NSF’s 1H’20 results reflected the pain from COVID-19, with i) less volume, ii) changes to business models, and iii) higher impairment, including an increased weighting of a severe macro downside, increasing IFRS9 cyclical impairment charges. Despite these pressures, both the branch (ELD) and home collect (HCC) businesses were profitable. A young customer demographic meant the guarantor loan division (GLD) was most impacted, with COVID-19 effects compounded by the recent FCA review in 2H’20. NSF is a going concern (end-September cash £70m), and the largest shareholder appears supportive of an equity raise post the FCA review.
Companies: Non-Standard Finance Plc
20 years ago, a young intern at a leading investment bank was asked for his views on the future of the media industry. His published thoughts included the suggestion that his generation never watched TV. This came as a complete shock to the older generation of analysts and fund managers. Could this apply to the car industry? The following article results from an interview between the Hardman & Co analyst, Derek Terrington, and his son, William (age 23). Derek is famous for his research note exposing Robert Maxwell in the 1990s, when he was the leading media analyst at UBS. The note was entitled Couldn’t recommend a purchase, the acronym of which has been quoted ever since in the City.
Companies: ARBB ARIX CLIG ICGT INC NSF PCA PIN PHP RECI STX SCE SHED VTA YEW
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact globally in many areas. While primarily a health issue, it has had wide-ranging implications for stock markets, which have now rallied after the plunge in share prices in mid-March when the full severity of the emerging pandemic became more widely appreciated. Nonetheless, the FTSE 100 Index remains almost 20% off its late February 2020 figure.
Companies: AVO ARBB ARIX CLIG DNL GDR ICGT NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RECI STX SCE TRX SHED VTA YEW
For this Monthly, we are delighted that Rooney Nimmo and 24Haymarket have allowed us to reproduce a recent report they jointly published, entitled An analysis of UK exits (2015-2019), which provides a granular analysis by sector of the activity in our dynamic private companies world. We hope you find the insights of interest.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX CLIG ICGT NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RECI SCE TRX SHED VTA
Key takeaways from NSF’s results and presentation were: i) solid underlying 2019 with normalised operating profits up 20% and lower impairments to revenue; ii) £60m cash now ‒ April and May cash-generative; and iii) current collections 86% of pre-lockdown levels. NSF is a going concern and is considering an equity raise to help fund additional growth. Downside includes: i) statutory loss with further goodwill impairments; ii) material uncertainty arising from COVID-19 effects and so possibly its going-concern status; and iii) operating performance improvement needed for further securitisation-line drawings (waiver extended on 29 June).
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
Much has been written about the effects of the virus on the world and on the stock market. Here is one analyst’s take on some of the likely impacts on the way we should look at companies. This article was originally produced as a blog, “10 Changes Post Virus”, which was published a few weeks ago.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX DNL GDR NSF PCA PIN PHNX PHP RE/ RECI STX SCE SIXH TRX SHED VTA
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.
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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
“The focus for the next few years is on relatively modest investment and on driving return on assets towards our medium-term target of 20% for each division”. So said John van Kuffeler at the 16 January 2020 capital markets day. After an eventful 2019, 2020 (and beyond) is now all about operational delivery, the “boring” grinding out of profit from a franchise that has seen heavy investment over many years. We welcome this focus and think it will help deliver the 84% EPS growth (2021 on 2018) in current consensus estimates. The accompanying trading statement indicated 2019 results would be in line with market expectations. The shares rose 15% on the day.
We recently published a paper, Share ownership: For the many, not the few, based on a statistical survey of share ownership, produced jointly with Argus Vickers, the share analysis service. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now issued its equivalent survey. This paper compares its results with ours. Although there are, inevitably, differences in the detail, the two surveys reach the same conclusions.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB CLIG DNL FLTA GDR MCL NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RECI RMDL STX SCE TON VTA
“The focus for the next few years is on relatively modest investment and on driving return on assets towards our medium-term target of 20% for each division”. So said John van Kuffeler at the 16 January 2020 capital markets day. After an eventful 2019, 2020 (and beyond) is now all about operational delivery, the “boring” grinding out of profit from a franchise that has seen heavy investment over many years. We welcome this focus and think it will help deliver the 84% EPS growth (2021 on 2018) in current consensus estimates. The accompanying trading statement indicated 2019 results would be in line with market expectations. The shares rose 15% on the day
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is due to publish its most up-to-date survey on share ownership in mid-January, which identifies the beneficial owners and decision- makers of the stock market. Hardman & Co has worked together with the share analysis service, Argus Vickers, to jointly produce its own survey, which anticipates the conclusions of the ONS survey but goes into much greater detail. Our work does not use a sample of 200 quoted companies as the ONS historically has, but rather includes everyUK quoted company. The ONS samples share registers every two years; our study uses six-monthly data points. Our survey also extends to shareholders on NEX; the ONS does not.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB BUR CMH CLIG DNL FLTA GDR MCL NSF PCA PIN PHP RECI RMDL SCE SIXH SHED VTA
NSF has issued a trading update highlighting a 4%-5% reduction in consensus estimates due to softer trading in 3Q (primarily lower loan volumes in guarantor loans, a market which has been affected by adverse press coverage) and a 6%-8% reduction associated with a step change in provisioning policy. The latter highlights yet again the importance of understanding the assumptions in provisioning. For the same arrears, a higher assumed probability of downside has increased provisions. This reflects the known cyclicality inherent in IFRS9. A downgrade is unwelcome, but it does not reflect current customer deterioration, only the Board’s cautious approach. After today’s reduction’s, we still forecast 2021 adjusted profits at 2x the level of 2018.
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What’s new: Ahead of the publication of the Group’s interims results for the six months to 31 December 2020, CLIG has released a detailed trading update which reveals:
Group consolidated FuM of US$11.0 billion (£8.0 billion), which is twice the FuM of US$5.5 billion (£4.4 billion) at the Group’s year end on 30 June 2020;
The merger with Karpus Management Inc ("KMI") added c US$3.6 billion from 1 October 2020;
Investment performance across CLIG’s investment strategies was “strong”, following “significant discount narrowing” and “good NAV performance”;
Rebalancing of client portfolios resulted in US$ 290 million of net outflows.
Companies: City of London Investment Group PLC
Although 2020 will probably go down in history as one of the most challenging years experienced during our lifetime, it will also likely be chronicled as one of the best years for the recognition and appreciation of science. As we entered 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy. However, it rapidly evolved through the exponential rise in infections and mortality globally. Much has been achieved during the past 12 months in the fight against COVID-19, but, as we enter 2021, there are considerable concerns about the emergence of a mutant version of the virus and the second wave that we are now facing.
Companies: AVO ARBB ARIX BBGI CLIG DNL FLTA ICGT OCI PCA PIN PHP RECI STX SCE TRX SHED VTA YEW
Secure Trust Bank’s (STB) pre-close update confirms the upbeat trends evident in its Q3 update in November. The strong lending rebound continued into Q4, loan repayment holidays are at low levels, and the balance sheet has remained robust and liquid. STB reiterated that its FY20 PBT would be well ahead of £9.7m (we forecast £13.0m). However, the new COVID-19 restrictions introduced in December 2020 have affected consumer loan demand into 2021, as well as the Motor Finance business. Management expects to be better placed to disclose its outlook for FY21 when STB’s FY20 results are released on 25 March. Our forecasts (FY21 PBT £31.6m, ROE 9.1%) and fair value (1,756p per share) remain unchanged.
Companies: Secure Trust Bank Plc
Finals (9mths to Sep-20) are in line with expectations. Recurring fee income from 3rd party AuM (incl. PRSR) ensured solid profitability. The balance sheet is well resourced with £26m to develop seed assets. With a positive outlook following the launch of the £1bn JV with EQT, we see accelerating returns over the medium term. PRSR is also on track to materially complete the initial 5,200 portfolio this year. Sigma trades below our 200p+/share intrinsic valuation – which attributes no value to AuM growth, which is a strategic priority.
Companies: Sigma Capital Group plc
Allied Minds has announced that Joe Pignato has decided to step down as CEO and from the board with immediate effect. However, he will continue to support the company as CFO for an interim period as the board continues its search for a permanent CFO. As part of a streamlining process, Allied Minds will now become a board-led company with no immediate intention to appoint a new CEO. The chairman and NEDs (experienced VCs and private company investors) will represent Allied Minds on portfolio company boards (including Federated Wireless, BridgeComm and Spin Memory) with an intention to accelerate realisations where possible.
Companies: Allied Minds PLC
Sirius Real Estate has been a stand-out performer within the UK listed commercial real estate sector over the last three years, delivering a total shareholder return of 107%. The shares also offer a valuable portfolio diversifier for investors, with a geographic focus on Germany, and a focus on pro
Companies: Sirius Real Estate Limited
Further media reports that Dr Martens, the British Boot brand is planning an IPO on the LSE. It is currently owned by PE group, Permira who is expected to sell down its stake at the IPO. March 2020 YE the group had revenues of £672m and EBITDA of £184m. Deal size TBC. Upon Admission to AIM, Nightcap will acquire The London Cocktail Club Limited (the "London Cocktail Club"), which is an award winning independent operator of ten individually themed cocktail bars in nine London locations and one location in Bristol. Offer TBC Due mid Jan. HSS Hire Group, HSS.L transfer from Main to Aim. Mkt Cap c. £70m. Recently raised £52.6m. Leading supplier of tool and equipment for hire in the United Kingdom and Ireland and has provided equipment hire services in the United Kingdom for more than 60 years, primarily focusing on the B2B market. Due 14 Jan. VH Global Sustainable Energy Opportunities plc, a closed-ended investment Company focused on making sustainable energy infrastructure investments, today announces intends to launch an initial public offering of shares on the Official List (Premium) of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Due by Early Feb.
Companies: IUG CBP KAT APP RST DIS NICL BOKU CNIC HE1
Pacific Horizon (PHI) generated a very impressive uplift in its NAV over the course of 2020. This reflects its focus on growth, and technology and biotech stocks in particular. These performed well as we attempted to adjust to life under the pandemic, thereby accelerating a number of structural trends. PHI provided an NAV total return of 86.1%, which eclipsed the return on the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan of 21.2%, the broader MSCI AC World of 12.7% and the average of its Asia Pacific sector peer group of 25.3%. PHI is the top-performing trust in this sector by a significant margin. Despite this stellar growth, PHI’s manager is not resting on his laurels. Emerging Asia still remains a high-growth and underresearched region, and he continues to focus on those themes he expects to do well over the next five years. For example, EV continues to be a significant theme and the manager has been increasing exposure to the commodities needed to deliver a greener future, but which the world is structurally short of, following long-term underinvestment.
Companies: Pacific Horizon Investment Trust
Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust’s (MNP’s) manager Zehrid Osmani reports that his ongoing focus on long-term structural, sustainable business models was beneficial for the fund’s performance during the coronavirus-led market sell-off in Q120, with portfolio companies undertaking measures to protect their brand equity. He is encouraged by a general increase in investor awareness of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, an area of research that Martin Currie has focused on for several years, as he believes that ESG improvements can lead to higher total returns for shareholders. MNP’s performance has improved since the appointment of Osmani in October 2018, and its NAV is now ahead of its benchmark over the last one, three, five and 10 years.
Companies: Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust
Vietnam Enterprise Investments (VEIL) is the largest and longest-established Vietnamese equities closed-end fund. The last quarter of 2019 and most of 2020 marked a period of portfolio repositioning for the fund. The team sold 14 holdings, and bought two, making the portfolio more focused (28 stocks at end 2020 versus 41 at end Q319) but better balanced by market cap as well as domestic and international business exposure. Over H220 the performance has picked up, with NAV total return of 28% versus 24% for the VN Index, after marginally lagging the benchmark over the past three years. The trust is well positioned for longer-term investors looking for an exposure to the fast-growing Vietnamese economy via a relatively large and liquid listed equities vehicle.
Companies: Vietnam Enterprise Investments
Redde Northgate has come through the COVID crisis in very good shape so far. We expect minimal impact on the former Northgate business from “lockdown 2.0”, a strong recovery in profits and a re-rating as normality returns and Redde reverts to mean. We could see further useful earnings upside from acquisitions such as Nationwide and revenue synergies not yet included. The Group is transforming itself into a mobility business which is higher returning, more diversified and has sustainable compounding growth prospects.
Companies: Redde Northgate PLC
Volta Finance (VTA) posted a 5.7% decrease in NAV in 2020, recovering from the initial 32.4% drop in March. This was mainly supported by CLO equity tranches posting solid monthly returns in November and December 2020 at +11.0% and 9.7%, respectively. Volta had anticipated a downturn for some time and repositioned its portfolio into CLO equity over the last two years. During the early-2020 market turmoil, Volta’s manager focused on securing liquidity by fully deleveraging the portfolio and implementing cost-cutting initiatives. In December, Volta introduced a dividend policy to pay 8% of its NAV (in line with historical yields), which currently implies a prospective 9.2% yield on the share price.
Companies: Volta Finance
Litigation Capital Management (LCM) is an alternative asset manager specialising in disputes financing, with its main operations in Australia and the UK. The company provides funding for litigation in exchange for a share of any settlement and has built a strong track record of supporting winning c
Companies: Litigation Capital Management Ltd
Today's results reflect a period impacted by COVID-19, whereby five royalty partners entered forbearance, with four subsequently exiting post-period and returning to royalty payments. This has shown Duke as a supportive, long-term capital provider, assisting partners to periods of more stable trading. In turn, this has preserved shareholder value and enabled the group to return to cash dividends from Q3/21. With more positive economic conditions ahead in 2021, we see upside to Duke's royalty/equity values and ultimately NAV.
Companies: Duke Royalty
I once sat through a three-hour performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal which, despite the best efforts of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – both of whom I like very much – to this day remains one of the dreariest experiences of my life. It is on that note that we welcome 2021, with all the promise it holds, and return to our ‘top picks’ for 2020, a year which is probably best summarised (for those of us lucky enough to have been not directly impacted by the virus) by the Lord Chamberlain’s censor in his review of the first performance of Godot in 1955 – in which he described having to ‘endure hours [and hours] of angry boredom’. As always, these ‘picks’ do not represent advice, and should in no way be relied upon as such; they have been chosen on a lighthearted basis with no thought given to their suitability for your personal circumstances.
Companies: TFG IPU IEM HOT OCI BRWM JRS RICA BHMG BRLA JMI GPM MINI SMT