The typical 52-month original term of S&U’s Advantage motor finance loans means that it takes time for the benefit of tighter credit criteria to flow through fully and there is also a time lag before a revival in loan growth is reflected in earnings; however, both are now in prospect. Aspen property bridging is also at a point where growth may accelerate, subject to market conditions. Taken together, we estimate this could allow the group to regain revenue and profit levels approaching those of FY20 by FY23.
Companies: S&U plc
Today's news & views, plus announcements from LAND, SGE, TSCO, BBY, GFS, HWDN, BBOX, EBOX, VTY, SUS, SBIZ
Companies: Land Securities Group PLC (LAND:LON)S&U plc (SUS:LON)
Trading statement for the period 1 August to 8 December 2020 points to a strong recovery in both motor finance and property bridging. Advantage net receivables are 90% of where they were in FY 20, while Aspen Bridging has reached a landmark level of lending, at £100m. No change to our estimates and an initial reiteration of our 2000p target price, which may see upward pressure as details of full-year results are published.
S&U H121 results were substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but the company has remained profitable and there are clear signs of improvement. While profitability over our forecast period looks set to be relatively subdued, the benefits of tighter credit criteria, increased new business and work to enhance aspects of Advantage’s activities should become more apparent in FY23 and FY24.
S&U motor finance sales are recovering even as credit criteria have been tightened. There is still uncertainty about the impact of the wind down of employment support schemes and how collections will recover following repayment holidays, but S&U expresses cautious optimism on the latter point. The current year results will be significantly affected by lower sales and higher arrears but management indicates the group is still profitable, is maintaining its high customer service levels and has liquidity headroom to respond once it is sensible to target stronger growth.
In its trading update S&U confirmed the impact of COVID-19, particularly on its main Advantage motor finance business. With new transactions and collections running below normal levels and additional provisions currently being made, the group expects a significant impact on results this year. Aspen property bridging has been affected by lower activity but has seen more positive indicators recently. The group is taking a prudent approach to new lending, but cash generation has left good headroom to respond once conditions begin to improve.
The scenario of higher unemployment and pressure on average incomes that threatens S&U’s motor finance customers has become reality with remarkable speed. Nevertheless, we believe government actions should provide mitigation and even allowing for an increase in arrears the company is likely to generate cash as collections outpace much reduced lending demand, augmenting the liquidity headroom it already has. This together with maintenance of relations with customers, brokers and introducers should mean the business is positioned to progress strongly once conditions normalise.
S&U released its preliminary FY20 results yesterday morning, which demonstrate considerable resilience against a backdrop of election and Brexit turbulence and weakening consumer demand - although that already feels like ancient history.
S&U’s year-end trading update signalled that FY20 results are set to be in line with management expectations. It is encouraging that there has been a post-election improvement in transactions at both Advantage and Aspen, while used-car prices have stabilised or increased recently. Our estimates are unchanged and the shares trade on a sub-10x P/E and yield of 5%.
S&U this morning released another solid trading update, this time covering the 2019 year-end period. The key highlights include the successful transition to the new Advantage CEO, an improvement in transaction levels for both businesses (including another record for Advantage), improvements in the Aspen repayments profile, and an increased second interim dividend, up 1p to 36p. We will reforecast at full year results on 24th March. In the meantime, management are optimistic for the coming year and have re-confirmed that FY20 results should be in line with their expectations.
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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
AuM grew by +43% (+16% organic) to £29.4bn in Q3. Investment performance was strong (+£2.5bn) as COVID vaccine news propelled markets. Net inflows were maintained qoq (£792m). Sustainable was the stand out performer (+24%). AuM has broken through £30bn post-period end. Better than expected AuM drives +3% FY21e EPS and +5% in outer years. Continued distribution efforts in Sustainable, Global Equity and Multi-Asset funds stands to catalyse earnings. Alongside flow momentum, 12x FY22e PER is not reflecting this upside.
Companies: Liontrust Asset Management PLC
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 biotechnology 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 index of 21.2%, the broader MSCI AC World of 12.7% and the average of its Asia Pacific sector peer group (see page 23) of 25.3%. PHI is the topperforming 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, companies exposed to the growth in electric vehicles (EV) continue to be a significant theme. 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.
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
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