Heading into the pandemic, we had argued that Next Fifteen’s broad spread of digital capabilities and heavy exposure to technology led clients should be a source of relative strength. The H1 trading update has underscored just how resilient the group has been. Yes, there have been impacts but the inevitable hit to organic revenue growth has not been as severe as first thought. Combined with the contribution from strongly performing acquisitions made over the last two years, Next Fifteen will be reporting H1 revenue and profit comfortably ahead of the prior year, which is a remarkable outcome against such a backdrop. Next Fifteen has also announced the acquisition of the innovation consultancy, Mach49, which marks the first concrete step in building the fourth pillar underpinning the group portfolio. The group balance sheet remains a source of strength (H1 net debt to be less than £1m); reflecting both the better than expected profit performance as well as effective cash preservation and working capital management. This positions the group well for any further accretive M&A. The current FY1 PE of 13.0x, falling to 11.3x for FY22 feels undemanding given the positive performance through the pandemic and the subsequent positioning heading into any sustained recovery. The rating also looks undemanding relative to others in the immediate peer group and the broader Small Cap Media sector.
Companies: Next Fifteen Communications Group Plc
Next Fifteen’s FY20 final results did not contain any material surprises, following the detailed trading update in March. Headline revenue growth was 11% and adjusted PBT grew 10%. Beneath the surface; we saw a small decline in organic revenue growth (well flagged) more than offset by positive contributions from recent acquisitions. Critically, Next Fifteen exited FY20 with a strong balance sheet (net debt less than 0.2x EBITDA) and significant financial headroom (we estimate c.£35m). Next Fifteen did not shy away from the severity of the current crisis, even as far as to give an indication of the potential organic revenue impacts (-5%.to -25%) for the two thirds of the group most likely to be exposed. The key point here being that at least one third of the group will be largely unaffected and the effects elsewhere will vary considerably by agency specialisation and client industry exposure. After factoring acquisition contributions and cost reduction measures, we believe this will translate into a flat revenue performance in FY21 and a 5% decline in YoY adj. PBT. All things considered, this feels like a solid outcome from a business differentiated by the quality and positioning of its client base.
The trading update for the year ended Jan 2020, did not contain any new news as such. Both Beyond and Archetype had been well flagged to the market as likely net detractors to the group in the current year. However, it is clear that the initial client losses at Beyond have not been recovered enough by new client wins to protect the group bottom line and we are adjusting our estimates accordingly. Despite this negative, the rest of the group is performing well with a blended organic revenue growth of c.10% outside of Beyond and Archetype. The outlook statement is broadly positive, Beyond notwithstanding, with 2020 expected to be a year of growth and strategic progress. Even after factoring a small reduction to FY 2020 and FY 2021 estimates, we still see Next Fifteen delivering 11% PBT growth in FY 2020 and 15% in FY 2021. The calendarised FY 2021 PE is 13.1x, a 16% discount to the slower growing and more highly geared peer group.
Intention to float by Gemfields Group. No Capital Raise. Currently listed on JSE. (GML:JNB) at circa £122m. The Group's key producing assets, the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia (believed to be the world's single largest producing emerald mine) and the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique (one of the most significant recently discovered ruby deposits in the world), are both expected to have long mine-lives with potential for expansion. Also owns the Faberge brand. Due Valentines Day 2020.
Companies: ITX SPE EYE CNC ANX ONC NFC BOD FEN ECSC
The NFC rating has come under pressure due to a combination of macro concerns and a 1% organic revenue decline just reported for H1 FY2109. The organic decline is largely driven by two of the seventeen portfolio businesses with organic growth elsewhere in the portfolio improving from previous data points. We expect the issues at Beyond to correct through H2 which, combined with healthy organic growth elsewhere in the portfolio and a full contribution from Health Unlimited, leads us to upgrade our FY 2020 expectations. NFC now trades at a PE discount to both the Agency and Small Cap Media peer groups despite a superior growth profile. The balance sheet remains comfortable.
Next Fifteen (“NFC”) has delivered another set of robust final results; in-line with our, and market, expectations. Consistent with prior years; revenue growth (14% headline and 6% organic) and margin expansion have been driven out of the UK. NFC has a good track record of taking advantage of strength in one part of the portfolio to address challenges elsewhere. It is now the turn of the North American roof to be fixed while the UK sun is shining; with the Text / Bite merger the main news item in North America. NFC has also taken the opportunity to disclose its performance by business line as well as geography. This added clarity should help investors better understand the key digital growth drivers. NFC continues to trade on undemanding multiples compared to the peer group and the outlook commentary speaks of confidence for FY2020.
In what has felt a febrile market, the recent pre-close trading update was reassuringly brief and solid. Life continues largely as normal for Next Fifteen. Acquisitions made over the last few years are delivering strong growth; providing management with a good opportunity to actively manage the North American portfolio; where the Text100 and Bite agencies are being merged. The acquisition of Planning-inc continues the wellestablished pattern of NFC paying attractive initial multiples for fast growing and profitable digital marketing assets, often with highly specific and niche applications. NFC’s track record here speaks volumes to the focus and rigour of management’s approach. The NFC forward PE has come down a notch or two (alongside the peer group) and currently stands at 13.8x on a Calendar 2019 basis. We believe this reflects a moderation of market risk appetite rather than a specific judgement on NFC.
Circassia Pharma (CIR.L) - specialty pharmaceutical company focused on respiratory disease transferring from the Main Market. No funds being raised. Due 4 Feb.
Companies: STOB NFC BKY TSG TMT BIDS MSYS GEO SPE LGT
Next Fifteen (“NFC”) has released good H1 results; delivering healthy 9% group organic revenue growth, 25% EBITA and EPS growth and a 20% hike in the interim dividend. The UK has replaced North America as the prime driver of group growth, especially at the profit line, where performance was ahead of our expectations. North America was more subdued, although organic revenue growth was still a healthy 7%. The interims underline the importance of the UK restructuring and refocusing that has taken place over the last four years. The acquisition of fast growing, higher margin innovative and digitally focused businesses are now making a material contribution to the group bottom line. The NFC share price has continued to perform well through 2018 yet the valuation still does not feel stretched at a PEG of c.1x.
RA International is a leading provider of services to remote locations in Africa and the Middle East looking to join AIM raising £18.8m and 56p, market cap of £97.2m. Expected 29 June
Cake Box Holdings—franchise retailer of cakes with a growing store base across the UK looking to join AIM, Sell down of £16.5m, Mkt Cap £43.2m. Mar18 FY rev £12.8m, underlying earnings £3.7m. Due 27 June.
Mind Gym. Behavioural science business that uses scalable proprietary products to deliver human capital and business improvement solutions to large corporations. Offer TBA. Due 28 June
Yellow Cake will use its expertise to generate value through the ownership of physical U3O8 (Uranium) together with a range of activities and opportunities connected with owning physical U3O8. Acquiring supply contract for up to $170m. Due Early July.
Knights Group— UK regional legal and professional services businesses. FYApr18 rev £34.9m and adjusted operating profit was £6.8m excluding Turner Parkinson (acquiring on IPO). Offer TBA, expected 29 June.
TransGlobe Energy Corporation—an independent international upstream oil and gas company with headquarters in Calgary, Canada is looking to join AIM. No Capital to be raised, market cap of £131m. Expected 29 June
Strongbow Exploration (TSX:SBW) intends to dual list on AIM. Holds rights to the South Crofty underground tin mine, a former producing tin mine located in the towns of Pool and Camborne, Cornwall . The project is estimated to require the Company to raise £25 million over the next 18 months to progress to a production decision. Offer TBS. Due June.
Companies: NFC LOGP AUG KAT ZPHR EDL SNG UVEN TSG SYME
NFC’s full year results did not contain any surprises following the January trading update. The key point was the continuation of the H2 high single digit organic revenue growth into the first two months of the new year. Whilst this by no means guarantees the full year outcome; it is a good start and underpins current year expectations. If this momentum is maintained and barring no further material FX volatility this suggests current year estimates could be conservative. NFC shares are currently trading near all time highs, which is no great surprise given the strength of the group’s performance over the last four years. Yet, the valuation does not look stretched relative to the peer group despite a superior track record and future growth outlook.
NFC has provided a full year trading update with FY18E expected to be in line with expectations. Beneath the surface this breaks down into a better than expected UK performance; a return to healthy 5% plus organic growth in the US; but softened by the recent strength of Sterling relative to the dollar. Group net debt is expected to be lower than £12m at the year end, £2m better than our original expectation of £14.3m. We are taking this opportunity to revise our forecasts to factor the recent Brandwidth acquisition; UK strength and dollar weakness. The net result is a 2% upgrade to our FY19E EPS estimate. NFC currently trades on a FY19E PER of 13.5x, EV/EBITDA of 8.3x and a dividend yield of 1.7%. The PER discount to the Small Cap Agency peer group has widened to 13%.
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Bioventix reported a strong set of full-year results, that were 8% above expectations, assisted in part by a c.£0.2m (+3%) FX benefit, which helped offset the obvious drag on performance in Q4 due to the impact of COVID-19 on routine testing in hospitals. A 53p special dividend was proposed, resulting in a full-year dividend of 141p, up 18%. Due to the COVID-19-related disruption to testing, which only exacerbates the poor visibility to customer royalty streams, we are withdrawing forecasts until normality returns. That said, the business remains in very good shape, with evidence that: (i) high sensitivity troponin is gaining momentum; (ii) physical antibody sales growth remains robust (+34%); and (iii) progress in its development pipeline (particularly pollution monitoring programme) is being made. The business is expected to remain cash generative, and with c.£8.1m of cash at 30 June, the company is a strong position to weather this period of disruption before returning to growth.
Companies: Bioventix Plc
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
Positive update today, reporting that trading in FYJun21 has begun well. As a result – and also thanks to DOTD’s strong revenue visibility – revenue guidance is already being upgraded. Consequently, we lift FY21E sales by 6% to £53.0m, so now expecting +12% y/y growth. To put this into context, growth fell to +9% in 2H20. We find this rapid recovery to more typical growth levels highly encouraging. Guidance for profit and cash is reiterated, meaning we leave both profit and cash forecasts unchanged. Somewhat obviously, this requires us increasing our cost assumptions….and if these don’t fully materialise, provides upside risk. Cash continues to build, now £27.7m as at Q1 – we might expect this to be strategically deployed, to enhance what is impressively consistent organic growth.
Companies: dotDigital Group plc
Franchise Brands has provided a Q3 trading update with a strong rebound in trading across the Group. The B2B division has recovered from the lockdown impacted Q2 and system sales have grown by an average of +8% per month since June. In September, B2B system sales for the month were +9% higher than the same month in the prior year. The B2C brands have recovered at different speeds, driven by new franchisee recruitment. ChipsAway and Ovenclean (89% of B2C income in 2019) are trading at pre-CV19 levels. Franchise Brands remains in a strong position with a solid balance sheet and liquidity position. The Group is confident of meeting market expectations for FY2020.
Companies: Franchise Brands plc
Water Intelligence ("WI") has announced a new national contract with a leading insurance company in the United States. The new win is the third in H2 and confirms the growing recognition among major US insurance companies that WI is a trusted national partner to minimise water-related claims. The Group's two October wins will further accelerate growth from the B2B channel. The latest win is the sixth nationwide contract for American Leak Detection ("ALD") with a top US insurance company, reflecting ALD's position as the only nationwide pinpoint, minimally invasive leak detection specialist. Despite the disruptions posed by CV-19, WI has performed well in 2020E and this new win reinforces the Group's impressive growth trajectory. We maintain our Buy recommendation and believe shares could continue to rerate closer to 600p.
Companies: Water Intelligence plc
This morning's announcement of another insurance client win caps a week of excellent newsflow from WATR. Since the company entered this colossal ($US13bn-plus) sector, strong insurance-derived growth has been achieved in this area, helped by WATR's status as the only national player to provide pinpoint services identifying water leaks while minimizing damage claims. Beyond this morning's announcement, this has been a week to remember for WATR, with a strong Q3 update on Oct. 14th generating c.8% '20 /'21 profit upgrades followed by the news at the start of the week of a successful fundraise delivering just shy of $US5m which can be put to work generating growth for the company and its shareholders. As the fifth such win, this morning's announcement is a reminder of the very good traction the company has achieved with the US insurance majors. Our 550p fair value estimate includes the annuity-style earnings stream from the franchise businesses in a Sum of the Parts structure. We note the company's conclusion that demand is high for its solutions and also the fact that WATR is an “essential service provider” in the Covid context. Beyond this morning's encouraging news, we also note the recent award of the Green Economy Mark from LSE and the company's consistent track record of 30%+ CAGR in recent years.
Yesterday's well-subscribed placing at 8p provides VDTK with £3.5m of extra funding to enable the company to grow by financing working capital during the ramp up of production at its Lainate plant on the back of orders – to date, orders amounting to €2.6m in value to have come through the door since the appointment of new CEO Rob Richards in May 2020. Key orders included contract wins in diverse areas, ranging from the Australian mining sector to oil & gas, agriculture and marine applications; with a focus in the first instance on off-grid applications where the rationale is extremely visible, given the contrast between VDTK's lightweight product and the heavier and relatively fragile conventional product, with VDTK's product offering its clients a meaningful cost-advantage.
Companies: Verditek Plc
Another insurance win, announced by WATR this morning, underlines the national presence of its subsidiary American Leak Detection, which has helped to make it the go-to player for providing pinpoint services at once identifying water leaks and minimizing damage claims across the whole of the United States. The new client is a major insurance company, the second in two weeks, third in H2-20 and the sixth in the three years since the company effectively entered the space as part of management's long-term growth strategy. WATR has been growing fast, generating 30% CAGR in recent years, and the insurance channel has been a notable component of this growth, at over 30% in each of the past five years. These wins, combined with the Company's recent fund-raise, reinforce this trajectory, even from a larger base.
ORPH has signed a contract with the UK Government for the development of a COVID-19 human challenge model. This will involve manufacture of the challenge virus and a first-in-human characterisation study. The contract begins immediately and is likely to be worth c.£10m. The government has also reserved the first three slots to test vaccines using the challenge study at a total cost of £7.5m. We revise our forecasts and increase our SOTP target price to 28p (range 25-31p), reflecting ORPH’s world-leading position in traditional challenge models, and now COVID-19 challenge models, with additional upside from the potential development of new challenge models, the monetisation of valuable challenge model data and the potential sale of its non-core pharmaceutical assets.
Companies: Open Orphan Plc
Avacta (AVCT.L): Adeptrix COVID-19 Diagnostic Test update | Diaceutics (DXRX.L): New contract win
Companies: Avacta Group plc (AVCT:LON)Diaceutics Plc (DXRX:LON)
Open Orphan has announced a contract with the UK Government to develop and perform the UK's first COVID-19 (COVID) human challenge studies. The multi-faceted agreement provides strong endorsement and validation of hVIVO's capabilities, with material revenues driving forecast upgrades and further upside risk to earnings as pipeline conversion continues and industry awareness and penetration of challenge studies accelerates.
Companies: OPORF ORPH CRO VENN
ANGLE plc (AGL.L): Acceptance of FDA submission | Feedback plc (FDBK.L*): Partnership agreement | Open Orphan (ORPH.L): Human Challenge Study Model contract with UK Government
Companies: AGL FDBK ORPH
Elixirr has acquired Coast Digital, a UK-based digital marketing firm, for a maximum consideration of £3.8m. The initial consideration of £3.4m represents a multiple of only 3.9x historic EBITDA compared to Elixirr’s current 11.1x. Coast will extend Elixirr’s existing digital capability and provide significant cross-selling opportunities, exactly in line with the group’s strategy as detailed at the IPO. We have upgraded FY 2020 EPS by 1% and FY 2021 by 7% and our target price from 336p to 356p. We reiterate our view that Elixirr’s entrepreneurial culture and focus on helping clients build businesses, new products and client experiences are key differentiators and very much in tune with client needs.
Companies: Elixirr International Plc
The H1 results were well flagged in the 15th April update. H1 PBT is significantly ahead of last year at £1.3m (H1’19: £0.8m). Driver traded profitably through April to June. Whilst guidance is suspended, with the pipeline maintained, we believe the Group will continue to trade profitably through H2. As flagged in the H1 update, there is no interim dividend, with management seeking to preserve cash. The balance sheet is strong, with net cash of £3.3m at 31st March (improved to c.£5.5m post period end). We believe the medium term outlook is positive, with new CEO Mark Wheeler focused on improving profitability and growing the business. Delays in construction projects as a result of COVID-19 should support near term levels of dispute work, whilst an expected increase in infrastructure spending supports the medium term outlook.
Elixirr was founded 11 years ago to provide clients with an alternative to the traditional, stagnant consulting models that the large consulting firms provide. The entrepreneurial culture and focus on helping clients build businesses, new products and customer experiences are key differentiators, supporting +32% sales CAGR since 2012, +27% since 2017 and EBITDA margins approaching 30%. The ability to react quickly is embedded in the culture and has meant that the sudden need for clients to focus on remote working and digital delivery, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has supported continued strong trading. Elixirr has raised £20m new money at 217p to accelerate its growth strategy by acquisition, continue its impressive growth into the US and broaden its base of expertise. We initiate with a 312p price target, representing a calendar 2020E EV/EBIT of 16.3x. This is on a par with the small/mid cap market despite our forecast of 19% EBIT CAGR over the next two years, significantly ahead of the market’s current 4%. As the cash raised is invested into enhancing acquisitions, upgrades will follow.