BioMedica can fill the hole

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The Independent Online
Oxford BioMedica, the gene therapy group that came to the market mid-December, and was caught up in the mini-crash on Wall Street, and a hideous market for new issues, will this week decide whether to pursue legal action against the two underwriters which pulled out of the deal. The move left BioMedica with a pounds 1m hole in its fund raising efforts. The deal still managed to get off the runway, but from the offer price of 88p, it dived to 47p. However, chief executive Alan Kingsman says the company is comfortable with its financial position, and has recruited three senior staff to boost its research efforts. An announcement next month will confirm details of a scientific advisory panel. Based on its research, and the quality of its staff, the shares, at 57.5p, still merit a buy.

CIRQUAL, the aluminium extrusions business, tipped here at 152.5p in September, is now sitting pretty at 191.5p. As expected, in December the company became the first AIM company to transfer to a full listing on the main market, and for its maiden figures, beat its prospectus forecast, posting pre-tax profits of pounds 2.96m. The shares have been further boosted by an upbeat AGM statement last week by its chairman, former FKI chief, Tony Gartland. Yet the shares still trade at a prospective multiple of 11 times, if profits hit pounds 5.3m this year, which should be possible. Buy.

BACK on the biotechnology beat, Stanford Rook (525.5p) announced interesting findings last week for its M. vaccae treatment, in a pilot study on patients suffering from or skin cancer. The company said 25 per cent of a 36 strong patient group showed improved antibody response, required for immunity to cancer. The market was clearly aware of the pending news, as the shares were up 90p to 522p before the news was released. However there is little in the findings to offer any concrete evidence of long term benefits. The trial did not have a control group of any description, and there are still doubters about the company's research. Avoid.

SILVERMINES (81.5p), the Irish-based group with an expanding presence in closed-circuit television, has exited the last of its non-electronics businesses with the IRpounds 2.6m disposal of its Shannon Business Park. It has also won a major CCTV contract in Asia with the China Construction Bank. The group should beat analysts' forecasts of pounds 4.1m for the year to December 30, 1996. Buy.

TINY Rowland issued another string of questions for Lonrho (127.5p), ahead of its full-year results last Thursday. Unsurprisingly, there were no answers. But his point about Anglo American's sugar business, Tongaat- Huelett's, interest in Lonrho's sugar estates, is correct. Anglo wants the Lonrho sugar business - and Lonrho may be willing to part with an excellent operation. However, there are difficulties here, even if the two sides do reach agreement on price. Lonrho's sugar business has protected status for sales of its sugar cane into the UK, where it can sell at above the world price. This may not hold true for Anglo. The two businesses, however, know each other well, and would make a good fit. But even if there were a deal, it would not resolve the problems at Lonrho, and the shares are best avoided.