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The UK market showed a continued recovery in the first quarter albeit the indices are still well short of their all-time peaks, unlike many of their international peers. The FTSE 100 has risen by 1,186 points (21.4%) since the end of October and the FTSE 250 by 4,304 points (25.0%). The comparable performance since the start of the year is less spectacular- the FTSE 100 has risen by 253 points (3.9%) and the FTSE 250 has risen by 1,070 points (5.0%). The factors behind the sustained rally are familiar. The belief that the roll-out of the vaccine and some relaxation of lockdown limitations will lead to a significant economic recovery, compared to the collapse seen in the first half of 2020, due to lockdowns. Indeed, the recent economic picture is becoming more optimistic than previous expectations. According to the ONS, the economy grew a little more than initially estimated in Q4 last year. This means GDP for 2020 as a whole contracted by 9.8%, revised up marginally but still the worst contraction on record. Markets, in general, have focused upon the potential scope and extent of the recovery. The sectors and stocks that have outperformed have been seen as ‘recovery’ plays with a rotation from stocks seen as ‘lockdown’ winners into those set to benefit from the ‘unlocking of society’ and/or exposed to the consumer. We expect 2021 will continue to be a “stock-picker’s” market. The sharp increase in the household savings ratio in Q4 highlights the scope for a recovery driven by expenditure. As further lockdown limitations are lifted, evidence of this growth will help to underpin the more optimistic outlook for Q2 and beyond.
Companies: AMYT ARBB BPC BAG BVC BEG BONH BLVN BRSD CML CWK CRPR EYE ECHO FDM FAR FA/ GPH GSF HUW INSE JDG KAPE KP2 MACF MPAC MNZS NESF NBI OTMP OBD PREM QFI RUA SCS SEN SOS SUR TON TOU TXP TGL TCN UEM VLS WYN
Catena Group (CTNA.L) to complete reverse takeover and be renamed Insig AI and is acquiring the remaining shares of Insight Capital Partners. Insight, which is based in the UK, is a data science and machine learning solutions company that provides bespoke web-based applications, advanced analytical tools and modern technology infrastructure to make machine learning accessible to investment professionals. Insight has developed five products specifically aimed at accelerating an asset manager's data science and machine learning strategy. Capital to be raised on Admission approximately £6.1m. Mkt cap c. £66.4m. Due 10 May. Semper Fortis Esports* recently announced its intention to IPO onto the Access Segment of the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market. Semper is a multi-operational Esports organisation focusing on gaming technology solutions, brand enhancement and high growth team infrastructures. The company plans to raise £2.5m to develop their three core areas of establishing an esports team, forming partnerships with brands for sponsorship and B2B consultancy services. The Board are highly experienced in sports and corporate deal making (Keith Harris, former Chairman of The Football League), technology and electronic gaming (Nolan Bushnell, founder of the pioneering company, Atari), esports and game tech (Kevin Soltani and Jassem Osseiran) and as FD Max Deeley. Target Admission Date of 26 April. Emmerson EML.L moving from the Standard List to AIM, The Company's current market capitalisation is approximately £46m, based upon its share price at close of business on 24 March 2021 of 6 pence per Ordinary Share. Raising £5.5m on admission. Emmerson is a potash development company focused on the development of the Khemisset Potash Project located in Northern Morocco, approximately 90km from the capital city, Rabat, and the planned bulk port of Kenitra Atlantique and 175km from the port of Mohammedia. The Project has a JORC Resource Estimate (2019) of 537Mt @ 9.24% K2O and exploration potential with a development pathway targeting a low capital expenditure and high margin potash mine. Due 27 April. Dispersion Holdings PLC, an investor in the high growth FinTech sector within the UK, the USA and Canada, has announced its intention to IPO on the Access Segment of the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market. The Board intends to deploy the majority of the Company’s cash resources in the acquisition of minority interests in a number of different, yet to be identified, companies in the broad FinTech sector, and to apply expertise to the business operations and strategic plans of these companies. Target Admission Date of 30 April. Darktrace plc. Intends to float on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (premium). Darktrace was founded in 2013 with a mission to fundamentally transform the ability of organisations to defend their most critical assets in the face of rising cyber threats. Darktrace is a world-leading provider of AI for the enterprise, with the first at-scale in-the-enterprise deployment of AI in cyber security. Due early May. Wickes to demerge from Travis Perkins and list on the Main Market. Expected 28 April. Thor Explorations (TSXV:THX) seeking a secondary listing on AIM. The Company is targeting Admission during Q2 21. Segun Lawson, President & CEO, stated: “Thor Explorations has advanced significantly, in both project development and capitalisation since the acquisition of Segilola in 2016. This year, the Company is well positioned to achieve two major milestones with the commencement of gold production at Segilola in Nigeria and a maiden resource at Douta in Senegal, as well as continuing to progress our highly prospective Nigerian exploration portfolio on the Ilesha Schist belt.” Imperial X (AQSE:IMPP) to join the Main Market (standard). It is also proposed that on Admission to the Official List, the Company will change its name to Cloudbreak Discovery Plc. With effect from Admission, Imperial X will hold equity positions and royalties in a variety of projects in the natural resources sector across multiple jurisdictions, primarily in the Americas and Africa. The Company is proposing to raise up to £1.5m by way of placing of new Ordinary Shares to support further prospect acquisitions. Current Mkt cap £4.7m. Expected April.
Companies: SWG LOGP G4M SDG MTL GTC KWS ARK ANCR EME
In the last fortnight, we have surrendered some of the notable progress made over the last three months. That said, the optimism displayed by markets, driven by progress with vaccines and their rollout, persists. The recent direction of markets has been set by volatility in US markets, driven by specific retail market developments. Domestically, we have seen a broadly upbeat procession of results and trading updates/outlooks have, generally, been at least in line. The share price reactions have been commensurately positive. In addition to the results news flow, we have continued to see examples of M&A activity across a range of sectors. We have also seen a pick-up in IPO activity. Regarding the outlook, we have the Bank of England MPC Minutes on Thursday and Q4 2020 GDP numbers on 12 February. Most notably, we have the UK Budget on 3 March when the Chancellor will set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs. We will also have the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. That said, if signs of a greater than anticipated economic recovery are feasible in Q2 & Q3 and, potentially, only limited lockdowns are likely later in the year, grounds for greater optimism for UK small caps could lead to further outperformance in 2021, especially if M&A activity continues, in a world awash with cash.
Companies: AJIT ARW BPC BVC BAG BEG BON BWNG CLG CRPR EYE ECHO EPWN FDM FA/ GPH GNC HUW INSE KAPE KP2 MNZS NMCN NRR OBD PPC QFI ROL SAVE SCS SEN SOS SUR SNX TON TMG TGL TCN UEM VLS W7L WINK WYN
The Budget offered a clear picture of the state of the economy. Put simply, the economy will be 3% smaller in three years’ time than it would have been without the impact of the pandemic. However, it is forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022, six months earlier than previously thought. The OBR forecasts that the UK economy will grow by 4.1% in 2021, (lower than the 5.5% outlined in November 2020). It has set its GDP forecasts in 2022, 2023 and 2024 at 7.3%, 1.7% and 1.6%. Positively, we have a continuation of substantial support for various parts of the economy – totalling £350bn. The market may focus on two elements. Under the so-called “super-deduction scheme, businesses which invest in the next two years will be able to claim 130% of the cost against their tax bill. This is significant but also significant is the proposed increase in corporation tax on profits from 19% to 25% in 2023. This has material consequences. Looking that far ahead is not straightforward. The increased tax charge will inevitably impact ratings. This may not be a consideration currently but may become one as more FY2023 estimates are introduced. Closer to home, we have continued to see most results/updates in line with expectations. An increasing number of companies have restored dividends. M&A across a broad range of sectors also looks set to continue.
Companies: AMYT ARBB BPC BVC BEG BRSD BWNG CBOX CTG CLG CML CWK EYE ECHO EML ESC FBD FA/ GSF HTWS INSE JDG MACF MTW NESF NAVF NSF NBI OTMP PCF PPC QFI SAVE SEN SNX TGL UTL VLS WYN
Carr’s Group has reported a 5% rise in adjusted operating profit during H121. Strong performances from both the Speciality Agriculture and Agricultural Supplies divisions more than compensated for weaker demand from the oil and gas market, which adversely affected the Engineering division. However, the Engineering order book is strengthening with contracts from the nuclear and defence markets, so management expects a second half divisional recovery and its expectations for FY21 performance are unchanged.
Companies: Carr's Group PLC
Nestlé started the year on a high note with Q1 sales well ahead of expectations. Such a performance should lead to expectations being revised upward by the consensus, although the group takes a highly cautious tone about margin due to input cost inflation.
Companies: Nestle (NESN:VTX)Nestle S.A. (NESN:SWX)
In our second edition of “Trend spotting” we note how in the last three weeks the defensive rotation trend has gathered pace and further evidence has emerged of the “relative fading” in the UK economy. However we now see early signs of the “risk on” trend starting to reassert itself in equity markets and we look at small cap laggards plus European exposure as ways to play this.
Companies: GNS REDD SPH TRI XAR BOY VCT GHH CHH DPH INS HILS RPS LWB EKF UDG SYNT MYSL BCA JUP KMK
Samarkand Group Limited, the cross-border eCommerce technology and retail group opening up the world's largest market for brands and retailers, intends to IPO on the Apex Segment Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market. Admission is targeted for March 2021. Cellular Goods a UK-based provider of premium consumer products based on biosynthetic cannabinoids announced its intention to join the main market (standard) this spring. Target valuation £20m raising c. £8m “to finalise the development and launch of a range of the Company's premium-quality consumer products based on biosynthetic cannabinoids, which is fully compliant under UK law.” Kanabo Group (RTO by Spinnaker Opportunities SOP.L) on the main market (standard). Raising £6m, enlarged mkt cap £23.4m. Kanabo focuses on the distribution of Cannabis-derived products for medical patients, and non-THC products for CBD consumers . Due 16 Feb. NextEnergy Renewables to launch an IPO on the Main Market. NREN is a differentiated renewables investment company that aims to capture the most attractive private renewables and energy transition infrastructure investment opportunities globally. Targeting a £300m raise. NREN is targeting total returns of 9-11 per cent. per annum (net of all fees and expenses but including the Target Dividend and capital appreciation) . The Company's target dividend yield for the first full financial year to 31 December 2022 is 5.5 pence. Due Early March Auction Technology Group is considering an IPO on the Main Market. The Group operates six world-leading online Marketplaces and proprietary global auction platform technology for curated online auctions . In FY20 the Group delivered pro forma revenue of £52.3 million, supported by notable underlying year-on-year growth from both Standalone ATG Group and Standalone Proxibid Group (12.4 per cent. and 40.4 per cent., respectively). For the same period, the Group delivered a strong profitability performance of £22.3 million pro forma Adjusted EBITDA representing a pro forma Adjusted EBITDA margin of 42.6 per cent. Digital 9 Infrastructure launch an initial public offering on the Specialist Fund Segment of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, by way of an initial placing and offer for subscription for a target issue £400m. Digital 9 Infrastructure plc is a newly established, externally managed investment trust. The Company will invest in a range of digital infrastructure assets which deliver a reliable, functioning internet. The IPO Prospectus is expected to be published in March 2021. Cordiant Digital Infrastructure to admit its shares on the Specialist Fund Segment of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange . Targeting a £300m raise. Cordiant invests in global infrastructure and real assets, running infrastructure private equity and infrastructure private credit strategies through limited partnership funds and managed accounts. Due 16 Feb 4basebio UK Societas is a specialist life sciences group focused on therapeutic DNA for gene therapies and DNA vaccines and providing solutions for effective and safe delivery of these DNA based products to patients. The Company has been divested from 4basebio AG , a German company listed on the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange . No capital to be raised on Admission. Anticipated market capitalisation on AIM Admission: £14.53m. Due 17 Feb Cornish Metals (TSX-V: CUSN) intends to list on AIM. The Company is proposing to raise £5m by way of private placement of new Common Shares to advance the United Downs copper-tin project. The Company expects that Admission will become effective in February 2021. The Company's Common Shares will continue to be listed and trade on the TSX-V in Canada.
Companies: SYM ABDX NBI BPM TND BRCK PRES ENET CDGP
Danone finally bows to investor pressure to split the Chairman and CEO roles. This is a good start, but we hope that the group will accompany this decision with strategic choices to relaunch growth.
Companies: Danone (BN:EPA)Danone SA (BN:PAR)
AG Barr has reported resilient FY2021 results that reflect the impact of the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns for much of the year. Total sales fell by 11.2%, a creditable performance in our view, with CPTP down c12% to £32.8m (exactly in line with our expectations). Whilst the Group reports net cash of c£50m no dividend payment is proposed, albeit the Board has the clear intention to recommence payments in FY2022. The Group has made encouraging strategic progress in our view, with the channel reach extended whilst maintaining resilience across its operations. Looking into FY2022, it is expected that Covid will negatively impact trading through much of the first six months, with the outlook for H2 a little clearer, aided by an encouraging pipeline of innovation and NPD. We will look to reintroduce forecasts in short order, though anticipate a broadly flat FY2022 (robust underlying growth offset by the lost Rockstar contract), followed by high single digit growth in FY2023. Trading on c16x peak earnings (FY2019), the historic valuation looks attractive for AG Barr. HOUSE STOCK.
Companies: A.G. BARR p.l.c.
Virgin Wines has a compelling investment case offering high growth yet predictable earnings. A unique sourcing model that drives high gross margins coupled with a tightly managed range turns stock rapidly. A low operating cost model and a disciplined approach to customer acquisition drive high EBITDA margins. A management team with an enviable record offers stability and experience through a disciplined growth strategy and a relatively capital light asset base. We see multiple years of high growth ahead.
Companies: Naked Wines plc
Pointerra Ltd (ASX:3DP) provides an end to end, cloud-based data as a service solution for capturing, storing, manipulating and analysing massive 3D datasets in the geospatial sector. It has taken what has been a highly manual, slow and cost prohibitive process and turned it into a fast, efficient workflow solution for 3D data, enabling digital asset management from any device in any location. Its customer base spans companies across the pole and power sector, resources, construction, data capture and surveyor and mapping, as well as government agencies. It generates income from subscriptions to host and provide access to data (data as a service), to process the huge data sets (data processing as a service) and increasingly from analysing the data (analytics as a service). With expanded datasets on its platform through its agreement with global mapping giant Here Technologies, Pointerra has now launched its data marketplace, 3Dinsights.ai, offering Insights as a Service subscriptions. The company has announced today record quarterly cash receipts of $1.37m, up from $0.63m in Q2 FY20 and $0.53m in Q3 FY20 and positive operating cashflow of $0.21m, versus the negative operating cashflow of $0.23m generated in Q2 FY21. The result was driven by both existing subscription customers growing spend and several new customers across a range of industries including the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Sector (AEC), which is benefitting from COVID-19 recovery infrastructure spend. Pointerra also noted it will separately release an Enterprise Sales & Annual Contract Value update before April 30.
Companies: Pointerra Ltd.