Corporate life is full of tricky decisions, often having to weigh up various scenarios, each perhaps involving numerous competing forces and associated risks. Therefore it is nice when occasionally a ‘no-brainer’ comes along. Earlier today, Blancco announced that it had lifted its stake in its Japanese JV (FY19 PAT +£1.2m) from 51% to 80% by issuing 813,253 new shares at 132.8p (or £1.08m) to its local ‘mobile reseller / ITAD’ partner Aucnet (Ticker: 3964, Tokyo Stock Exchange, £271m market cap). Here Aucnet is 44.3% owned by Flex Corporation (Singapore based contract electronics manufacturer), and will continue to act as an important route to market in Japan, Asia and other parts of the world, retaining its 20% stake in the JV.
Companies: Blancco Technology Group
Registration document approved for Helios Towers. The Group provides essential network services, flexible infrastructure solutions and reliable power supply to mobile network operators in five African growth economies. Revenue increased 7 per cent. year-on-year to US$191m (H1 2018: US$178m), with Adjusted EBITDA up 15 per cent. year-on-year at US$99m (H1 2018: US$86m) for the six months ended 30 June 2019. Pricing rumoured at 115p to 145p implying valuation of up to $1.8bn. Expected Oct 2019.
Companies: IDEA WCH QUIZ TRMR SYM CLP CDM DTG CERP BLTG
In the world of corporate branding, you know you’ve cracked it when people start using your name as a ‘verb’ in everyday life. Google has achieved this in ‘Search’, Skype for video calls, Airbnb in house-sharing & Uber for ‘ride hailing’. Similarly ‘Blancco-ing’ a hard-drive, smartphone, server or PC is rapidly becoming engrained in the lexicon of IT professionals, who need to delete confidential files.
Watershed events by their very nature have the power to reshape entire industries. Take cyber-security, which this week saw the UK's data privacy regulator (ICO) slap fines of £183.4m & £99.2m for GDPR breaches on British Airways & Marriott Hotels respectively. Enormous sums of money that will surely send shivers down the spines of Boardrooms worldwide.
Beating expectations and securing large contracts with blue chip clients are two of the best ways of building a world class company. This morning Blancco achieved both. Not only landing a new 3 year $1.2m expansion agreement with an existing Fortune 500 software group to provide its Drive Erasure solution across their worldwide data centre footprint. But also saying that FY19 sales would be “marginally” and adjusted EBIT “comfortably” ahead of consensus. Driven by a whole host of macro trends – not least concerns over ID theft / cybercrime, tightening regulation (eg EU GDPR & PCI DSS, 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act, etc), the re-provisioning of 100ms of smartphones/servers every year and the desire to reduce corporate IT costs without compromising security.
Rarely does quality come cheap, or that’s the accepted wisdom. The FTSE though is an ’irrational beast’, failing sometimes to recognise ‘deep value’ opportunities right under its nose. Take Blancco, the world’s #1 data erasure & mobile diagnostics software developer. The company is expanding rapidly, operates in a fabulous untapped niche, and generates almost all its revenues from repeat business, ongoing contracts and/or SaaS. In turn providing excellent forward visibility, positive cashflows and improving profit margins. The perfect triumvirate for long term investors.
Blancco reported FY18 results marginally ahead of its recent trading update; despite the focus on stabilising the business and improving internal controls, profitability was maintained over the year. The new management team’s focus on three key markets (Mobile, Enterprise and IT Asset Disposition (ITAD)) and targeted investment in R&D should help the company maintain its market leadership and lead to a reacceleration of revenue growth.
As Nasdaq reaches nose-bleed levels, many fund managers are scratching their heads to find reasonably priced tech stocks. A lot depends though on where one looks. Cast the net a little further down the food chain and in our view Blancco, the world’s #1 data erasure & mobile diagnostics software developer, fits the bill.
Long term Blancco shareholders are undoubtedly a hardy bunch. An essential trait given the difficulties (some self-inflicted) the company has endured over the past 2 years. The good news is that the bleeding now seems to have stopped, with real progress being made under the new leadership team.
Blancco’s FY18 trading update confirms that despite weaker than expected revenue growth, work on reducing the cost base resulted in a better than expected operating margin of 11%. Positive cash flow in H2 reduced the net debt position to below our forecast. We have revised our forecasts to reflect lower revenues but stronger profitability, resulting in an upgrade to our normalised EPS forecasts of 49% for FY18e and 10% for FY19e. With the appointment of a permanent CFO, the new management team is now complete, and we expect more detail on strategy when the company reports FY18 results in September.
Kore Potash— advanced stage mineral exploration and development company whose primary asset is its interest in the Sintoukola Project, a potash project located in the Republic of Congo. ) Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource of 5,953Mt at an average grade of 22.0% KCl. Offer raising $13.14m with market cap of £56.4m. Due 29 March.
Perfomatrix PLC, a global end to end Performance Marketing technology and services company headquartered in the UK, is looking to join AIM in early April 2018, offer TBC
Crusader Resources, an ASX-listed public company incorporated in Australia, which is primarily focused on the exploration and development of gold assets in Brazil. POSTPONED
SimplyBiz, a Financial Services Firm, looking to join AIM raising £30m via placing and £34.6m via a sale of existing ordinary shares at 170p giving a market cap of £130m. Expected 4 April
Polarean - Medical drug-device combination company operating in the high resolution medical imaging market. Offer raising £3m at 15p with market cap of £11.01m. Due 29 March
Companies: ARK EMIS WRES TLY GFIN BLTG IRON
Blancco’s H118 results reflect the non-recurrence of one-off licence deals signed in H117 as well as a period of restructuring. Despite the weak H1, management has a sufficiently strong sales pipeline that it expects to meet previous guidance for FY18. The company is now in better shape for the soon to be appointed new CEO to drive sustainable, cash-generative revenue growth.
The phenomenal take-up of cloud services is turning the IT industry on its head. Here corporate networks and in-house data centres are being replaced by third-party hosted (eg Amazon, Google and Microsoft) services, streamed from almost anywhere on the planet.
The stock continues to tumble and now trades at roughly a quarter of its share price just 12 months ago.
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The ‘Moving Forward Act', the strongest automotive safety bill in decades, has now been passed in the House of Representatives. The bill is focused on advancing safety technologies proven to reduce crash and harm and to make sure strong safety standards are in place to save lives. The bill, which now needs to be passed in the Senate, will mandate automatic braking, lane-keeping, blind-spot detection, event data recorders as well as DMS in all cars and trucks sold in the US from 2024. This aligns with the European General Safety Regulation, which passed into law in November 2019.
However, in the EU, the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) has requested a 2‐year delay for the introduction of the 2022 Euro-NCAP protocols due to the projected lengthy time that will be needed to recover from the effects of COVID-19. Euro NCAP has agreed, and a delay is now expected to the 2022 and 2024 rating. The new dates will give automakers and Tier 1 suppliers more time to incorporate the necessary changes given the events of recent months with a number of manufacturers announcing 12 month delays to new models.
Companies: Seeing Machines
The FY 2020 results are in line with our expectations and reflect the impact of the previously announced switch from large perpetual licences to recurring annual term licences during the year. Despite the COVID strictures, with its large global partnerships, D4t4 continues to close numerous lucrative data gathering and data management contracts with major blue-chips around the world. It is successfully converting a high proportion of its new sales to recurring revenue contracts, but this will sacrifice growth and earnings in FY 2020 and FY 2021. Nevertheless, with growing recurring revenue base, an exciting pipeline and a very strong balance sheet, D4t4 is very well positioned for continued long-term growth and security.
Companies: D4T4 Solutions
ECSC Group plc* (ECSC.L, 71.5p/£7.2m) | Trackwise Designs plc (TWD.L, 90.5p/£20.0m) | Transense Technologies plc (TRT.L, 59.5p/£9.7m)
Companies: ECSC Group Trackwise Designs
Gresham continues to show strong progress in difficult times. 18% yoy organic growth in Clareti ARR is amongst the fastest growth of any UK software company. It is being achieved because Gresham has built a disruptive product that is now replacing incumbents at Tier 1 financial institutions around the world. These results underpin our FY20 EBITDA expectations. The implied valuation of Clareti’s ARR is <6x revs, which we think offers value for an emerging leader.
Companies: Gresham Technologies
SDL held an introductory session for the Group’s new SLATE proposition (launched in June). Good traction has been seen within the Group’s existing base presenting an attractive upsell opportunity, whilst also enabling expansion of the Group’s TAM with a market-leading, highly automated and immensely scalable solution. Management estimate SME and ‘off-grid’ translation projects to be a market worth in excess of $10bn, with SLATE allowing the Group to target these areas in a more meaningful way. The new product fits with SDL’s strategic objectives of building deeper relationships with existing customers and building leadership in Language technologies. N1Se conservatively forecast Language Tech segment revenue growth of +4% and +6% for FY’20E and FY’21E. Outperformance in FY’21 by £2m of sales (FY’21E LT growth: +10% y/y) could deliver £1m uplift to EBITDA and FCF we estimate (+3% and +4% vs current forecasts). N1Se FY’21E forecasts currently generate an FCF yield in excess of 8%, with risk to the upside.
Gfinity plc* (GFIN.L, 1.625p/£14.0m) | Blackbird plc* (BIRD.L, 16.5p/£55.4m) | Tern plc* (TERN.L, 11.5p/£31.1m) | The Panoply Holdings (TPX.L, 72.5p/£39.9m)
Companies: GFIN BIRD TERN TPX
IMImobile has issued an encouraging trading update, highlighting resilience in the Group’s core cloud communications operation. Gross profit rose 20%, with core Cloud comms (c.90%/revs) up >30% (inc. 3C acquisition). We estimate underlying organic decline at -5% y/y, in the middle of our scenario based range (-15% to 7%) with slow decline implying stabilisation in underlying communication traffic volumes post-lockdown. This stabilisation has been driven by growth in core sectors offsetting decline in sectors adversely impacted by the pandemic. Significantly, demand for the Group’s IMIConnect platform (SaaS revenues model) has remained robust as customers look to accelerate Digital Communication strategies, whilst upsell of additional channels in Q1 is also likely to drive future additional volumes from the Group’s existing base. Net cash of £2m is only modestly light of previous N1S forecasts for H1’21 prior to lockdown (£6.3m) and implies positive FCF through the previous 9-month period. We keep forecasts under review at this stage. In the medium-term, we see a path based on undemanding assumptions to FCF of £15m, offering a 7% yield at current valuation. The Group trades on 12x FY’19 EV/EBITDA (c.10x FY (Mar)’20E EBITDA based on previous forecasts), below recent sector acquisition multiples whilst offering a higher proportion of recurring revenue and operating further up the CPaaS value chain.
A concerted move into managed services is improving the quality of revenues. Management is targeting the growth in recurring revenues to cover the cash cost base of the company by 2022. This event will mark a material derisking of the investment case and is the pathway to the share price doubling or more over the next 2-3 years. Buy.
LoopUp has provided an update on trading to coincide with today’s AGM…in essence, the group continues to see activity “materially” above pre-COVID levels, and is confident of exceeding expectations for 2020. We choose to leave our forecasts (that we believe to be roughly in line with consensus estimates) unchanged for now, in advance of further detail likely with a fuller H1 update in early July.
Companies: Loopup Group
EBITDA of £10.5m (£10.4mE) was delivered from revenue of £49.2m (£46.7mE) with net cash of £24.1m, (as revealed in August), comfortably ahead of our £21.5m year-end forecast. Newsflow in the period included three acquisitions, the securing of a five year framework agreement for deployment of TRACS Enterprise with a major Train Operating Group, and the successful transition of the CEO role to Chris Barnes. The Group continues to deliver the proven mix of self-funded acquisitions and organic growth, demonstrating comfortable delivery of forecasts reiterated at interims, and a very strong balance sheet giving capacity to deliver much more of the same. With the new CEO able to deliver operational efficiencies to a Group already well versed in delivering successful acquisitions, we look forward to the next part of Tracsis journey. Target 775p reiterated.
A strong interim period to January 2020 delivered the expected £26m revenue as reported in the February trading update, with a 31 January net cash balance also of £26m – EBITDA of £5.6m (post IFRS16), and adjusted PBT of £4.6m highlighting a strong performance. The Group has unchanged strategic ambitions – organic growth and M&A, both in evidence in Rail Technology & Services (RT&S) with 13% organic growth and the post period end acquisition of iBlocks. We withdrew forecasts last week due to the impact of COVID-19 on the 2H-weighted Traffic & Data Services business, given the exposure to cancelled large scale summer events, and uncertainty over traffic surveys; however, the potential for the Group is unchallenged when the world normalises. New contract wins, new product launches, new acquisitions and a hearty balance sheet continued to offer significant upside in 1H and post period end. Target price 900p remains based on our FY21 forecasts, which in theory should be consistent with previous forecasts and we look forward to reinstating numbers when the virus dust settles.
LoopUp recently updated on the first four months of 2020, which have seen an exceptional level of customer activity and new client wins. This is largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated shift towards remote working with additional use of conference calls, but the group has also recently implemented an increased focus on Professional Services, which in our opinion could boost long-term potential. This note focuses on current activity levels within the business, the opportunity within Professional Services and the attitude of investors towards remote meetings companies.
Following the announcement of a business restructure and temporary cost reduction measures to reduce costs by A$12m, we have updated our forecasts for Seeing Machines. We believe that the significant measures taken by the management offset a weaker revenue outlook, as the impact of COVID-19 looks likely to continue for longer than anticipated. The net result is a similar to previous expectations in terms of cash, which we believe remains sufficient to see the company through FY22 ahead of profitability in FY23. The long-term effects of the business restructure is expected to be positive for shareholder value as demonstrated by our DCF based valuation which increases to 7.2p (from 7.0p).
AGM statement as expected; Resume with a Buy
Companies: Cloudcall Group
Whether we know it or not, advanced materials are a core component in the everyday life of the everyday person. They are the key material in items we often disregard, such as printer inks and lotions, to objects which defy the laws of gravity like the Airbus A380 and London’s Shard. Furthermore, these materials are not only essential to many objects and structures, but, due to their superior qualities, are the key to the advancement of many industries. One such example is the use of carbon fibre which offers five to ten times more rigidness, stiffness, and strength than its aluminium counterpart. As a result of these impressive qualities, motorsport and athletics have improved ten-fold since their mainstream use and new records are broken every year.
Companies: AGM AUTG BIOM BOY CAR CKT EMH EXO GRPH HAYD IKA ITX CRPR MGAM NANO OXIG SYN SCE SYM VCT ZEN HDD