Cultivate a position in the agrochemicals play

Under-the-radar Eden Research (EDEN:AIM), whose backers include Livingbridge UK Micro Cap Fund (GB00BV9FYS80) and Artemis Alpha Trust (ATS), looks an attractive proposition.

A provider of breakthrough ‘natural microencapsulation technologies’ and agrochemicals, the AIM company is shifting from a development to a lucrative commercialisation phase, with strong growth set to continue in 2018 driven by new regulatory approvals.

ENCAPSULATING EDEN

Eden provides sustainable solutions for crop protection, animal health and personal care. Significant investment in intellectual property and registrations has created a competitive advantage in a global agrochemicals industry increasingly shifting towards biological products.

The Cirencester-based concern’s encapsulation technology, known as Sustaine and currently licensed to Bayer Animal Health in North America, is used in markets such as crop protection, animal and human healthcare.

Like humans and animals, plants have developed defences against pests and disease. Among their defences are essential oils containing active molecules (terpenes), which help them combat insect predators and disease.

Sustaine encapsulates these active molecules in particles that slow their release over days. This not only ensures better levels of control, but also improves the effectiveness of existing products used for plant protection such as pesticides and biocides.

MAKING GRAPE PROGRESS

Excitingly, the AIM minnow’s first fungicide product Mevalone, which targets Botrytis (grape rot), is approved for sale in 10 nations including the top three wine producers (Italy, France, Spain). Further approvals are expected in 2018 with applications for registration being progressed in countries including the US and Australia.

Eden has a second plant protection product, a nematicide named Cedroz, which targets soil-dwelling pests. This is on course for launch in 2019 and CEO Sean Smith says it has potentially a far greater market opportunity than Mevalone.

Last summer Sipcam, an Italian multinational that specialises in making and marketing agrochemicals, invested £2.2m for a 9.9% stake in Eden. The pair have inked a number of commercial agreements, giving Eden’s agrochemicals and technologies credibility, while an eventual bid from the family-owned Sipcam is far from out of the question.

POSITIVE BREAKTHROUGH NEARS

Eden’s full year results (20 Mar) revealed a revenue leap to £1.9m (2016: £0.4m), despite a testing southern European growing season for its fungicidal products, flowing through to a significantly lower underlying pre-tax loss of £1.1m (2016: £1.9m); Eden also closed the year with £3.7m of cash in the bank.

For 2018, Shore Capital’s Phil Carroll forecasts a sales surge to £3.1m, ahead of £4m and £5.7m in 2019 and 2020 respectively, while the analyst’s projections point to a breakthrough into positive EBITDA of £100,000 in 2019.

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