Macfarlane has reported exceptionally resilient 2020 interim results, reflecting the diversification of the business and strong management of the operations and cost base. The Group's ongoing communication has been highly effective for updating investors with key trends in the business and recent share price strength demonstrates an acknowledgement of this. We reinstate our forecasts and buy recommendation following these strong results
Companies: Macfarlane Group PLC
Resilient Trading Update
Companies: Macfarlane Group Plc
Resilient AGM Trading statement
2019 Results – A Quality Package
Strong execution to continue; 2020 Best idea
Macfarlane Group has released a trading update for the 4 months to 31 October demonstrating the resilience of the Group’s activities and strategy. Assuming the normal seasonal uplift through Q4, the Board expects full year results to be ahead of last year and in line with its expectations. In our view, the current share price does not reflect the relative defensive characteristics of the business and thus we see today’s update as an endorsement of strategy and believe the stock should trade comfortably above current levels. Reiterate buy.
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.
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Macfarlane Group has announced the acquisition of Leyland Packaging, an industrial focused packaging distributor which will benefit from Macfarlane’s extended range of products and supplier overlap. The acquisition should be accretive in its first full year and continue Macfarlane’s good growth track record. We nudge up forecasts for 2019 and 2020 to reflect the acquisition and reiterate our buy rating.
Macfarlane Group has announced the acquisition of Leyland Packaging, an industrial focused packaging distributor which will benefit from Macfarlane’s extended range of products and supplier overlap. The acquisition should be accretive in its first full year and continue Macfarlane’s good growth track record. We nudge up forecasts for 2019 and 2020 to reflect the acquisition and reiterate our buy rating. Macfarlane has acquired Leyland Packaging for £3.25m. This figure includes a £1m earn-out payable in cash in Q4 2020 based on agreed EBITDA performance conditions. The immediate initial consideration of £2.25m will comprise £2m in cash and £250k in vendor shares. In 2018, Leyland Packaging generated sales of c. £4m and PBT of £0.55m and we anticipate an EBITDA multiple of 4-5x in keeping with Macfarlane’s traditional conservative approach to target valuations.
Macfarlane has announced good interim results with solid revenue growth in a tough environment, improving profitability and increasing new business. The recent pull-back in the shares has, in our view, priced in a worsening outlook which is not evident from the Group’s press release. The Board expects to meet its current expectations and thus we see the current level as an excellent entry point. Reiterate Buy.
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.
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Macfarlane has announced the acquisition of Ecopac UK Limited, a protective packaging distribution business based near Aylesbury. The acquisition is in line with Macfarlane’s strategy and continues the approach to consolidating the fragmented localised packaging distribution industry in the UK alongside robust organic growth.
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.
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Macfarlane has reported FY2018 results with revenue and operating profit largely inline with expectations but EPS ahead of expectations due to lower interest and tax than we had in our forecasts. However, the company is continuing to demonstrate strong operational performance with increasing margins and scope for further organic and inorganic growth with 2019 starting well. At 12x 2019 P/E, we see significant value in the Macfarlane share price and reiterate our buy rating.
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Spectra Systems Corporation, a leader in machine-readable high speed banknote authentication, brand protection technologies, and gaming security software, has announced that it has executed a comprehensive services contract with a ‘long standing' central bank customer for the development, manufacture and servicing of a sensor system. The initial development phases underpin our FY2021E estimates (with risk likely to the upside), but moreover, the balance of development work, comprising supply of sensors (estimated value up to $34m in 2024-25), servicing revenues ($7.5m) and resultant high margin material sales through to at least 2035, provides significant underpinning of future prospects. Our updated Sum-of-the-Parts valuation (reflecting higher than anticipated development revenues and margins) indicates a risked fair value of 240p (from 200p).
Companies: Spectra Systems Corporation
Seeing Machines has announced that it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with global aerospace and defence technology company L3Harris Technologies. The MOU frames the intent to enter into a global non-exclusive license agreement to enhance pilot training technology with Seeing Machines's dedicated precision eye-tracking system for flight crew training in the full flight simulator (FFS) environment. A license arrangement is currently in advanced discussions between the parties and subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive, binding licensing and other legal agreements. Further announcements regarding the progress of the negotiations in relation to such binding documentation will be made when appropriate.
Companies: Seeing Machines Limited
TP Group (TPG) delivered robust organic growth of 13% during H1/20A. However, the impact of COVID-19, together with increased investment and a shift in business mix, meant that Adj EBITDA reduced by £0.9m YoY to £1.4m. TPG has today announced it is in advanced discussions to dispose of its non-core oil and gas focused engineering business. Despite the strong and expanding order book, COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty around the timing of contract deliveries. As such, our forecasts remain withdrawn and our rating Under Review.
Companies: TP Group Plc
The Group has issued a trading update ahead of its interim results due on 12th November 2020. Overall, the first half has seen a strong recovery in activity and the Board now expects to report H1 revenues and operating profit of at least $200m and $20m respectively. This is materially ahead of market expectations and with a high degree of visibility through Q3 FY2021E we are upgrading our operating profit forecasts by 39% and 25% for FY2021E and FY2022E respectively. The Group is seeing strong growth in EV charging cables and bespoke high-performance cabling solutions, and consumer electronics demand has also remained robust. Together with investment in automation and cost efficiencies, the Group operating margin is now 10%, which is a testament to management’s operational and strategic focus. The shares trade on an FY2021E EV/sales multiple of 0.9x which compares to a sector based multiple of c.1.2x for companies with comparable operating margins and growth.
Companies: Volex plc
OPG has produced a strong set of full year results. Revenue increased 9.5% YoY to £154.0m whilst strong free cash flow generation enabled material debt repayments. Post period end, the Group continued to make debt repayments and favourably refinanced a portion of its debt. Management swiftly implemented a COVID-19 cost reduction strategy and capitalised on financial stimulus provided by the Government and the Reserve Bank of India. Importantly, September 2020 showed signs of a recovery as Chennai plant load factors increased to 63% (H1/21A 46%). We believe the long-term structural growth dynamics in the Indian power production sector remain compelling.
Companies: OPG Power Ventures Plc
We have today released a new note on The Ince Group plc - this is the first of a series of "explainer notes" that take an in-depth look at the various aspects of the Ince investment case our investors have told us require more clarification. This edition examines the partner remuneration model - the headline for which is that this isn't discretionary bonus, it's more of a revenue share that partners are given in lieu of pay. Thus their remuneration is entirely variable, rather than representing a fixed cost.
Companies: Ince Group plc
The group’s AGM statement reads well, with record Q1 trading and strong cash flows. Net debt now stands below £1m, with significant headroom in facilities. Previous restructuring has delivered £2.4m of efficiency gains, which particularly benefit Levolux and Gatic. The UK market has seen a strong bounce accompanied by a strong export performance and a high level of export orders recently gained. No change to trading forecasts. The shares remain at a deep discount to our 130p price target and today’s update should be taken well.
Companies: Alumasc Group plc
Judges Scientific is focused on acquiring and developing companies in the scientific instrument sector. The acquisition of Korvus Technology, a UK-based but global supplier of vapour deposition systems, largely to academic institutions, marks Judges' third deal in less than 12 months. With Korvus generating revenues of £1.42m and adj. EBIT of £0.66m (46% margin), we choose to leave our FY2020E estimates unchanged but, after financing costs (all-cash initial consideration of £2.64m), we see a 3.5% uplift to FY2021E with our adjusted PBT increasing to £15.2m. Although a trading update is not provided this morning, we remain cautiously optimistic with respect to FY2020E. COVID-related business risks / restrictions remain; however the relative strength of H1:2020 (albeit at some expense to the order book) continues to provide some comfort, in our view.
Companies: Judges Scientific plc
Renewi’s operations are at the heart of the circular economy that collects, processes and converts waste into usable secondary materials to reduce the use of primary resources and to lower carbon emissions. The company has recently entered a new strategic phase with a clear roadmap to deliver a substantial increase in group profitability. Consequently, Renewi offers investors an environmentally friendly above-average earnings growth opportunity.
Companies: Renewi Plc
Checkit has deepened its relationship with John Lewis, by signing a three year framework agreement with this existing customer. This provides all John Lewis shops with the opportunity to benefit from Checkit’s three proprietary software products: Connected Workflow Management (CWM), Connected Automated Monitoring (CAM) and Connected Building Management (CBM). Out of these three, it is CWM which is a new service offering for John Lewis. We find this product particularly interesting given the broad number of (previously manual and paper-based) operational workflows the platform can automate - increasing efficiency. Additionally - through Checkit’s cloud-based dashboard – managers can track tasks in real-time and also respond to critical issues. Lastly, analytical tools can be used to spot operational weaknesses or non-compliance. This contract therefore provides further validation of these products and how they are resonating with large enterprises, as they look to drive greater efficiency within their organisations. This news follows-on from us recently reinstating forecasts. For FYJan21, we’re looking for £13.1m of sales i.e. modest LFL growth (PY pro-forma: £12.8m), within this though, expect to see strong ‘recurring‘ growth – driven by contracts such as this. Should also see decent progress on profitability (FY21E EBITDA: £-2.0m) indeed such progress was highlighted in H1, as cash-burn fell to £-1.4m
Companies: Checkit plc
Symphony Environmental develops and sells innovative products and additives which make plastics and rubber smarter. The core d2w oxo-biodegradable product facilitates rapid and safe transformation of plastics into harmless biodegradable compounds. The newer d2p product is a protective technology which has many applications. The most commercially advanced prevents microbial growth on plastics, useful in food and non-food settings. This market is estimated to be worth $30bn globally and growing rapidly. Recent news has been positive. The Group has just announced that Turkey’s Uno Bakery will use oxo-biodegradeable d2w for its packaging. This follows a recent strengthening of the strategic partnership on d2w packaging with the world's largest bakery, Groupo Bimbo. In late September, in the UK, AGS Airports, which operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports has become the first UK company to trial a new d2w 100ml security bag. Further, Brazilian supermarket chain, Cotripal, has introduced an innovative combined d2w and d2p (antimicrobial) carrier bag. No financials for these announcements have been disclosed; we assume for the moment these are not material in the context of the Group. But the potential over the next few years is significant, in our view. Commercialisation is gathering momentum. Our valuation for SYM is 35p per share, indicating 30% potential upside.
Companies: Symphony Environmental Technologies plc
We are pleased to see that in a period in which most companies faced colossal challenges, and CSSG saw at least some partial business interruptions, the company nonetheless succeeded in generating a result which is ahead of the expectation set in early August, with £1.75m EBITDA as against the anticipated £1.6m. With the interim dividend reinstated eight weeks ago, the final dividend is now announced at 1.2p, giving the FY2020A total of 1.95p, making CSSG a rare example of a company (well-supported by £4.1m of net cash) which has lifted its FY2020A DPS as against the prior year, and by no less than 8%. We assume that some of the net cash relates to HMRC and / or other support schemes; however net cash at more than double the FY2019A level (£4.1m plays £1.7m) still seems like a positive outcome.
Companies: Croma Security Solutions Group PLC
Spectra Systems, a leading provider of advanced technology solutions for banknote and product authentication markets, has announced a solid set of interim results. Moreover, significant H2 visibility, notably from central banking customers, yields upgrades to our FY 2020 and FY 2021 estimates with adjusted PTP increasing 17% and 16% to $5.8m and $6.1m respectively. In terms of H1 numbers, revenues increased marginally to $6.5m (H1-19: $6.4m), and adjusted pre-tax profit came in flat at $2.3m. The balance sheet retains its robust state which, even after the $4.1m FY 2019 dividend, distributed June 2020, still holds $10.9m (H1-19: $11.1m) of net cash (excluding restricted cash of $1.3m, H1-19 $1.1m). Our Sum-of-the-Parts valuation indicates a risked fair value more than 200p.
Inspiration Healthcare has announced its H1/21A results, reporting on a period in which the company completed the transformational acquisition of SLE, supported the NHS response to COVID-19 and moved forward on its development of Project Wave. Financial results were equally strong, with revenue growth of 77% based on 25% underlying growth, acquisition contribution and NHS orders completed in the period. Further, the company has announced its maiden interim dividend. We have introduced FY22E forecasts which we believe highlight the significant undervaluation of Inspiration Healthcare shares at this time. We reiterate our Buy recommendation.
Companies: Inspiration Healthcare Group PLC
An explicit and substantially positive update from Norcros points to a strong Q2 trading recovery after a COVID-19 affected Q1 and a significant reduction in net debt to modest levels. The company’s portfolio of businesses have demonstrated resilience and agility in being able to respond to these variable demand conditions and in doing so have probably enhanced the group’s competitive position. Our estimates remain suspended ahead of the H121 results announcement on 12 November.
Companies: Norcros plc