ASX Small Caps Lunch Wrap: Who else is worried that science has gone too far?
Science is a wonderful thing – a moveable feast of unparalleled genius and clearly the pinnacle of human endeavour, as we struggle to understand the universe, and our place in it.
It’s brought us things like nuclear weapons, AI-driven mass surveillance and robots to have sex with – but it’s also brought us some bad things as well. Things that are deeply and savagely unsettling, but so ghoulishly enthralling we can’t help but stare.
Many of us are old enough to remember the day we learned that Science had unearthed the cheat code that allowed us to spawn unlimited quantities of genetically identical sheep.
And some may remember the taste of bile rising in our throats, at the site of the Vacanti mouse, walking around the place with a human ear growing out of its back, forever cursed to be able to hear what people were saying about it from hundreds of kilometres away.
More recently, we had the story of Malcolm McDonald, an English bloke whose penis “got infected and fell off”.
First, just learning that’s actually a possibility is terrifying. Secondly, when McDonald cried out into the night for Science’s help finding something to pee from, Science actually answered the call.
The good news for McDonald: Doctors could grow him a new todger. The bad news: it was going to grow out of this forearm, and – just like a normal dingaling – it was going to take 12 long years to reach maturity.
That meant every time he hefted a pint to his lips to drown his sorrows, it was like falling face-first into a box of uncooked Bunnings bangers, as he was slapped in the face like he had a starring role in one of those German movies certain sites on the internet are famous for.
The ultimate (until recently) was Italian science guy, Dr Sergio “Not at all a quack” Canavero, who stunned the world by announcing plans to perform a head transplant.
His volunteer for the operation was Russian man Valery Spiridonov, whose muscle-wasting disease had reduced him to being a sentient head atop a useless, sensationless bag of bones.
Dr Canavero had planned to saw Spiridonov’s head off, and stitch it to someone else’s (presumably) dead body, connecting all of the necessary spinal nerves with some sort of semi-magic craft glue.
Unfortunately (or not), Canavero never got the chance to try out his procedure on a human, because Spiridonov pulled out at the last minute, probably because someone told him he had gotten cold feet.
Which brings is to the latest, and perhaps greatest, example of BioTech gone mad – an Israeli company that says its cracked the code to making human embryos, and using them solely to grow organs to harvest.
The company, Renewal Bio, has managed to take mouse stem cells and put them in a “mechanical womb”, keep them growing several days until they develop beating hearts, and rudimentary brains with cranial folds.
On the one hand, it’s incredibly exciting tech, especially for people who are waiting years for the chance to have a fresh set of kidneys installed.
On the other hand, a huge percentage of the population is justifiably losing their minds.
We’ve all seen the horror films, and this definitely won’t end well, and we will no doubt be doing battle with The Blob People from Jars by 2050, if climate change doesn’t drown us all first.
Australian markets have fallen this morning, presenting us with a 40-point freefall first thing in the morning in the wake of a dreadful session on Wall Street.
The benchmark found the floor almost immediately, though, and has jiggled like a well-slapped terrine either side of the 7,010 point mark where it seems destined to land when we unwrap our sandwiches.
Looking across the sectors, and things are more mixed that The Last Jedi reviews, with Industrials (-1.32%), Health Care (-0.98%), Financials (-1.31%) and Consumer Staples (-2.16%) all doing their damndest to make us grumpy this morning.
There are some bright spots, though. Energy (+1.32%) Materials (+0.66%) and Utilities (+0.49%) have joined forces, to form supergroup Menergilities, providing much-needed floatation to stop local markets from sinking into the swamp that Wall Street dug overnight.
A quick dash through the Big Leagues and the most noteworthy of the winners is Ansell (ASX:ANN), whose FY22 have caused an outbreak of turgidity among investors.
The results themselves are – at a glance – not particularly great. Just about every metric with a dollar sign in it is worse than last year, but somehow Ansell is still paying a dividend of US$0.312 per share.
The best bit, though, was Ansell describing itself in the results announcement as a “global leader in personal protection safety solutions” – a brilliant piece of marketing spin for a company that makes rubber gloves and rubber johnnies.
We reckon it’s that marketing, and the large amount of noise that the company has made about pulling out (teehee) of Russia is driving the hips of investors and pumping the price up 10.6%.
Wallowing in the damp spot, however, is Credit Corp Group (ASX:CCP), which issued a three page announcement this morning that had loads and loads of long words in it, but basically said “we’ve been busted with our hands in the till”.
CCP had promised significant interest rate relief for a ton of customers due to COVID-19, which was super-awesome of them. The company then did not provide that relief, which was not very awesome at all, and they’re now working through a remediation process.
Investors were understandably in the mood to mete out some tough justice, sending CCP shares down -6.4%.
And as much as we’ve been trying to avoid this, it’s time to look overseas and see what’s happening over there.
Wall Street has had a day to forget. All three major indices are down to an unpleasant degree, with the Nasdaq crunching hardest (-2.55%) and the S&P (-2.14%) and the Wise Old Dow (-1.91%) in hot pursuit.
Nice Guy Eddy Sunarto reports that it’s the biggest single-day drop for US markets since June, ahead of this week’s gathering of global central bankers and policymakers for an economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The focus of that meeting will be on Fed boss Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday (US time), which is expected to revolve around his thoughts on future interest rate hikes, after he performs a tight five stand-up routine to juice the crowd up a little before shifts gears and mumbles random numerical strings into a microphone until everyone dies.
On the heels of The Great Meme Stock BBBY Disaster of 2022, comes a not-unexpected early sequel.
AMC stocks fell from a cliff like a pack of concrete lemmings, down a diamond-hand-shattering 42%. There is a LOT to unpack on that story, and it’s far too complicated to get all the way into now, but the short version is this:
AMC issued over 516 million preferred shares which began trading under the ticker APE, AMC shares started to sink, cinema industry rival Cineworld announced that it’s staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, and AMC pooped the bed. The end.
In Europe, the big news is from the Energy Sector, as Russia’s state-owned energy firm Gazprom said it would shut down Europe’s single biggest piece of gas infrastructure (the Nord Stream 1 pipleline) for a three-day unscheduled maintenance work from the end of August.
Europe is already staring down a potentially catastrophic energy crisis as winter begins to loom. Whether the Gazprom announcement is sincere or more Kremlin shenanigans is unclear, but it sent European natgas prices surging.
Trekking overland to Asia, and the news there this morning isn’t all that bright either. The Nikkei has slunk off to the hot springs to soak with the monkeys, down -1.26%, Hong Kong has fallen a more moderate 0.64% and even Shanghai has moved more than its usual microsteps, falling 0.24% so far today.
In the CryptoZone, where the money comes on compact discs, which sound terrible on a boombox, Google has pumped 1.5 of its billions into into blockchain-focused companies between September 2021 and June this year.
Meanwhile, the majors are jittery ahead of Jerome Powell’s upcoming display of enthusiastic somnambulance. All the details are here, in Badman’s Amazing Movers & Shakers, which you simply must read.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for August 23 [intraday]:
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In Small Caps land, the story of the morning as Australian Pacific Coal (ASX:AQC), which went zooming off the charts yesterday on yesterday’s takeover triple jump offer from Naveko, which had a $0.30 per share offer on the table as an “eventual” takeover price.
At lunchtime yesterday, AQC was approaching that at $0.27, but this morning the “Let’s get some of that sweet, sweet takeover money” bus completely missed it’s $0.30 stop, rocketing along with its foot to the floor and its chin on the horn, hitting $0.40 and showing no signs of slowing down, much to the relief of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.
Magmatic Resources (ASX:MAG) has also gone gangbusters, off the back of super copper intersections with visible copper sulphide mineralisation at its Corvette Prospect in NSW.
The company reports impressive assay results of 151.5 metres at 0.37% Cu, 0.08g/t Au & 43ppm Mo (from base of cover sequence) including 13 metres at 0.81% Cu, 0.19g/t Au & 90ppm Mo.
Alongside that, the assay results returned 22 metres at 0.50% Cu, 0.08g/t Au & 67ppm Mo, and 13 metres 0.35% Cu, 0.09g/t Au & 126ppm Mo.
Investors like this kind of news very much, as is reflected in the whopping 43.4% climb in share price today.
Losing the bundle this morning, however, was Doctor Care Anywhere (ASX:DOC), which released updated guidance this morning including a £7 million pound revenue shortfall.
It’s obviously not good news, and it was delivered shortly before the announcement that Dr Bayju Thakar has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer and from the Board of Doctor Care Anywhere with immediate effect.
The market read the doctor’s orders suggesting that we all take a Bex and have a good lie down, but ignored it and dumped the company stock, sending its price to a 20.4% thud on the emergency room floor.
Here are the most-worst performing ASX small cap stocks for August 23 [intraday]:
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