Beefed up

Up until yesterday, shares in Aminex (LSE: AEX) were down 28% over 12 months, echoing the slump among smaller oil and gas explorers. But a morning spike today of 18% has lifted the shares to 1.45p, after the company reported first gas from its Kiliwani North field in Tanzania.

Production from the field, in which Aminex should have a 51.75% stake after a recent partial disposal, is expected to reach a production level of around 4,000 to 5,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day gross over the next 90 to 100 days — and Aminex expects to receive $10m to $15m per year from the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation for it.

Cheap assets

I’d hoped I was close to the bottom when I bought Premier Oil (LSE: PMO) shares at 99p back in September, but the subsequent fall to just 19p reinforced the lesson that no matter how far a share has fallen, there’s still another possible 100% to go. But since then, Premier pulled off what I think was a bit of a coup in snapping up E.ON’s North Sea assets for $120m — it should be cash generative, and will surely be seen as a bargain price in a few years’ time.

Premier shares have more than double since that 19p low, to 44p today (I’m only 55% down, whoopee!) and I see it as a risky but good prospect. The big downer is the company’s net debt, which stood at more than $2.2bn at 31 December. But unlike some others, Premier does not seem to be facing any prospect of its lenders pulling the plug — in fact, they have agreed to loosen Premier’s fianancial covenants until mid-2017, while the company is focusing on debt reduction.

My timing stank, but I’m happy to hold.

Pharma prospects

Oxford Biomedica (LSE: OXB) shareholders won’t be too chuffed when they look back on the 57% price drop they’ve suffered over the past 12 months, but they can perhaps take a little heart today from seeing a 5.7% rise to 5.55p — perhaps in anticipation of full-year results due on 28 April.

The company specializes in gene therapy and cell-based medicine, which is surely the future for many of today’s health problems and is likely to be a field which generates lots of tasty profits. But the problem, as with any other new technology still in the startup “blue sky” days (and I’m minded of fuel cell research, which has been touted for years but is still in its infancy) is that we really don’t know when the big commercial breakthroughs will come and who will profit from them.

Oxford Biomedica is still in the cash-burn phase, has no forecasts for profits yet, and launched a new share placing to generate needed working capital as recently as February — and we really don’t know how much further dilution there’ll be before we see those first profits. There are definite possibilities here, but it’s unquantifiable right now and is not one for me.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.