Accelerating activity in to FY21
Companies: Manolete Partners
Trading Update – Showing Resilence
Gross profits up 50%: As with all litigation funders, we focus on the gross profits as this reflects the net gain on investments. Pleasingly, GP was 50% ahead of the comparable period following settlements of cases and, mainly, developments in ongoing matters (fair value uplifts). Whilst realised GP fell from c.£2.2m to c.£1.0m, Management expects increased cash realisations in H2 given the 32 live cases that are in advanced settlement stages. Indeed, Manolete has received an additional £0.8m of settlements since the period close. As at 7 November 2019, ROIC remains at a market leading 159% (last reported 180%), which could be skewed upwards in H2 should these advanced cases settle favourably.
Following continued delays of a Brexit agreement, few sectors within the UK market have remained attractive to investors despite low valuations. One sector which has continued to outperform despite the political drama has been the UK video gaming sector (henceforth UK gaming), which we are fans of. We believe a combination of sector-leading growth, strong cash conversion and timely cyclical positioning support our positive view on the UK video gaming sector.
Companies: ABBY AMS ANX ARS ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CDM CSRT TIDE CYAN DTG DEMG ELM EMR FPO FDEV GTLY GENL GHH GRI GEEC GKP HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR IBPO IOG INDI JHD JOG KAPE KEYS KWS KCT KGH LAM LIT LOK MACF MANO MOD OXIG PCA PANR APP SRE PHC PMO RBW RMM RBGP REDD RSW RNO ROR SUS SCPA SEN SHG SOLG SOM SUMO TM17 INCE TWD TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Kaspi.kz, the largest Payments, Marketplace and Fintech Ecosystem in Kazakhstan with a leading market share in each of its key products and services. GDR offering expected Oct 2019. In the first half of 2019, the Company generated total revenue of KZT226,862m (U.S. $598m), up 34% and net income of KZT77,001m (U.S. $203m), up 54%. Registration document approved for Helios Towers. The Group provides essential network services, flexible infrastructure solutions and reliable power supply to mobile network operators in five African growth economies. Revenue increased 7 per cent. year-on-year to US$191m (H1 2018: US$178m), with Adjusted EBITDA up 15 per cent. year-on-year at US$99m (H1 2018: US$86m) for the six months ended 30 June 2019.
Companies: THR INFA MXCP BREE GAN SHRE MANO AAZ AAZ MAI AMYT
The Company has released a brief trading statement ahead of today’s AGM demonstrating the momentum in the business. The clear scale up in both cases invested into and cases settled bodes well for current year cash collection and future growth. Reiterate Buy rating and 590p price target
The release of a short report yesterday by Muddy Waters (“MW”) against Burford has had a detrimental impact on several share prices in the sector, including Manolete. We believe there are four key reasons why the concerns surrounding Burford’s model (upon which we do not specifically comment on within this note) cannot be applied to the highly differentiated model of Manolete and thus share price weakness is unfounded.
The pace and scale of new investment in cases at the close of the year and Q1’20, though, was ahead of our previous expectation. The heightened level of investment will lead to higher future cash collections and demonstrates the scalability of the model, in our view.
In January, we provided a list of 11 stocks for 2019 that we believed would perform strongly with attractive catalysts that could lead to material outperformance. In this Quarterly Research Outlook, we revisit these views, analysing what has happened and how the remaining six months of the year could play out.
Companies: AMS ANX ARS ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE CYAN DTG DEMG ELM EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL GRI GEEC GKP HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR HYR IBPO IOG INDI JHD JOG KAPE KEYS KCT KGH LAM LIT LOK MACF MANO PCA PANR PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG SOM TWD TRAK TSG TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Revenue at £13.8m is behind our £15.5m forecasts but with Adjusted EBIT slightly ahead at £7.2m (Arden forecast £6.8m) on Gross Profit of £10.1m.
2019 started well for investors with U.S. stocks rallying on the back of trade talks between China and the U.S. resuming. Sterling rebounded in Q1 2019 as expectations built the UK would avoid a “no deal” Brexit, providing a further tailwind to more internationally focused UK companies. This sentiment spread across the globe and filtered its way down into small caps.
Companies: PRSM KMK SYS RAI MNO CCS MANO CBOX KGH
We’re just over three months in to 2019 and we’ve seen a 10% UK market rally, retracing much of the Q4 decline, such is the nature of fickle market sentiment. That said, many of the issues we wrote about three months ago that were impacting markets remain: notably Brexit, trade wars, geopolitics and global monetary policy. The 2019 rally thus far feels somewhat fragile, with competing forces of optimism on a potential trade deal which could underpin the rally, against the deterioration in underlying economic data that could ultimately undermine the recent market gains. In this context, we look at what the lead indicators and the market are telling us about the industrial cycle and the stocks most exposed to various industrial trends. The Q4 derating in short cycle industrials and autos had been vicious and while these sectors have seen a more solid footing in 2019, with earnings downgrades being priced in, it will likely take a trough in lead indicators before short cycle stocks can start to perform again and re-rate relative to the market.
Companies: ARS CYAN HYR LIT SOM ABBY AMS AMER ANX ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE DTG DEMG EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL INCE GRI GEEC HDY HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR IBPO INDI JHD JOG KEYS KCT KGH LAM LOK MACF MNO MANO MOD MKLW OXIG PCA PANR APP PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Within this note we look to build upon our existing legal sector coverage of Anexo*, Gordon Dadds*, Gateley, Knights, Keystone, Rosenblatt and NAHL to include the litigation funders Burford Capital, Manolete Partners and Litigation Capital Management.
Companies: ANX BUR IMF JIL LIT MANO RBGP
United Oil & Gas (UOG.L) an oil and gas exploration and development company brought to the Official List (Standard Segment) in July 2017 by way of a reverse takeover of Senterra Energy plc. No capital to be raised, expected market cap of £17m and expected 28 Feb
Techniplas –global producer and support services company providing highly engineered and technically complex components, making the supply chain to original equipment manufacturers more efficient. FYDec17 rev $515m.
Polemos, to be renamed Digitalbox plc, has agreed to acquire Digitalbox Publishing Holdings Limited for c.£10m through a share for share exchange. The acquisition constitutes a RTO. Polemos has also agreed to acquire the entire issued share capital of Mashed Productions Limited, a digital media business which owns the online satirical news website "The Daily Mash", for a maximum total consideration of up to £1.2m. Market cap on admission £12.4m, expected 28 February
Companies: ARCM ARIX IRON TENG MANO PCA PAT PTRO TEF HMLH
Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Manolete Partners.
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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.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI SCE SHED VTA
With a new CEO, Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s shareholders could dream of a possible change in the group’s strategy, with a more focused insurance business. The new Chief has an opportunity to take painful decisions in a year where no one will require a high operating performance.
Companies: Aviva Plc
The Native Antigen Company (“NAC”) has been acquired by LGC for up to £18.0m – with the ongoing COVID pandemic highlighting the value of knowledge and execution in the infectious diseases space. Mercia invested in NAC via both its balance sheet and 3rd party funds. The exit represents a strong return for both sources of capital, validating complete connected capital to optimise value creation. For the balance sheet stake, the £5.2m proceeds represent a £2.5m gain on realisation (c.1.5% of our FY21e NAVps). Final Results will be announced next week, when we will review our forecasts. The shares are currently trading at a 45% discount to NAV (which is 20% cash). Today’s exit demonstrates justification for a much narrower discount, if not a premium, to conservative carrying values.
Companies: Mercia Technologies
Trading Well in Tough Market
Companies: Palace Capital
HgCapital Trust’s (HGT) 12-month NAV TR to end-March 2020 was a solid 13.8% despite the COVID-19 market downturn in March 2020 (ytd NAV performance since end-December 2019 was a 6.2% decline). The coverage ratio reached a historically low level (13% vs three-year average of 53%) after HGT notably increased its investment activity and commitments in Q120. However, a significant part of these new commitments will not be drawn in the near term. The board continues to review its future funding arrangements and may also opt out of a new investment without penalty across all funds. HGT’s portfolio focus is on the resilient software and technology sector and the manager expects a limited direct earnings impact on its portfolio from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies: Hgcapital Trust
Hot on the heels of the Architas acquisition – announced 1st July, Liontrust has issued in line final results (£38.1m adj. PBT vs £38.3m consensus, 24p second interim dividend). An accompanying trading update also confirms that AuM bounced back in Q1 as markets recovered and net inflows were sustained at a record £971m for the quarter. The Architas acquisition – once completed later this year – stands to drive Liontrust through the £25bn AuM mark and bolster the existing multi-asset product offering and wider appeal to the current client base. As joint corporate broker, we have withdrawn forecasts pending the approval of the acquisition at the forthcoming general meeting.
Companies: Liontrust Asset Management
Hipgnosis Songs Fund (SONG LN) has today announced a trading update for the full year ending 31 March 2020. The unaudited NAV has risen 13% YoY to 116.7p, up 14.3% since the last published NAV of 102.2p as at 10 January 2020. This represents a like for like valuation uplift of 11.4%. All equity has been fully deployed and shareholder approval has been sought to increase net debt from 20% to 30%. Revenue is strong with £64.7m generating an EPS of 10.7p (more than 2x the annual 5p dividend target). NAV growth has been driven by revenue statements which were up 2%, and an increase in streaming growth rate assumptions by the independent valuers. The portfolio comprises 54 catalogues, with 13,291 individual songs, now valued at £757m which was acquired at purchase price of £697m on an acquisition multiple of 13.9x – now valued on 15.0x historical earnings.
Companies: Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ld
Ground Rents Income Fund (GRIO) has today released its interim results for the period ending 31 March 2020. The fully diluted NAV is 110.1p down marginally from previous NAV of 111.3p as at 30 September 2019 year-end. This valuation included a material valuation uncertainty clause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has subsequently been removed since the period end for long dated ground rent valuations given the defensive nature of the income streams and continued market/transactional activity. The latest valuation represented a decrease on a like for like basis of £0.36 million or -0.3%. Two Interim dividends were paid during the six-month period ending 31 March totalling 1.98p, and a further dividend of 0.99p has been declared today (ex 16 July / payable 10 August). Dividend cover excluding the non-recurring litigation costs on Beetham Tower was 90%. Assuming a full year dividend of c4p this puts the shares on a flat yield of 4.9% and a discount of 26%.
Companies: Ground Rents Income Fund
Numis’ update for Q320 was positive, reflecting both the need for equity funding in the market and the strength of the group’s franchise as well as its ability to deal with current operating constraints. Subject to the market background in its final quarter, we now expect Numis to achieve a full-year result in line with or ahead of the high end of our previous scenario range.
Companies: Numis Corporation
Equals' FY19A results confirm another year of strong, double-digit revenue and adj EBITDA growth. The move to a B2B focused offering continues to progress and looks well timed in view of Covid-19's impact on overseas travel. While the pandemic impacted Q2/20E trading early on, we note June KPI's indicate a positive rebound. Given the continued uncertainty as to Covid's full impact upon FY20E trading, we refrain from reissuing forecasts and thus leave our recommendation under review.
Companies: Equals Group
ICGT, the 39-year listed private equity (PE) investor, has delivered a total NAV return of 178% over 10 years (comparable FTSE All Share return 61%). Since Intermediate Capital became the manager in 2016, ICGT has earned mid-teen p.a. underlying returns every year. This has been achieved by leveraging the attractive PE market with incremental manager synergies. It has a concentrated portfolio of “high-conviction” investments (19% p.a. average returns over five years, 42% of portfolio, defensive growth focus) and a diversified third-party PE funds book. ICGT manages over-commitment tightly. The 33% discount to NAV is above peers.
Companies: ICG Enterprise Trust
In parallel with its H120 interim results, Mercia has announced the acquisition of NVM’s VCT business for up to £25m in cash and equity, funded by a £30m placing at 25p per share (a 22% discount). Subject to shareholder approval, the acquisition increases AUM to £760m and moves Mercia towards being the UK’s number one regional investor. The deal expands Mercia’s shareholder register, further dilutes existing major shareholders and means Mercia should be profitable before fair value adjustments, closer to its target of an evergreen model (c £1bn AUM). In its H120 results, Mercia’s direct investment portfolio increased to £102.0m, with £11.1m of cash invested in 16 companies and a fair value uplift of £3.2m. Mercia has £17.8m of unrestricted balance sheet cash (pre-placing) and the shares continue to trade at a significant discount to NAV.
The covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the share price of property companies, with 31% wiped off the value of their total market capitalisation during the first quarter of 2020.
Companies: AEWU CREI CSH BOOT INL HLCL THRL SUPR RESI RGL DIGS GR1T SOHO PHP BOXE ASLI UTG AGR UAI BLND UANC CAL SHED CWD WHR EPIC WKP GRI YEW HMSO PCA INTU NRR
Tatton passed the March 2020 market-crash stress-test with flying colours. Financial advisers continued to trust it with their clients’ money – net fund inflows were £86m in March (just under the FY20 average of £94m pm) – at a time when many funds saw record outflows. Over FY20 Tatton recorded £1.1bn of inflows, and despite the market bottom nearly coinciding with the 31-Mar year-end, AUM closed 10% above FY19 on £6.7bn. Revenue grew 22% to £21.4m; adjusted operating profit was up 24% to £9.1m; PAT jumped 72% from £4.9m to £8.4m; and full-year dividend increased 14% from 8.4p to 9.6p, a yield of 3.3%. Tatton remains debt-free with £12.8m of net cash.
Companies: Tatton Asset Management
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.
Companies: BCA CLIN CLG CBP DNLM EAH STU FCRM FUTR GTLY INS GLE NICL SDL SPR TRI