See what's trending this week...
Highlights this quarter:
Economics: Generally, the data points to modest growth continuing, with a more positive trend in PMI surveys suggesting decent m manufacturing momentum over the next six months. Currency weakness continues to be a double-edged sword for U K manufacturers, with exporters gaining competitiveness while input prices have risen. There has recently been a divergence of sterling’s performance against the euro and the USD. Those in commodity or competitive product areas may well have seen margin erosion, while many in intermediary goods have already passed on price increases to their customers. With low unemployment, the prospect of tighter labour markets post-Brexit and public sector pay caps starting to come off also signals the potential for some labour inflation, long absent from the UK industrial scene.
Topic of the quarter: We believe that powerful macro and sectoral pressures will drive further significant changes to the manufacturing supply chain over the next few years. We investigate some of these pressures, with the move to outsource suppliers to low- cost centres, like China, now seeing a slight reverse flow with some restoring to shorten complex and often inflexible supply chains. We see systems technology facilitating greater supply-chain control and efficiency. Brexit will present challenges to the UK supply chain with price and time to market barriers likely to rise, presenting challenges to the UK’s highly integrated and time-sensitive supply chain. Slick distribution infrastructure and greater information sharing with suppliers are likely to prove winning strategies in optimising logistics and gaining stock efficiencies.
Sector valuation: The industrials sector has continued to exhibit strength, with small-cap industrials outperforming by 2 % on last year and larger cap industrials by 17%. Currency and improving economic data have been a positive for the sector. While some other sectors have seen a pick-up in profit warnings over recent months, industrial technology companies have announced generally positive or in-line trading updates that have helped to drive the small-cap Industrials to an EV EBITDA of 8.4x and a P/E of 16.7x with the traditional small-cap discount narrowing.
Companies: SIXH DSCV AXS AMPH ALU AEP AVG CAPD CAR FENR FLO GINV GHH IOF MPE RE/ RNO RBN SOLI SOM SCE TRI VANL VEL ZAM TRT HDD
See what was trending this week...
We recently hosted our annual Industrial Technology dinner with 14 companies, many of which are active in the materials science arena; having focused previously on composite materials in the aerospace sector, in this edition of Machinations we focus on graphene, with its unique and potentially game-changing qualities and potential applications. Investments in this area remain fairly early stage, but could potentially reap huge rewards. Graphene is well represented in the UK small-cap market by several players.
Companies: SIXH DSCV AXS AMPH ALU AEP AVG CAPD CAR FENR FLO GINV GHH HAYT IOF MPE RE/ RED RNO RBN SOM SCE TRI VANL ZAM TRT HDD
We have completed another refresh of the value style screen, first established as of 12 May 2015. As usual the screen selected the 25 stocks exhibiting the most extreme value characteristics from our universe, and we have chosen 9 stocks to focus on. Since the last refresh as of 8 November 2016, the day before the US presidential election result was known, the screen has performed strongly (outperforming the small-cap index by 12.9pp on a weighted basis) with our focus stocks doing even better. The indication is that smaller value stocks perform well in a steady “risk on” environment. The new basket contains many UK consumer demand and emerging market plays. We find the latter exposure interesting at this juncture.
Companies: RAV GOAL VTU BILN INL AEP MAYA IPF OPM
KLK Bid for MPE Fails
Companies: SIP MPE RE/ AEP
600 GROUP | ACCSYS TECHNOLOGIES | AGGREGATED MICRO POWER HLDGS PLC | ALUMASC GROUP | ANGLO-EASTERN PLANTATIONS | AVINGTRANS PLC | CAPITAL DRILLING LTD | CARCLO | FENNER PLC | FLOWTECH FLUIDPOWER PLC | GLOBAL INVACOM GROUP LTD | GOOCH & HOUSEGO PLC | HARDIDE PLC | HAYWARD TYLER GROUP PLC | IOFINA PLC | M.P.EVANS GROUP | R.E.A. HLDGS PLC | REDT ENERGY PLC | RENOLD | ROBINSON | SOMERO ENTERPRISE INC | SURFACE TRANSFORMS PLC | TRANSENSE TECHNOLOGIES PLC | TRIFAST | ZAMBEEF PRODUCTS
Companies: SIXH AXS AMPH ALU AEP AVG CAPD CAR FENR FLO GINV GHH HAYT IOF MPE RE/ RED RNO RBN SOM SCE TRI ZAM TRT HDD
After the severe short-term reaction to the Brexit vote, the UK manufacturing PMI now signals a return to more normal patterns and the stock market has recovered. Nevertheless, confidence remains weak. In the short term, it has largely been a phoney war. Sterling weakness has provided an opportunity for exporters. However, imported raw materials have also increased in price, as seen in the September inflation report with the input price index up 7.6%. Factory gate prices are lagging behind so beware of factory margins being squeezed. The reporting season has largely been devoid of serious shocks, with some order placement delays. However, due to the post Brexit fall in bond yields Carclo signalled a significant rise in its pension deficit, which wiped out its distributable reserves and caused it to cancel the previously declared dividend. We see potential for further bad news on pension deficits, with a number of larger industrials having significant pension liabilities that can only have grown since the referendum.
Companies: SIXH AMPH ALU AEP AVG CAPD CAR FENR FLO GINV GHH HAYT IOF MPE RE/ RED RNO RBN SOM SCE TRI ZAM TRT HDD
Could Brexit be a positive for the UK Industrials sector? While the EU and UK are important to each other in terms of trade, the level of that importance is asymmetric: 44% of UK exports go to the EU and a further 10% go to countries with free trade agreements with the EU; only 15% of EU exports go to the UK. As a result, we feel that UK bargaining power is relatively weak and we need to accept the possibility that the UK drops out of the single market and trades under WTO terms with Europe. The extent to which this is a positive or negative for UK Industrials depends entirely on the value of Sterling versus the Euro or US Dollar. We analyse this and conclude that with a 7% (or greater) depreciation of Sterling (versus pre-Brexit levels), all the costs associated with WTO trade are more than compensated for. Big exporters become strategic winners and big foreign FX earners become financial winners. Largely domestic players are at risk. Export or die!
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VSA Agri Thought for the Month
It is hard to forecast the precise impact on UK farming from the recent Brexit vote but we would highlight a few areas:
Subsidies: Annual subsides of c£3bn are currently paid to UK farmers. Farming Minister George Eustice has previously said that support would be maintained following a Brexit vote. Farmers will be anxious to see this happen. However, money may be saved through a cap on the maximum payout
for the largest farms.
Regulation: How will regulations change as we exit the EU Common Agricultural Policy? Farmers will look for regulations to be simplified and more tailored to the UK.
Exports: A weaker currency should increase the attractiveness of UK farming exports, offset by any increased cost from raw material imports and any newly imposed trade tariffs.
Labour: UK farming is heavily reliant on seasonal agricultural workers, many from other EU states. The UK government has previously looked to encourage the employment of more UK workers on-farm but how will things change for those bringing in workers from abroad?
Companies: ZAM MPE PIM CWK CHOC NWF AEP DKL
In Issue 2, we concluded that the VW emissions scandal was likely to result in faster development and adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. In this issue, we discuss what we think will be a key megatrend of the 21st century: the strong push to decarbonise vehicles AND power generation. The implications for the Industrials sector are substantial and we attempt to identify some of the key winners and losers of what we think is now an unstoppable force. The full list starts on page 8 but key winners we identify are: Lithium, Copper, Hydrogen, Composites, batteries and fuel cells, electric motors, wind turbine components, solar cells, ac/dc convertors and all forms of power storage.
Companies: SIXH AMPH ALU AEP AVG CAPD CAR CKT FENR GINV GHH HAYT IOF KBC MPE BOU RE/ RED RNO RBN SOM TRI VLX XAR ZAM TRT SVCA HDD
Fenner: Downgrade after year-end trading update (HOLD) | MP Evans: Volatile market masking latent value (BUY) | Anglo Eastern: Strong enough to weather the storm (BUY) | REA Holdings: Battening down the hatches (HOLD)
Companies: FENR MPE AEP RE/
Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Anglo-Eastern Plantations.
We currently have 10 research reports from 3
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL GDR HAYD PCA PIN PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SHED VTA
Following the equity fund-raising via a new share placing on 22 April 2020, Science in Sport has announced a new debt financing facility. The equity placing raised gross proceeds of £4.5m, and the group has now secured a new £8m invoice financing facility from HSBC for an initial one-year term. This latest undrawn facility provides further headroom to the company’s liquidity position during the COVID-19-related uncertainty and gives it the financial flexibility to continue with its strategy of pursuing strong sales growth.
Companies: Science In Sport
In FY19 Britvic delivered a strong performance showing good momentum in its core business. The GB business had both Britvic and PepsiCo brands showing revenue growth, Brazil continues to grow and problems in France are being addressed with a proposed exit from private-label juice. The Business Capability Programme (BCP) is complete, and cost savings delivered ahead of schedule. The outlook is somewhat cautious as the consumer environment remains tough, and changes in France will take a while to fully implement. Notwithstanding this, management expects to make further progress in FY20.
Britvic’s Q1 trading was in line with management expectations, indicating a good start to the year. The company acknowledges that market conditions ‘remain challenging’, but it is confident of achieving market expectations for the year. Q1 revenue was £369.8m, up 4.9% vs the prior year. This includes a benefit from extra trading days. On a comparable days and constant FX basis, revenues were up 2.6%.
There has been much comment on the fact that equity markets in the US and Europe have been shrinking for some years now, certainly in terms of the number of quoted companies, if not in total market capitalisation (MCap). This paper has been written with the assistance of the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) and focuses on the evidence for such in the London market and, in particular, that for smaller and midcap companies. It assesses that evidence and considers explanations. Finally, we ask why it matters, and assuming that it does, what practical steps can be taken to reverse the trend. Successful public markets have been a key part of the United Kingdom’s economic success for generations, even centuries, and we should not allow them to wither on the vine.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX ASAI DNL GDR HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SCE TRX TON SHED VTA
UK nuclear represents a huge and complex market offering significant long-term opportunities. New build nuclear is required to help meet rising UK power generation needs and replace generation capacity which is nearing end of life. Decommissioning is essential to clean up the UK’s legacy nuclear sites safely and securely, prioritising areas where deteriorating buildings present an unacceptable risk. The total budget for nuclear is estimated at c.£301bn, with a significant proportion of this spend expected to be with UK companies. The contracting opportunities are not without risks and uncertainties. However many companies are already generating revenues and profits from UK nuclear contracts, including a number from our small and mid cap universe. We expect these contributions to become more material over time, and for the experience gained in the UK market to leave companies well-positioned to pursue nuclear opportunities overseas. Our top picks are Severfield (Buy) and Augean (Corporate), but we are also positive on Redhall (Non-Rated).
Companies: AUG FSJ WYG DRV CARR SFR PRV RHL
Britvic (BVIC) has successfully managed two potential threats – the Soft Drinks Levy (SDIL) and the industry CO2 shortage – to confirm modest earnings growth prospects for FY18. The recent heatwave might otherwise have driven outperformance. But with redirected marketing driving double-digit stills growth, the position was held. Looking forward, as BVIC’s business capability programme completes and benefits start to flow, more meaningful earnings growth may narrow the discount to peers.
Britvic’s Q1 trading was in line with expectations, with organic constant currency revenue growth of 1.5% excluding the soft drinks levies, and reported revenue growth of 4.5%. With five-year EPS CAGR of 9.8%, DPS CAGR of 8.9% (to September 2018) and debt within the target range, this is a textbook consumer staples company. During FY19, the business capability program is due to be completed, bringing higher capacity and increased flexibility to the company. Trading at 9.9x consensus FY19e EV/EBITDA, the shares offer interesting value.
Finsbury has announced its annual results for FY18A, delivering 2.4% YoY growth in revenue from continuing operations to £290.2m. Management has delivered a stellar performance by controlling costs and maintaining margins in a challenging market environment. Investment into innovation and facilities, coupled with strategic acquisitions in a consolidating industry, provides investors with a platform for continued growth. We release our FY20E forecasts, inferring c6% YoY growth in adjusted operating profits, with Finsbury trading on a 12-month blended-forward EV/adj-EBITDA of c6.5x. We reiterate our Buy recommendation.
Companies: Finsbury Food Group
Warren Buffett once said that as an investor, it is wise to be ‘fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful’. Fear is not in short supply right now.
Companies: OPM ALU ANCR BLV CONN CRC STU GATC HAT LEK MMH MCB MWE NXR NTBR NOG PAF PEG RFX SRC TEF TEG TPT VTU WYN XLM
A strong H2/19A meant Finsbury reported LFL revenue growth of +4% for the year, outpacing the market. FY19A was largely in line with our expectations, and we leave FY20E forecasts broadly unchanged. A heavy capex period is reaching an end, resulting in rising FCF for investors (c18% FCF yield for FY20E). Buy.
The trade-off in the risk/reward for gold and gold mining equities is improving, as central banks push the current iteration of the post-World War II Bretton Woods financial order towards its limits.
Companies: AVO AJB AGY ARBB BUR CLIG DNL DPP FLTA GTLY GDR MCL MUR NSF PCA PIN SRE PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SCE TON SHED VTA W7L
A brief year-end trading update with not a huge amount of details. The main point is that post the July 2019 profit warning, the PBT performance through a combination of mix and cost savings has come in towards top-end of market expectations, implying c18% y/y decline. So a c3% beat vs our £36.5m. Revenue decline at -9% however was worse than our -7%. This reflects ongoing challenges with the Rubicon and Rockstar barns and lower Irn-Bru volume due to price realignment. Net, the company had a better H2 than H1 and from our understanding, exits Q4 with good momentum. Looking ahead to 2020, the comps are easier and the company is expected to get back into growth mode (albeit 3% at the PBT level). The main cloud on the horizon is the Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland, and we understand the Scottish Parliament will provide an update on plans in the next few weeks. We view this as short-term negative for AG Barr and hence have a y/y profit decline for FY22. Post today’s update we nudge our current year PBT up by 2% and FY21 by 2% also. There will be some investor relief this morning but given the anaemic growth outlook and ongoing headwinds we feel an FY21 P/E looks full. We stay at Hold.
Companies: A.G. Barr
Finsbury has announced a positive H1/20A, boosted by strong LFL revenue growth (+5.2% YoY) in UK Bakery, and the maintenance of group Adj EBITDA margins (at c8.5%) in the face of challenging market conditions. Finsbury's cash generative business profile (c11% FY20E FCF yield) is enabling the company to steadily deleverage, whilst also supporting a growing dividend (3.6% FY20E yield).
Much of the UK’s privatisation programme took place between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s: subsequent sales have been few. Undoubtedly, privatisation attracted many private investors to the market, many for the first time.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CLIG DNL FLTA GDR NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SCE SIXH TRX SHED VTA