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UK TRADING UPDATE SUMMARY: M&C Saatchi Feels Virus Pain

Thu, 2nd Apr 2020 16:02

(Alliance News) - The following is a round-up of updates by UK companies on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, issued on Thursday and not separately reported by Alliance News:



M&C Saatchi PLC - advertising - Trading in the first two months of 2020 in line with board's expectations. Began to feel virus impact in March, with a reduction in activity in several markets following government restrictions. All divisions continue to operate, with the majority of offices currently operating a remote working policy. Not providing financial guidance for 2020 and suspending dividend payments until further notice. Had GBP45 million cash as at March 23. Reducing costs in a number of areas and improving cashflow and working capital through deferrals of tax and rent. Board and senior management team taking 20% pay cut. Redundancy consultations which began before virus crisis to continue.



Thruvision Group PLC - people-screening technology - Revenue for the year to March-end to total somewhat below previous expectations at GBP8.0 million versus GBP6.0 million a year ago. Virus pandemic caused a material slowdown in order-flow in March. Number of orders and trials delayed due to the virus outbreak. Supply chain disruption forcing the company to moderate production. Cash at March-end GBP8.6 million.



JZ Capital Partners Ltd - investment fund - Seeing a negative impact on certain portfolio companies, although the exact nature, extent and duration of that impact not yet known and cannot be accurately assessed. Continuing to monitor closely the developments of virus and its impact on the performance of its portfolio companies.



Mercia Asset Management PLC - wealth manager - Portfolio companies, Native Antigen Co Ltd and Oxford Genetics Ltd, form strategic partnership to scale up Covid-19 antigen production. Native's antigens can be used to develop smaller, point-of-care antibody test kits that could also be used on a mass basis at the community level for the confirmation of Covid-19 infection. Partnership will see both companies working together towards developing more scalable technologies for cost-effective infectious disease reagent production. Mercia owns 31% stake in Native and 30% in Oxford Genetics.



TransGlobe Energy Corp- Egypt and Canada focussed oil explorer - Activates business continuity plans across locations, with no health and safety impacts or disruption to production. Cutting monthly by 35% through headcount reduction, universal salary rollbacks and reducing all discretionary expenditures. Currently holds USD26.7 million in cash. Production guidance for 2020 remains unchanged at an average of 13,300 to 14,300 barrels of oil equivalent per day. First quarter production averaged 14,965 barrels.



Omega Diagnostics Group PLC - medical diagnostics - Sees minimal impact from virus outbreak on business and expects revenue for the year ended March 31 to be in-line with market expectation. Expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation to be in the range of GBO700,000 to GBP750,000, broadly in line with market expectations. Gets regulatory approval from the National Medical Products Administration, formerly China Food & Drug Administration, for laboratory use of the Chinese version of Food Detective test. Gets approval from Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health deploy Visitect CD4 350 test throughout the country.



Hollywood Bowl Group PLC - ten-pin bowling - Implemented store close-down plans with minimal disruption for both customers and team members. Government actions will result in cash savings of GBP6 million for the current financial year. Cash stood at GBP15.6 million and debt at GBP30.3 million as at March-end. Decides against declaring interim dividend. Unable to provide financial guidance for year ending September 30.



Manolete Partners PLC - insolvency litigation financing - Remains fully operational with all employees working from home. Activity levels in March were high, featuring 50 new case enquiries, 15 new signed cases and 8 case completions. Conducting mediations and other alternative dispute resolution meetings using video conferencing services In 12 to March-end, cases jumped to 141 from 61 a year ago. Completed cases increased 54% to 54 and gross proceeds totaled GBP10.1 million versus GBP9.3 million.



GRC International Group PLC - governance, risk management and compliance software - Demand dropped slightly during middle of March as clients focused on the transition to remote working. Some clients de-prioritised security and compliance projects, while other clients recognise the level of risk in the changing environment and are prioritising security, continuity and compliance. Secures two substantial contracts, with an aggregate GBP255,000 revenue in the year ending March 31, 2021.



Egdon Resources PLC - oil and gas exploration - No incidents of infection within workforce. Operational sites - Keddington and Fiskerton Airfield - established procedures and plans to ensure continuing safe functioning in line with existing government regulation. Production remains within guidance of 130 to 140 barrels of oil equivalent per day for the year ending July 31. Revenue during the six months to January 31 totalled GBP675,000, down from GBP1.2 million, due to lower gas prices. To take GBP2.5 million to GBP3.0 million impairment charge due to lower oil and gas prices.



Arbuthnot Banking Group PLC - private banking - Will not be proceeding with the payment of the second interim dividend announced on Thursday last week in line with UK Prudential Regulation Authority's guidelines



ULS Technology PLC - online platforms for conveyancing and financial intermediary markets - Expects underlying pretax profit for the year to March-end in the region of GBP4.7 million. Conveyancing transactions being completed beginning to reduce substantially due to movement restrictions. Unable to give guidance on forecasts for financial 2021. Expects a sharp fall in revenue and profitability while social distancing measures remain in place. Over GBP2 million in cash as at March-end.



Volution Group PLC - ventilation products - Sees marked reduction in ordeer intake and revenue across the UK, Belgium and latterly Australia and New Zealand due to government lockdowns. Impact in the Nordics and Germany to date less pronounced. Anticipates demand to remain considerably below normal levels of trading. Expects to maintain a baseline of orders and revenue throughout the crisis. Furloughs 60% of UK workforce and cutting costs. Cash balance at March-end stood at GBP41 million, with a further £14 million of undrawn facilities available under loan facility.



Duke Royalty Ltd - royalty finance - Cash revenue for year to March-end in line with market expectations at over GBP10.0 million, with March contributing the greatest monthly cash revenue received to date at over GBP1.0 million. Virus outbreak will reduce royalty payments for the year ending March 31, 2021 in turn having a negative impact on the fair value of the portfolio assets, leading to potential write downs. Withdraws market guidance, but intends to continue paying dividends. Net debt of GBP13 million and a cash balance of GBP2.7 million.



Palace Capital PLC - property investment - Underlying earnings for the year to March-end to be broadly in line with previous expectations. Received 70% of rent due as of Wednesday. Unable to comment further on the outlook for financial 2021. Cancels quarterly dividend of 4.75 pence per share for three months ended December 31, 2019. Limited retail exposure and only two leisure centres, with the latter comprising 14.5% of our portfolio. Working on rent deferrals on case-by-case basis. Cash of GBP14.7 million and a further GBP5.0 million credit facility.



Advanced Medical Solutions Group PLC - woundcare specialist - All sites currently in operation and meeting commitments to maintain supply of medical devices. Experiencing a slowdown in demand caused by the cancellation or postponement of elective surgeries and a reduction in accident & emergency treatment as a result of the global lockdowns. Estimates 3% to 5% hit to annual revenue each month due to restrictions. Unable to predict the eventual financial impact. Will still propose final dividend for 2019 of 1.05 pence per share. Strong cash position of GBP65 million and no debt as at December 31.



AdEPT Technology Group PLC - information technology services - Sees 85% jump in call volumes over last few weeks as people work from homes due to movement restrictions imposed by governments. Anticipate volumes to fall quickly over the next few weeks. Reports surge in demand for laptops to provide technology in the home. Sales and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the year to March-end to be in line with market expectations of a 19% and 13% rise year-on-year respectively. Cancels interim dividend payment and evaluates payment of final dividend. Cash at GBP12 million and net debt of GBP28 million.



Benchmark Holdings PLC - aquaculture genetics - Too early to assess the level of impact for year ending September 30, but anticipates a negative impact on earnings. Genetics business has not been materially affected by virus outbreak. In Advanced Nutrition, global shrimp consumption has dropped, with a consequent reduction in production in most markets. Taking actions to reduce cost and conserve cash. Disposal of non-core activities and restructuring ongoing with some delays. Strong liquidity position with GBP63.6 million cash and undrawn facilities as at March 30.



Flowtech Fluidpower PLC - fluid power products - Final few weeks of first quarter impacted by virus outbreak. Overall, revenue down by around 30%, with expectations that volumes may dip further before recovering. Not prudent to provide formal guidance for the 2020. Would need a prolonged 35% drop in revenue run rates before the business becomes broadly break-even. Net debt at March-end was GBP15.6 million. Pursuing rationalisation and cost reduction programmes. Suspending all dividend payments to save cash.



KRM22 PLC - technology and software investment - Anticipates average recurring revenue for 2020 to be significantly lower than management expectations. Expects to be positive on adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis. Seeing sales cycles for contracts extending predominantly due to the high volatility in markets. Reports order delays and deferrals due to virus outbreak. Implements further cost cutting actions to cut cost-base by over GBP1.0 million over 12 months. Cash at March-end of 2020 of GBP400,000. To draw down GBP500,000 from credit facility by June-end. Will be talking to shareholders about an equity placement as well as banks about access to government backed loans.



Attraqt Group PLC - software service platform - Chief Executive Luke McKeever steps down due to family reasons but will remain as non-executive director. Nick Habgood, non-executive chair, to assume interim executive chair, while the company searches for a new CEO. Not experiencing material impact from the developing virus situation. No change to its service or delivery to customers. Too early to predict virus impact on performance. Cash balance at December 31 of GBP4.0 million and an exit annual recurring revenue of GBP19.2 million.



Metal Tiger plc - natural resources investment - Investee Kalahari Metals Ltd suspends drilling at Kitlanya East, Botswana, due to government advised lockdowns across the country. The lockdown in Botswana is scheduled to remain in place for 28 days.



United Oil & Gas PLC- exploration - Takes proactive measures to reduce near-term capex commitments during current oil-price uncertainty and the virus impact. Substantial cut in administrative expenditure resulting in further cost savings. Production of gas and elimination of flaring increased gross production in Egypt to 8,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day - more than doubling the production compared to 12 months ago. Pre-payment facility with BP PLC provides downside price protection by effectively hedging 6,600 barrels of oil per month at USD60 per barrel for the next 30 months. Drilling operations are continuing at the El Salmiyah 5 infill well within the El Salmiyah field in Egypt.



Galantas Gold Corp - gold producer and explorer - Temporarily suspends milling operations at gold mine in Irleand. Potential re-start provisionally scheduled in 4 to 6 weeks. Concentrate production will be adversely affected and the company will apply for potential UK government loan and grant support. Endeavouring to achieve an acceptable resolution to increasing blasting. Due diligence over potential purchase or joint venture delayed due to government restrictions.



By Tapan Panchal; tapanpanchal@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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