Small caps movers: Seeing Machines has a sparkle in its eye after tie-up with German car giant

Seeing Machines was a sight for sore eyes this week, with the eye-tracking and facial recognition specialist being driven higher by a new contract win from an unnamed German car giant.

The AIM-listed firm will supply its FOVIO driver monitoring system (DMS) technology to the “premium German automotive partner” for use in its new car models, which are scheduled for mass production in 2020.

FOVIO keeps track of a driver’s head pose, eyelid movements and eye-gaze (even through sunglasses), with the data then processed to give real-time information on the driver’s attention state, focus and drowsiness.

The technology has grown in popularity in recent years as semi-autonomous cars (and eventually driverless cars) become less of a concept and more of a reality.

At somewhere between A$10mln and A$25mln, the contract is worth a fair amount in its own right but City broker finnCap reckons that, more importantly, it shows FOVIO will be used in a “wide range of marques and models”, increasing the potential size of its market.

Shares jumped 49.7% across the week to 6.1p.

Telit Communications – often featured in this column – dived by 10% on Thursday after media reports suggested that the UK’s financial watchdog had launched an investigation into the internet-of-things specialist.

Regular readers of this column will probably remember the frankly bizarre identity saga involving the firm’s now ex-CEO Oozi Cats at the end of summer.

Cats stepped down from his role in August amid doubts about whether he was connected to an Uzi Katz who, according to Boston court papers, had allegedly been on the run from US law enforcement since the early ‘90s.

The details of the Financial Conduct Authority’s investigation weren’t immediately clear but reports claimed that it was expected to look into the timing and disclosures relating to a share sale by Cats (or should that be Katz?) back in May.

In response to the reports Telit insisted it was not under formal investigation from the FCA which helped the share price to rebound, although it was still down 2% or so come Friday afternoon at 170p.

Overall it was a pretty good week for the markets in London. The AIM All Share added 0.8%, or 7.8 points, to leave it at 1,041.3, a slightly better performance than the FTSE 100 which added 0.6%, or 49 points, to 7,552.

One of those hekping the junior market to gush higher was Water Intelligence which rose the best part of 20% to 146p after it reported a 50% jump in third quarter profits sales to US$13.3mln on Thursday.

The leak detection specialist said sales so far in 2017 are already 10% ahead of what it notched up during the whole of last year, boosted by a strong performance in its American Leak Detection business.

Water Intelligence also ticked off another “business plan milestone” in the quarter as its sewer and wastewater business – Water Intelligence International – broke through the US$1mln sales barrier after registering nothing in 2016.

On the flip side, life sciences investor Amphion Innovations was down in the doldrums after its wholly-owned company DataTern had its US patent infringement case against MicroStrategy and some of its customers thrown out.

The reason for the dismissal was the withdrawal from the case of the firm’s legal counsel and DataTern’s inability to appoint a successor “in the short time frame set by the court”.

DataTern isn’t giving up the ghost just yet though. It still believes it has a valid case and that two of its patents are being infringed by a “wide range of companies” including MicroStrategy.

It said it efforts to find a new legal counsel are continuing as it looks to take the claims further.

Investors weren’t convinced though, with shares plummeting 40.4% to 1.65p.

Away from the movers and shakers, Echo Energy deserves a mention this week after its shares were suspended on Monday as the company works on its latest South American acquisition.

Echo is in discussions to take a 50% stake in four licences in Argentina, though due to the size of the acquisition the transaction would constitute a reverse takeover.

It is anticipated that the first drilling, with Echo’s involvement, will come in the first quarter of 2018 and a “period of significant drilling and operational activity” will follow.

Echo is paying US$2.5mln upfront for its stakes in three of the projects whilst also committing to deferred payments and specific work and funding obligations.

Shares will remain suspended until a new AIM admission document is published and after shareholders either approve or cancel the transaction.

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