This week saw the ASX 200 maintain its uptrend that further reinforced Australia’s equity market strength over the past few months.
The ASX 200 closed at 6,272.3, around 1.25% higher for the week and up around 4% since the start of June. Meanwhile, the small ordinaries index slipped slightly 0.38% to 2,848.2. The index remains around 70 points away from the 2,923-point high set in mid-June.
One a macro economic note, this week saw the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) warn market analysts and investors that the ubiquitous low interest-rate environment in developed countries could be coming to an abrupt end.
Historically-low interest rates could “snap back” with an accompanying spike in inflation and a slowing of global growth rates also forewarned by the BIS.
The working paper published by the BIS, currently chaired by Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe, found the “low-for-long” interest rate scenario might affect the health of banks, insurance companies and private pension funds.
Small cap action this week
In the small cap space there were several companies that stood out in the first week of the new financial year.
Isentia Group (ASX: ISD)
First up this week is Isentia Group.
The media intelligence company announced a definitive shakeup with the resignation of its chief financial officer James Orlando and appointment of former Yahoo7 chief executive Ed Harrison as its new managing director and CEO, following an exhaustive search since February.
Isentia revealed that Mr Harrison will be compensated with an annual salary of A$676,000 per year including a sign-on bonus of one years’ salary paid in shares to get him going.
Mr Harrison has built a reputation for being a safe pair of hands in getting strong commercial results and sports a strong track record in sales, digital media and product development.
However, one of his major talents, as confirmed by current chairman Doug Snedden, is his “leadership of businesses in transformation”.
Time will tell how smoothly Mr Harrison takes the reigns after he commences at his post on 6 August.
CCP Technologies (ASX: CT1)
CCP Technologies signed a deal with Vodafone to utilise its narrowband Internet of Things devices across the telco’s network for the benefit of its customers in the food industry.
The news pushed CCP Technologies to close out the week around 60% higher.
One of the reasons why the share price reacted so strongly could be because investors have caught a whiff of potential gradually turning to actual commerce for CCP.
The agreement strengthens ties between CCP and Vodafone and builds on the collaboration announced earlier this year when CCP installed NB-IoT connectivity points at Sydney airport using the same network.
The agreement also enables CCP to implement solutions which will enhance what’s known as “farm-to-fork” cold chain monitoring by the food industry, with continuous through-chain critical control point data capture, real-time analytics and business intelligence.
SportsHero (ASX: SHO)
SportsHero applied a solid finish to preliminary work carried out earlier this year, in its bid to commercialise the ongoing football World Cup in Russia.
Its Indonesian World Cup campaign demonstrated proof of concept and delivered gross revenue of A$50,180, which translates into a gross profit of A$42,653 for SportsHero.
As a further bit of good news, SportsHero said that the overlap between the World Cup event and Ramadan celebrations in Indonesia meant that the potential commercial haul could have been even higher if not for the holiday period that left many outlets operating at partial capacity.
With the concept now proven, SportsHero has now set its sights on other high-profile footballing events such as the English Premier League and Spanish LaLiga seasons, expected to commence in August.
SportHero said it expects its revenues to “grow substantially” in excess of A$100,000.
Bryah Resources (ASX: BYH)
Bryah Resources made the discovery this week of two new manganese prospects at its Bryah Basin project in Western Australia.
Once regulatory approvals have been gained, Bryah plans to begin drilling at Black Hill, Black Caviar and Devils Hill, with the program anticipated to begin in the coming weeks.
Bryah said it would conduct shallow drilling as its first exploration measure before delineating further targets for deeper drilling.
The timing could scarcely be better with the global demand for manganese continuing to grow.
Manganese was fetching around US$2 per kilogram at the end of February, with 90% of manganese consumed by the steel sector. Bryah anticipates global manganese demand will soar to 20 million tonnes this year, from 11 million tonnes a decade ago.
In addition to the positive manganese news at Bryah Basin, Bryah could be free-carried to revenue at Australian Vanadium’s (ASX: AVL) Gabanintha vanadium project in WA.
Bryah retains the rights to nickel and copper at the project and Australian Vanadium is investigating the economic viability of unlocking the base metal minerals as a by-product of its planned vanadium production.
Australian Vanadium (ASX: AVL)
Australian Vanadium boosted the vanadium grade of its flagship Gabanintha project in Western Australia this week.
The junior explorer said that the high-grade component of its resource at Gabanintha is now grading 1% vanadium.
The updated resource now sits at 175.5 million tonnes at 0.77%, with a higher-grade section of 93.6Mt at 1% vanadium. The project also wields other metals such as 9% titanium and 33.8% iron.
According to the company, the resource revision could be crucial because it de-risks the overarching project could potentially lift margins and economic viability further down the track.
In addition to boosting the vanadium grade in the Gabanintha resource, the estimate has been updated to include the cobalt, nickel and copper mineralisation that’s been identified at the project.
A maiden inferred resource at Gabanintha for these minerals is 12.5Mt at 206 parts per million cobalt (0.02%), 659ppm nickel (0.066%) and 222ppm copper (0.022%).
Additionally, Australian Vanadium said it could potentially de-risk its WA operations even further by upgrading the inferred resources to measured and indicated categories through targeted drilling along the 11 kilometres of vanadium strike.
Invion (ASX: IVX)
The fight with cancer continues on multiple fronts as Australia’s biotech industry continues to develop a wide swathe of potential solutions.
This week saw life sciences company Invion stepping up to the plate with its non-immunosuppressive treatment for a range of cancers using its Photosoft technology.
Invion has confirmed that initial characterisation of its technology is now complete under its Research & Development Alliance agreement with the Hudson Institute, a leading Australian medical research institute, based in Melbourne.
The “alliance” is aimed at progressing a range of research and development projects, although one of their most intriguing lines of enquiry has been to test Invion’s Photosoft technology and its next-generation photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat ovarian cancer.
The technology has been found to be “highly effective” and provides a laundry list of advantages over incumbent treatment techniques that involved invasive surgery.
In contrast to surgery or radiotherapy or chemotherapy (which are mostly immunosuppressive), PDT causes acute inflammation, expression of heat shock proteins, and invasion and infiltration of a tumour by leukocytes.
Tando Resources (ASX: TNO)
Tando had quite a week this week after surface pipe samples returned numerous “exceptional” vanadium grades assaying more than 2%.
Tando has said that the grades it has discovered at its flagship project exceed many of the world’s currently operating vanadium mines.
The sentiment has been so good that Tando is confident it has the potential to become a “globally significant” producer in the coming years.
For now, Tando has set about preparing a drilling campaign to convert its SAMREC-vetted 500 million tonne resource to the more internationally-recognised JORC code. Its upcoming drilling work will also test the high-grade pipes found so far. Tando’s admitted strategy is to unlock a lower-cost, high-grade DSO operation to generate cash flow in the near term.
The company’s prime target is to supply the vanadium redox flow battery market. The emergence of vanadium redox flow batteries and the green energy revolution has led to predictions vanadium demand will “significantly increase as it competes with other battery technologies underpinned by lithium.
Vanadium redox flow battery developers claim their version of the humble battery outperforms existing lithium alternatives, with a longer lifespan of about 20 years.
Anson Resources (ASX: ASN)
Lithium-ion battery commercialisation continues to make progress with this week’s news that lithium brine explorer Anson Resources recorded “unexpected” further increases to lithium concentrations at its Paradox project in Utah following 24 days of evaporation test work.
A fortnight ago, Anson reported that its evaporation trials had boosted lithium concentrations by 250% to 310 parts per million. This week’s results saw the lithium junior expand its lithium concentrations by a further 290% to 900ppm.
In addition to its growing lithium haul, boron concentrations have increased by more than 650% to 12,250ppm and calcium grades were more than five times higher at 283,800ppm.
However, magnesium, sodium and potassium levels we lower than previous readings.
Six Sigma Metals (ASX: SI6)
Six Sigma updated its earn-in terms for its Shamva lithium and Chuatsa vanadium-titanium projects in Zimbabwe this week.
The company is securing up to 80% of the projects from Mirrorplex under a three-stage agreement, with a three-hole drilling program to begin this month at Shamva to assess the project’s lithium potential prior to committing to the first earn-in stage.
Six Sigma is reducing the consideration payable to Mirroplex from 50 million Six Sigma shares to 25 million shares and then upping its option distribution to Mirroplex by 25 million.
Additionally, due diligence has been extended from 60 days to 116, which gives Six Sigma more time to drill the Bonnyvale pegmatite at Shamva to gain a better understanding of the project’s lithium potential at depth.
Dropsuite (ASX: DSE)
It seems like a good time to have head your heads in the clouds – as far as Dropsuite is concerned.
The cloud technology provider reported a sharp 33% increase in the size of its paid user database since mid-June with the total number of users now exceeding 400,000.
The company’s prime objective is delivering cost-effective, user-friendly backup and recovery solutions to small and medium businesses in over 100 countries.
The rate of growth is rather impressive considering Dropsuite reported it had around 300,000 paid users merely three weeks ago.
The growth has been attributed to Dropsuite’s expansion earlier this year into South America, where it entered into a reselling partnership with Brazil’s largest online content and digital services company UOL.
According to the terms of the deal, UOL Brazil will sell Dropsuite’s fully-automated email backup solution to its domestic customers, rolling it out in stages to supported email systems such as UOL Mail, BOL Mail and Office 365.
Authorised Investment Fund (ASX: AIY)
Asian Integrated Media (AIM), delighted one of its most significant shareholders Authorised Investment Fund this week by announcing an agreement with the world’s leading Formula One sponsorship and content rights management group, Grand Prix Management Group (GPMG Media).
The pair has signed a deal that ensures the two companies will be working together for the next 3 years in China, Hong Kong and Asia – currently, the world’s fastest-growing digital media location globally, operating across several different sectors and business niches.
Their prime focus will be Formula 1 racing – one of the world’s favourite sports and events that regularly attracts huge audiences both online and offline.
In addition to the traction being provided by Formula 1, there is also the case of E1 – the world’s first fully-electric international single-seater street racing series.