Omega shares fall amid loss, ‘tumultuous’ year

Shares of Alva-based Omega Diagnostics Group fell more than 15% after it said its turnover fell 5% to £13.55 million in the year ended March 31, 2018, and chairman David Evans described the period as “tumultuous.”

Omega said it made a statutory loss for the year of £7.27 million compared to a profit of £0.71 million the year before.

Adjusted loss before tax was £0.73 million compared to a 2017 profit of £1.13 million.

Omega Diagnostics focuses on allergy, food intolerance and infectious disease.

For the year, food intolerance revenue down 6% to £7.56 million, allergy and autoimmune revenue was down by 8% to £3.31 million, and infectious disease/other revenue was up 1% to £2.68 million.

Exceptional items were £6.51 million “primarily due to the closure of Germany and Pune sites …”

Evans said “the jewel in our crown” is Omega’s CD4 test for the monitoring of the immune status of people living with HIV at the point of care.

Omega announced it achieved a key milestone for CD4 by attaining “the formal design freeze with its Visitect CD4 Advanced Disease product, following the successful manufacture and evaluation of three development batches.”

“Devices from these batches were tested at two sites within Africa, on sufficient numbers of patient samples, to demonstrate that the company now has a method for manufacturing devices which consistently meet its design specifications.

“This significant development allows Omega to progress into the formal verification and validation phase.”

Evans said: “As I survey the period since the last Annual Report I think it would be best described as tumultuous.

As chairman I am extremely conscious of the level of criticism levelled at the board in terms of the underperformance of the business.

“This level of performance was not borne out of fecklessness but out of circumstances and a recognition, perhaps belatedly, that we were not sufficiently focused for the resources we had available to us.

As a board we fully understand our responsibilities and recognise the need to deliver value to shareholders particularly in light of the placing price of the fundraise in July last year.

“The failure to deliver against that plan is both visible and painful but every problem creates its own opportunity and rather than buckling under that pressure we have addressed the issues head on.

This failure put in the spotlight that the sum of the individual parts of our business are worth significantly more than the whole as represented by our current market capitalisation.

As we moved forward last year through the interim results roadshow and more latterly through the April trading update we received valuable feedback from a range of our shareholders which was confirmatory in terms of the priorities that the board had set itself in terms of delivering realisable value to shareholders over the short, medium and long term.

The delivery of that value is a key priority and it is likely that this will be best achieved through the realisation of the individual parts of the business at the most appropriate stage of their life-cycle.

The first stage of that process was achieved on 28 June 2018 when we announced the divestment of our legacy Infectious disease business to Lab21 Healthcare Limited for £2.175 million.

“These proceeds will enable the company to have sufficient working capital without having to either issue further equity or take on additional debt.

“It is intended to significantly accelerate our plans for CD4 commercialisation where the main gating item is the individual country registration.

The next stages in the process will be announced when we are in a position to say something meaningful and in the interim it would be an act of self-harm to provide a running commentary.

“We will keep shareholders updated as we make further progress.” 

Evans added: Ultimately, we are judged by our results and it may end up being a rather circuitous route to success, but I do believe that after many years of famine shareholders will see some bread in their basket by this time next year.

“The key thereafter will be to replenish that basket. I am confident we can achieve both.”