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Five UK small caps these top managers have bought & sold
We reveal the small shares that fund managers including Giles Hargreave have been investing in.
Our daily round-up of analyst recommendations and commentary, featuring International Greetings, Nanoco Group, Versarien, Beowulf Mining and Cyprotex.
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Gervais Williams adds to International Greetings
Miton fund managers Gervais Williams and Martin Turner have upped their stake in International Greetings.
The duo bought an additional 1 million shares in the global gift packaging manufacturer and distributor across the funds they run for the Miton Group. This brought their total position up to 7 million shares, equating to 12% of the company.
International Greetings is up some 43.7 per cent over the past 12 months, trading at around 72 pence.
Commenting on the rationale behind the trade, Mr Williams explained: ‘International Greetings is trading well and, in contrast to many larger companies, it is has made significant investments to grow capacity and gain market share.’
In its latest trading update International Greetings said significant investment projects were aimed at achieving efficiencies across the business. It reported a positive Christmas trading period and said debt levels had been lower than expected.
Nanoco has tiny appeal for Monks
Bailie Gifford’s veteran chief executive officer Gerald Smith has upped its stake in nanotechnology specialist Nanoco Group as its shares continue to trade around the bottom of their recent lows.
Smith upped his holding in the company from 25.55 million shares to 28.57 million or 13.2% worth £32.28 million at a price of 113p, down 27.48% over three months versus an AIM return of 5.72%.
The shares are held in the Bailie Gifford-managed £1.05 billion Monks Investment Trust.
Shares in Nanoco have steadily ground down from above 180p since September, with the slow process of attrition turning into sharp slide in the wider sell off so far this year.
Broker Canaccord Genuity reiterated its buy rating on the company last week with a price target of 275p.
Nanoco develops and produces quantum dots, minute semiconductors which change colour in reaction to light, with a wide range of applications in energy efficient displays.
McClure buys into Versarien weakness
Citywire AA-rated small cap stockpicker John McClure has upped his investment in high-tech materials manufacturer Versarien as its shares dip alongside a wider market pullback.
McClure increased his backing for the company from 5.05 to 5.15 million shares or 6.2% worth £1.18 million at a share price of 23p, down 18% from an all-time high above 28p on 21 January.
Shares in the business are still up 71% since listing in June last year, versus an AIM return of 20.15%. The stake is held in McClure’s Unicorn UK Smaller Companies and Unicorn Free Spirit funds.
Versarien prduces VersarienCu, a porous metallic material developed by the University of Liverpool, which allows for highly efficient heat transfer.
The company is currently applying the technology to computer cooling systems but says it is working on further applications in autos and lighting. Broker Westhouse Securities initiated coverage last year with a buy rating.
Malins-Smith trims back Beowulf holding
Small-cap veteran Nicholas Malins-Smith has sold a £300,000 chunk of his holding in Beowulf Mining.
Malins-Smith disposed of almost six million shares in Beowulf, which has still left him owning 23% of the firm through his firm Lanstead Investors.
Like the whole mining industry, Beowulf has been hit by the prolonged slump in commodity prices. Over the past year the company’s share price has plunged from 14p to 5p, a 64% loss.
It has not brought in any revenue for the past five years, during which it lost a cumulative £3.5 million.
But unlike many of its peers, Beowulf focuses exclusively on Sweden, where it owns iron ore deposits.
When Beowulf does move from exploration into production, it is betting that it will benefit from both strong iron prices as the global economy recovers and from the proximity of its reserves to Europe.
Before joining Lanstead, Malins-Smith spent more than 25 years running small-cap funds at groups including Henderson and Rothschild Asset Management.
Hargreave adds to stake in drug testing business
Citywire AA-rated small cap stockpicking veteran Giles Hargreave has upped his stake in drug screening and testing business Cyprotex as it reported 2013 trading would beat expectations.
Hargreaves increased his holding in the business from 21.05 million shares to 28.33 million or 12.62% worth £1.98 million at a price of 7p, up 72% over three years versus an AIM return of -9%.
The shares are held on behalf of private clients at his broker and investment business Hargreave Hale, and in portfolios it manages on behalf of Marlborough Fund Managers.
Cyprotex helps pharmaceutical researchers model and test the potential side effects of new treatments.
In a trading update for 2013 released last week the company reported revenue was likely to be ahead of the previously predicted £9.77 million, an increase of 17%on 2012.
Shares in the company briefly spiked to 13p ahead of the announcement, before falling back. The company simultaneously released details of its executive share scheme, resulting in a dilution of existing shareholdings of up to 15%.