Saturday, 4 March 2023

Weekly Small Caps and IPO Wrap: Data, data everywhere, but nary a spot to think

by Berkeley Lovelace

  • ASX 200 closes the week pretty much right where it started, so we could have all stayed in bed
  • XEC Emerging Companies index fell 1.63% because somebody wasn’t pulling their weight, Brian
  • Australia’s strategy to deal with inflation = 27.3% rise in shoplifting. Genius


When the market is up for the week on a Friday, there’s a sense of satisfaction in the air, as backs are slapped, hands are shook and Monday seems like it’s a week away.

Of course, when the market is down, there’s a sense of despair, as faces are slapped and babies are shook and Monday lurks like ghoul in the cupboards of our minds.

And then there’s weeks like this one, where we honestly could have stayed in bed and done nothing, because the market’s finished flatter than the singing at a charity Christmas Carols event to raise money for the hearing impaired.

But that’s not to say that nothing has happened. A look at the sector performances shows that Energy was the bright burning ball of gas trying to light the way forward for the market, adding a gratifying 6.25%, with Materials in support on +2.62%.

The bloated corporate mess in Financials, which weighs enough to hold back even the stroppiest of market runs, was down 2.19%, with Real Estate (-2.07%), Health Care (-1.87%) and the Telcos (-1.83%) joining the bankers to bathe in the murk and tell tales of their losses.



There wasn’t a tremendous amount of earth-shattering news this week – just a lot of data flying around the place, courtesy of the National Number Crunching Champions at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who told us the following interesting tidbits.

On Monday, the news cycle was dominated by an outpouring of impotent rage around the nation, after millions of Australians were whipped into a frenzy over changes to superannuation tax rate which 99.5% of the country will never, ever be affected by.

The move to implement a 30% (up from 15%) on earnings on superannuation accounts with more than $3 million dollars in them became something of a political football, as millions of clearly baffled middle-Australians failed to realise that the rate hike was aimed squarely at rich people, and not them.

Tuesday. we got inflation figures for January, showing the nation’s monthly consumer price index (CPI) rose 7.4% in the year to January – a slowdown that is well below the 8.0% prediction that had numerous people screaming about how the sky was falling down.

The news was like a shot of “vitamins” for the benchmark, which cranked out +0.3% standing leap, grinding its teeth and bellowing like an enraged bull before lapsing back into a sleepwalking routine.

On Wednesday, we learned that the nation’s economy grew 0.5% in the final quarter of 2022, which was well down on many economists’ crystal ball gazing, but it left Australia with an annual growth rate of 2.7%. So… hooray?

Household spending continued to climb in December, as inflation took its horrifying toll on the hip pockets and pocket books because wages have remained stubbornly low despite bumper profits raining down from on high for the Big Corporations.

The ABS head of national accounts, Katherine Keenan, noted that while the household spending climbed, the rate at which it is climbing has slowed, so… again… hooray?

And yesterday was probably the best day of all, data-wise, if only for the fact that we learned that Australians are coping with a soaring cost of living crisis by going on an unofficial shoplifting spree, like the bunch of bloody legends that they are.


This report from Reuters spelled it all out…



… but for the time-poor among you, the gist of it is this: Australia recorded its fastest year-on-year increase in stealing from retailers since records began in 1995, and it’s those rotten bastards in New South Wales (of which I am one, so you can stop drafting your angry emails) leading the charge.

Sydneysiders, and the people who live in the bits where Sydney people go on holidays, stuffed 23.7% more stolen stuff down their pants over the course of 2022, according to corporate reporting on “shrinkage”, which is the fancy Big Biznus way of saying “stealing”.

But today’s data was a bit of a kick in the guts, as it turned out that businesses are falling out of love with the idea of hiring, and demand for workers fell in the December quarter, and the proportion of vacant jobs from 3.2% fell to 2.8%.

The dip has been attributed to a tightening labour market, which was always going to be pretty janky after the slapping it got during Covid – but, tellingly, the number of Aussies reporting they’re working two jobs has jumped 6.6%, driven higher by the portion of the population that hasn’t decided it’s easier to just steal stuff than put in extra hours at the coalface.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks from 27 Feb to 03 Mar:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

The week wasn’t a total write-off, though, after a few Small Caps put up some tremendously positive performances.

Chief among those was the week’s winner, Rox Resources (ASX:RXL), which soared a delightful 69% over the past five days to take home this lovely trophy, exquisitely handcrafted in 18 carat gold by Germani Jewellery, and a cheque from shareholders worth $22.5 million in market cap.

RXL went bananas on news of some mouthwatering bonanza grade gold hits at its Youanmi gold project – a joint venture with Venus Metals (ASX:VMC) – with the highlight from hole RXRC45 looking like this:

  • 28m @ 34.81g/t Au from 204m, including;
    • 18m @ 51.96g/t from 207m, including;
    • 10m@ 79.55g/t from 211m, including;
    • 3m @ 138.07g/t from 218m.

That is a hefty find, roughly akin to lifting up the couch cushions while you’re hunting for change, and finding a private jet.

“Youanmi South is just 250 metres from the Youanmi main open pit, yet historical drilling was largely restricted to the weathered zone so true geology has been unconstrained,” Rox MD Robert Ryan said.

“The exceptional grade and continuous high-grade tenor of the intersection in an area previously untested by drilling is cause for cautious optimism whilst we determine orientation of the mineralised zone.

“A core focus of our current exploration program is to test the splay structures off the historically-mined zone structures along the granite margin.

“The results from Midway, and those reported here on Youanmi South emphasise that Youanmi has the potential to deliver extensive resource growth with quality ounces through near-mine discovery.”

Venus Metals, however, didn’t fare quite as well from the news, adding a comparatively paltry 10.6% for the week… which is nothing to sneeze at, don’t get me wrong… it’s just, observably, a lot less.

Health tech developer Respiri (ASX:RSH) kinda flew under the radar a bit this week, but somehow managed to sneak into the Top 3 with a 55% jump, with no real news since late last week to provide any reason for it being there.

Avita Medical (ASX:AVH) also had a belter in the health space, piling on 55% this week after a stunning spike last week that had all the neighbours gossiping.

Avita reported that its full-year commercial revenue increased substantially over pcp, up 36% to $25.1 million, which was news enough to see its trading price move from $2.63 to today’s much juicier $4.07 – a solid gain that sees the company up 107.6% for 2023 YTD.

Worth noting, but for all the wrong reasons, was the return of Oliver’s Real Food (ASX:OLI), which has spent months and months and months fighting to get back on the floor of the exchange, after the ASX got stroppy about the company’s liquidity issues and bounced them out the door in 2001.

It may well have been a bit of a misfire, though – the company rejoined the cut’n’thrust of the market, and was hacked’n’slashed for its efforts, shedding an eye-watering 54% after investors whose money had been jammed in there for ages took the opportunity to finally sell of the albatross strung around their necks.

Like I said… some of us could’ve just stayed in bed this week.



Here are the least-best performing ASX small cap stocks from 27 Feb to 03 Mar:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:


ASX IPOs this week:

There were none this week, although Tiger Tasman Minerals was supposed to join the party today, but it looks like that’s been pushed back to mid-April, so you’re all just going to have to wait for that one.

However, there are a few up the spout for the month ahead, which the Delightful Emma Davies can tell you all about here.



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