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Strix has released an AGM statement indicating that trading in the early part of the year has been solid, the new financing facilities have been put in place, product development is on track with 14 new products released during the year and the factory move remains on schedule and to budget. The current trading period is an important one and the scheduled trading update 23rd July should provide more colour on the underlying performance as well as the early indications from the new products already released and the outlook for those that are scheduled to be released in H2. The resilience of the Strix business has been reaffirmed during the current situation with financial guidance having been maintained and the final dividend committed to, a 10% increase yoy.
Companies: Strix Group
Despite some initial integration issues with WatBio (since resolved), Filta generated strong organic growth (+16% YoY) and delivered results in line with expectations. Given ongoing uncertainty around the pace at which self-isolation measures will be eased, we maintain our Hold rating, and will look to reinstate forecasts once visibility improves.
Companies: Filta Group
Last month’s update reported +15% LFL sales growth YTD (Feb & March) and also material margin improvement in areas that have received attention. Near-term uncertainty was however flagged, as Covid has impacted project fulfilment. In this context, today’s update is therefore encouraging, as LFL growth has continued through April – meaning +13% LFL sales growth YTD. April benefitted from service and install revenue (as well as recurring, ~£5m pa.). On this basis, CKT is therefore tracking considerably ahead of the company’s ‘bear case’ scenario. Looking ahead we are cautiously optimistic - as while revenue is set to decline in May - CKT mention “customer plans to resume installation projects”, particularly in Healthcare, where opportunities are described as strong. Timing and volume remain hard to predict however. Costs continue to be closely monitored and managed and as evidence, cash remains strong, at £12.8m – only marginally down from 31st March (£13.1m) and £14.3m as at January’s year-end. Prelims now expected 16th June.
FY results ahead due to a waiver of the management bonuses and final dividend is proposed. Current trading is impacted by COVID but there are clear signs of improvement.
TClarke's trading update is refreshingly positive in all key aspects of investors' current COVID fears and hopes. The decision to fully pay the 2019 final dividend sustains income attractiveness (4% yield on the final alone), the avoidance of trading losses in the teeth of the industry lockdown period (after a profitable Q1/20) demonstrates resilience whilst maintenance of net cash balances through April and May illustrate a robustness of cash flows despite reduced activity levels. It has also maintained the order book and has moved quickly to re-structure the cost base ensuring that margin recovery is not entirely dependant upon market improvement. Prudently and we believe reasonably, we are removing all forward forecasts until visibility on revenue recovery and productivity rates into H2/20 become clearer. However, TClarke's operational strengths, financial robustness and cash coverage of dividend in the most testing of circumstances gives us renewed confidence to uphold a Buy recommendation.
Judges Scientific, the group focused on acquiring and developing companies in the scientific instrument sector, has announced the acquisition of UK based ‘Health Scientific Ltd', a world leading maker, and global exporter, of calorimetry instruments. The initial cash consideration equates to £5.3m, with a further £2.0m cash earnout if profits hit £1.22m in 2020. The business generated £4.4m of revenue and an adjusted EBIT of £0.88m (20% EBIT margin) to April 2019, and is expected to have an even stronger year to April 2020, suggesting a ‘6x EBIT takeout multiple' if the earnout target is hit.
Companies: Judges Scientific
In the midst of a crisis, Judges has made what we think is an excellent acquisition in a high growth sector (lithium battery testing). Heath Scientific fits all of Judges’ acquisition criteria and is a business that is well known to management. We think that the current crisis may well throw up more opportunities and, with its strong balance sheet, Judges is well positioned to capitalise on this. FY20E EPS increased by 1.8% and FY21E by 3.2%. DCF based TP raised from 5245p to 5380p. CY21E PE 26.3x. Buy.
CAP-XX Ltd* (CPX.L, 3.1p/£10.1m) | Gfinity plc* (GFIN.L, 1.675p/£12.0m) | MTI Wireless Edge Ltd* (MWE.L, 38.5p/£33.8m) | Newmark Security plc* (NWT.L, 1.05p/£4.9m) | Mirada plc* (MIRA.L, 95.0p/£8.5m)
Companies: CPX GFIN MWE NWT MIRA
Costain has raised £100m of gross proceeds. We reduce FY 20 and 21 FD EPS by 45% and 59% due to the dilution.
Companies: Costain Group
Gateley has issued a solid year end trading update despite inevitable COVID-19 related disruption in the last two months of the year (to 30th April). Revenue for the year will be not less than £108.0m (FY19: £103.5m). As anticipated, the breadth and depth of the Group’s legal and consulting service lines have underpinned a resilient outcome with the transition to remote working going smoothly. Swift action has been taken to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, whilst keeping teams intact to ensure the business is well equipped to take advantage of opportunities that arise as the UK economy moves into and out of recession. As we noted in our Stocks for Unprecedented Times note, Gateley has an exceptional track record, achieving revenue growth every year since 1986. This includes steady growth through the 2000-2001 recession, and a strong year for the business in 2010, demonstrating the Group’s resilience through the economic cycle. We remain of the view that Gateley will emerge strongly from the current crisis and expect to reintroduce forecasts as visibility improves later on in the year.
Filta Group (Filta) announced FY’19 results pretty much in line with our numbers. Adjusted EBITDA was £3.2m, vs. our £3.3m estimate, and revenue was £24.9m, vs. our £25.1m expectation. These figures confirmed that the integration of Watbio was back on track and the business was trading well until COVID-19 struck. Most of Filta’s customers are currently closed, but the company is optimistic that they will bounce back one distancing restrictions are lifted. We have removed our 2020 forecasts.
New Equity Driving Growth
TP Group's FY19A results were in line with our expectations, with strong organic revenue growth of +16% YoY. Whilst the business remains resilient, with a large net cash position and a record order book, COVID-19 has caused uncertainty around the timing of some pipeline opportunities. Therefore, in line with a number of other companies, TP Group is withdrawing market guidance. We also withdraw our forecasts and place our recommendation Under Review.
Companies: TP Group
Symphony Environmental has reported FY December 2019 results. Whilst the Company did experience a single digit fall in revenues, this has been well trailed in previous announcements, relating to inventory adjustments by some customers waiting for legislative clarification in certain markets. The Company did move into loss making territory (£0.6m at the operating level), but the balance sheet was able to more than adequately absorb this aided by the £1.9m strategic equity investment announced in 2019. Net cash (excluding lease liabilities to compare on a like for like basis post IFRS 16) stood at £0.9m vs. net debt of £0.1m at the corresponding period end.
Companies: Symphony Environmental Technologies
Trading has recovered from the initial hit from COVID-19, with improving B2B activity adding to strong B2C trends. Revenue has been better than previously expected at both DX Freight and DX Express, with this now running at 10-15% below normal levels for this time of the year, compared with the initial 33% impact at the commencement of the lockdown.
Companies: DX Group