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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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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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.
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The market has not faced quite so many conflicting challenges for a number of years, whether related to global geopolitics, trade wars, ongoing Eurozone issues or the “will they, won’t they” saga of Brexit. In our Best Ideas, we sought to highlight stocks that present investors with interesting opportunities following recent market moves. Those stocks, we believe, warrant investor attention, in many cases for uncorrelated or stockspecific reasons, regardless of the near-to-medium term market direction. These stocks, in general, represent attractive and well-managed businesses or assets, with share price catalysts and where valuations or recent stock performance provide investors with a good entry point.
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The June IPO of Knights Group Holdings, a Top-100 regional law firm, marked the fifth entrant to the burgeoning UK-listed legal sector. Following recent expansion of our coverage across all five listed legal firms, complemented by coverage of three broader support services peers with exposure to the sector, we revisit and build upon our views on this rapidly evolving sector.
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In Q2, UK equities regained some of their poise after the draw down in Q1, although uncertainty around Brexit continued to grab the headlines. On the back of this, investor concern about the UK economy has been understandable in recent months given a number of negative data points. However, we see reasons for optimism for UK Plc with wage growth supporting an improving outlook for the consumer and business investment holding up. That said, continuing UK political disruption clearly remains a risk going forward.
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1Spatial (SPA LN) Capital markets day highlights growth potential | Abzena (ABZA LN) Monetising the Abzena Inside portfolio | Consort Medical (CSRT LN) Prelims in line – another setback with Mylan | Gym Group (GYM LN) Positive corporate and premium pricing newsflow | N Brown Group (BWNG LN) In line update but number of moving parts might leave investors cold | Rathbone Brothers (RAT LN) Acquisition of Speirs & Jeffrey, no EPS accretion until FY20e | RhythmOne (RTHM LN) FY18 results show execution, EBITDA to almost quadruple in FY19 | Speedy Hire (SDY LN) Recovery delivered; Returns improving
Companies: ABZA CSRT GYM BWNG RAT RTHM SDY SPA
Pharmaceutical Services is a vast and varied landscape, reflecting the complexities in the discovery, development, manufacturing and monitoring of drugs and devices, all within a stringent regulatory environment. The overall growth prospects are highly favourable: drug development activity globally is on the up, led by smaller companies, which is driving demand for outsourced services. In this report we provide a breakdown of the sector into its main activity segments, and identify biologics, increasing service specialisation and consolidation as important value drivers. Finally, we present 15 companies (9 of which are publicly listed) that, in our view, are well placed to benefit from the sector’s secular growth trends.
Companies: ABZA BQE CSRT INS UDG CLIN ABZA HZD ERGO OXB
Interims are in line. Revenues +6.1% reported, PBT+7.7% but adj EPS was only up 3.2% and Net Debt is still high at £97.1m. There is no new news on Mylan contract for generic Advair and we do not expect to hear anything until mid-2018. A couple of small contracts have drifted away. We make only minor changes to our estimates and don’t see any catalysts in the short term. The shares now trading on 17.7x P/E to Apr-18, 12.4x EV/EBITDA - not obviously cheap without growth picking up but maybe there is enough promise on the Mylan contract to keep people interested for now. We move to Hold from Buy.
Companies: Consort Medical
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Today’s FY results are in line with our expectations, highlighting an improving operating performance at Aesica. The core Bespak delivered an in-line performance, impacted as expected by the termination of the supply agreement with Nicovations. We reiterate our Buy recommendation (upgraded from Hold in December 2016) and 1,125p target price.
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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
Laboratory Services Contracts Signed
Companies: Open Orphan
Diaceutics is expected to report 20% YoY revenue growth in H1E. This strong performance against a difficult global backdrop reinforces the recession proof growth qualities of the business model. With the launch of the DXRX platform this year, we expect further operational benefits to flow through the business.
MaxCyte’s new clinical and commercial licence agreement with Apeiron Biologics allows the use of MaxCyte’s proprietary Flow Electroporation technology for manufacturing Apeiron’s gene-silencing siRNA therapy, APN401, for clinical studies. The deal is the latest in a series of clinical and commercia
Cambridge Cognition ("COG") has provided a trading update for the 6 months to 30 June and presented its growth strategy at an excellent Capital Markets Day. The Group continues to build on an impressive H1 2020, announcing additional contract wins that take the order intake to £4.9m (+88% vs H1 2019). COG is currently 'seeing unprecedented demand' for its solutions which enable pharmaceutical companies to continue clinical trials even while participants are unable to physically visit clinical trial sites.
Companies: Cambridge Cognition
With CHF13bn ($14bn) annual sales, Roche is a dominant force in the global diagnostics market. Interestingly, in recent years, most diagnostics majors have witnessed material re-ratings – also a function of increased M&A euphoria. Now, in the backdrop of COVID-19, Roche has also emerged as a prominent player on the testing front. With big pharmas moving away from (low-growth) non-pharma offerings, is it time for Roche to consider unlocking value from Diagnostics?
Companies: Roche Holding
Today Ergomed held its annual general meeting (AGM). As expected, no new financial details were provided, although the executive chairman released a statement with a general business update. Q120 trading was good with ‘solid overall growth in revenue’ and cash generation ‘remained strong’. In Q220, Ergomed continued to grow the order book across the business and maintained its ‘revenue growth trend’. Its staff successfully adapted to remote working conditions and no employees were made redundant or furloughed. The H120 trading update will be released in July 2020 as usual, but Ergomed stated within its AGM update (June 10) that it is confident the results will be ‘in line with current market expectations’.
The announcement announced today highlights the potential breadth of the KidneyIntelX platform, opening up new routes to expand data inputs and test utility, and create opportunities alongside pharmacological therapy as a companion diagnostic. The first agreement with the University of Michigan adds an additional 800 chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients (adding to Mount Sinai’s 1,500 patients and the University of Groningen’s 3,500 patients) to analysis the performance of KidneyIntelX in different settings. This will ultimately carry additional sway with healthcare centres, regulators, and payers. The option to exclusively license a new urinary biomarker, urinary Epithelial Growth Factor (uEGF), shows the potential to add additional biomarkers and body fluids into the platform to further enhance the prognostic performance of KidneyIntelX. We understand there is a relatively immaterial upfront payment to access this new biobank, and a similar immaterial cash payment to gain the biomarker license option with additional milestones and standard tiered royalties payable if exercised. The second data sharing agreement with a major undisclosed pharma partner highlights KidneyIntelX’s potential use as a companion diagnostic (e.g. for SGLT2 inhibitors) and the potential to use the test multiple times to monitor drug response. This builds on work being conducted in Groningen with data expected H2 CY’20. Ultimately, pharmaceutical collaborations could drive additional long-term value creation and may open opportunities for lucrative licensing and M&A deals. At this juncture we make no changes to our forecasts and eagerly await further updates. We reiterate our positive stance on Renalytix.
Companies: Renalytix AI
AVO’s goal is to deliver an affordable and novel proton therapy (PT) system, called LIGHT, based on state-of-the-art technology developed originally at the worldrenowned CERN. Over the past two years, the project has been significantly derisked through important technical milestones. AVO is working on the verification and validation phase, prior to LIGHT being used on the first patients to support CE certification. A recent equity issue, new loan facilities and some commercial announcements earlier in 2020 highlight the increasing confidence that is building in AVO’s ability to achieve its goal to deliver LIGHT in the near future.
Companies: Advanced Oncotherapy
ReNeuron has released further follow-up data from the ongoing human retinal progenitor cell (hRPC) trial, which shows a robust sustained averaged response. This data set completes the six-month data on eight patients and extends, for one individual, to 18 months, who showed a good net gain. The next dose level, two million cells in nine patients, remains delayed due to COVID-19. A filing to start a pivotal study is expected in the second half of CY21. Our indicative value remains at £107m.
Companies: Reneuron Group
Collagen Solutions (COS.L): Supply agreement with NovaBone
Companies: Collagen Solutions
RenalytixAI (RENX.L): Proposed dual-listing on Nasdaq | e-therapeutics (ETX.L): Covid-19 project update | RedX (REDX.L): Appointment of Non-Executive Director
Companies: RENX ETX REDX
Having taken time to assess the potential impact of COVID-19, IXICO has today provided a trading update for FY20E and an expectation for FY21E revenue growth. Revenues and EBITDA for FY20E are expected to be at least £9.1m and £0.9m respectively. Revenue growth for FY21E is expected to remain at double-digit levels. We view the trading update as a display of confidence in the ability of the company's remote access business model, proprietary technologies, and centralised AI data analytics capabilities to continue to serve its client base. We have re-instated forecasts for IXICO and reinstate our Buy recommendation.
Open Orphan (ORPH) is a specialist Contract Research Organisation (CRO) offering pharmaceutical services relating to orphan and emerging therapies, and is pioneer in the testing of vaccines and anti-viral treatments through the use of human viral challenge (HVC) studies. FY19 financial results refl
Renalytix’s US IPO filing document went live overnight (having previously been filed confidentially). Whilst there are no details on size of offering, but the document is rich with details of the use of proceeds which we encourage UK investors to read. We are doing the same and will update our views in due course. Associated with the US filing document, another release this morning announces the publication of a circular, and outlines details for a new General Meeting on the 13 July 2020 to approve the issue of new shares, as well as board changes if the US IPO goes ahead. Namely, Julian Baines (Non-executive Chair) and Richard Evans (NED and Audit committee Chair) are stepping down from the board, Christopher Mills will assume the role of interim chair whilst a search for a successor is conducted.