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Strix has announced the strategic acquisition of LAICA a family owned business in Vicenza, Italy for €19.6m in a mixture of cash and shares. It will be earnings accretive in FY21 and is scheduled to complete by the end of FY20, with just Italian government approval outstanding. ZC operating profit estimates are unchanged in FY20 but increase by c. 8% in FY21 to reflect the contribution from the deal, the impact on earnings is smaller due to the issue of shares and higher tax in Italy. Management believe significant synergies, both cost and revenue, will be derived from the deal over the next 2-5 years. The interim results had been well flagged in the comprehensive trading update in late July and today’s statement confirms that profitability remains in line with the guidance of achieving a flat performance yoy in FY20. The interim dividend of 2.6p is in line with last year and in keeping with the commitment to at least meet the 7.7p paid in FY19. Unlike most peers, Strix has maintained guidance as well as its commitment to pay a dividend and today’s acquisition unpins the continuing strategy of diversifying the business into areas offering greater growth.
Companies: Strix Group Plc
Augean has reported interims to 30 June 2020. With the first half bearing the full impact of Covid-19, adjusted PBT decreased by 11% to £8.5m, which is in line with our expectation. With radioactive wastes, biomass for EfW and construction impacted by lockdown and depressed activity levels in its North Sea services, due to the low oil price, the results demonstrate the resilience of the Group and also the benefit of its key position in its markets with strategically located hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities in the UK. Whilst the statement highlights that full year results are expected to be broadly in-line with market expectations, we have conservatively reduced forecasts. Nevertheless, with strong cash generation and sustained growth EV/EBITDA falls to 5.3x and 4.1x for FY21E and FY22E, a level that is substantially below sector constituents and transaction valuations.
Companies: Augean Plc
Inspiration Healthcare has announced it has completed its final delivery of ventilators to the NHS in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which were announced in March 2020. In total the company has now shipped ~£7m of ventilators, of which £5m relate to Inspiration Healthcare's direct contracts and ~£2m relate to orders to S.L.E., which was acquired in July of this year. These £7m of orders do not include revenues associated with the ventilator support service or ancillary orders received since March. We maintain our Buy recommendation.
Companies: Inspiration Healthcare Group Plc
Judges Scientific is focused on acquiring and developing companies in the scientific instrument sector. Given the backdrop of H1, and the global nature of Judges' customer base, we see this morning's results as a significant achievement when set against the backdrop of significant COVID related headwinds. Revenue decreased by 6.8% (organic -12%) to £37.4m (H1-19: £40.2m) which, after the sensible management of the cost base, yielded an adjusted pre-tax profit of £6.4m (H1-19 £8.4m), a 22% reduction, and adjusted fully diluted EPS of 82.5p (H1-19: 107.0p). However, reflecting a commitment to its progressive dividend policy, and confidence in the business, the interim DPS is increased by 10% to 16.5p. With respect to H2, COVID related business risks remain, none of which are unique to Judges. However, given the relative strength of H1 (albeit at some expense to the order book), management flag ‘cautious confidence' in achieving full year market expectations. As such, our FY 2020E adjusted PBT and EPS estimates are unchanged this morning.
Companies: Judges Scientific Plc
Brickability has delivered on its promises with inaugural full year (to Mar-20) results that demonstrate EBITDA and profits growth, establish a base level of dividend, show good cash generation and of course its ability to make acquisitions and build a future pipeline. The impact of COVID-19 will be fully felt in the current year, inevitably setting earnings back although it has traded profitably at EBITA level in every month since April reflecting progressive sales recovery (June -17%, July +1.6%) and the low fixed cost base. The group is not yet ready to offer formal guidance for FY21 however the strategy outlined at IPO is very much intact and deliverable. With the shares over 40% below their post-IPO ‘high' yielding an historic 4.4% plus an EV/EBITDA of 5.3x and PE of c8x, both of which are re-attainable 2-3 years out, the valuation simply looks too cheap to ignore, especially versus its peers.
Companies: Brickability Group Plc
Billington is a leading structural steel and construction safety solutions specialist. The Group has this morning announced that its structural steel division, Billington Structures, has been awarded three contracts with a combined value of £21 million, the largest of which is for a UK power based project (Midlands) that will add significant visibility (at good margin) to FY 2021E. The other two contracts, in the manufacturing and commercial office sectors, are for delivery in Q4 2020 and through 2021 respectively.
Companies: Billington Holdings Plc
Who would have thought when reporting pre-tax losses of £10m after the first half to end June that Breedon would emerge so strongly from lockdown to trade through July-August (and into September) with LFL revenues ahead of comparative 2019 and expected H2 EBIT broadly in line with the equivalent 2019, resulting in a reinstatement of guidance ahead of current FY20 consensus. That is a mark of confidence as much in the group's operating capabilities as market recovery itself – a feature of Breedon's management quality over a consistent period of time. Investors will be impressed by the short-term recovery but also encouraged that the longer-term outlook remains positive with an emphasis to infrastructure markets in GB and Ireland plus, of course, its unrivalled ability to utilise its asset base very efficiently and to add to that platform with accretive acquisitions. The shares hit a COVID ‘low' of 63p but were trading as high as 100p in February. We would see that upper level as the more likely direction of travel for the shares with 90p justified by a forward 2022E rating of 7.5x EV/EBITDA, c14x PE, commencement of dividends and significant deleveraging through high net cash flow generation.
Companies: Breedon Group Plc
Overall performance shows resilience to the impact of COVID-19, with comprehensive restructuring and a focus on recurring, software-driven, revenue streams. H1’21 revenue grew 2.3%YoY (normalised basis) to £6.4m. Checkit UK, acquired on 24 May 2019, contributed 2.5 months of earnings, in H1’20 equivalent to £6.2m on an annualised basis. Notably, gross profitability improved significantly from 21.9% at July 2019 to 35.9% by July 2020. Checkit reorganised into two divisions: Checkit Connect, providing workflow management (CWM), automated monitoring (CAM), and building management services (CBM); and Checkit BEMS, responsible for building installation and maintenance projects. Checkit Connect contributed 53% of H1’21 revenue, growing 15%YoY (normalised), of which 68% was recurring, growing 23%YoY. Checkit Connect is the focus of a SaaS-based products and services business model; its recurring revenue base contributed almost 100% of divisional growth, driven by firmed pricing and a major contract. Checkit BEMS revenue declined 9%YoY (normalised) reflecting the impact of COVID-19 in limiting on-site access. Checkit’s operating loss was reduced from £2.9m in H1’20 to £1.5m, or £2.0m inclusive of exceptional items (H1’20: £3.1m loss). Investment in development was maintained, at £1.0m in H1’21 compared to £1.2m a year earlier. Elektron Eye Technology (EET) was sold in July for £0.9m, paid over 24 months. The cash position as of 31 July was £13.4m, compared to £14.3m on 31 January.
Companies: Checkit Plc
DX has reported good progress in FY 2020 given the impact of COVID-19. Sales were up +2% (H1 +8%, H2 -4%) and adj. PBT increased from a loss of -£0.2m in FY 2019 to a profit of £1.8m (IAS 17) or £0.3m (IFRS 16). This is a better result than our forecast of a loss of -£0.9m (IFRS 16) and was backed by strong cash flow resulting in net cash of £12.3m at June 2020. The outlook is positive, with management highlighting volumes are currently ahead of pre COVID-19 expectations, and the group is in a strong position to rebuild profitability, by improving efficiency, productivity and margins. We have upgraded FY 2021 EPS by 124%, FY 2022 by 63% and raised our target price from 18p to 29p.
Companies: DX (Group) Plc
Today’s AGM Statement highlights further progress during H1. As anticipated at the final results on 6th August, trading has now returned to pre-COVID levels, with a particularly strong recovery in housing market activity. As at 31st August, the order book has increased by 5% to £69.4m from £66.2m at 31st, with contracts secured across the Group’s end markets. The Company has invested in its sales team and back office functions in order to support the recovery, though management continues to monitor costs given the near term uncertainty presented by COVID-19. In the absence of more restrictive lockdown measures, we would expect activity to continue to improve in the near term and the medium term prospects of the Group remain encouraging, supported by the UK’s net-zero target, which will require substantial investment in the UK’s utility networks. Fulcrum has also announced the appointment of Jennifer Cutler as CFO from 19th October, whose most recent role was Direct of Finance at Harworth Group Plc. The shares have justifiably outperformed since the full year results and today’s statement is supportive of this increase. Forecast guidance continues to be withdrawn given near term COVID uncertainties, but we anticipate reintroducing forecasts at the interim results.
Companies: Fulcrum Utility Services Ltd.
Interims to July are consistent with an earlier update and demonstrate a robust performance, with LFL sales +2% to £6.4m. Looking deeper, momentum continued into Q1, following a strong FY20, with 1Q21 LFL sales: +13%. Meanwhile, Covid’s impact was greater in Q2, as sales fell 11%. Notwithstanding, CKT’s SaaS division (‘Checkit Connect’) grew throughout H1: +15% to £3.4m, now 54%/sales. Management‘s response to macro uncertainties has been proactive and costs tightly managed. A lower adj. operating loss reflects this: £-1.5m (PY: £-2.9m) as does FCF: £-1.4m after strong working capital management. Closing net cash remains very strong at £13.4m. July‘s disposal of EET will add to cash resources – £0.9m consideration is due over 2 years. Despite costs receiving close attention, product development continues at pace and is driving opportunities, particularly within resilient sectors - we view ‘Healthcare‘ as one and is now a strategic focus for the Group. It is also positive to hear market activity is resuming in other sectors too, and a reintroduction of forecasts reflects our confidence. FY21E sales: £13.1m, so we anticipate modest sequential H1/H2 growth or +2% LFL for the full-year. FY21E AOP £-3.8m i.e. £-2.3mE in H2, as government support measures winddown. Closing cash should remain strong (£10.1mE), leaving significant resources for future periods. While early in the company’s transition (so full potential is hard to grasp) we continue to be impressed with progress to date: new product innovation has led to significant deals and in-turn has generated strong ‘recurring‘ growth. Meanwhile, we think CKT’s valuation (<2x EV/sales) reflects an overly cautious assessment of this progress and future opportunities.
As legendary investor Warren Buffet succinctly puts it: “it is better to buy great companies at fair prices, rather than fair companies at great prices”. Today, we think Mpac has done exactly that by acquiring Ohio based Switchback Group, Inc. for a maximum of $15m in cash (£11.4m). Equivalent to modest takeover multiples of 7.1x EV/EBIT and 1.1x EV/sales – with $13m of the consideration paid upfront, and the rest structured as a $2m earnout depending on EBITDA performance over the next 24 months.
Companies: Mpac Group Plc
Seeing Machines has announced plans to deliver a fully supported, integrated Driver Monitoring System (DMS) kit to the global automotive industry. This will be in the form of embedded software (e-DMS) for the Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM Automotive Development Platform (ADP) from Qualcomm Technologies. The kit is expected to be available before the end of this calendar year for use by select automotive Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs and will support a full stack Seeing Machines DMS solution on the Snapdragon™ ADP targeting integration into either infotainment or centralized ADAS systems, and includes an optimized DMS reference camera, ADP interface board and the company's FOVIO and Occula software.
Companies: Seeing Machines Ltd.
Interim results highlight the impact to the business from the nationwide lockdown that started in late March and began to ease in mid to late May. Within today’s results, the outlook statement is probably of most interest. The strong demand highlighted in the trading update in July has continued through August and into September. With the balance sheet in a strong position, post the fund raise, demand firmer than expected and national competitors struggling, Safestyle is in a good position. The recovery had been well underway until the COVID-19 lockdown interrupted operations but Safestyle has come through it in a position to capitalise on good market demand and weak competitors. Revenue numbers for FY20 increase marginally to c. £110.0m but profit forecasts are unchanged. The level of order intake has outstripped the short-term capacity to install orders leaving the order book 82% higher yoy, indicating that the run rate into FY21 should be positive in terms of forecasts.
Companies: Safestyle UK Plc
eEnergy is a pioneer of “energy as a service” in the UK and Ireland. Its compelling proposition offer schools and businesses modern, energy efficient lighting with no up-front capital cost. The upgrade comfortably pays for itself, with the customers’ cost savings more than offsetting ongoing service fees from day one. The core business is well established and growth is rapidly accelerating. eEnergy joined AIM via RTO earlier this year in order to accelerate its organic and acquisitive growth plans. There is an attractive pipeline of M&A opportunities in place, in particular within energy management, which we expect to form an important pillar of the Group’s medium term growth strategy. A forward looking rating based on peer group multiples (c.13x Dec’22 P/E) would value eEnergy at c.12p per share.
Companies: eEnergy Group Plc