Xtract Resources gains ground after positive drilling updates

Xtract Resources PLC (LSE:XTR) has put a shine on its share price with updates from two separate projects.

It said the diamond drilling programme at the Bushranger copper-gold project in New South Wales had completed two holes with positive results.

Chairman Colin Bird said: “I am very pleased with the results of these two holes, both of which intersected long runs of mineralisation of varying strengths.”

Separately it reported news from the Eureka copper-gold deposit in the Republic of Zambia.

Bird said: “Results to date from the drilling programme have been successful in extending the deposit strike to about 300m, with potential for expansion of the planned open pit. We are pleased to note that the deposit appears to occur as a single zone and that the previously postulated deposit split appears not to be the case. This represents a much better outcome for mine planning purposes. We look forward to receiving and reporting on the final batch of assay results shortly.”

The news has pushed its shares 0.25p or 7% higher to 3.89p.

2.20pm: Portmeirion (AIM:PMP) sees record growth as demand shows sharp recovery

Pottery firm Portmeirion (AIM:PMP) Group PLC is looking stylish after a positive update.

The company, whose brands include Spode and Royal Worcester as well as Portmeirion (AIM:PMP) itself, said first half revenues rose 35% to a record GBP43.1mln.

It is not only back to pre-pandemic levels but exceeding them, with sales up 24% compared to the first half of 2019 thanks to the strength of consumer demand and progress with its online strategy.

Profit before tax came in at GBP1.5mln compared to a GBP2.7mln loss this time last year and a GBP0.5mln profit for the same period in 2019.

It has seen a good start to the second half, and plans to resume paying a dividend at the year end.

New product launches included Sophie Conran for Portmeirion (AIM:PMP) and Spode Creatures of Curiosity.

Chief executive Mike Raybould said: “

“We have seen strong trading in the first half of the financial year, including a significant benefit from the focus on our online transformation strategy. Since the period end trading has continued that trend into the first two months of the second half of the financial year. Looking forward we continue to have a strong order book across our key markets. While we are cognisant of the ongoing, widely reported disruption and volatility in global supply chains we are confident the accelerated strategic investments we are making across our business will enable a strong path of growth in the next few years.

“Our products are much loved by our customers around the world and this is borne out by the speed of recovery in demand we are seeing across our key markets.

The company’s shares are 68p or 10.97% better at 688p.

11.53am: VR Education boosted by growth in demand for its virtual platform

VR Education Holdings PLC (AIM:VRE) continues to benefit from the growing use of virtual events and meetings amid the pandemic.

First half revenues rose by 83% to EUR1.25mln while losses were flat at EUR1.0mln before investment costs. After these it reported a loss of EUR1.3mln, up from EUR1.1mln.

It has seen increased demand for its ENGAGE platform, which creates and shares VR content for education, training, and online events, and now has more than 130 commercial customers.

Chief executive David Whelan said: “The first six months has seen the continued growth of ENGAGE, building on the trends of 2020, as more and more companies and organisations around the world see VR as a better way of communicating.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on the use of ENGAGE which is set to continue as the technology becomes more accessible, and the drive to live more sustainably, and reduce travel, picks up pace.

“We have seen major developments in the first six months, including the roll-out of our software in China through our partnership with HTC, passing the milestone of 100 commercial customers, and [the company] entering new markets, including the Middle East..Our outlook is more exciting than ever as VR comes of age as a business communications tool.”

The company’s shares have climbed 10.77% or 1.75p to 18p.

10.49am: Agronomics in demand after fish and meat deals

Investors are getting a taste for Agronomics Ltd (AIM:ANIC, OTC:AGNMF), the alternative proteins company which focuses on cellular agriculture and cultivated meat production.

Its shares are up 4.13% or 1p to 25.2p after two of its portfolio companies revealed new deals.

BlueNalu, where Agronomics holds shares and a convertible note representing 5.85% of the business, has signed a deal with frozen food group Nomad to explore the introduction of cell-cultured seafood in Europe

Lou Cooperhouse, president and chief executive officer at BlueNalu, said: “We are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Nomad Foods, which has revered, market- leading brands such as Birds Eye, Findus and iglo, to accelerate our market strategy in Europe.”

Meanwhile Meatable BV, where Agronomic holds 5.84%, has signed an agreement with Dutch multinational Royal DSM to co-develop growth media for cultivated meat. Growth media is a nutrient-rich liquid which contains the essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, salts, vitamins, and growth factors that cells need to grow.

Krijn de Nood, chief executive officer and co-founder of Meatable said: “Joining forces with DSM, a global leader in biotechnology, will accelerate our research and development trajectory significantly. Together, we aim to develop the right nutritional ingredients in a fundamentally more cost effective and scalable process, to become the leading consumer choice for cultivated meat.”

9.47am: Xaar shares drop as it falls into the red

Xaar PLC (LSE:XAR), a specialist in inkjet components and printing systems, has seen its shares fall back as it fell into the red.

Its continuing businesses – Xaar’s 3D printing business is set to be sold so is not included – reported a loss of GBP2.1mln for the half year, compared to a GBP1.3mln profit.

Its print systems business EPS has been restructured but is experiencing delays in sourcing key components. There has also been a GBP1mln write-down of slow moving or obsolete inventory, although the company expects growth to improve as COVID-19 eases in the US.

In the printhead business, Xaar said: “[This] has seen some COVID-19 related supply constraints causing global component shortages in the market in the first half of 2021. Actions have been taken to mitigate their impact and maintain continuity of supply for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, incurring increased costs. This will have a modest adverse impact on gross margins continuing into 2022. Due to ongoing uncertainty in relation to the COVID-19 Delta variant impact in Asia, we continue to be cautious with regards to our second half 2021 trading outlook.”

Overall, it added: “The short-term outlook remains positive with a healthy order book across the business. The success we have had in the first half of 2021, and the strength of the group’s balance sheet and cash position, means the business is well-positioned to withstand further volatility caused by the pandemic. We remain confident our full year 2021 results will be in line with expectations.”

But its shares have dropped 26p or 11.45% to 201p.

9.03am: Zytronic (AIM:ZYT) set to return to profit after sales improvement

Zytronic (AIM:ZYT) PLC, a specialist manufacturer of touch sensors, is in demand after a positive trading update.

The Newcastle-based company said in May it had started to see an improvement in sales.

Now it says that trend has continued, with second half revenues more than 30% ahead of the first six months.

This has lead to a faster return to profitablity and a reversal of the first half loss.

So overall, full year revenues and profits are now expected to be ahead of market forecasts.

The news has seen its shares jump 16.67% or 25p to 175p.

AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould said: “It is hard to imagine a much more difficult environment for a manufacturer of touch-sensitive screens than a pandemic and a time when people are shunning contact, but Zytronic (AIM:ZYT)’s trading update hints that the firm’s sales, profits and cash flows may finally be emerging from the doldrums.”

Elsewhere Tandem Group PLC (AIM:TND), whose products include toys, golf equipment and bicycles, has seen its profits speed ahead.

First half revenues rose 14% while pretax profits climbed 35% to GBP1.9mln.

In the toy business, its licensed range including Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig performed well, but others such as Trolls and Toy Story fell away from previous levels which had been boosted by movie releases.

The Ben Sayers golf business was well ahead of last year, while the performance of the bicycle business was flat apart from the lightweight children’s bicycle range Squish, which was well ahead of the same period last year.

But it still faces problems in getting enough stock of bicycles to meet demand.

It said: “The challenges previously reported have continued over the last two months since our AGM update. Global demand remains high with shipping containers still in short supply. Input costs, having risen significantly during the year to date, have yet to return to more reasonable levels.

“We continue to manage these challenges well, where necessary deferring shipments and seeking alternative shipping routes to minimise cost whilst seeking to maintain timely supply of product.”

But with a positive outlook overlook, the company’s shares are up 45p or 8.49% to 575p.

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