Are These 3 Small-Caps Set To Soar? EKF Diagnostics Holding PLC, Hardy Oil & Gas plc And Hydrodec Group plc

Should you pile into these 3 smaller companies right now? EKF Diagnostics Holding PLC (LON: EKF), Hardy Oil & Gas plc (LON: HDY) and Hydrodec Group plc (LON: HYR)

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Shares in medical diagnostics business EKF Diagnostics (LSE: EKF) have soared by around 16% today despite there being no significant news flow released by the company. Its latest piece of news was a trading update released on 3 February and since then its shares have risen by a whopping 40%.

Encouragingly, the trading update showed that EKF is on-track to deliver cost savings of £6.7m from 2016 onwards and that it is putting in place the foundations for future growth. To aid this, EKF has adopted a singular focus on point-of-care and it remains focused on returning to core profitability and positive cash flow. Although EKF is expected to record a loss in the 2015 financial year, this is partly due to the expected impact of asset write downs of up to £60m.

While this is disappointing, EKF is anticipating core revenues of over £30m in 2016 and expects to have an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of between £3m and £4m this year. As such, and while it remains a relatively high risk play, which is in the midst of a major turnaround, EKF may be of interest to less risk averse investors.

Also rising today are shares in Hydrodec (LSE: HDY), with the cleantech industrial oil re-refining company posting gains of 15% even though there’s no significant news . Despite this rise, Hydrodec is still down by 59% in the last year, a key reason for this being the falling oil price during the period. As a result of this, Hydrodec last week confirmed the disposal of its UK collections business and UK lubricant oil re-refining, with it retaining an economic interest in the latter through a potential profit share.

The deal seems to be a sound one for Hydrodec since it reduces the downside risk to the business by its UK operations given the relatively low oil price. It also allows the company to shift its focus towards its transformer oil technology business, where it could have a competitive advantage due to its proven technology. Although the company’s shares have performed well today, there is still some way to go as it proceeds with what is an ambitious turnaround plan. However, it may be worth a closer look for less risk averse investors.

Meanwhile, Hardy Oil & Gas (LSE: HDY) has also performed well today, with its shares being up 11%. As with Hydrodec, Hardy has been hurt by a falling oil price in the last year, with its shares being down by 49% during the period.

Looking ahead, Hardy could deliver improved share price performance since it continues to have no debt on its balance sheet and a cash position of $19.3m. However, as its recent results highlighted, the company may have the potential to develop its India-based assets, but the pace of activity has been rather slower than it had hoped. And with there being a number of oil and gas plays trading on low valuations and having bright futures, it may be prudent to look elsewhere rather than buying a slice of Hardy at the present time.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Peter Stephens 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.

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