Interactive Investor

20 most-popular AIM companies at the moment

Investors have been more cautious when buying shares in smaller companies, but there are plenty of high-quality firms that have captured the imagination. Andrew Hore runs through the top 20.

29th December 2023 08:33

Andrew Hore from interactive investor

Investors are well aware that 2023 has been another poor year when it comes to the overall performance of AIM, but it has also been a weaker period for trading volumes of AIM shares. Also, the lack of new admissions and recent outflow of companies from AIM has further contributed to the market capitalisation of AIM, down nearly 24% to £74.54 billion in the 12 months to the end of November 2023.

By the end of November, there were 9.28 million trades in the year, which were valued at £46.7 billion. At the same time last year, the number of trades was 13.65 million worth £63.1 billion. For all of 2022, there were 14.4 million trades valued at £66.6 billion.

To put that in perspective, the record number of annual trades was 20.3 million in 2021, and 2022 was the third-highest figure. The total value in 2022 was the fifth highest.

This year looks set to end with the lowest number of trades in a single year since 2016. The daily number of trades so far in 2023 is less than 50% of the 2021 figure of 80,267. The total value of trades is already higher than in 2016, but it is not likely to hit the figures in any subsequent year.

Top 20 AIM shares

In the latest monthly figures, the top 20 companies were responsible for more than 279,000 trades, which accounted for 37% of trades on AIM and 29.2% of their value in the month. In the previous November, the top 20 generated more than 495,000 trades, which was 46.7% of trades in the month and 38% of the total value.

This does show that there is a better spread of trading throughout the constituents of AIM, although there are still plenty that have limited liquidity.

Looking at the 20 most-traded AIM companies in November 2023, there are 13 that were in the top 2020 12 months earlier. Some of the larger companies have left AIM.

These include life science products supplier Abcam, which dropped its AIM quotation on 14 December 2022. Since joining AIM on 3 November 2005, Abcam’s adjusted share price increased from 167p to 1,226p. That made it one of the largest AIM companies when it left to concentrate on the Nasdaq listing. Despite opposition from one of the founders, Danaher Corp (NYSE:DHR) succeeded in a $24 (£18.90)/share bid late in 2023.  

Fuel-cell technology developer Ceres Power Holdings (LSE:CWR) moved to the Main Market at the end of June 2023, having joined AIM in November 2004.

These two companies were the third and fourth most-traded companies in November 2022. There were a combined 78,586 trades, which was 7.4% of the trades on AIM in November 2022 and they were worth £389.37 million – 8% of total traded value. The lack of new admissions made this difficult to replace.

Alaska-focused oil and gas explorer Pantheon Resources (LSE:PANR) was the seventh most-traded company last November with 27,446 trades and one year later the figure had fallen to 7,326. Tremor International Ltd (LSE:TRMR) trades declined from 24,469 to 7,486.

Kettle components and heating appliances supplier Strix Group (LSE:KETL), Harland & Wolff Group Holdings (LSE:HARL) and Baron Oil (LSE:BOIL) are the other three companies not in the 2023 top 20. All three had declines in number of trades of more than two-thirds.

Top 20 traded AIM companies: November 2023

Company

Number of trades

Value of trades (£m)

Jet2 Ordinary Shares (LSE:JET2)

22,966

160.7

Burford Capital Ltd (LSE:BUR)

22,274

79.0

Yellow Cake Ordinary Shares (LSE:YCA)

21,547

132.4

Boohoo Group (LSE:BOO)

20,808

53.2

Premier African Minerals Ltd (LSE:PREM)

17,819

15.9

Keywords Studios (LSE:KWS)

16,966

89.5

RWS Holdings (LSE:RWS)

15,335

65.0

ITM Power (LSE:ITM)

14,283

28.6

Serica Energy (LSE:SQZ) 

14,010

52.5

Fevertree Drinks (LSE:FEVR)

12,250

55.3

GB Group (LSE:GBG)

11,967

36.8

Johnson Service Group (LSE:JSG) 

10,645

38.4

Kodal Minerals (LSE:KOD)

10,374

16.9

Greatland Gold (LSE:GGP)

10,335

48.5

CVS Group (LSE:CVSG)

10,301

74.8

Victoria (LSE:VCP)

10,105

30.7

Learning Technologies Group (LSE:LTG)

10,022

45.9

Helium One Global Ltd Ordinary Shares (LSE:HE1)

9,117

22.2

Quantum Blockchain Technologies (LSE:QBT)

9,055

28.4

Ethernity Networks Ltd Registered Shs (LSE:ENET) 

8,990

16.0

Total

279,169

1,090.7

Source: London Stock Exchange, November 2023.

Budget airline and tour operator Jet2 Ordinary Shares (LSE:JET2) is not just back to being the largest company on AIM it is also the most-traded share in terms of number of bargains and value of trades.

Litigation finance provider Burford Capital Ltd (LSE:BUR) was the biggest mover in the top 20 having moved from 18 in November 2022 to second. The number of trades jumped from 12,424 to 22,274. There has been a sharp decline in the number of trades in the other companies. Winning a major court case in September attracted attention to the shares.

The number of trades in online fashion retailer Boohoo Group (LSE:BOO) has more than halved to 20,808. In November 2021, there were 93,810 trades. This shows how much boohoo has fallen out of favour with disappointing trading results. The value of the trades has fallen from £313.9 million to £53.2 million because of the slump in the share price. The share price has recovered in the fourth quarter of 2023, but it is still below the 50p a share placing price when boohoo joined AIM on 14 March 2014.

Fuel-cell companies are also out of favour and ITM Power (LSE:ITM) dipped from the most-traded share to eighth most-traded, with the number of trades declining by more than two-thirds.

Mining sector dominates

There is a wide spread of sectors represented in the top 20. However, the one sector that accounts for one-quarter of the companies is mining. There were two in November 2022 and those companies, uranium investor Yellow Cake Ordinary Shares (LSE:YCA) and Premier African Minerals Ltd (LSE:PREM), are still in the list.  

There were fewer trades in Yellow Cake but the drop-off was not as sharp as for most of the other companies. There has been increasing interest in Yellow Cake over the past couple of years as the uranium price has increased.

Things have not gone smoothly for lithium project developer Premier African Minerals and the share price has been declining. Despite that, the number of trades is slightly higher than one year ago. More cash has been raised, but this is diluting shareholders. The Zulu lithium mine in Zimbabwe could be up and running by the end of February, but the ramping up of production could take a while. This shows that even when things are not going well there can be continued interest from more optimistic investors.

Kodal Minerals (LSE:KOD) is a lithium miner that is making better progress than Premier African Minerals, which like Kodal Minerals has a Chinese partner for its lithium project. The Bougouni project in southern Mali is at an earlier stage of construction, though.

Greatland Gold (LSE:GGP) has been one of the most-traded companies on AIM in the past, but interest waned. Positive news concerning the Havieron mineral resource and other good news about exploration has revived interest in recent months. The 30%-owned Havieron gold copper project in Western Australia has an estimated 8.4 million ounces of gold equivalent, an increase of 29% over one year. Anomalous gold and copper have been identified at the nearby Scallywag tenement, which is 100%-owned by Greatland Gold. Nickel prospectivity has been confirmed at the Panorama tenure.

Helium One Global Ltd (LSE:HE1) has had problems getting exploration drilling under way. Initial exploration was disappointing and there were problems with the drilling rig. More cash was required for the Tai-3 well at Itumbula in Tanzania, which should be spudded in early January when the drilling rig has been repaired. In December, a placing raised £6.1 million at 0.25p/share and the share price has fallen below that level.

From month to month there will always be odd companies that make the list in the short term. Israel-based network technology developer Ethernity Networks Ltd Registered Shs (LSE:ENET) is one where there was little trading during the year until late October. The company was running short of cash, but it was announcing new contracts, which led to a volatile share price. The company is also in a form of insolvency protection called the Temporary Suspension of Proceedings. This continues despite a share issue in December.

Some companies that do not make it into the most-traded list but are high up in the list by value of trades are bid targets, such as pharma services provider Ergomed where £136.7 million worth of shares were traded, parcel delivery business DX (Group) (LSE:DX.) with £119 million traded and Hotel Chocolat with £102.3 million.

The bid activity will have boosted overall trading on values on AIM when bidders buy up shares in the market. These are normally higher value deals, which is why the average value per trade can be much higher – for Ergomed it was more than £223,000.

Andrew Hore is a freelance contributor and not a direct employee of interactive investor.

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