Directa Plus is a commercially proven graphene supplier with a unique production process that creates high quality materials that are already used in a wide array of products internationally across multiple verticals. We expect the company to reach EBITDA positive in FY22 with existing cash reserves, leaving material upside in our expectations from some of its recently developed products such as the Co-Mask and Gipave.
We see Directa Plus as an underappreciated, undervalued and more mature and lower risk play in the UK listed graphene and speciality nanomaterials space and initiate with a Buy recommendation and 122p target price.
Companies: Directa Plus Plc
H1’20 was a period of significant revenue growth (+200% to €2.8m), driven by the Setcar acquisition, now fully integrated. Underlying progress was constrained by COVID, but the Group rose to the challenge, exemplified by the launch of the G+ enhanced Co-Mask (orders of €400k received to date). Good commercial progress has also been made with Gipave during the period, with three installations now in place. In our view, Directa is well positioned to deliver strong growth over the medium term as awareness of the performance and value of its technology continues to build.
Directa Plus has announced an exciting development for its first of a kind G+® graphene enhanced facemask, Comask™. The mask has been confirmed as having strong anti-viral properties by a team at the Department of Neuroscience, Catholic University of Rome, operating in conjunction with the Gemelli Hospital in Rome. The mask offers an optimum balance between breathability and filtration efficiency and thanks to the use of G+® it is a natural and environmentally sustainable solution. The masks are washable at least 50 times, providing material cost benefits and, in addition to being strongly anti-bacterial, they have now been confirmed as having anti-SARS-CoV-2 properties. Management believes this is one of the Group’s most exciting product developments to date, with the product expected to generate a substantial number of orders across the globe and be significantly profitable in the near term.
FY19 results are in line with expectations and Directa is well positioned to continue to execute its strategy despite COVID-19 headwinds. We look forward to further commercial progress this year, with the Gipave opportunity showing particular promise alongside efforts to develop G+ PPE in response to the current crisis.
Caribbean Investment Holdings. Incorporated in Belize . CIHL primarily operates financial services businesses through its subsidiaries The Belize Bank Limited and Belize Bank International Limited, both located in Belize and international corporate services through Belize Corporate Services Limited. CIHL shares are also traded on the Bermuda Stock Exchange. Lord Ashcroft holds 75%. No capital raise. Due 28 April. £36m . 2019 net profit US$ 10.7m
Companies: CCS SOLO YCA TPFG DCTA RBD 88E DEMG ANA
Directa Plus has announced an agreement with Iterchimica for the supply of its G+ ITC1 nanoplatelets for use in the asphalt and bitumen sector. Directa’s graphene is the differentiating component of the Gipave® supermodifier that has been the subject of recent trials in Italy and the UK. The agreement is for an initial duration of three years and Directa has received its first order from Iterchimica, as indicated in the 13th March trading update. We consider this a promising medium term opportunity, given Gipave’s potential significantly to increase the useful life of roads and runways. Results from the UK trials in November 2019 are expected shortly and interest is said to be growing from asphalt companies in the UK and also now the USA.
Directa Plus has released a robust trading update for the first quarter of FY20, at the same time confirming a loss before tax of €3.6m for FY19, in line with expectations. Expected Q1 revenue of €1.52m will be up significantly on the €0.52m reported in Q1’19, driven by Setcar, the H2’19 Environmental Services acquisition. The order book to date is said to be in line with expectations, orders are being fulfilled and Directa is working on new opportunities. There is good news on the graphene enhanced asphalt, Gipave ® as well as traction in other verticals, which should help to insulate the Group from wider uncertainty relating to the Coronavirus.
Directa Plus has announced the second major contract win for Setcar/ Directa Environmental Services since the acquisition of that business in November last year. The value is estimated to be €5m over seven years or €0.7m per annum. This is a contract to supply environmental services to GSP Offshore, part of the Romanian oil services group GSP under a larger framework agreement between GSP Offshore and OMV Petrom, which was awarded in July 2019. We make no changes to forecasts this morning, but it is highly encouraging to see ongoing momentum within the Setcar/Directa Environmental Services business under Directa’s ownership.
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Strix has announced the strategic acquisition of LAICA a family owned business in Vicenza, Italy for €19.6m in a mixture of cash and shares. It will be earnings accretive in FY21 and is scheduled to complete by the end of FY20, with just Italian government approval outstanding. ZC operating profit estimates are unchanged in FY20 but increase by c. 8% in FY21 to reflect the contribution from the deal, the impact on earnings is smaller due to the issue of shares and higher tax in Italy. Management believe significant synergies, both cost and revenue, will be derived from the deal over the next 2-5 years. The interim results had been well flagged in the comprehensive trading update in late July and today’s statement confirms that profitability remains in line with the guidance of achieving a flat performance yoy in FY20. The interim dividend of 2.6p is in line with last year and in keeping with the commitment to at least meet the 7.7p paid in FY19. Unlike most peers, Strix has maintained guidance as well as its commitment to pay a dividend and today’s acquisition unpins the continuing strategy of diversifying the business into areas offering greater growth.
Companies: Strix Group Plc
Augean has reported interims to 30 June 2020. With the first half bearing the full impact of Covid-19, adjusted PBT decreased by 11% to £8.5m, which is in line with our expectation. With radioactive wastes, biomass for EfW and construction impacted by lockdown and depressed activity levels in its North Sea services, due to the low oil price, the results demonstrate the resilience of the Group and also the benefit of its key position in its markets with strategically located hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities in the UK. Whilst the statement highlights that full year results are expected to be broadly in-line with market expectations, we have conservatively reduced forecasts. Nevertheless, with strong cash generation and sustained growth EV/EBITDA falls to 5.3x and 4.1x for FY21E and FY22E, a level that is substantially below sector constituents and transaction valuations.
Companies: Augean Plc
Strix has published reassuring interims and announced the acquisition of LAICA, conditional upon approval from the Council of Ministers in Italy. Against a backdrop of global disruption caused by COVID 19, Strix’s H1 performance is in line with expectations. Net sales down 21% YoY, with a much smaller impact on net profits on the back of strong cost management. Encouragingly, FY 20 profit expectations are now underpinned, at around £28.9m PAT. Taking into account the LAICA deal, we provisionally upgrade FY 21 PAT/EPS by 6%. The shares are already up materially YTD, but the Strix growth story remains compelling.
Judges Scientific is focused on acquiring and developing companies in the scientific instrument sector. Given the backdrop of H1, and the global nature of Judges' customer base, we see this morning's results as a significant achievement when set against the backdrop of significant COVID related headwinds. Revenue decreased by 6.8% (organic -12%) to £37.4m (H1-19: £40.2m) which, after the sensible management of the cost base, yielded an adjusted pre-tax profit of £6.4m (H1-19 £8.4m), a 22% reduction, and adjusted fully diluted EPS of 82.5p (H1-19: 107.0p). However, reflecting a commitment to its progressive dividend policy, and confidence in the business, the interim DPS is increased by 10% to 16.5p. With respect to H2, COVID related business risks remain, none of which are unique to Judges. However, given the relative strength of H1 (albeit at some expense to the order book), management flag ‘cautious confidence' in achieving full year market expectations. As such, our FY 2020E adjusted PBT and EPS estimates are unchanged this morning.
Companies: Judges Scientific Plc
Byotrol’s FY 2020 full-year results are inconsequential, given the dramatic and positive impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had to product sales since the year-end. However, year-end cash was £0.1m above forecast at £1.7m and when combined with positive cashflow since year-end, Byotrol is well-resourced to finance its ongoing operations and steady growth. With the order-book remaining strong (c.£1.1m at 31 August), despite summer lull, and demand likely to persist for some time, given the emerging second wave of coronavirus, we upgrade EBITDA to reflect lower costs and higher licensing income. If, as we suspect, the demand curve has shifted sustainably to the right, this leaves room for further upgrades. Consequently, we raise our target price to 11p, at which level the stock would trade on EV/Sales and EV/EBITDA of 4.1x and 26.9x, respectively. Future revenues and milestones from licensing deals will be largely additive.
Companies: Byotrol Plc
Billington is a leading structural steel and construction safety solutions specialist. The Group has this morning announced that its structural steel division, Billington Structures, has been awarded three contracts with a combined value of £21 million, the largest of which is for a UK power based project (Midlands) that will add significant visibility (at good margin) to FY 2021E. The other two contracts, in the manufacturing and commercial office sectors, are for delivery in Q4 2020 and through 2021 respectively.
Companies: Billington Holdings Plc
Today’s AGM Statement highlights further progress during H1. As anticipated at the final results on 6th August, trading has now returned to pre-COVID levels, with a particularly strong recovery in housing market activity. As at 31st August, the order book has increased by 5% to £69.4m from £66.2m at 31st, with contracts secured across the Group’s end markets. The Company has invested in its sales team and back office functions in order to support the recovery, though management continues to monitor costs given the near term uncertainty presented by COVID-19. In the absence of more restrictive lockdown measures, we would expect activity to continue to improve in the near term and the medium term prospects of the Group remain encouraging, supported by the UK’s net-zero target, which will require substantial investment in the UK’s utility networks. Fulcrum has also announced the appointment of Jennifer Cutler as CFO from 19th October, whose most recent role was Direct of Finance at Harworth Group Plc. The shares have justifiably outperformed since the full year results and today’s statement is supportive of this increase. Forecast guidance continues to be withdrawn given near term COVID uncertainties, but we anticipate reintroducing forecasts at the interim results.
Companies: Fulcrum Utility Services Ltd.
We initiate coverage on AFC Energy and see this as a significant long-term growth opportunity. We have only focused on the UK potential in EV Charging and Distributed Power in this note but believe the application will be far wider both in geography and application. Following a transformational 2019, we can see a clear near-term intrinsic value of 68p based on UK EV Charging and Distributed Power alone.
Companies: AFC Energy Plc
Billington provides structural steel and safety solutions to the construction industry. After record results in FY 2019, Billington's interim results to June 2020 reflect the anticipated disruption of Covid-19. However, the Group remained profitable in the period (revenue £32.8m, adjusted PBT £0.6m) and the balance sheet retained its significant cash backed strength. Further, although pricing pressure is still a significant feature in the market, as the announcement of £21m of orders yesterday demonstrated, there is still plenty of business to be won in less competitive segments. Our FY 2020E estimates remain suspended, but all other things being equal, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Billington could deliver a similar performance in H2 as reported in H1. The present order book is supportive of such a scenario. The outturn for FY 2021E is harder to determine, but there again, Billington is exposed to a number of verticals where investment continues and where competition is less pronounced. With its strong balance sheet likely a significant comfort to clients, the medium-term prospects for Billington, in our view, continue to be strong.
Today's news & views, plus announcements from VOD, POLY, SMDS, BLND, BYG, WEIR, DC, SNR, SHI, INTU, IHR, CNC, ARE, INCE
Companies: INTU SHI INCE
SIMEC Atlantis has materially de-risked the Uskmouth conversion project with a framework agreement to fund 100% of phase 1 with a secured loan. Together with the recently announced investment in the fuel supply company, SIMEC Atlantis is now well placed to move towards financial close on the Uskmouth project in line with our expected timetable. We have updated our forecasts for the new investment and the recent results. Our central case valuation now reflects these and an assumed 100% debt financing for Uskmouth and rises to 68p from 55p.
Companies: SIMEC Atlantis Energy Ltd.
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.
Companies: Spectra Systems Corp.
Who would have thought when reporting pre-tax losses of £10m after the first half to end June that Breedon would emerge so strongly from lockdown to trade through July-August (and into September) with LFL revenues ahead of comparative 2019 and expected H2 EBIT broadly in line with the equivalent 2019, resulting in a reinstatement of guidance ahead of current FY20 consensus. That is a mark of confidence as much in the group's operating capabilities as market recovery itself – a feature of Breedon's management quality over a consistent period of time. Investors will be impressed by the short-term recovery but also encouraged that the longer-term outlook remains positive with an emphasis to infrastructure markets in GB and Ireland plus, of course, its unrivalled ability to utilise its asset base very efficiently and to add to that platform with accretive acquisitions. The shares hit a COVID ‘low' of 63p but were trading as high as 100p in February. We would see that upper level as the more likely direction of travel for the shares with 90p justified by a forward 2022E rating of 7.5x EV/EBITDA, c14x PE, commencement of dividends and significant deleveraging through high net cash flow generation.
Companies: Breedon Group Plc
2G Energy’s product portfolio of CHP systems positions it to benefit from the transition from coal and nuclear-powered electricity generation to increasing use of wind and solar sources augmented by natural gas to balance supply and demand. In the longer term, 2G has proven technology to address the potential switch from natural gas to hydrogen. However, there still will be significant demand for 2G’s bio-gas and natural gas powered systems if adoption of hydrogen as an energy storage medium is delayed or derailed.
Companies: 2G Energy AG
Xeros has announced interim results for the 6 months to June 2020. This marks a period when the company has completed its transition to an asset-light, IP licensing business model through the disposal of all direct operations. A strong cash position coupled with substantially reduced costs should enable Xeros to reach profitability in H2 FY2022E. Despite COVID, commercial progress is tracking as we would expect. Hence we are not changing forecasts for the current (or future) years and our target price remains 2p/share.
Companies: Xeros Technology Group Plc