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Distil has enjoyed strong Christmas trading over the important Q3 period to end December, with revenues increasing 71% year-on-year. This was driven by very good performances from the RedLeg spiced rum brand and the group’s Blackwoods gin range, which more than offset weaker sales of Blavod Black Vodka in Eastern Europe. Distil has expressed its confidence on Q4 trading prospects and that full year performance will be “in line with the Board’s expectations”.
Companies: Distil PLC
We are introducing our Best Ideas for 2019 and also review the performance of last year’s picks. We suggest ten solidly financed stocks with good business dynamics that ought to be considered for core portfolio holdings and six UK domestically focused stocks that our analysts believe should perform strongly in the event that uncertainties unwind. We also introduce a new style of research from N+1 Singer which presents a Company’s dynamics and metrics in a clear and concise manner and concentrates on the pivotal issues affecting that Company and an investment decision.
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Premier Foods’ FY20 results demonstrate the substantial progress the company has made over the past few years. The UK business has now grown for 11 consecutive quarters and Q121 is set to be very strong. In the UK the brands grew ahead of their categories and the innovation rate has hit a new high. A new landmark pensions agreement was signed in April, which could potentially significantly reduce the future funding requirements for Premier Foods. The recent triennial actuarial valuation delivers further credence to the pensions deal.
Companies: Premier Foods plc
Cranswick’s FY20 results demonstrate its strength and agility and current trading confirms the company is well positioned despite the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit. Revenues were up 13.0% on a like-for-like basis, mainly driven by better price/mix, but with underlying volumes up 3.4%. Adjusted PBT was up 11.2% on the prior year and EPS up 8.4%. Net debt was £146.9m at year end, including IFRS 16 liabilities of £65.9m. The start to FY21 has been positive and hence the outlook remains unchanged.
Companies: Cranswick plc
Distil delivered a solid trading performance in FY20, despite uncertainties caused by the impact of external events in the form of Brexit initially and COVID-19 more recently. With its disciplined cost approach, Distil saw a 15% increase in operating profit from a 2% rise in revenue. Range extensions have underpinned the continuing success of its leading RedLeg Spiced Rum brand and Distil has continued to lay the groundwork for the further development and future expansion of its brand portfolio.
A number of REITs have the ability to thrive in current market conditions and thereafter. Not only do they hold assets that will remain in strong demand, but they have focus and transparency. The leases and underlying rents are structured in a manner to provide long visibility, growth and security. Hardman & Co defined an investment universe of REITs that we considered provided security and “safer harbours”. We introduced this universe with our report published in March 2019: “Secure income” REITs – Safe Harbour Available. Here, we take forward the investment case and story. We point to six REITs, in particular, where we believe the risk/reward is the most attractive.
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Interims highlight a resilient top-line performance and further good news on Vimto market outperformance. Investors should also welcome the reinstating of the dividend and a pleasing Middle East update. The other main news is the planned departure of CEO, Marnie Millard, with Andrew Milne the COO stepping up to fill the role. Marnie leaves Nichols in a strong shape and a smooth handover is anticipated. Ongoing OoH, consumer and Africa CV19 uncertainties mean forecast guidance remains withdrawn and thus we are not reintroducing forecasts at this stage. Overall, a positive set of interims today, reinforcing Nichols attractions of brand strength/robust balance-sheet/geographic diversity. The shares trade on an undemanding historical P/E of 16x, EV/EBITDA 11x and 6% FCF yield vs a LR P/E and EV/EBITDA of 20x/14x.
Companies: Nichols plc
Cake Box has started FY2021 positively with strong same store sales growth, new store openings and an excellent online performance. The company is not only able to repay its furlough monies, but also reward shareholders with a special dividend. Cake Box released a trading statement as such this morning.
Companies: Cake Box Holdings Plc
Despite Covid-19 materially impacting the Foodservice business, Finsbury traded profitably throughout Q4, and was able to report FY20A Adj EBITDA (pre-IFRS 16) only c4% lower YoY at £24.4m, whilst strong free cash flow (c19% historic FCF yield) reduced net leverage by 0.3x YoY to 1.1x (net debt lower by £9.1m YoY). Demand has been recovering MoM since April, with group revenues now approaching their prior year levels. Notwithstanding the steady improvement seen, due to continued uncertainty caused by Covid- 19, including the potential effects of a second wave of infections, we are not reinstating forecasts at this stage, and maintain our Under Review recommendation.
Companies: Finsbury Food Group plc
Distil has reported an impressive H1 performance against a backdrop of volatility and other challenges resulting from the Covid pandemic. The company has delivered a profit before tax of £154K compared with last year’s breakeven position, driven by a sales increase of 128% to £1.9m. The period saw new product launches within the leading RedLeg brand, with more new lines to follow. Distil has increased headcount in both marketing and New Product Development (NPD) to support its future growth. Despite the success achieved in H1, considerable short-term uncertainty remains around the impact of the emerging second wave of Covid and consequent restrictions. The company therefore feels it is prudent not to provide guidance at this stage on the outturn for the full FY21 financial year.
Sequential recovery from the Q2 lows. The group has restored FY20 guidance, with expectations of a 14% operating margin. A reshaping of the organisation and portfolio review are also supposed to drive mid-term 3-5% profitable growth. Wait and see.
Companies: Danone SA
We are lucky that Next, one of the shrewdest commentators on retail sector developments, is among the first to update on Christmas trading. It confirms suspicions that unseasonable Q415 weather dented trade. However, there are also signs in the statement to the structural shifts occurring in UK retailing that could negatively affect sector valuations.
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