A buoyant construction market is good news for building materials firms, and Michelmersh Brick Holdings Plc (AIM:MBH) is no exception.


The brick maker said its trading performance had been positive in the final quarter of the year, and it now expects revenues and profits for the full year to be ahead of market forecasts.


It said: “We continue to see strong demand in our end markets from new housing, key repairs, maintenance and improvement and commercial regeneration projects.


“Despite the ongoing inflation impacts on our supply chain, the group is managing its costs in line with management expectations. Specifically on energy prices, the group’s hedging policy means the group is well placed to manage the impact of gas price volatility over the medium term with our requirements significantly hedged through to 2023.”


It also has a strong order book, giving it confidence for the next financial year.


Its shares are up 3.16% at 130.5p.


2.46pm: Studio Retail loses a fifth of its value as it warns of lower than expected profits


Studio Retail Group PLC (LSE:STU) has dropped sharply as it warned full year profits would be less than expected.


The online value retailer, which offers 2.3mln customers clothes, footwear and electrical goods, said half year profits jumped 67% to GBP26.5mln.


But along with many other companies it has had to deal with supply problems, pricing pressures and staff shortages.


To cope it sourced stock early, edged up its own prices while trying to maintain its value image, and raised pay to attract temporary staff for its peak season.


However it said: “Studio typically delivers around 40% of its full-year product sales during the third quarter, the period that includes Black Friday and Christmas.


“Our core seasonal ranges have sold well throughout peak and although sales of certain ranges, notably ladies clothing, have been slower than expected, they have recovered well in the last two weeks.


“Our impression is that customers are shopping more selectively this year given inflationary pressures and the recovery from the pandemic.


“The supply chain challenges have added cost and gross margin pressure that has only partially been mitigated through pricing.


“We have also recruited fewer new customers due to marketing media inflation, lower availability hindering conversion, plus changes previously described in our financial services strategy that have had more of a short-term impact than anticipated.”


So it expects full year profits to be in the range of GBP35mln-GBP40mln rather than the GBP42mln-GBP45mln previously forecast.


The news has sent its shares down 21.46% or 50p to 183p.


12.31pm: Serica Energy sees first production from Columbus field in the North Sea


Serica Energy Plc (AIM:SQZ) has announced the first production from its Columbus field in the central North Sea.


It expects the field to be producing at its potential by early December.


Chief executive Mitch Flegg said: “This marks a significant milestone for Serica as it reaches the successful conclusion of its first development project. The company was involved in the original discovery of Columbus and has acted as operator through the appraisal and development phases and now into operations. I look forward to updating the market in mid-December by which time we expect to have ramped up production to a stable level.”


The news has lifted the company’s shares by 5.2% or 10.74p to 217.24p.


11.43am: President Energy lifted by partnership deal in Paraguay


President Energy PLC (AIM:PPC) has gained ground after a partnership deal in Paraguay.


It has completed the farm-out of the Pirity Concession to CPC Corporation, the state-owned energy company of Taiwan.


CPC and President, through their subsidiary companies, now have an equal 50/50 interest in the concession with President continuing as the operator.


The company estimates that the Delray Complex in the concession has 230mln barrels of oil in place, and an exploration well is set to begin drilling in the first half of 022.


President’s chairman Peter Levine said: “It is obvious that all exploration carries a health warning with material risks to the downside. However, the learnings from our previous wells in an entirely different structure within the concession together with subsequent sub-surface studies at Delray points to the fact that the forthcoming exploration well and size of the prize is a compelling well to drill..


“It is clear CPC have significant in-house expertise and that their involvement in this project has been carefully and thoroughly considered from a technical point of view. Their expertise will be mutually beneficial going forward.


“[We] look forward to possibilities of expanding our relationship with CPC as opportunities may present themselves”.


President’s shares have put on 8.33% to 2.6p.


10.54am: Eco Animal Health sees profits hit by falling pig prices in China


Eco Animal Health Group PLC (AIM:EAH) has seen its shares fall faster than pig prices in China.


Indeed the drop in pork prices in the country- which accounts for 41% of its business – is the main reason the company’s half year revenues fell 9% to GBP38.5mln and pretax profits dropped from GBP4.8mln to GBP0.9mln.


There was also a one-off impairment charge of GBP2.1mln related to a particular development programme which was put on the back burner and the end of activity on a long running horse paste project.


Chairman Dr Andrew Jones said: “This set of results has clearly been impacted by the dramatic fall in the pig price in China which had a significant impact on the industry and losses of up to US$200 per head. This resulted in a significant decline in the demand for [antibiotic] Aivlosin. However, we are pleased to note that China revenues are at pre-Asian Swine flu levels and that there is continuing revenue growth in aggregate elsewhere


“In addition, we are excited to see the positive results of key technical trials in some of our vaccine developments providing us with confidence to continue our investment in these key projects. We look forward to providing more detail on some of our new product development initiatives in the coming months as well as anticipated approvals. The eirectors regard the situation in China as cyclical and one which is expected to reverse and as a result, we are confident and excited about the medium and longer term prospects for the business.”


The company said there was continued volatility in pig prices in China, falling from around 20 RMB/kg to a low of 10 RMB/kg and recovering to the current levels at about 17 RMB/kg.


It added: “Whilst commodity prices have seen a rise in recent weeks supported by government sponsored purchasing of pork for frozen reserves, they are still trading at a level which is below break-even for most producers. However, the late Autumn and Winter period normally gives rise to an increase in demand for Aivlosin, caused by increased disease prevalence in colder months and greater pork consumption associated with Chinese national holidays and festivals. We expect this seasonal effect to feed through in improving revenue opportunities during the fourth quarter of our financial year.”


That has not helped its shares, which are down 20.2% or 40.5p at 160p.


9.35am: DX drops sharply as corporate governance issue delays annual report publication


Parcels and courier group DX (Group) (AIM:DX.) has delivered some bad news to shareholders.


Ahead of todays annual meeting, the company said it was not in a position to publish its annual report after a corporate governance issue was raised.


It said: “The company’s audit and risk committee has recently raised a corporate governance inquiry relating to an internal investigation commenced during the financial year ended 3 July 2021. The inquiry has yet to be concluded, and the process will delay the completion of the audit, but will be expedited as quickly as possible.


“However, it is not anticipated that the audit & risk committee and the company’s auditors will conclude their work before 2 January 2022, being the date that is six months from the end of the financial period ending 3 July 2021. If, as currently expected, the Annual Report is not published by 2 January 2022, trading in the Company’s ordinary shares will be suspended in accordance with AIM Rule 19 on 4 January 2022, being the first business day following 2 January 2022. Suspension from trading will be lifted with the publication of the Annual Report.”


The company added that trading remained in line with expectations, but this has not stopped its shares dropping 39.17% or 11.75p to 18.25p.


9.00am: Cizzle climbs on China agreement


Cizzle Biotechnology Holdings PLC (LSE:CIZ) has seen its shares climb after the diagnostics specialist unveiled a Chinese deal.


It has linked up with the International Co-Innovation Centre for Advanced Medical Technology and Shenzhen Intelliphecy Life Technologies Co to develop and market its early lung cancer diagnostic tests in the country.


The strategic alliance is intended to accelerate product development and clinical trials to achieve early adoption within major cancer centers throughout China.


The company hopes a full commercial contract will be agreed in due course with the partners collaborating to develop, manufacture and sell early cancer detection products and services. Under the current agreement iCCAMT and Intelliphecy will fund the activities in China, and Cizzle Biotechnology will receive payment for monoclonal antibodies and reagents produced, and services provided, together with royalties on any sales of products and services in China.


Cizzle chairman Allan Syms said: “We are delighted to establish this important collaboration to bring our simple blood test for the early detection of lung cancer based on the C1Z1B biomarker to China. In 2020, nearly 715,000 deaths were caused by lung cancer in China, accounting for around 24 percent of all the three million cancer deaths there. It is a major health and economic challenge and together with our new partners we aim to contribute to building effective strategies for decreasing the cancer burden in China as part of their comprehensive prevention and control measures.”


Cizzle shares have added 4.27% to 4.28p.


Elsewhere Hummingbird Resources PLC (LSE:HUM) has moved higher after reporting an increase in its reserves.


Including a first contribution from the Kouroussa mine in Guinea, they now total 1.12mln ounces of gold, up from 672,000 ounces reported in October 2019.


Chief executive Dan Betts said: “This year’s exploration campaigns were three times larger in terms of metres drilled than those in 2020, with the focus to further increase our company reserve and resource base in order to achieve the company’s ambition of having ‘life of mines’ in excess of 10 years from our assets.


“The results of these programmes will form the basis of the 2022 company resources andrReserve updates, which are scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2022 where we see further upside potential from the current company reserves of 1.12mln ounces.”


Hummingbird shares are 2.57% better at 17.95p.

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