CEO Nick Waters, who took over the role in July, has set out his vision for Ebiquity’s future strategy at a capital markets day (CMD) presentation. It builds on the group’s strong positioning as a genuinely independent adviser to global brands on optimising their marketing ROI. The key to delivering growth momentum and improving earnings quality is clearly in the digital marketing domain, developing embedded products and services to identify and remove wasted spend. No new financial information was disclosed at the CMD and our forecasts are unchanged, but we regard the FY21e to have upside potential, depending on successful implementation.
Companies: Ebiquity Plc
Ebiquity is set for a stronger H220, after a difficult H1 (£26.8m revenue; down 24% y-o-y) when some clients paused or cancelled their marketing activity due to COVID-19. Most of the H120 £1.4m operating loss should be recouped by the year-end. FY21 prospects are further lifted by new client wins, partly from Accenture’s withdrawal from media audit. Newly installed CEO Nick Waters (ex Dentsu) is developing his vision for Ebiquity as a data-driven media solutions provider, augmented with consultancy services. This will be expounded at a capital markets day on 10 November.
Ebiquity’s FY19 results (delayed by the COVID-19 lockdown) were in line with expectations. The impact of the pandemic on the advertising sector is harsh, but is far from uniform, with some verticals notably more resilient than others. Ebiquity’s leading market position equips it with the data to benchmark and advise. Careful cost management should mitigate some of the COVID-19 related trading difficulties, as reflected in our tentative FY20 forecast, with the balance sheet remaining sound. Management guidance remains withdrawn. The New CEO, Nick Waters, joins on 1 July (see our April flash note).
Ebiquity’s new CEO is to be Nick Waters, joining from Dentsu Aegis on 1 July. His experience both at Dentsu, and previously at Mindshare, should be a good fit, bringing experience of media agencies and working with advertisers. The group is set to issue its formal FY19 results in early May. The COVID-19 update adds further detail to that published last month, with cost saving measures in place. The group had net debt of £6m at end March and has £5m of further headroom in its borrowing facilities. The earnings outlook depends to an extent on advertiser behaviour over the remainder of the year. In the absence of management guidance, our forecasts are currently suspended.
Ebiquity has postponed publication of its final results, in line with the FCA guidance. The trading update indicates the figures are as outlined in February’s period-end update, with year-end net debt at £5.8m. Committed facilities of £24m are in place, of which £14m was drawn down at the year-end. Guidance for FY20 has been withdrawn in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s clients, both locally and globally, are certain to be reining in their marketing spend, but are going to be keener than ever to ensure what they spend has the best return on investment.
Ebiquity’s pre-close update indicates that trading has been in line with management and market estimates and we are making no changes to our numbers at this point. Post year-end news flow has been constructive (the Digital Decisions acquisition and the buy-in of the Italian minority). A potentially bigger opportunity comes from the news that Accenture is planning to withdraw from media measurement. Ebiquity’s share price has been trading near 10-year lows, putting the valuation at a marked discount to the smaller marcomms companies on an EV/EBITDA and on a P/E basis.
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: SO4 TRP ECHO OPM EBQ SBTX CGH PTRO PEN
The Global Sustainable Farmland Income Trust will invest in a diversified portfolio of operational farmland assets located in major agricultural markets including the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and certain countries within Latin and South America. Raising up to $300m. Due 28 February
Companies: EBQ MPAC STX SXX GOOD ADT RDT AFX
Ebiquity has announced that it has acquired Digital Decisions, strengthening its capabilities in digital media monitoring and consultancy. Digital Decisions is a comparative newcomer, trading for less than three years, during which it has built an impressive client roster. It is headed up (and majority owned) by Ruben Schreurs, who will be staying with the combined group and leading the expansion drive into the US. The initial consideration is €0.7m in cash, with further payments subject to performance criteria through to FY22. Bringing useful additional technical capability, this looks to be a sensible, complementary purchase.
Ebiquity’s interim figures reflect its transitional phase post the £26m AdIntel disposal, with revenues flat against the prior period on continuing business and a broadly stable operating profit margin (pre-unallocated costs). We have trimmed our FY19 and FY20 revenue expectations but maintained our operating profit forecasts. The focus is now on building operating margin through careful cost management, and consolidating and building on the group’s positioning as a trusted advisor to CMOs. The shares are priced at a clear discount to smaller marcomms companies on an EV/EBITDA basis, nearer parity on P/E.
With the disposal of Ad Intel completed, Ebiquity is now focused on building its business as an independent adviser to global advertisers on measuring and optimising their media spend. The recently strengthened management team aims to improve margins from FY18 levels, but the need to adjust overheads to suit the size of the continuing operations will weigh on current year profitability. The unbundling should, however, set up the group for stronger progress thereafter. The balance sheet is significantly stronger, yet the rating is not recognising the improved investment case.
Ebiquity’s year-end trading update indicates FY18 performance across both the continuing and the now-sold Advertising Intelligence businesses in line with management expectations. Given the delay and uncertainty over the disposal on the CMA referral, this is a solid outcome. FY19 will see some effect of overheads taking time to scale down following the AdIntel sale, which offsets underlying profit improvement. The core consulting business has good potential globally and the reinforced management team can now focus its efforts on driving growth and improving returns, aided by a strengthened balance sheet.
Ebiquity has now received full CMA clearance for the disposal of Ad Intel, which will be transformative for the balance sheet (a net inflow of £20m). As might be expected, the process has been disruptive and absorbed management time. The trading update indicates higher investment levels within the rest of the group, which will supress operating profits in FY18e. Some good new business wins lay the ground for better performance in FY19e, but we have withdrawn our forecasts for now until there is greater clarity. Confidence may take a while to rebuild, but the weakness in the share price may provide an opportunity in a group fundamentally well placed to benefit from changes in the global advertising market.
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The H1 results are as announced in the October update; COVID delayed several new contracts until earlier this month, leaving H1 revenue at £5.1m. However, management remained comfortable with a FY sales forecast of £21.7m on the basis of a strong pipeline and the substantial tranche of annually renewed revenue billed each H2. Reassuringly, the new contracts have now been signed for both the Celebrus Customer Data Management (CDM) solution and the Celebrus Customer Data Platform (CDP), and they cover a range of verticals from financial services to automotive manufacture and ecommerce provision. With significant net cash, D4t4 is in a strong position for long-term sustainable growth on the back of rapidly growing global demand for CDP/CDM. It remains confident on prospects in new geographies (N America and APAC) and new use markets (fraud, risk analysis and healthcare) plus a high level of recurring revenue. Our forecasts and target price remain unchanged save for a tweak to cashflow and raised dividend expectation. We reiterate our 310p target price.
Companies: D4t4 Solutions plc
Interims, in line with the October trading update and unchanged forecasts, follow a second (November) purchase order from the new US Department of State contract, highlighting momentum. The 5Cs that form management’s measure of strategic development have all generated positives: colleagues, with employee NPS rising, and no furloughs or paycuts; new & renewing customers, high-profile names and sectors; a broadening channel including generating new clients; code increasing with the addition of FIDO and increased reach through MyID Enterprise/ MyID Professional; and cash of £8.1m with £4.8m debt all in the form of in-the-money December 2021 convertibles. Strong 1H performance and cashflow derisks full-year expectations. Target raised to 125p (100p).
Companies: Intercede Group plc
IQE has announced that the strong performance in H120, which resulted in record first-half revenue, has continued into the second half. It has updated FY20 revenue guidance from at least £165m to over £170m, with adjusted EBIT guidance remaining at the mid-single-digit million level. We have updated our FY20 and FY21 forecasts accordingly, giving adjusted PBT upgrades of 34% and 10% for FY20 and FY21 respectively.
Companies: IQE plc
LoopUp has announced a very strong H1 period, in line with the previous trading update and reflecting a number of months of exceptional performance. This is allowing the business to invest in the major identified new opportunity, to provide telephony within Microsoft Teams, where the early signs are extremely positive. We look forward to further detail on the Teams pipeline and sales levels over time.
Companies: LoopUp Group PLC
Eckoh’s fast growing US SecPay business and robust UK business model have minimised the impact of lockdowns with u/l H1 revs down just 3% yoy and profits flat. ECK reintroduces FY21 guidance, expecting H2 revenues comparable to H1 and FY21 AOP comparable to FY20. US SecPay is now a meaningful >30% group revs, growing 80% in H1 and with larger customers now re-engaging. We expect growth to continue in FY21 and beyond; the opportunity is multiples of current sales (FY21E $13m- +60% yoy). We similarly expect the cash cow UK business to continue to recover and return to c. 5% secular organic growth over time. It is especially continued success with US SecPay that is likely to lead to group FCF exceeding that of £5-6m achieved in FY20/19 over time and a FCF yield well above 5%. That’s attractive.
Companies: Eckoh plc
H1 Results: Ready to reinvest
Companies: First Property Group plc (FPO:LON)First Property Group plc (GXZ:BER)
After a challenging 2H21 for the events and traffic data business, Tracsis has delivered FY results to July in line with the reassuring August trading update. With £48m (FY19: £49.2m) revenue, the group has quantified an estimated £10m set back to COVID-affected activities within the Traffic & Data Services (T&DS) Division, implying underlying outperformance compared with expectations for the higher-margin Rail Technology & Services (RT&S) Division. Forecasts describe prospects: continuing growth in FY21 and FY22 for RT&S, with two major contracts identified in latter stage of negotiation; and a still hampered FY21 for events and traffic surveys within T&DS – but forecasts for FY22 show a return to an ex-COVID environment, regaining the original growth path. With £17.9m of cash (no debt) and delivering multiple fundamental elements of the UK rail ecosystem, Tracsis has weathered the storm better than expected, with organic and acquired growth prospects as strong as ever. Target 900p reiterated.
Companies: Tracsis plc
Earnings in H1A were better than flat and H2E has got off to a good start. Margins are up and so too is recurring revenue as proportion of total business. First half order deferrals are now materialising and renewals are positive. Free cash generation was strong and the outlook is positive. We see no fundamental reason for the recent share price underperformance and we reiterate our Buy recommendation.
Companies: Shearwater Group plc
Sensyne Health (SENS.L): Research agreement with Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust | RenalytixAI (RENX.L): First Quarter results for 2021
Companies: Sensyne Health Plc (SENS:LON)Renalytix AI Plc (RENX:LON)
Mirriad Advertising’s H120 numbers show strong top-line progress, up 109% on H119 and 26% ahead of H219. H120 revenues were up over 185% year-on-year in China and Singapore, with market confidence rebuilding. There are very promising new agreements in place with US media owners, with early moves in large adjacent markets, such as music video. There are advanced negotiations ongoing with Tier 1 entertainment platforms. These prospects significantly increase the attraction of Mirriad’s proposition to advertisers. Cash burn is now under £1m per month, with end-August cash of £13.3m (no debt). Market forecasts for FY20–22 are unchanged.
Companies: Mirriad Advertising plc
Following Fonix successfully raising £45m through an oversubscribed IPO on 12 October, we initiate our coverage with a target price of 150p. The investment case is focused upon Fonix leveraging its proprietary, cloud-based platform to expand with existing clients and win new clients within a robust UK phone-paid services market. The structural strength of Fonix’s platform is demonstrated by Fonix experiencing no churn from major customers in the past six years, which reflects that Fonix benefits from strategic integration and strong relationships with its clients. Fonix’s FY20 gross profit and EBITDA grew by +22% and +36% respectively, and we conservatively forecast +11-12% EBITDA and EPS growth in FY21 and FY22. On 12m forward EV/EBITDA of 10x and an EFCF yield of 7%, Fonix looks considerably undervalued compared to AIM payment and finnCap Tech 40 peers that are trading on 12m fwd EV/EBITDA of 17-20x with 7-17% EBITDA growth, and EFCF yields of 1-3%. We base our 150p target price on 15x FY22 EV/EBITDA or a 5% FY22 EFCF yield, and look forward to Fonix’s trading update in early 2021.
Companies: Fonix Mobile PLC
Nanoco has secured just under £1m grant funding for a life sciences project to develop a heavy metal-free quantum dot testing kit to detect COVID-19. The project will last 18 months and represents a potential third segment for generating future revenues in addition to established activities in sensing and display applications. We make minor adjustments to our estimates, although there is no impact on EBITDA or cash flow.
Companies: Nanoco Group PLC
ACT announces today that it has received a PO for the first large scale deployment of its HXM offering for a leading global energy supplier, and this on a c. 3 months sales cycle. We believe this has the potential to grow into a multi-million contract over time and validates ACT’s decision to change its go-to-market model back in Jan 2020. Perhaps even more significantly ACT reports that channel partners have established a pipeline of >4m addressable employee seats just since August. Our best estimate is that this pipeline could be worth high single digit tens of millions of recurring dollars p.a . For a company capitalised at £37m that is very material. This is a company/story worth getting to know.
Companies: Actual Experience plc
The Panoply has reported very robust interim results and we upgrade our FY21 PBT/EPS estimates by +5%/+10%. Revenues leapt +58% to £21.2m with LFL growth of +18% (Q1 +10%, Q2 +26%). EBITDA more than doubled to £2.9m, with LFL growth of +37%. Cash conversion was strong and the group has declared a maiden interim dividend of 0.2p. The group had a strong sales backlog of £17.5m at 1st October and we are pleased to note that it is increasingly winning large, multi-disciplinary contracts notably Bloomberg Philanthropies, Land Registry and Planning Inspectorate. These contracts would have beyond the capabilities of the individual businesses before they joined The Panoply and therefore in our view securing these £4m+ contracts vindicates the group strategy. We raise our PBT forecast by +5% to £4.9m (£4.7m). On a maximum deferred consideration basis, EPS is 5.1p (4.8p) while assuming shares are issued at 150p rather than our previous assumption of 120p gives EPS of 6.4p (5.8p). We have re-run our sensitivity analysis using the current share price of 200p and this indicates PF EPS of 10p could be delivered in 2023. We raise our target price to 220p (was 180p) and retain our Buy recommendation.
Companies: Panoply Holdings Plc
Immotion is a leading UK-based Virtual Reality (VR) experience provider. The group yesterday announced a successful £1.2m fundraise at 4p, a 5.3% premium to the previous day's closing price, to support the strength of demand being experienced for its new ‘Let's Explore Oceans' in-home VR entertainment offering.
Companies: Immotion Group Plc