COVID-19 Trading update
Companies: Knights Group
Inspecs, a UK designer, manufacturer and distributor of eyewear frames to global retail chains announces its intention to IPO onto AIM raising £94m with a market cap of £138m. Admission expected 27th February. FY Dec 2018 numbers show revenue of $57m and underlying EBITDA of $11m
Companies: MSMN YGEN MTR AAU GROW KGH VRP HYR BRCK SDX
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: PEN DCTA SCLP STAR NTOG ADME NAH IRR KGH MRL
Companies: SRB KGH NUOG ALT BOKU SHED TRMR GWMO PHE ORPH
With 6 law firms now listed in the UK, and likely more to come, the listed legal model is gaining clear momentum, with significant outperformance against the broader market (sector index up c.25% against c.10% ASX Index, YTD). We publish a follow-on from our sector note published earlier this year; ‘Courting success: the future of listed legals’, exploring three separate areas;
o The broader legal services market
o Developments within the listed legal sector
o A quantitative deep-dive into sector fundamentals
Companies: Keystone Law Knights Group
Knights has released a trading update for the 6m ended 31 October 2019, confirming performance is in line with market expectations. Growth from prior acquisitions (excluding Emms Gilmore Liberson, which was acquired post period-end) was complemented by double digit organic revenue growth. We maintain our PT of 330p, and Neutral recommendation; on current forecasts (yet to be updated for the EGL acquisition) the shares trade on 20x FY20E P/E, which we believe is largely up with events.
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 DTG 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 REDD RSW RNO ROR SUS SCPA SEN SHG SOLG SOM SUMO TM17 INCE TWD TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
We take this opportunity to update our forecasts for Knights following results for the YE to April, whilst also adjusting for the expected impact of IFRS 16; Operating Leases. Given the group’s acquisitive mission statement, we believe it reasonable to increase our target price to include the impact of a pro-forma acquisition, moving it from 280p to 330p. At 302p currently the shares have 9.3% upside to our TP, and we retain our Neutral recommendation.
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.
Companies: AMS ANX ARS ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE CYAN DTG DEMG ELM EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL GRI GEEC GKP HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR HYR IBPO IOG INDI JHD JOG KAPE KEYS KCT KGH LAM LIT LOK MACF MANO PCA PANR PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG SOM TWD TRAK TSG TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
Knights released their FY19A results for the year to April this morning, with incremental improvements since May’s trading update. £52.7m of revenue was in line with our forecast of £52.8m, however adjusted PBT of £9.8m came in 5% ahead of our expectation of £9.3m and Net debt of £14.1m was £3.7m under our expectation of £17.8m. On 16.5 FY20E p/e we believe the shares remain ‘up with events’ for the time being and maintain our Neutral recommendation and 280p (17.3x FY20E p/e) price target.
Knights released a pre-close trading update this morning for the year to 30 April 2019. Revenues are guided to no less than £52.4m vs. Arden £52.8m, however adjusted PBT is set to beat with guidance of £9.7m vs Arden £9.3m. We note cash conversion was higher than normal, and net debt was £14.1m vs our expectation of £17.8m. The shares currently trade on 17.6x FY20 P/E, which we suggest as largely up with events, and so retain our Neutral rec and PT of 280p.
2019 started well for investors with U.S. stocks rallying on the back of trade talks between China and the U.S. resuming. Sterling rebounded in Q1 2019 as expectations built the UK would avoid a “no deal” Brexit, providing a further tailwind to more internationally focused UK companies. This sentiment spread across the globe and filtered its way down into small caps.
Companies: PRSM KMK SYS RAI MNO CCS MANO CBOX KGH
We’re just over three months in to 2019 and we’ve seen a 10% UK market rally, retracing much of the Q4 decline, such is the nature of fickle market sentiment. That said, many of the issues we wrote about three months ago that were impacting markets remain: notably Brexit, trade wars, geopolitics and global monetary policy. The 2019 rally thus far feels somewhat fragile, with competing forces of optimism on a potential trade deal which could underpin the rally, against the deterioration in underlying economic data that could ultimately undermine the recent market gains. In this context, we look at what the lead indicators and the market are telling us about the industrial cycle and the stocks most exposed to various industrial trends. The Q4 derating in short cycle industrials and autos had been vicious and while these sectors have seen a more solid footing in 2019, with earnings downgrades being priced in, it will likely take a trough in lead indicators before short cycle stocks can start to perform again and re-rate relative to the market.
Companies: ARS CYAN HYR LIT SOM ABBY AMS AMER ANX ATYM AVON BLVN PIER BUR CGS CAML CALL CSRT TIDE DTG DEMG EMR FPO FST GTLY GENL INCE GRI GEEC HDY HMI HAYD HEAD HILS HTG HUR IBPO INDI JHD JOG KEYS KCT KGH LAM LOK MACF MNO MANO MOD MKLW OXIG PCA PANR APP PXC PHC PMO RBW RMM REDD RSW RNO RKH RBGP ROR SUS SCPA SHG SOLG TRAK TRI VNET VTC ZOO ZTF
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A number of REITs have the ability to thrive in current market conditions and thereafter. Not only do they hold assets that will remain in strong demand, but they have focus and transparency. The leases and underlying rents are structured in a manner to provide long visibility, growth and security. Hardman & Co defined an investment universe of REITs that we considered provided security and “safer harbours”. We introduced this universe with our report published in March 2019: “Secure income” REITs – Safe Harbour Available. Here, we take forward the investment case and story. We point to six REITs, in particular, where we believe the risk/reward is the most attractive.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI SCE SHED VTA
The announcement that Avon Rubber is to sell milkrite | InterPuls, its dairy division, to DeLaval Holding for £180m gross proceeds is strategically logical and financially compelling. The fit of dairy and defence has always looked slightly anomalous and the terms of the deal show that the opportunity to augment dairy through value-accretive deals is difficult given the scale of the business and opportunities. Management must now recycle the cash balances that will be created into Avon Protection, where there are a greater number of potential investments.
Companies: Avon Rubber
Full-year results were at a record level and slightly ahead of expectations by £0.2m at the adjusted PBT level, or 2.8% better at the EPS level. Cash generation was also stronger than expected, resulting in net cash of £3.2m. The dividend was maintained – a sign of confidence. Good strategic progress was made, helped by the integration synergies of Pacer and new product development programmes. Our forecast and price target remain under review given COVID-19-related uncertainties.
Companies: Solid State
Brick and concrete products manufacturer Forterra has raised c. £55m gross in an equity placing in order to maintain its strong balance sheet and support the Group's continued investment programme. It was accompanied by, in our view, a reassuring trading statement which we believe is backed by yesterday’s brick industry data and comments from housebuilders, which suggest that demand has been recovering from its lockdown lows, before the PM’s promises to “build, build, build” housing and infrastructure.
Resilient Trading Update
Companies: Macfarlane Group
As flagged in the April trading update, Solid State’s FY20 results showed a 19.7% growth in revenues and 34.3% jump in adjusted profit before tax. Demand from the medical and food retail sectors is strong but weakness in the oil & gas and commercial aviation sectors related to the coronavirus pandemic is likely to result in lower year-on-year sales during Q2 and early Q321. While management sees potential for a Q4 recovery, the current range of FY21 profit outcomes is wide, so it is not providing guidance.
Revenue for FY 2020 is ahead of expectation and we adjust our forecast accordingly. Sales are growing at an impressive rate; >50% pa despite COVID-19 and the virus had no effect on the company’s ability to deliver projects with 23 new customers live in Q4. We note COVID concerns are causing some delay on contract decisions, and sales would have been even stronger but for that. These delays do lead to caution on FY 2021, and we ease back our forecasts on more prudent management guidance. However, with the recent £5m equity placing, PCIP has plenty of cash to continue to invest in rolling out its exciting secure payments proposition. This cloud-based solution can be deployed remotely and assists call centres in moving agents to WFH and still collect payments securely. The outlook remains very bright with continued rapid growth expected.
Companies: PCI Pal
The year-end trading update was encouraging, with expected results showing good YoY growth, modestly below but close to our earlier expectations. Trading has been resilient, particularly in safety critical areas such as its nuclear exposure, with some weakness being seen in oil & gas, where there is limited exposure. Two new contract wins in the nuclear sector have also been announced today. FY 2021 forecasts remain under review. With strong finances, the company is well positioned to maximise M&A opportunities, through its PIE strategy.
The Norcros operating companies largely performed relatively well in challenging market conditions (in both the UK and South Africa) in FY20 though year end trading was affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, as flagged previously. The group’s financial position appears robust following management actions (including foregoing an FY20 final dividend) and well-placed to both contend with weaker near-term markets and the pursuit of market share gains from a position of relative competitive strength. Our estimates remain suspended at this time.
Full year results ahead - robust position against uncertain near-term backdrop
Solid State is a manufacturer of computing, power and communications products, and value added distributor of electronic components. This morning, the group has released full year results with PBT and EPS slightly better than our upwardly revised forecasts had assumed and reflecting a strong margin performance in the year. As previously flagged, cash generation was particularly strong. The group entered FY 2021E with a strong order book, which is reported to have stood at £37.9m as at 31 May 2020, an increase of some 5.6% from a year earlier. With little in the way of cancellations or deferrals of orders, Q1 2021E revenue has held up well, whilst order intake has been just under 15% lower than the prior year, which suggests a weaker revenue performance in Q2/Q3 but with the tender pipeline implying a potentially stronger Q4. Reflecting the present uncertainty, we leave our forecasts under review for the time being. Fundamentally, and backed by a strong balance sheet, we believe that Solid remains well positioned to come through the current crisis and will emerge as one of the winners when normal service resumes.
discoverIE reported FY20 results ahead of our forecasts for underlying operating profit and EPS. Looking through short-term COVID-19-related disruption, the company has set new strategic targets for the next five years. These are a continuation of the strategy to grow the Design & Manufacturing business organically and via acquisition and include the target to increase the group operating margin from 8.5% (pro forma) to 12.5%. We maintain our normalised operating profit and EPS forecasts.
Companies: Discoverie Group
Smart Metering Systems (SMS) has announced that it has emerged from the recent Covid-19 uncertainty in a strong financial position and taken the decision to return funds received from the Government under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme. Current net cash of £48m (not including furlough grant) is ahead of previous expectations and underlying profitability for the year to 31 December 2020 is expected to be in line with expectations prior to lockdown, despite the obvious interruptions to meter installation activity that it has caused. During lockdown essential emergency field engineering work continued and SMS completed the sale of a proportion of its meter asset portfolio for a gross cash consideration of £291m (£282m net). In March 2020, SMS announced that it would rebase its dividend to 25p (prospective yield 4.3%), index linked to FY24 and commencing payments in October 2020, quarterly thereafter. A phased resumption to meter installation activity commenced on 1 June 2020.
Companies: Smart Metering Systems
The Smart Zones customer base is expected to reopen, to a large extent, this weekend. The reopening of pubs will bring forward a revised billing profile and markedly improve the Smart Zones revenue base. Smart Machines continues to operate profitably and the group's Business Interruption Loan should buttress the balance sheet through this year. While our forecasts remain withdrawn we can see an encouraging pathway to normalised trading next year.
Companies: Vianet Group
Salt Lake Potash has received commitments to raise A$15m through the placement of unsecured zero-coupon Convertible Notes to Equatorial Resources (ASX:EQX) and institutional investors. The Convertible Notes have been structured as deferred equity with zero coupon and mandatory conversion into equity at the lower of 45c/share or a 5% discount to any future equity raising of at least A$10m. These funds will enable Salt Lake Potash to continue to develop Lake Way to the project schedule through July as they finalise debt financing. Plant practical completion and first SOP sales remain on schedule for the March 2021 quarter. The debt financing process in its final stages and with an agreement expected to be executed within weeks.
Companies: Salt Lake Potash
Successful K3 Capital placing to raise £30.45m (gross) at 150p to fund the £9.3m acquisition of Randd UK Ltd, an R&D tax credit specialist with an LTM EBITDA of c.£2.0m, with a margin of c.50% and revenues typically contracted for 5 tax years with many recurring thereafter, followed by future potential deals in SME exposed markets. K3 has established itself as an innovative company that is able to effectively gather, generate and mine large quantities of data in order to scale up M&A services to SMEs. Transferring these lead generation capabilities to adjacent SME markets can allow rapid growth from proven models, at scale.
Companies: K3 Capital Group