Today's news & views, plus announcements from Compass Group, CRH, Carnival, AO World, Pets at Home, Appreciate Group*, ImmuPharma and IG Design.
*We have also initiated coverage on Appreciate Group, with the note linked in this edition.
Companies: Appreciate Group plc
Appreciate is the UK's leading voucher, gift card, and e-code provider, working with brands from Iceland to Halfords to Boots. It sells its pre-paid products to corporates as well as directly to consumers. It also runs the UK's largest Christmas Savings scheme, having helped some 2.7m families put money aside for Christmas expenses over the years.
In Appreciate, we see a business that's undergone significant change and modernisation since 2018. Under its highly competent and dynamic management team it has transformed from a Christmas savings business that physically produced hampers, to a pure play financial services business with material growth prospects in the longer term.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a modest impact on Appreciate Group’s FY20 results, which were in line with revised guidance. The impact on FY21 will be material and although there is a clear ongoing recovery in customer activity, peak Q3 trading will be crucial. No FY20 DPS was declared, but ongoing investment for medium-term digital-based growth should position the group well for the expected continuing recovery.
Companies: Appreciate Group plc (APP:LON)Appreciate Group plc (PG5:BER)
Trading for the first 11 months of the year ending 31 March 2020 (FY20) was in line with expectations until COVID-19 began to have an impact in the final weeks of the financial year and, we expect, far more significantly in the current financial year. The end-FY20 free cash balance was £30m and actions are underway to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 while maintaining investment for medium-term digital based growth.
Today's news & views, plus announcements from RDSB, IMB, POLY, SVT, WPP, SMIN, ROR, MGAM, GFRD, MRL, MBH, APP, HDD
Appreciate Group (APP, formerly Park Group) performed well during H120 and is on track to meet the company’s (and our) expectations for the year. Of greater significance, given the seasonality of the business, were the H1 operational developments and progress with the strategic business plan aimed at enhancing long-term growth by accelerating digitalisation, improving efficiency, broadening customer appeal and deepening market penetration. Management expects the benefits to show clearly from FY21. Meanwhile, the shares offer an attractive yield, with DPS well covered by earnings and supported by a debt-free balance sheet.
Billings and revenue growth: Billings increased by 10.3% to £120.2m due to H219 client wins within Corporate coming through, higher customer numbers within Consumer and earlier despatches within Christmas Savers (we estimate this timing accounts for c.3% of the overall billings growth). The revenue-to-billings ratio improved such that revenues increased by 21.3%. This followed a continued mix shifted towards the higher breakage cards/e-codes products and an increase in single-retailer billings which are generally recognised at point of sales as opposed to over the life of the voucher.
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 JET2 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 RSW RNO ROR SUS SCPA SEN SHG SOLG SOM SUMO TM17 INCE TWD TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
The recent AGM statement confirmed that trading for the first five months is in line with expectations and there has been no change to guidance issued in June. Christmas savers remains “stable” and the Corporate division has continued the growth shown in FY19.
Appreciate Group’s AGM statement says that trading in the first five months of the current financial year has been in line with management expectations and provides an update on implementation of the strategic business plan aimed at boosting medium-term growth. Shareholders also approved changing the name of the group to Appreciate Group, which the board believes will better reflect the company’s product and market position as an innovative payments, savings and rewards provider.
Park Group results for the year to 31 March 2019 were in line with our expectations and those of the market. The core offering of higher-value, own-branded, multi-retailer redemption product, c 85% of billings, showed good progress, although profit deferral to future periods increased under IFRS 15. Despite this and costs associated with the strategic plan, adjusted profits were little changed. Plan implementation costs will have an increased effect this year, but management targets a relatively quick payback period and medium-term income statement benefits of £2–5m pa.
Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Appreciate Group plc.
We currently have 84 research reports from 6
Today's news & views, plus announcements from TSCO, AVON, BGO, MERC, BOXE
Companies: Bango plc
Gateley’s H1 update is highly impressive, confirming a year on year improvement in activity levels in September and October and a strong sense of optimism at the beginning of H2. The Platforms continue to drive new business, whilst operating margins have benefited from cost actions taken in response to the pandemic (H1 PBT will show growth year on year). In light of the confident tenor of the statement, we reintroduce headline forecasts this morning, assuming stable revenue this year - which would be a considerable achievement - with profits returning to pre-pandemic levels by FY23.
Companies: Gateley (Holdings) Plc
In an encouraging H1 update, Gateley has detailed that the Group’s activity levels and revenue generation continue to follow an improving trend with monthly activity during September and October being in excess of prior year. Sales in H1 2021E are expected to be not less than £50.0m (-3.5% on H1 2020) but adj. PBT is expected to be not less than £7.0m, up from £6.6m as cost-reduction initiatives benefited. Net cash was £9.6m at October 2020. We have reinstated forecasts, assuming H2 sees some increase in costs as salaries normalise and a bonus is accrued before more normal growth rates resume. Similarly, we assume dividends resume with a final in FY 2021E. We reiterate our view that Gateley’s proven model provides good growth prospects, supported by the addition of high-quality staff and acquisitions, strengthening the range of services offered.
In its trading update, management confirmed that adjusted FY20e PBT is expected to be c €52m, a 27% increase y-o-y and 12.7% ahead of our prior estimate, with revenues of €367m, 0.5% ahead of our prior estimate. FY20e margins of 14.2% vs 12.5% in FY19 are driven by improved operational leverage and tight cost control, together with COVID-19 related cost reduction (eg marketing, travel). Having pared back our forecasts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we now upgrade our FY20 estimates for a second time to reflect the significantly stronger margins in H220e, raising our FY21 estimates and introducing our FY22 estimates. We have also incorporated the US$32m acquisition of the LA-based marketing services business, gnet. With substantial financial resources following its £100m placing in May, management remains focused on its M&A agenda.
Companies: Keywords Studios plc
Boku has released a trading update confirming that EBITDA is likely to be ahead of consensus expectations for FY20. As most of the upside is due to COVID-19-related cost savings, we have upgraded our FY20 EBITDA and EPS forecasts by 10% and 15%, respectively. We leave our FY21/22 forecasts unchanged, pending a more detailed trading update in January that will cover the busy December holiday season.
Companies: BOKU, Inc.
Pressure Technologies has announced that it has raised £7.5m through a Placing, via an accelerated bookbuild, and PrimaryBid offer at 60p/share, a 4% discount to the closing midmarket price on 27th November 2020. The net proceeds of the fundraise will be used to accelerate growth in the fast developing hydrogen market, build the group’s capability in Integrity Management and to strengthen the balance sheet. As Nomad and Broker to the fundraise we are restricted and can therefore provide factual comment only. The Placing and PrimaryBid offer are subject to shareholder approval at a General Meeting to be held on 17th December 2020.
Companies: Pressure Technologies plc
President Trump likes to project himself as a highly successful businessman, but surprisingly little is known about his true financial position. Various articles, including a 2016 in-depth analysis by The Wall Street Journal, have speculated about his income and asset base. All sorts of claims and counter-claims have been made about his wealth – by Trump himself, pitching his fortune at some $9bn, and by journalist Timothy O'Brien, suggesting that it is as “low” as $150m-$250m. It is doubtful whether we shall ever know the truth, but we can use Trump’s UK corporate filings to gain an insight into his businesses in Scotland.
Companies: AVO ARBB ARIX CLIG DNL FLTA ICGT PCA PIN PHP RECI STX SCE TRX SHED VTA YEW
Driver Group’s year end update highlights an expected full year PBT outturn of £2.5m (£1.3m/£1.2m H1/H2) after adjusting for costs relating to the departure of Gordon Wilkinson. Whilst this represents a slight decrease on the prior year, given the impact of COVID-19, this is an impressive result. Geographic diversity continues to benefit the Group, with a strong performance in the UK and Europe offsetting a weaker result in the Middle East and APAC regions in FY20. Forecast guidance remains suspended given the uncertain near term outlook, but the Group continues to generate profit and cash. Strategic progress is also being made, with the Group taking opportunities to both hire new staff and further expand its geographic presence, not least opening a new office in New York and forming a strategic partnership in Africa. Management has also delivered a restructuring of the Middle East and APAC regions, in order to drive a more profitable business and provide a platform for younger talent to progress. The balance sheet remains robust, with net cash of £8.2m at the year end.
Companies: Driver Group Plc
FY2020E has been a challenging year on a number of fronts and a significant loss is expected on revenues down 12% at c.£25m and also impairment charges of c.£14m. Nevertheless, the Group enters FY2021E in better underlying shape, with benefits to follow from reorganisation and restructuring, and investment in sales, engineering capability and systems. This provides a platform to capture growth, albeit that no recovery is expected in the next 12 months in the oil & gas market, now c.35% of FY2021E revenue. Efforts to diversify both its customer base and end markets have been successful, with growing opportunity in the defence, industrial and hydrogen sectors in particular. Our forecasts anticipate profitable growth in both FY2021E and FY2022E, leaving the shares on forward PERs of 21.8x and 12.1x for FY2021E and FY2022E respectively.
Keystone Law has announced a trading update indicating that the Group has performed well through the second half of the year and that like-for-like performance has returned to near pre-COVID levels. This results in the Group expecting to see results “comfortably ahead of current market expectations” for FY21 which we see as a strong message and reiterate our buy rating.
Companies: Keystone Law Group Plc
Oxford University and AstraZeneca announced the first interim analysis from the Phase III study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which was found to be 70% effective in preventing COVID-19. This follows similar announcements from Moderna, and Pfizer/BioNTech in the previous two weeks, and the caveats we mentioned at the time remain the same. While all of these results have been highly encouraging, we reiterate that they do not diminish the urgent need for COVID-19 treatments and testing, which will be required for years to come. We consider Synairgen, Avacta, genedrive, Omega Diagnostics and Open Orphan to offer good buying opportunities.
Companies: AVCT ODX SNG GDR ORPH
Braemar’s associate AqualisBraemar (AQUA-OSL) announced an acquisition and equity raise yesterday that was very well received by investors. The AQUA share price finished the day up +25%, meaning Braemar’s stake (which is on the balance sheet at £7m) is now worth £13.4m. This provides increased support to Braemar’s valuation and a significant potential source of funds if the stake were to be realised in the future. In the meantime, it provides a useful and increasing source of dividend income (prior to yesterday’s deal, we had forecast £0.6m dividend income p.a.) and we continue to highlight the strategic progress the new management team at Braemar is making and the very significant valuation gap to closest peer Clarkson (December 2021 P/E 22x).
Companies: Braemar Shipping Services plc
Rhino’s second series of 5-year bonds offers exposure to a private company with an enticing set of characteristics, combining significant growth potential with proven ability to deliver over a 40-year history. Having spent several years shifting its business model away from capital-intensive production towards closely controlled licensing, and then investing heavily in increasing exposure at the top level of international rugby, Rhino is in a position to generate significant free cashflow to service this 5.5% coupon and offer attractive growth potential, further strengthening debt serviceability ratios.
Companies: Rhino Rugby Bonds Plc
RBG Holdings has updated on significant transactions completed in the Group’s Convex and LionFish divisions since its last market update in mid-September. With the Group’s legal division – RBL – continuing to trade well, management now have considerably improved visibility on financial performance, and so reinstate guidance with an expected FY20E revenue range of £24m-£26m (FY19A: £23.7m). For FY21E we anticipate revenue in the range of £26m-£29m We take this opportunity to reinstate our forecasts for both FY20E and FY21E; revenues of £24.6m / £26.9m, adj EBITDA £6.8m / £8.9m, adj EPS 5.0p / 6.8p respectively. Our forecasts are cautiously positioned towards the bottom end of guidance, with scope for upgrades when discretionary litigation asset sales or Convex transactions complete. On our FY21E forecast of 6.8p adj EPS, a mid-teens multiple of 15x PER implies the shares could be worth 100p.
Companies: RBG Holdings Plc
WEY has delivered an impressive set of results this morning, significantly ahead YoY, meaningfully outpacing our expectations on the revenue, profit and EPS lines. With strong revenue growth of 38% feeding through to 103% EBITDA growth and adj. EPS up 100%, the inherent efficiency of the model, supported by rising student numbers, is manifest. Educating ‘3,000' students, WEY is larger than any UK secondary school. Moreover, while providing a collegiate, online education, WEY is a clear beneficiary both of long-running and fundamental drivers, and of the current Covid-focused environment. With the benefits of past investment effectively displayed in today's results, the company continues to do more to grow its platform, present and future, and has highlighted an ongoing commitment to investing in the business to provide further support for future profit acceleration. Our Fair Value assessment is 34p per share.
Companies: Wey Education PLC