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Calendar quirk sees great leap for top ASX runner

Depending on whether you are an optimist, a cynic or a pragmatist, every leap year can be embraced through a differing perspective.

It can give people an extra day to seize the opportunity of a bonus 24 hours, or bosses the chance to squeeze extra work per year out of employees. Or, like this writer, it can simply be ignored until you need to remember the date so you don’t get a day ahead of yourself.

This week’s Bulls N’ Bears top ASX runner is … Nyrada.

In the latter case, it can complicate deadlines, make you think meetings are earlier than they actually are and basically, just causes a great deal of confusion in the workplace (or is that just me?).

But for an ASX-listed company, especially those working on a month-to-month reporting basis, it can make the difference between a highly-successful February, or a month to forget.

Take medtech Nyrada for instance, which has claimed this week’s Bulls N’ Bears runner of the week title after launching a ridiculous 672.73 per cent to touch 17c after a previous close of 2.2c.

If it hadn’t been a leap year, the company would have closed out February with a final day of trading that saw just shy of 127 million shares change hands. Instead, thanks to that timely February 29, it added a further 106 million shares to its volume and enjoyed the peak price of 17c within the extended month.

So, what was behind this massive flurry of movement for the company?

Well, Nyrada is a drug discovery and development company that specialises in small molecule therapeutics to treat neurological and cardiovascular diseases. This week, it announced positive results from its preclinical study evaluating the efficacy of its brain injury program drug candidate “NYR-BI03” in preventing secondary brain injury.

The company says the current study, in collaboration with the University of New South Wales in Sydney, had no drug-related adverse effects on the test subjects.

The aim of the trial is to develop therapies to reduce the long-term disability associated with stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI), which are leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Management says there are currently no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of secondary brain injury.

One of the more common types of TBI comes from concussion, which has made significant headlines around the world in recent years in terms of the effect it has on professional athletes. For example, AFL premiership player Angus Brayshaw last week announced his retirement due to ongoing health issues stemming from a history of concussions suffered over his 167-game career with Melbourne.

While Nyrada’s potential treatment is really only in the infancy stage of development, the study could have major implications for how TBI and stroke sufferers are able to address their medical issues. That would obviously have the potential to improve the quality of life for those impacted.

Another company to benefit from using the extra day in February is Volt Power Group, which comes in second on this week’s list of runners with a price jump of 100 per cent to touch 0.2c from a previous close of 0.1c.

Regular readers may remember the company appearing in this column at the start of February after a very similar price hike when it recorded full-year revenue receipts of a cool $4.38 million and closed out the calendar year with a surplus annual operating cashflow of $1.49 million in its December quarterly report.

Well, this time the lift in stock follows impressive figures from its annual report, which was also dropped on the bonus day in February. According to its latest figures, Volt recorded $5.03 million in ordinary revenue during 2023 at an increase of 54 per cent, compared to $3.26 million to end the previous 12-month period.

Management says it also enjoyed a 132 per cent increase in adjusted EBITDA to $2.09 million, compared to $900,000 in the previous reporting period.

A major reason behind Volt’s successful 2023 was its EcoQuip mobile solar light tower (MSLT) technology platform and MSLT fleet expansion. It included the technology replacing 100 per cent of the operational diesel-fuelled lighting plant fleet on Chevron’s Barrow Island operation.

The company also secured a new EcoQuip MSLT order for Chevron’s Gorgon natural gas project. The EcoQuip technology uses a high-efficiency solar lithium battery energy storage system (BESS), power management electronics and software capable of autonomous operation and up to 40 per cent enhanced energy efficiency, compared to similar industry standards.

So, at least somebody is making money out of lithium at the moment.

Coming in third place on this week’s list of runners is Enova Mining. A binding option for the company to acquire 100 per cent of the CODA ionic clay rare earths project in the mining-friendly jurisdiction of Minas Gerais in Brazil saw its shares jump 90 per cent to touch 5.7c from a previous price of 3c.

The tenements cover a combined area of more than 153 square kilometres where shallow auger drilling recorded peaks assays of 0.5m grading 5697 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 1m at 5078ppm TREO, with both results recorded at the end of the holes.

Straying away from the February theme, Enova today announced it had kicked off its due diligence program for the acquisition, in addition to appointing an exploration manager for the project in a sign it has high hopes for the operation.

Has Brazilian rare earths in Minas Gerais taken the over the mantle of supreme commodity jurisdiction from lithium in Canada’s James Bay region? There certainly seems to be a lot of interest in the area…

Artificial Intelligence companies have attracted significant interest from investors this year.

This week’s final runner goes to WhiteHawk, which saw a stock jump of 87.5 per cent to touch 4.5c from a previous close of 2.4c.

Management says it is the first global online AI-based cyber security exchange allowing businesses to take smart action to prevent cybercrime, fraud and disruption and then continuously mitigate the impacts.

Last week, the company was issued a “Please Explain” from the ASX after its share price doubled. Its explanation pointed to a possible increase based on “investor sentiments on the worldwide artificial intelligence investment boom”.

This week, WhiteHawk announced it had secured firm commitments to raise $2 million through a share placement at 2.25c per share with each participant to receive one free option for every two new shares issued. The placement follows the company confirming an AI-based cyber risk contract with Top Five Global Social Media Company back in December.

Management will use the funds to support business growth in AI and machine learning with the cybersecurity sphere.

So, this week’s share price hike may be just a case of those who missed out on the share placement jumping on board, or a case of those who jumped on board jumping off again, but at a reasonable gain.

AI is becoming big business at the moment, and if it can make any sense of the previous paragraph, it probably deserves to have money thrown at it.

However, this columnist is still dubious about the whole machine learning industry. It sort of sounds like a bunch of mindless drones sitting in an office blindly doing whatever it is that management wants done without question and without any real-life understanding of what’s happening in the world.

Wait a minute…

Oh crap…

Just remember, if the machines ever do finally take over, you will be able to tell if this weekly article is still being written by a human by the constant references to James Bay.

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