Closing Bell: Local markets fall on timid Tuesday but Biotron bets build as investors ask if it’s aced an anti-viral AIDS therapy
A positive lead from Wall Street overnight didn’t sell well on local markets, which were beset from the outset by more floundering on the part of local tech, iron ore miners and selling in the real estate investment trusts (REITS) sectors.
The benchmark finished -0.55% lower.
By lunchtime, the ASX200 was down almost 50 points, or -0.7% to be back threatening the 7,000 pt mark as rising bond yields and some starkly steepening curves in long-dated EU and US bonds continue to weigh on global equity markets.
Despite this, a solid run overnight in New York saw all three major indices rise confidently, putting an end to another September four-session losing streak.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed ahead by +0.45%. While the S&P500 found +0.4%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added +0.15%.
At home, of the 11 ASX sectors all were trading in the red on Tuesday, except for a slight gain for the Financial sector and a strong performance in Healthcare led by ProMedicus and some unsung medtech small cap stocks (see below).
Healthcare was boosted by strong support for Aussie-medtech ProMedicus (ASX:PME) which jumped circa 10% after dropping news of yet another US contract – this one worth some $140 million with return client Baylor Scott & White Health.
PME make and flog medical imaging software and services to hospitals, imaging centres and the like… health care groups around the world.
Full disclosure – I have a soft spot for Dr Sam Hupert, the Pro Medicus CEO. He wouldn’t remember me, because it’s more like a stalker/victim relationship, but I’ve always liked his IVs, where he appears via satellite link looking like he’s just stepped out of the clinic for a second.
I also like the idea that PME has an odd spread of HQs in Melbourne, Berlin and San Diego, (well, obviously not Melbourne) but in my (not water-tight) observance of the business over a good few years now, the majority and consistency of these large contracts usually head to the US.
And that’s a decent story – Aussie-made medtech tapping the stonking US market and actually doing some good.
“Baylor Scott & White Health joins our impressive list of IDN and Tier 1 academic clients, and represents our first major client in Texas,“ Dr Sam said in a note to the ASX. “The scale and scope of our initiative with Baylor Scott & White Health is noteworthy and will include nearly 500 Radiologists who will be exposed to the benefits of Visage 7.”
Okay. I know this: Visage 7 is PME’s flagship software suite for x-rays and such (hold on… here’s the blurb…)
‘Ultra-fast, clinically rich, and highly scalable platform that can seamlessly be implemented in both public and private cloud environments.’
The Americans love it.
Baylor Scott & White Health are return customers. Almost all of them are. Hupert says Visage 7 clients come back for the next-step fully cloud-engineered imaging solution,
“A trend that has now become the standard in the North American healthcare IT market.
“Our pipeline remains strong and spans all market segments. As has been the case with many of our recent contracts, this deal is for our “full-stack” comprising all three Visage products namely viewer, workflow and archive, a trend we see continuing,” Dr Hupert added.
Also, in a measure of the grande indifference Tuesday has inspired (ahead of some chunky CPI reads from the numbers bureau on Wednesday) Coronado Global Resources (ASX:CRN) has announced a Czech bunch just snapped up the entirety of Energy & Minerals Group’s interest in Coronado and the stock has only lifted about 2.5%.
Prague-based Sev.en (not a typo) Global Investments will take EMG’s 51% stake in the coal miner for an undisclosed figure.
Funny story, Coronado was in fact founded in 2011 by EMG, which is run by Garold (Gerry) Spindler and James Campbell.
Since its inception, Coronado has grown via a series of acquisitions of high-quality metallurgical coal mines, producing less than 0.5 million tonnes from its first acquisition in 2013, to producing more than 16 million tonnes from a suite of mines in 2022, and with plans to grow to 20.5 million tonnes by 2025.
Coronado’s current Executive Chair, Gerry Spindler, is a coal legend.
He’s held key executive positions at some of the world’s largest coal companies, including CEO of UK Coal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amax Coal Company (US), and President and Chief Executive Officer of Pittston Coal Company. He’s the owner and chairman of St Cloud Mining and was Coronado’s Managing Director and CEO from 2011.
“I would like to thank EMG for its long-term support of Coronado and the management team. We look forward to Sev.en Global Investments becoming a significant investor in Coronado given their history as a long-term investor in the energy and mining industries and their focus on sustainable growth, Gerry said.
Hancock Prospecting has quietly added more than $130m worth of Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) stock to its growing kitty.
The unlisted mining giant run by Gina Rinehart now controls 10.69% of LTR’s total stock up from circa 7.7%, after snapping up a further 44.1 million shares at $3 a pop, according to a very late Monday filing with the ASX.
The purchase price matches the $3 per share which battery chemical company Albemarle is bidding for Liontown, in a $6.6bn takeover bid which Liontown has accepted… and which is currently going through due diligence…
And which Gina Rinehart – who has a track record of just getting all up in the faces of random takeover bids sSee Warrego/Strike Energy) – likely has no intention of allowing the takeover to proceed like clockwork.
“Hancock can provide Liontown with the opportunity to manage its project execution and operational ramp-up risks where it is of value – and particularly in light of the inflationary market pressures that are creating challenges for project delivery across Australia,’’ Hancock told the ASX, unprompted.
Meanwhile, means little to me, but Victorians may be interested to learn that COVID-busting, back-breaking, Commonwealth Games-despising state Premier Daniel Andrews announced his resignation earlier on Tuesday after nigh-on a decade running that funny little state at the bottom.
He told media that he’s changed his mind after earlier pledging to stay on.
Get your mail in, he’ll clear the desk at 5pm tomorrow.
Finally, the US dollar index is treading water at its strongest levels in 10 months and tracking US Treasury yields higher, following the US Federal Reserve’s hawkish bent after holding off on further tightening monetary policy due to sticky US inflation.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:
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In a very welcome letter to shareholders on Tuesday, Michelle Miller CEO and MD of the Aussie pharmaceutical aspirant, Biotron (ASX:BIT) revealed a fair bit of excitement about the near-term outlook as it completes the final stage of three Phase 2 clinical trials for HIV‐1 and COVID‐19.
“Biotron expects to have data from three such trials available in the very near term which puts the company in a very strong position.”
Biotron is developing a batch of new anti-viral therapies which potentially have broad applications.
Based in Sydney, the company is developing and commercialising a novel small molecule approach that has the potential to treat a number of serious viral diseases.
The technology targets viroporin proteins, which are key to enabling the pathogenicity of a number of viruses including hepatitis C, HIV-1, Dengue, Zika, Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
“These data, if positive, will be central to successfully negotiating and completing a commercial transaction for the Company’s HIV‐1 and COVID‐19 clinical programs,” Miller says.
The global HIV drug market in 2021 was thought to be worth an estimated US$30 billion and despite massive improvements from the disease’s first emergence in the 1980s, the prevalence of HIV‐1 infections continues to grow.
In 2021, 38.4 million people globally were living with HIV, 1.5 million were newly infected with the virus and an estimated 650,000 people died from AIDS‐related illnesses.
According to Biotron, the increased prevalence of HIV‐1 infections, percentage of patients on treatment due to improved disease awareness and the need for treatments to improve quality of life are expected to drive market growth to over US$50 billion by 2030.
Shares are up 30% at 3pm in Sydney.
Meanwhile, top of the pops on Tuesday is NickelSearch (ASX:NIS), which has busted out of its trading halt following lithium-related exploration results at its Carlingup nickel sulphide project near Ravensthorpe in Western Australia and the nickel-now-lithium aspirant has surged on the results.
NIS says it’s ID’d spodumene in pegmatites at Carlingup in collaboration with geologists from neighbouring Allkem (ASX:AKE) .
As Stockhead’s legendary roving (mostly around his own home) reporter Rob Badman wrote earlier today. AKE is a $7.44bn lithium exploring star and NIS has set up its Carlingup shop with a nearology narrative just 10km from Allkem’s Mt Cattlin lithium mine – which hosts an estimated 12.8Mt high-grade resource.
Rising uranium exploration star Aurora Energy Metals (ASX:1AE) is surging again after strong gains in Monday.
It’s currently up 71% over the past week.
With a market cap of just $28.6m, Aurora is one of several lately upwardly mobile ASX uranium players, also including Elevate Uranium (ASX:EL8), Alligator Energy (ASX:AGE) and Icon Energy (ASX:ICN), among others, as chatter about a nuclear-powered future builds in intensity.
Aurora is focused on the exploration and development of its namesake project in Oregon, USA, which hosts a defined uranium resource of 107.3Mt at 214ppm U3O8 for 50.6Mlbs U3O8 – and is also prospective for lithium.
A scoping level metallurgical testwork program is currently underway using samples from the latest drill campaign.
As Stockhead’s journalist Emma Davies wrote in her classic ’15 uranium explorers under the $50m market cap’ article last week, there are a few promising factors lining up for the nuclear-related fuel…
And I quote:
“Nuclear industry forecasters are more bullish than they’ve been in years with spot uranium prices hitting a decade high of US$67/lb this week.
On the demand side, there’s a forecasted supply shortfall of approximately 1.5 billion pounds by 2040.
When you take that into consideration, the bullish reports from the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and price reporter Ux Consulting make sense when they say new operations needed to fill uranium demand from nuclear power plants will almost double by 2040.
Not to mention that countries which had been less than enthusiastic on nuclear are looking to sanction new developments amid the energy transition because they provide baseload electricity with lower emissions than fossil fuel plants.”
Our Tim Boreham also gives 1AE a ‘glowing recommendation’ over here.
Finally, Avenira (ASX:AEV) is up over 20% after executing a License and Technology Transfer Agreement and a Subscription Agreement with its Taiwanese tech partner Aleees (or Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry (TWSE: 5227).
The x2 deals provide Avenira access and the right to use Aleees’ intellectual property for the manufacture and global distribution of Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP) cathode active material.
The new tie-ups follow the signing of a non-binding MOU with Aleees in September last year to work towards the development of a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery cathode manufacturing plant in Darwin using Avenira’s flagship Wonarah Phosphate Project.
“Today’s agreements were signed in Darwin in front of Northern Territory Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles and set out the terms for Avenira’s use of the technology for its Darwin Plant,” The company says.
Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks:
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Anatara Lifesciences (ASX:ANR) – Pending an update on the GaRP Irritable Bowel Syndrome trial results (GaRP Trial)
Amaero International (ASX:3DA) – Pending an announcement in relation to the production of C-103 powder
Marquee Resources (ASX:MQR) – For the purposes of finalising a proposed lithium project acquisition and associated capital raising
Cardiex (ASX:CDX) – Pending an announcement relating to each of the following: a corporate update, an update as to the Company’s F-1 lodgement with the SEC, and an announcement relating to the Company’s general capital raising activities.
Latin Resources Limited (ASX:LRS) – Pending the release of an announcement in relation to its preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the Colina Project
Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) – Pending the release of an announcement in respect of a maiden JORC mineral resource estimate for the Rio Lithium Deposit
Eroad (ASX:ERD) – Pending the outcome of the capital raising and proposed bookbuild in relation to the previously announced Retail Offer opened to eligible retail shareholders on Tuesday 12 September 2023 and closed on Thursday 21 September 2023.