Risks better priced, but not positioned to outperform just yet
Companies: Kin and Carta
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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Strix has released an AGM statement indicating that trading in the early part of the year has been solid, the new financing facilities have been put in place, product development is on track with 14 new products released during the year and the factory move remains on schedule and to budget. The current trading period is an important one and the scheduled trading update 23rd July should provide more colour on the underlying performance as well as the early indications from the new products already released and the outlook for those that are scheduled to be released in H2. The resilience of the Strix business has been reaffirmed during the current situation with financial guidance having been maintained and the final dividend committed to, a 10% increase yoy.
Companies: Strix Group
Despite some initial integration issues with WatBio (since resolved), Filta generated strong organic growth (+16% YoY) and delivered results in line with expectations. Given ongoing uncertainty around the pace at which self-isolation measures will be eased, we maintain our Hold rating, and will look to reinstate forecasts once visibility improves.
Companies: Filta Group
Last month’s update reported +15% LFL sales growth YTD (Feb & March) and also material margin improvement in areas that have received attention. Near-term uncertainty was however flagged, as Covid has impacted project fulfilment. In this context, today’s update is therefore encouraging, as LFL growth has continued through April – meaning +13% LFL sales growth YTD. April benefitted from service and install revenue (as well as recurring, ~£5m pa.). On this basis, CKT is therefore tracking considerably ahead of the company’s ‘bear case’ scenario. Looking ahead we are cautiously optimistic - as while revenue is set to decline in May - CKT mention “customer plans to resume installation projects”, particularly in Healthcare, where opportunities are described as strong. Timing and volume remain hard to predict however. Costs continue to be closely monitored and managed and as evidence, cash remains strong, at £12.8m – only marginally down from 31st March (£13.1m) and £14.3m as at January’s year-end. Prelims now expected 16th June.
TClarke's trading update is refreshingly positive in all key aspects of investors' current COVID fears and hopes. The decision to fully pay the 2019 final dividend sustains income attractiveness (4% yield on the final alone), the avoidance of trading losses in the teeth of the industry lockdown period (after a profitable Q1/20) demonstrates resilience whilst maintenance of net cash balances through April and May illustrate a robustness of cash flows despite reduced activity levels. It has also maintained the order book and has moved quickly to re-structure the cost base ensuring that margin recovery is not entirely dependant upon market improvement. Prudently and we believe reasonably, we are removing all forward forecasts until visibility on revenue recovery and productivity rates into H2/20 become clearer. However, TClarke's operational strengths, financial robustness and cash coverage of dividend in the most testing of circumstances gives us renewed confidence to uphold a Buy recommendation.
FY results ahead due to a waiver of the management bonuses and final dividend is proposed. Current trading is impacted by COVID but there are clear signs of improvement.
In the midst of a crisis, Judges has made what we think is an excellent acquisition in a high growth sector (lithium battery testing). Heath Scientific fits all of Judges’ acquisition criteria and is a business that is well known to management. We think that the current crisis may well throw up more opportunities and, with its strong balance sheet, Judges is well positioned to capitalise on this. FY20E EPS increased by 1.8% and FY21E by 3.2%. DCF based TP raised from 5245p to 5380p. CY21E PE 26.3x. Buy.
Companies: Judges Scientific
Judges Scientific, the group focused on acquiring and developing companies in the scientific instrument sector, has announced the acquisition of UK based ‘Health Scientific Ltd', a world leading maker, and global exporter, of calorimetry instruments. The initial cash consideration equates to £5.3m, with a further £2.0m cash earnout if profits hit £1.22m in 2020. The business generated £4.4m of revenue and an adjusted EBIT of £0.88m (20% EBIT margin) to April 2019, and is expected to have an even stronger year to April 2020, suggesting a ‘6x EBIT takeout multiple' if the earnout target is hit.
CAP-XX Ltd* (CPX.L, 3.1p/£10.1m) | Gfinity plc* (GFIN.L, 1.675p/£12.0m) | MTI Wireless Edge Ltd* (MWE.L, 38.5p/£33.8m) | Newmark Security plc* (NWT.L, 1.05p/£4.9m) | Mirada plc* (MIRA.L, 95.0p/£8.5m)
Companies: CPX GFIN MWE NWT MIRA
Costain has raised £100m of gross proceeds. We reduce FY 20 and 21 FD EPS by 45% and 59% due to the dilution.
Companies: Costain Group
Gateley has issued a solid year end trading update despite inevitable COVID-19 related disruption in the last two months of the year (to 30th April). Revenue for the year will be not less than £108.0m (FY19: £103.5m). As anticipated, the breadth and depth of the Group’s legal and consulting service lines have underpinned a resilient outcome with the transition to remote working going smoothly. Swift action has been taken to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, whilst keeping teams intact to ensure the business is well equipped to take advantage of opportunities that arise as the UK economy moves into and out of recession. As we noted in our Stocks for Unprecedented Times note, Gateley has an exceptional track record, achieving revenue growth every year since 1986. This includes steady growth through the 2000-2001 recession, and a strong year for the business in 2010, demonstrating the Group’s resilience through the economic cycle. We remain of the view that Gateley will emerge strongly from the current crisis and expect to reintroduce forecasts as visibility improves later on in the year.
Trading has recovered from the initial hit from COVID-19, with improving B2B activity adding to strong B2C trends. Revenue has been better than previously expected at both DX Freight and DX Express, with this now running at 10-15% below normal levels for this time of the year, compared with the initial 33% impact at the commencement of the lockdown.
Companies: DX Group
Symphony Environmental has reported FY December 2019 results. Whilst the Company did experience a single digit fall in revenues, this has been well trailed in previous announcements, relating to inventory adjustments by some customers waiting for legislative clarification in certain markets. The Company did move into loss making territory (£0.6m at the operating level), but the balance sheet was able to more than adequately absorb this aided by the £1.9m strategic equity investment announced in 2019. Net cash (excluding lease liabilities to compare on a like for like basis post IFRS 16) stood at £0.9m vs. net debt of £0.1m at the corresponding period end.
Companies: Symphony Environmental Technologies
The biggest takeaway from Sureserve Group’s interim result was its strong cash performance in the first half, with net debt falling to £3.5m at end March (£12.9m at end March 2018). This sets a solid base for the group to ride out the disruption of the lockdown. Our focus is on the outlook, with H1 only having eight days of impact from the lockdown. We have reduced our estimates for FY20, with the bulk of the revenue cut from £230m to £210m being a £13m cut in the Energy Services division. The cut to PBT from £9.8m to £9.1m is less severe, reflecting the improving efficiency in the Compliance division and the cost mitigation efforts of the group. With the long-term investment themes of regulatory compliance and energy efficiency likely to stay in focus, we see solid support for the group’s business and our FY21 numbers reflect the start of a bounce back in activity.
Companies: Sureserve Group
Avation is a lessor of 48 commercial aircraft to a diversified airline client base. Intra-day yesterday, the group announced that, as a result of the present uncertain backdrop caused by COVID-19, the Board had withdrawn from the previously announced strategic review and formal sale process, and that it was no longer in active discussions with any interested parties. The key reasons behind this were 1) the present uncertainty meaning that an attractive valuation was seen as unlikely to be achieved at this present moment in time and 2) the distraction of the process in the day to day operational activities of the business.
Petards supplies advanced security and surveillance systems to the Rail, Defence and Traffic Technology markets. Intra-day yesterday, the group confirmed that its RTS Solutions subsidiary had secured a multi-year renewal agreement for the provision of software support services to one of its major rail customers.
Touchstar is a supplier of mobile data computing solutions and managed services to a variety of industrial sectors. This morning, the group has released full year results to 31 December 2019, alongside providing an update on progress against the present COVID-19 backdrop. In line with the market updates provided in February and April, group revenue in the year increased by 3.2% to £7.1m, whilst revenue from continuing operations, excluding the Onboard business that was disposed of in the year, increased by 7.2% to £6.7m, driven by traction being gained with new products and services. The gross margin in the year increased by 280bps to 53.9% reflecting the greater proportion of software and service income. This resulted in a trading loss after tax before exceptionals of £89k, which post exceptionals of £412k that predominantly related to the disposal of OnBoard, resulted in a loss after tax of £501k. As previously reported, the year-end net cash position stood at £850k, which reflected an increase of £554k in the year; this post £1.1m of new product development expenditure and cash costs associated with the disposal.
Companies: AVAP TST PEG
Filta Group (Filta) announced FY’19 results pretty much in line with our numbers. Adjusted EBITDA was £3.2m, vs. our £3.3m estimate, and revenue was £24.9m, vs. our £25.1m expectation. These figures confirmed that the integration of Watbio was back on track and the business was trading well until COVID-19 struck. Most of Filta’s customers are currently closed, but the company is optimistic that they will bounce back one distancing restrictions are lifted. We have removed our 2020 forecasts.