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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
20 May, 2021 - 23:05 By Tony Quested

Shareholders of LSE quoted Cambridge companies cashing in

Quoted Cambridge companies have been delivering some of the best returns for shareholders posted anywhere on the planet in the last calendar year –despite the pandemic.

These successes have been consistently uplifting in both the last five months or so from January 4 to May 14 and in the 12 months from May 15 to the time of writing on May 14, Business Weekly research reveals.

At one stage on Monday morning this week, for example, Darktrace stock – priced at 250p on the recent IPO – hit 379.70p a share. That handed the still young cyber security company a market capitalisation of £2.65 billion and might help a lot of punters pay for a holiday or two with travel restrictions being eased.

Share prices ebb and flow, regularly on an hourly basis, and often there is no rational explanation for the ups and downs. Serial Cambridge entrepreneur Dr Mike Lynch once told me that going public was like putting out to sea.

Once you have launched there is no point in complaining about the conditions on the water or the severity of the waves. You chose to launch and having done so should have taken into account the potential volatility.
So let’s look at some of the big winners in the five months plus from Jan 4 to May 14. 

Therapeutics ace Avacta led the way – its stock shooting from 122p in early January to 270p. Geospatial data specialist 1Spatial saw its share price increase by 53.57 per cent.

Property group Kier bounced back from a low period with a 49.5 rise in stock while ingredients manufacturer Treatt built on a high launchpad – shooting from 822p in January to 1175p in May – a rise of 42.9 per cent.

Bango, a world leader in mobile commerce, saw its stock shoot from 162p to 219p – an increase of 35 per cent.  S & T technology innovator SDI did even better – hiking stock by 39 per cent. 

Other significant improvers were Marshall Motor Holdings (up 24.5 per cent) and Johnson Matthey (up 29.9 per cent) while Science Group (23.2 per cent), Amino (18.8 per cent) and Xaar (13.29 per cent) also had double digit percentage share price improvements. They may well build on those base figures in the remainder of 2021 – encouraged by the 12-month performances of several Cambridge peers.

Of course for some businesses the only way is up. Without being cruel there are bottom feeders in the public pond, small fry too tiny for even the most enthusiastic acquisitor to swallow.

Tech company CyanConnode had a share price of 1.4p in May 2020 and that had risen to a dizzying 7.25p this month – an increase of 417.8 per cent. Ditto, Sareum stock rose from 0.71p last May to 2.43p (242 per cent up) at the start of this month.

Higher up the food chain, SDI’s share price has spiked 260 per cent to 171p year-on-year, inkjet technology innovator Xaar has bounced back with a 133.2p (224 per cent) share price increase and 1Spatial, Treatt, Avacta, Bango, Johnson Matthey, Frontier Developments, Science Group, Marshall Motor Holdings, Kier, Hotel Chocolat and Tristel have also seen double digit share price hikes.

Whatever the industry, regardless of the micro and macro economic backdrops, backing Cambridge companies has earned shareholders a collective haul amounting to many millions of pounds. 

And there are clear signs that many other potential public companies, like Arecor which has announced its intention to float on AIM in June, are preferring to shop local when it comes to IPO.

In fact one of the few Cambridge successes on the US technology market NASDAQ has been the wonderfully consistent Bicycle Therapeutics whose share price in a usually volatile and fickle marketplace has risen 62.39p to just under $12 per share in the last five months. 

Many other Cambridge technologies exposed to NASDAQ vagaries have not fared so well. Some have been acquired so UK shareholders in from the start will still have cashed in. 

But for now, the impressive returns across the board for shareholders of UK-quoted Cambridge businesses would appear to have won an important transatlantic argument.

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