AIM

Horizon Discovery – Defective Accounting Discovered

Horizon Discovery Group (HZD) announced their full year results this morning. Horizon is a biotechnology company focused on cell engineering and CRISPR screening. Revenue was up by 68% to £58.7 million helped by an acquisition. But the “reported loss” increased to £35.8 million due to the exceptional write-off of past investment in “In Vivo”. Although this is a non-cash impairment it suggests that there was past over-optimism in the viability of that business unit and excessive capitalisation of development expenditure. This ...

Argo Blockchain and FT Letter

An announcement appeared this morning from Argo Blockchain Plc (ARB). It was well timed as I was going to write something on the hype surrounding blockchain technology soon. ARB has received a requisition to remove two of the directors, and appoint others. The company has been focused on providing a cryptocurrency mining service and floated on AIM at a price of 16p – it’s now just over 3p. But a few weeks ago it gave up the “mining-as-a-service” business to focus ...

Another Accounting Scandal – Goals Soccer Centres

Yet another problem in accounting has been revealed at Goals Soccer Centres (GOAL). This morning they disclosed in a trading update the discovery of “certain accounting errors” and are reviewing their accounting practices. As a result, the board now expects full year results to be below expectations and publication of the 2018 results has been delayed. The even worse news is that they have breached their banking covenants so are having to have one of those difficult conversations with their bankers. The ...

Quindell (Watchstone), SFO Inaction and Tungsten Corporation

The Daily Telegraph this morning (25/2/2019) disclosed that law firm Harcus Sinclair is preparing a legal case for investors who lost money in Quindell (now renamed Watchstone). Quindell was once the largest AIM company – valued at £2.6 billion. But its accounts were extremely dubious and many investors think they were downright fraudulent. The company is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) but only two days ago it was announced that the SFO was dropping investigations into Rolls-Royce ...

Gooch & Housego and Sectors to Avoid

Today Gooch & Housego (GHH), a photonic components manufacturer, held its Annual General Meeting in Ilminster, Somerset. I would have attended as a shareholder except the time of 11.00 am would have meant a very early start. As it was, the trading update issued in the morning prompted me to sell my holding anyway. The key negative in the announcement was this: “Looking forward, we believe timing and mix will result in a FY 2019 group trading performance showing low single digit ...

AssetCo, Patisserie, Stockpiling, Warehouses, Sheds, Brexit and Venezuela

A week ago, an award of damages of £21 million plus interest and costs was made against Grant Thornton for their breach of duty when acting as auditors of AssetCo Plc (ASTO) in 2009/10. See https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/150.html for the full judgement. I understand Grant Thornton may appeal. These are the key sentences in the judgement: It is common ground that in those years the senior management team at AssetCo behaved in a way that was fundamentally dishonest. During the audit process management made ...

Staffline Issues, Audit Purpose and Patisserie

Yesterday Staffline Group (STAF) issued a statement first thing in the morning saying that the publication of results scheduled for that day would be delayed. The shares promptly dropped...

finnCap Cracks the Whip at Akers Bioscience

Akers Bioscience (AKR) issued a most unusual announcement this morning: https://www.investegate.co.uk/akers-biosciences--akr-/rns/directorate-change---other-information/201810080700052072D/ Of particular interest is this statement: finnCap Ltd, the Company's Nominated Adviser on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, gave the Company formal three months' notice of its resignation as the Company's Nominated Adviser and Broker on October 6, 2018. finnCap has also informed the Company that its resignation will be accelerated so as to take immediate effect if the whole Board of Directors does not attend an AIM Rules briefing ...

Beaufort and the Regulators: US Prosecutors Expose Wide Ranging Scam

News began to emerge yesterday of problems at broker Beaufort Securities. Firstly, the FCA posted this RNS stating that brokerages Beaufort Securities Limited and Beaufort Asset Clearing Services Limited had been placing into insolvency, must cease all regulated activities, and that administrators had been appointed who would seek to protect client assets. Not long after, this indictment by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came to light, alleging market manipulation in the US by Beaufort Securities and the individual Peter Kyriacou. ...

Sophos, Interquest and Government Policy

Yesterday I missed the Sophos (SOPH) AGM due to having a clashing engagement, but I noticed that in the announcement of the voting results that there were substantial votes against the Remuneration Report (29.8% against) and also high votes against most of the directors. One only needs to glance at the Remuneration Policy to see why. The maximum bonus opportunity is 200% of salary, and the maximum LTIP award is 500% of salary in normal circumstances and up to 750% in exceptional ...