Risks better priced, but not positioned to outperform just yet
Companies: Kin and Carta Plc
H1 20 interims – first take
H1 20 interims next month – strong H2 may be required
Spire Digital acquisition – earnings uplift, strategically sound
Kin & Carta has announced the acquisition of Spire Digital for an initial consideration of $14.8m (8x EBITDA), alongside a placing of £13.6m (9.9% of share capital, at last night’s closing price). The company expects the deal to be earnings enhancing in the first full year of ownership with the balance sheet leverage to be broadly unchanged. Although Spire’s revenues amount to ~6% of the existing KCT group, at a 13.8% adj. op. margin on net revenues (vs. KCT 13.4% in FY19), we note the mild margin accretion set to arise. Broadly, we see opportunity for revenue synergies in future years resulting from now having an increased presence in the West Coast of the US, within the faster-growing Innovation segment. The company has also reported trading conditions to be in line with expectations. We have not updated our model for today’s announcements, but continue to reiterate our Buy rec and 120p PT.
The FT reports that World Chess has announced plans for a novel “hybrid” IPO where it will first issue a digital token ahead of an AIM float The Pebble Group, a provider of products, services and technology to the global promotional products industry, announces its intention to seek admission of its shares to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, which is expected to take place in early December 2019.The Group delivered revenue of £99.8m in the year ended 31 December 2018.No mention of bottom line and a suggestion that funds raised would provide an exit to private equity shareholders and the repayment of debt. Offer TBA. Longboat Energy raising £10m. Expected admission November 2019. The company has been established by the former management team of Faroe Petroleum to create a new full-cycle North Sea oil and gas company .The strategy to achieve this will initially be through the acquisition of assets where the management team can add value through subsurface and operational improvements, follow-up deal opportunities and nearfield exploration; and by value creation through the drill bit. Sapo PLC - Seeks to invest in the developing market for rural broadband in the UK. Due 2 Dec. Taseko Mines - North American focused copper producer and developer, seeking a London Listing. No capital raise. Due 22 Dec SDIC Power - “potential intention to float”. Proposed GDR listing. Leading power generation company in China, with a diversified portfolio of projects across hydropower, coal-fired power, wind power and solar power. Offer TBA. Octopus Renewables - Seeking raise of up to £250m. Will seek to provide investors with an attractive and sustainable level of income returns, with an element of capital growth by investing in a geographically and technologically diversified spread of renewable energy assets—Due 10 Dec
Companies: BRK DNL POS YEW SML AAU KCT LVCG CCS HAYD
We make small changes to our estimates for FY20/21e post the FY19 prelims in Oct to account for IFRS 16, increased working capital investment and guidance around H1/H2 split. We publish FY22e forecasts and also upgrade our PT from 100p to 120p, reiterating our Buy recommendation, highlighting the 32% bounce since Aug lows of 76p.
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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Kin & Carta’s FY19 results have come in line with expectations at the net revenue and PBT level. We see this as being as a positive step for the company following the downward revision to earnings in recent months, though we reiterate our view that the next material piece of newsflow will be crucial towards restoring faith amongst investors, and ultimately initiating a re-rating. On a 12m view, we remain buyers, seeing fair value at 100p.
We update our model following the Aug trading update, posting a ~5%/18% downgrade to FY19/FY20e PBT and lowering our PT from 140p to 100p. Given the shift to net revenue reporting, we present our segmental growth/margin assumptions in this note, setting out our expectations going forward. We see consensus earnings for FY19/20e as now being sufficiently reset to tilt earnings risk to the upside, and retain our Buy rating favouring the LT growth opportunity at play, though we acknowledge that upcoming results will be crucial towards restoring faith amongst investors.
Kin & Carta will release a pre-close trading statement next week, a significant update in our view given the absence of material newsflow since the March 19 interims. We expect this to be in line, underpinning our forecasted 3.5% y/y revenue growth for FY19e (which assumes 28% LFL y/y growth in Innovation, -5% in Strategy and -11% in Comms), at a group 11.3% op. margin. Following recent share price weakness, we see the current 8.5x P/E multiple for FY20e (10.3% FCF yield) as being unjustified. Buy.
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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Kin & Carta has announced the appointment of John Kerr as Non-Exec Chairman, effective 22 nd July 2019. Today’s statement suggests that John brings a wealth of experience having served a number of senior roles at Deloitte Consulting, and specifically leading the creation of Deloitte Digital in 2012. We see this as a sound appointment for the company as it continues to make progress in executing its strategy, with a focus on digital transformation. At 11.4x FY19e P/E (falling to 9.5x in FY20e), we remain buyers and reiterate KCT as one of our top picks for 2019, seeing 31% upside to the shares.
The shares have performed well in recent months, having rebounded by 14% from the post-interim lows of 89p mid-March, outperforming the FTSE Small Cap Index (excl. investment trusts) by 13%. In our view, we see scope for this upward momentum to continue. We highlight the YTD operational progress that has been made within the group as being fundamental towards laying the groundwork for potential earnings upgrades (both organic and acquisitive) through FY20e and beyond. At current levels (11.2x FY19e P/E falling to 9.3x in FY20e), we believe the potential upside is insufficiently priced in, and therefore reiterate KCT as being one of our top-pick stocks for 2019. Buy, 140p PT
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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
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.
Companies: Appreciate Group 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
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
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
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.
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
Thruvision has reported results for the six months to end-September 2020, showing a steady financial performance, with cost control enabling EBITDA break-even to be achieved in the half year, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. H1 FY21 revenues were steady year-on-year at £4.7m, with gross margin being held at 48%. Net cash has increased from £5.0m at 30 September 2020 to £7.8m at 20 November, following payment from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which made a substantial £2.9m follow-on order in the half year. Near-term uncertainty means management are not in a position to provide full-year guidance for FY21, but they report a strengthening sales pipeline and their growing confidence in medium-term prospects is evidenced by investment in sales and pre-sales resource in both the US and Europe to support increased demand.
Companies: Thruvision Group PLC
Strong trading has continued through October and we raise FY21 revs forecasts by 6% to £56m. With much of the upside from lower margin SMS, we leave profits forecasts unchanged. H2FY20 revenue growth was impacted by the pandemic and dropped to 9% after 2.5 years of 15% growth. Our new FY21 forecast imply a return to c. 18% growth as dotdigital makes a strong recovery and benefits from the shift to omnichannel online marketing driven by booming e-commerce. FY20 growth was strongly assisted by International revenues up 19% and Functionality up 16% and yet there is still plenty of room for growth here with the former just 31%/revs and the latter just 30%. We see a significant and extended growth runway leading to consistent progress for the company over the foreseeable future.
Companies: dotDigital Group 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
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.
Open Orphan PLC, a specialist pharmaceutical services company, and the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge studies, continues to make excellent progress towards maximising the capacity utilisation of its unique clinical facilities and services capabilities.
Companies: Open Orphan Plc
Moderna announced the first interim analysis from the Phase III study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which was found to be c.95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. This follows a similar announcement from Pfizer/BioNTech last week, and the caveats we mentioned at that time remain the same. AstraZeneca-Oxford University are also due to announce initial results this month. While these results are highly encouraging, we reiterate that they do not diminish the urgent need for COVID-19 treatments and testing, which will still be required for years to come, and we outline why. We consider Synairgen, Avacta, genedrive, Omega Diagnostics and Open Orphan to offer good buying opportunities.
Animal Health is a vast market with multiple long-term growth characteristics and opportunities. In this report we have outlined valuations, M&A activity and the key growth drivers in two animal health subsectors: companion animal health and livestock health. Although the commercial positioning of the eight companies covered in this report (Animalcare, Anpario, Benchmark Holdings, CVS Group, Dechra, ECO Animal Health, Genus and Pets at Home) differ significantly, all have exposure to positive market trends.
Companies: GNS ANCR CVSG DPH BMK EAH ANP PETS
Last year, Venture Capital Trusts raised the second-highest amount since their launch in 1995, according to the Association of Investment Companies. This is good news for smaller companies seeking growth finance. Changes to pension regulations mean that VCTs are expected to continue to attract investors. Individual qualifying companies can receive up to £10m from VCT investors.
Companies: KEYS NBI MPM PTY BOO W7L