FY20 Interim results
Companies: Litigation Capital Management
Abal Group (formerly on AIM) to relist as Supply@Me, a growing innovative "inventory monetisation" platform, having originated more than EUR300m of prospective "inventory monetisation deals" in its first six months of operating (to June 2018). In the first half of 2019, an additional prospective EUR300m was originated. As at the date of the publication of the Prospectus and Circular to Abal shareholders, dated 4 March 2020 , EUR972m of prospective contracts have been originated. Raising £2.2m. Due 23 March.
Companies: LIT SEE COG OSI BIRD ENET XSG EMAN BOTB NUOG
Completion of new $150m Litigation Fund
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.
Companies: ABBY AMS ANX ARS ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CDM CSRT TIDE CYAN DTG DEMG ELM EMR FPO FDEV GTLY GENL GHH GRI GEEC GKP HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR IBPO IOG INDI JHD JOG KAPE KEYS KWS KCT KGH LAM LIT LOK MACF MANO MOD OXIG PCA PANR APP SRE PHC PMO RBW RMM RBGP REDD RSW RNO ROR SUS SCPA SEN SHG SOLG SOM SUMO TM17 INCE TWD TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Revenue increased 17% to A$34.7m (Ae: A$48.4m). We note that the difference to our forecast was due to an accounting presentation change only, whereby revenues are now stated net instead of gross including capital deployed. We believe this new presentation is much more intuitive and note that, if it had not been applied, revenue was in fact in line with our numbers at A$48.2m. Gross profit, or net gain on investment, was up 23% to A$20.3m (Ae: A$19.0m). This is particularly encouraging as it shows the actual gain on the capital previously deployed. We noted in our 5 July note that our numbers were likely on the light side, so it is pleasing to see this come through. ROIC increased from 117% last reported to 135%, displaying the lucrative returns of recent settlements.
Following the speculation and eventual release of a short report by Muddy Waters (“MW”) on Burford yesterday, LCM’s shares have fallen to 77p having troughed at 58p in early trading. We highlight three areas where LCM’s model differs to Burford and therefore where the same criticisms should not apply. Re-iterate Buy and 140p TP.
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.
Companies: AMS ANX ARS ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE CYAN DTG DEMG ELM EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL GRI GEEC GKP HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR HYR IBPO IOG INDI JHD JOG KAPE KEYS KCT KGH LAM LIT LOK MACF MANO PCA PANR PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG SOM TWD TRAK TSG TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Last week LCM announced its fifth case settlement of the financial period, with a net gain of A$2.7m to A$3m estimated. The case win further demonstrates the ability of Management to select and effectively execute on the right cases. Crucially, we are now confident that our FY19E gains on investments will be met.
LCM has released a positive trading update following court approval of a settlement that was initially announced in March 2019. This further supports our forecasts and demonstrates the ability to pick the cases that win. Additionally, the Company has provided an encouraging update on the portfolio and pipeline.
We believe the settlement in principle of a litigation project that was announced on 20 March 2019 will likely be confirmed on Monday 27 May, providing further positive news flow for the shares and demonstrating the attractive returns available if the right cases are selected.
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.
Companies: ARS CYAN HYR LIT SOM ABBY AMS AMER ANX ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE DTG DEMG EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL INCE GRI GEEC HDY HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR IBPO INDI JHD JOG KEYS KCT KGH LAM LOK MACF MNO MANO MOD MKLW OXIG PCA PANR APP PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Within this note we look to build upon our existing legal sector coverage of Anexo*, Gordon Dadds*, Gateley, Knights, Keystone, Rosenblatt and NAHL to include the litigation funders Burford Capital, Manolete Partners and Litigation Capital Management.
Companies: ANX BUR IMF JIL LIT MANO RBGP
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AFH interim results have shown resilience in a tough period. Revenues grew by 5% yoy and Adj. EPS is up 8% yoy. We reduce our FY20 EPS forecast by 8% to reflect the wider market falls and slower new business due to the lockdown. This reduction in earnings is significantly less than peers, highlighting the defensive nature of the business and the prudent temporary cost measures being introduced in FY20. The improved FCF of the business should lead to a re-rating, particularly as AFH now trades on 9.3x CY20 P/E, a significant discount to peers. Our reduced target price of 524p implies 81% upside. Re-iterate BUY.
Companies: AFH Financial Group
Ramsdens has reported a strong set of trading results in the last twelve months to March 2020. COVID lockdown has led to store closures, which will lead to weaker trading over the following months. However, Ramsdens has a very solid balance sheet, is diversified and is well positioned to re-open stores and continue its growth. We use an 8x multiple on last 12 months to March 2020 earnings as a reflection of a normalised earnings base which reduces our target price to 162p from 180p. At this target price Ramsdens would trade on a CY20 P/B of 1.5x. This target price offers 15% upside and we re-iterate BUY.
Aside from its FY 19 earnings presentation, British Land has adopted a more cautious anticipation about Offices in the City of London. We share this pessimism and have been surprised by the recent share’s bump. The latter is the opportunity to turn negative, again, and update our divestment case.
Companies: British Land Company
ULR’s finals were in line with on EPRA NAV and earnings a little better than expected. Valuations remain stable and full rent collection has been achieved for the current quarter. We see fundamental quality and resilience in the (now expanded) portfolio – ULR has already invested nearly £100m in the first two months of the new year following the £136m equity raise. We make no material changes to forecasts. Current valuation points to an 7%+ annualised return, with upside remaining from deployment of funding headroom, active management and potential for valuations to improve.
Companies: Urban Logistics REIT
Tetragon Financial Group (TFG, Tetragon) achieved a 13.6% NAV/share total return and a 13.4% ROE in FY19, in line with its long-term target of 10–15%. The main driver of Tetragon’s performance was its asset management business (TFG Asset Management), which comprises managers with a total AUM attributable to Tetragon of US$27.4bn and generated an EBITDA of US$59.5m in FY19 (up 51% y-o-y). The late-2019 investment activity left Tetragon with a relatively low net cash position (4.1% of NAV at end-April). The shares trade at a three-year average discount to NAV of 44% (currently at 62.7%), which is relatively wide compared to peers given the company’s track record of delivering a 16% NAV TR pa over the last 10 years. The recent market sell-off has so far resulted in a 5.1% decrease in NAV (ytd to end-April 2020).
Companies: Tetragon Financial Group
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: AGR CSH ESP DIGS IHR LXI PHP RESI SIR SUPR THRL SOHO BBOX SHED WHR
Today’s FY update reports that the decisive action taken at the outset of the COVID crisis has protected returns. Revenues held up through to the May year end. Aided by cost savings, adj. EBITDA is expected to be 20% ahead. We expect a more modest final dividend to protect the capital surplus. Additional savings have been outlined, which we overlay on a conservative “flat market/fewer new clients” scenario for FY21e – where we hope outperformance is possible. Updating EPS forecasts: FY20e +25%, FY21e -10% and FY22e -7%; also incorporating the Hurley Partners acquisition (+8%). We consider MW a high quality core holding with long term potential.
Companies: Mattioli Woods
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
The covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the share price of property companies, with 31% wiped off the value of their total market capitalisation during the first quarter of 2020.
Companies: AEWU CREI CSH BOOT INL HLCL THRL SUPR RESI RGL DIGS GR1T SOHO PHP BOXE ASLI UTG AGR UAI BLND UANC CAL SHED CWD WHR EPIC WKP GRI YEW HMSO PCA INTU NRR
The Merchants Trust (MRCH) is managed by Simon Gergel at Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI). Aiming to continue to provide a high and growing level of income, he is adjusting the trust's portfolio in the wake of dividend cuts sparked by the negative economic effects of COVID-19. If there is an income shortfall in this financial year, MRCH is well positioned to maintain its dividend, with revenue reserves of more than 1x the last annual payment. It has not been an easy period for value managers over the last decade as growth stocks have led the charge; however, Gergel has outperformed the UK market over this period in both NAV and share price terms. The board reduced MRCH's gearing in late January 2020, which was opportune timing ahead of the recent significant stock market weakness.
Companies: Merchants Trust
MJ Hudson has confirmed that it expects to achieve profits in line with expectations for FY20E. This is a good result linked to new client wins during the COVID-19 disruption and timely cost management. Whilst much of the group's activities are proving resilient, uncertainty remains and in line with most of the peer group, MJ Hudson is withdrawing guidance for FY21E. We similarly withdraw our FY21E forecasts until visibility improves, moving our rating to Under Review. Meanwhile, the shares are now down 30% since their pre-COVID-19 highs, which is beyond that seen at outsourcing peers (Sanne, JTC). Whilst COVID-19 is presenting challenges for many businesses, we believe that: 1) the structural growth drivers in alternatives that underpin MJ Hudson's growth will continue to remain highly relevant, and 2) its strong balance sheet gives it a relative advantage.
Companies: MJ Hudson Group
The positive market movements (£19.5bn) offset the net outflows of £1.3bn. The adjusted operating profit before tax reached £1,149m, down 21.9% yoy. The insurer benefited less from longevity assumption changes (£126m vs. £441m in 2018) in the Heritage business and the lower Asset Management fees margin (38bp vs. 40 bp in 2018) in the Savings and Asset Management one. The current context has led to a decrease in the Solvency II ratio by 10%, but the capital position remains resilient at 166%.
Mattioli Woods has issued a trading update around the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are reassured to hear that trading for the first 9m of FY20e (to Feb-20) was in line with expectations. There is likely to be a revenue impact, from falling asset prices and limits to normal business activity, however, it is not possible to quantify this just yet. A number of proactive measures are being taken to adjust the cost base to mitigate the short term impact, including reduced senior management team/variable compensation. We would highlight that c.55% of MW’s revenue is not linked to the value of client assets, providing a degree of insulation to asset prices. We make no forecast changes at this stage, but will monitor events and make any adjustments when there is greater certainty
U+I’s post-close trading update confirms c. £16m of development and trading gains for FY20, which includes Harwell. This is broadly in line with our revised expectations. Proactive steps are being taken to preserve liquidity in the short-term, including suspending the final dividend and stopping all non-essential spend. Positively, benefits of the cost saving programme will now be realised 12 months early. The balance sheet is strong, with ample liquidity; covenant levels are a long way off. Management’s time is being spent repositioning teams to be ready when restrictions are lifted, when there will be a renewed focus on the short-to-medium term value gain opportunities, of which there are plenty. The shares currently trade at 59% spot discount to our updated NAV forecasts, vs the UK sector at a 9% discount. We leave our recently lowered 180p target price unchanged and continue to see upside from here.
Companies: U&I Group
In the past month the group has made significant progress in pivoting its business away from its traditional face-to-face model. Although lending levels remain appropriately subdued, it has achieved an impressive collections performance, with its largest business running at about 90% of pre-lockdown levels. This, combined with the group’s high risk-adjusted margins has enabled it to generate £3m of FCF in the first three weeks of April, taking its net cash position to £38.7m as of 21 April. This strong financial position, combined with the group’s innovative approach to product development puts it in an extremely strong position to serve its clients and win share when the current government restrictions are eventually lifted. Reflecting this positive outlook we reiterate our BUY rating.
Companies: Non-Standard Finance