resurgence of the virus.

The end of the furlough scheme next month and new restrictions – including a 10pm curfew on pubs across England – has piled pressure on the Chancellor to come up with a replacement.

The job support scheme will run for six months from November 1. It is much less generous than the furlough scheme but is still expected to cost the Government £300million per month for every one million workers it supports.

The Treasury is understood to estimate that anywhere between 2m and 5m people could be covered by the scheme – meaning it could cost up to £1.5billion a month.

Firms can use it to top up the wages of those staff who work at least 33 per cent of their normal hours, taking their pay to at least 77 per cent of usual. 

For every hour not worked the employer and the Government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay. 

The Government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month – much lower than the £2,500 cap under the furlough scheme.

Paul Johnson, the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, predicted the support was not generous enough. 

But the CBI, which represents big firms, said it would ‘save hundreds of thousands of viable jobs this winter’.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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