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AIM 50 Digest 24 September 2021

  • BY: Andrew Hore |
  • POSTED: 27/09/2021 |

Oil palm plantations operator MP Evans (MPE) delivered much better than expected interim results for the first half of 2021 and this sparked a large upgrade in the full year forecast. Higher production combined with sharply increase palm oil prices helped interim revenues to rise from $75.9m to $128m. The average mill gate price for palm oil was 34% higher at $724/tonne and it has risen further since June, while production increased by 29%. Earnings jumped from 5.7p a share to 38.3p a share. The interim dividend was doubled to 10p a share. The fifth mill has been opened and a sixth is planned at Musi Rawas. That will mean that 96% of production would be processed in the company’s own mills. Analysts expect 2021 earnings of around $1 a share and the full year dividend should be at least 30p a share. 
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Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has raised £175m at 900p a share to finance growth in meters and grid-scale batteries. In the first half of 2021, index-linked annual recurring revenues increased by 11% to £84.2m, while pre-tax profit was 5% higher at £9.6m. Smart meter installations are accelerating and there is a contracted pipeline of 2.75 million smart meters.
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Central Asia Metals (CAML) has increased its interim dividend by one-third to 8p a share. That represents 40% of free cash flow. Interim revenues increased from $70.8m to $100.8m and free cash flow more than doubled from $21.2m to $48.9m. The $10m debt facility was repaid early and there should be net cash by the end of the year. Copper, zinc and lead concentrate sales were lower, but the prices obtained were higher.
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Alliance Pharma (APH) improved its interim pre-tax profit by one-quarter to £20.1m on revenues that increased a similar proportion to £80.9m. This includes a contribution of £9.5m from Amberen menopause relief supplements. Kelo-Cote scar treatment and Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo both grew sales, while MacuShield sales recovered. Vamousse head lice treatment sales were hit by school closures.
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Interim revenues at Fevertree Drinks (FEVR) increased by 36% to £141.8m with all regions showing growth. UK revenues were only 4% ahead, but North American revenues were one-third higher and European revenues doubled. Underlying pre-tax profit improved from £22.5m to £26.6m. Net cash was £133.2m at the end of June 2021. The interim dividend is 5.52p a share. Full year revenues are expected to be between £295m to £304m.
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Full year revenues from continuing operations at Clinigen (CLIN) increased by 7% to £458.6m. Margins declined, and earnings fell 14% to 55.9p a share. Net debt is £316.9m, but this should reduce significantly this year. Clinigen has signed a deal with Secura Bio Inc to supply COPIKTRA, which is a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Clinigen will distribute the treatment in 39 countries, but not in the UK and Germany. 
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Veterinary practices operator CVS Group (CVSG) grew like-for-like sales by 17% in the year to June 2021. Underlying pre-tax profit jumped 73% to £66.2m. The final dividend is 6.5p a share.
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Acquisitive elearning company Learning Technologies Group (LTG) generated organic revenue growth of 7% in the first half of 2021. Group revenues increased from £64.1m to £82.6m. Earnings edged up from 2.251p a share to 2.31p a share. This was before the acquisition of GP Strategies, which should complete before the end of the year. The interim dividend is 0.3p a share.
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Abcam (ABC) is changing its year end to December following the life science research tools supplier’s listing on Nasdaq. Revenues in the 12 months to June 2021 improved from £260m to £297.7m, but operating profit slumped from £45.8m to £28.2m. However, in the six months to June 2021, a loss of £16.1m was turned into a profit of £10.3m. Net cash was £219.9m, but since June BioVision Inc was acquired for $340m. 
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Woundcare products developer Advanced Medical Solutions (AMS) increased interim revenues by 28% to £50.2m and more than doubled underlying pre-tax profit to £12.4m. The interim dividend is 0.58p a share. Elective surgery is still at reduced levels, but activity is improving. There was an initial first half contribution from Raleigh, a coater and converter of woundcare materials, and it is expected to be earnings enhancing in 2021. 
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ITM Power (ITM) generated a 30% increase in sales revenues to £4.3m, although grant income fell. The loss fell from £29.4m to £26.7m. After the fundraising earlier in the year, ITM had £176.1m in cash at the end of June 2021. There is a contracts backlog worth £171m, including £36m of work in progress.
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Bertrand Bodson will become chief executive of Keywords Studios (KWS) on 1 December. He was previously at Novartis. Non-executive director Marion Sears bought 1,000 shares at £30.523 each.
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Benchmark Holdings (BMK) has gained certification for the CleanTreat water purification system from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. CleanTreat received the best score possible.
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Soft drinks maker Nichols (NICL) chief executive Andrew Milne bought 4,366 shares at 1374p each.

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