Plant Health Care has released 2020 interim results following the trading update in July. The statement indicates the Group has performed strongly in the first half, with support from key distributors and good growing conditions. With Covid-19 still impacting the global economy, the Group is not reinstating financial guidance yet but expects to continue to grow revenue in the second half and reduce cash burn. We keep our forecasts withdrawn at this time.
Companies: Plant Health Care Plc
Plant Health Care has released an interim trading update for the 6 months to the end of June 2020. The tone of the statement is positive and indicates the Group has performed strongly in the first half, with support from key distributors and good growing conditions in general. That said, with Covid-19 still impacting the global economy both directly and indirectly, the Group is not reinstating financial guidance yet and as such, we keep our forecasts withdrawn
2019 results – US outlook improving
PHC279 Brazilian Regulatory Submission
New equity raise to accelerate growth
FRP Advisory Group, UK professional services firm specialising in restructuring advisory. Raising £80m (£20m primary). Expected market cap £190m. Compound annual growth of 16.4 per cent. in revenue and 10.9 per cent. in operating profit since the beginning of FY17.o Strong average EBITDA margins of 51 per cent. over FY17 to FY19, and consistently strong cash conversion Inspecs, a UK designer, manufacturer and distributor of eyewear frames to global retail chains announces its intention to IPO onto AIM raising £94m with a market cap of £138m. Admission expected 27th February. FY Dec 2018 numbers show revenue of $57m and underlying EBITDA of $11m. The Proof Of Trust has announced its intention to list on the Standard Market. The Blockchain based business, owns patents to a protocol which facilitates dispute resolution based upon smart contract disputes. Transaction details TBC. DRI Healthcare—investment company focused on investments in healthcare Royalty Assets looking to raise $350m. Due 11 Mar. Ninety One –proposed demerger and public listing of Investec’s global asset management business on LSE and JSE. 30 Sep 2019 AUM £121bn. Sale of existing shares. Expected free float of >60%. Due 16 march. Cabot Square—Closed ended investment fund focussed on alternative assets and asset manager. Looking to raise £200m. Will target investment opportunities that are expected to generate an attractive risk adjusted return and that can also make a positive ESG impact by focusing on some of the biggest challenges facing societies and economies. Due 14 Feb. The Global Sustainable Farmland Income Trust will invest in a diversified portfolio of operational farmland assets located in major agricultural markets including the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and certain countries within Latin and South America. Raising up to $300m. Due 28 February. Incanthera—Specialist oncology company focused on transforming cancer treatment by creating environments in which cancer cannot survive . Due 28 Feb. Zapp Scooters, a developer and manufacturer of electric two-wheeled vehicles announced its intention to IPO on the NEX Exchange Growth Market. The Company intends to raise up to £3.5m. Admission is expected to occur on NEX in February 2020.
Companies: TSTL BOKU EQT KRS CALL CRV JAY TWD PHC ALBA
Trading update below expectations
Companies: SDI B90 AQX VLG TWD PHC TUNE CIR WSG BIDS
Plant Health Care has announced the raise of £2.35m in new equity from a strategic agriculture investor, Ospraie Ag LLC at a subscription price of 6.8p per share, resulting in ~34.5m new shares, representing 16.6% of the share capital of the enlarged company. We believe this investment should provide funds to accelerate New Technology development through the PREtec range of products and contribute to some de-risking of the longer-term opportunity while removing any lingering market concerns over PHC’s funding position. 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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Plant Health Care has announced the signing of an agreement with the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility at Penn State University to enable the scale up of production methods for subsequent transfer to commercial production of its PHC279 PREtec peptide for use in the US and Brazil.
The spotlight on food technology has perhaps grown more as a result of changing consumer trends, and environmental necessity than from investor appetite for something new. According to Robbins Research, livestock account for 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is higher than the portion of GHG emissions created by transportation. Livestock also produce 35% of the world’s methane, which has more than 20 times the Global Warming Potential of carbon dioxide, and generate 65% of the world’s nitrous oxide, which has 23 times the GWP of carbon dioxide. The irrigation of feed crops also accounts for nearly 8% of the world’s human water use. Hence the need for plant-based alternatives to traditional protein sources, which are produced far more sustainably than traditional meats.
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Plant Health Care has announced excellent trial results for its PHC 279 new technology in application to Soybeans in Brazil. Following 2018’s disappointing trial, these strong results provide the basis for PHC to seek to fast-track registration and accelerate manufacturing to commercialise the technology which should be highly positive for the Group over time
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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Plant Health Care has announced a new agreement with Wilbur-Ellis for exclusive distribution of Employ, a product with Harpin ab, for use in US specialty crop markets which total over 7m acres.
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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
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
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