Over the past two decades, onshore wind power has prospered and now exceeds 12 GW in the UK. The termination of subsidies for new plants from 2017 onwards has cut investment. Instead, offshore wind power is the new ‘goto’ investment sector, as there has been a sea-change in costs. The key event was the 2017 auction for the development of the Hornsea Project Two and the Moray East fields, when 15-year contract for differences (CfDs) were awarded, at just £57.50p per MWh; this compares with the 2018 £100 per MWh target that had been set previously by the Government. In recent years, solar power has come of age. Total UK solar capacity now exceeds 12 GW. Inevitably, most solar farms are based in the Midlands or in the South, where irradiation levels exceed the UK average. A typical solar farm portfolio might include 50 sites with 8 MW of capacity per site. Despite the removal of subsidies for new solar plants, the prospects remain bright for new build, since costs have fallen appreciably in recent years. The levelised cost (LCOE) of solar power should fall below £70 per MWh. The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm has been commissioned at Clay Hill in Milton Keynes. For many investors, REIFs offer an attractive means of securing exposure to the benefits of rising UK investment in these sectors, much of which is backed by long-term contracts delivering generally solid and secure returns. Our sector research focuses on 11 quoted REIFs, which mirror those selected by members of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC). The recently floated Aquila European Renewables fund is included, despite its declared policy not to invest in UK generation. Since May 2014, REIF returns have been solid, with total returns approaching 10% per year. As a group, their combined market capitalisation is ca.£7bn; the most valuable quoted funds are Greencoat UK Wind (£2.1bn) and The Renewables Infrastructure Group (£1.8bn). The sector premia over net asset valuations (NAVs) for most REIFs now lie in the 9%-19% range. The premium for Greencoat UK Wind, following its £375m gross fundraise, is ca.14%; The Renewables Infrastructure Group premium is similar. Targeted real dividend increases underpin the attractions, in particular, of wind and solar investments; major earnings shortfalls are low-risk, with little likelihood of a dividend cut. Prospective dividend yields for most REIFs currently lie in the range of 5.0%-6.0%. In terms of risk, future movements of interest rates could have a material impact on NAVs and, consequently, upon share price ratings. The precise effect will depend on the degree to which the discount rates moves relative to the riskfree rate. Regulatory amendments, subsidy changes and possible tax adjustments are also key risk factors with one company commenting that movements in long term power price forecasts are the most significant risk.
Companies: TRIG UKW NESF FSFL AERS GSF GRP SEIT USF
Augmentum Fintech – Notice of general meeting | John Laing Environmental Assets – Investment adviser change | Foresight Solar – Group acquisition | Gore Street Energy Storage – Finals and proposed fundraising
Companies: AUGM JLEN FSFL GSF
JZCP – JZ Capital – Finals to 28 February 2019 and strategic initiatives | RECI – Real Estate Credit Investments – Proposed fundraising | FSFL – Foresight Solar – Q1 2019 NAV | APAX – Apax Global Alpha – Q1 2019 NAV
Companies: JZCP RECI FSFL APAX
TRIG – Renewables Infrastructure Group – February 2019 NAV and asset | BBOX – Tritax Big Box – Finals to 31 December 2018 | SIR – Secure Income REIT – Finals to 31 December 2018 | FSFL – Foresight Solar – Finals to 31 December 2018
Companies: TRIG BBOX SIR FSFL
Foresight Solar – Acquisition | Hipgnosis Songs – Acquisition | Funding Circle SME Income - British Business Bank transaction | Chenavari Toro Income – October 2018 update
Companies: FSFL FCH TORO
Bluefield Solar Income – Q3 2018 NAV, credit facility and acquisition | Foresight Solar – Q3 2018 NAV | LXi – Acquisitions and new loan facility
Companies: BSIF FSFL LXI
CATCo Reinsurance Opportunities – September 2018 NAV and portfolio update | Triple Point Social Housing – Results of fundraising | Foresight Solar - Results of fundraising
Companies: Triple Point Social Housing REIT Foresight Solar Fund
Electra Private Equity – Outcome of strategic review | Foresight Solar – NAV update and proposed placing Target Healthcare – Finals to 30 June 2018
Companies: ELTA FSFL THRL
Augmentum Fintech – New investment | GCP Asset Backed Income - C share fundraising and prospectus | Foresight Solar – C share fundraising and prospectus | HgCapital Trust – Half year report to 30 June 2018 and investment in BrightPay | Residential Secure Income – Portfolio Acquisition
Companies: AUGM GABI FSFL RESI HGT
Foresight Solar – Potential acquisition and placing | Supermarket Income – Finals to 30 June 2018 | Phaunos Timber – Stafford questions
Companies: Foresight Solar Fund Supermarket Income Reit
Blackstone / GSO Loan Financing – July 2018 NAV | Carador Income – July 2018 NAV and partial redemption | Foresight Solar – Interims to 30 June 2018 | Phaunos Timber – Response to Stafford and offer extension
Companies: BGLF FSFL PTF CIFU
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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
Accelerating activity in to FY21
Companies: Manolete Partners
With a new CEO, Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s shareholders could dream of a possible change in the group’s strategy, with a more focused insurance business. The new Chief has an opportunity to take painful decisions in a year where no one will require a high operating performance.
Companies: Aviva Plc
The Native Antigen Company (“NAC”) has been acquired by LGC for up to £18.0m – with the ongoing COVID pandemic highlighting the value of knowledge and execution in the infectious diseases space. Mercia invested in NAC via both its balance sheet and 3rd party funds. The exit represents a strong return for both sources of capital, validating complete connected capital to optimise value creation. For the balance sheet stake, the £5.2m proceeds represent a £2.5m gain on realisation (c.1.5% of our FY21e NAVps). Final Results will be announced next week, when we will review our forecasts. The shares are currently trading at a 45% discount to NAV (which is 20% cash). Today’s exit demonstrates justification for a much narrower discount, if not a premium, to conservative carrying values.
Companies: Mercia Technologies
Trading Well in Tough Market
Companies: Palace Capital
HgCapital Trust’s (HGT) 12-month NAV TR to end-March 2020 was a solid 13.8% despite the COVID-19 market downturn in March 2020 (ytd NAV performance since end-December 2019 was a 6.2% decline). The coverage ratio reached a historically low level (13% vs three-year average of 53%) after HGT notably increased its investment activity and commitments in Q120. However, a significant part of these new commitments will not be drawn in the near term. The board continues to review its future funding arrangements and may also opt out of a new investment without penalty across all funds. HGT’s portfolio focus is on the resilient software and technology sector and the manager expects a limited direct earnings impact on its portfolio from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies: Hgcapital Trust
Hot on the heels of the Architas acquisition – announced 1st July, Liontrust has issued in line final results (£38.1m adj. PBT vs £38.3m consensus, 24p second interim dividend). An accompanying trading update also confirms that AuM bounced back in Q1 as markets recovered and net inflows were sustained at a record £971m for the quarter. The Architas acquisition – once completed later this year – stands to drive Liontrust through the £25bn AuM mark and bolster the existing multi-asset product offering and wider appeal to the current client base. As joint corporate broker, we have withdrawn forecasts pending the approval of the acquisition at the forthcoming general meeting.
Companies: Liontrust Asset Management
Hipgnosis Songs Fund (SONG LN) has today announced a trading update for the full year ending 31 March 2020. The unaudited NAV has risen 13% YoY to 116.7p, up 14.3% since the last published NAV of 102.2p as at 10 January 2020. This represents a like for like valuation uplift of 11.4%. All equity has been fully deployed and shareholder approval has been sought to increase net debt from 20% to 30%. Revenue is strong with £64.7m generating an EPS of 10.7p (more than 2x the annual 5p dividend target). NAV growth has been driven by revenue statements which were up 2%, and an increase in streaming growth rate assumptions by the independent valuers. The portfolio comprises 54 catalogues, with 13,291 individual songs, now valued at £757m which was acquired at purchase price of £697m on an acquisition multiple of 13.9x – now valued on 15.0x historical earnings.
Companies: Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ld
Ground Rents Income Fund (GRIO) has today released its interim results for the period ending 31 March 2020. The fully diluted NAV is 110.1p down marginally from previous NAV of 111.3p as at 30 September 2019 year-end. This valuation included a material valuation uncertainty clause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has subsequently been removed since the period end for long dated ground rent valuations given the defensive nature of the income streams and continued market/transactional activity. The latest valuation represented a decrease on a like for like basis of £0.36 million or -0.3%. Two Interim dividends were paid during the six-month period ending 31 March totalling 1.98p, and a further dividend of 0.99p has been declared today (ex 16 July / payable 10 August). Dividend cover excluding the non-recurring litigation costs on Beetham Tower was 90%. Assuming a full year dividend of c4p this puts the shares on a flat yield of 4.9% and a discount of 26%.
Companies: Ground Rents Income Fund
Numis’ update for Q320 was positive, reflecting both the need for equity funding in the market and the strength of the group’s franchise as well as its ability to deal with current operating constraints. Subject to the market background in its final quarter, we now expect Numis to achieve a full-year result in line with or ahead of the high end of our previous scenario range.
Companies: Numis Corporation
Equals' FY19A results confirm another year of strong, double-digit revenue and adj EBITDA growth. The move to a B2B focused offering continues to progress and looks well timed in view of Covid-19's impact on overseas travel. While the pandemic impacted Q2/20E trading early on, we note June KPI's indicate a positive rebound. Given the continued uncertainty as to Covid's full impact upon FY20E trading, we refrain from reissuing forecasts and thus leave our recommendation under review.
Companies: Equals Group
ICGT, the 39-year listed private equity (PE) investor, has delivered a total NAV return of 178% over 10 years (comparable FTSE All Share return 61%). Since Intermediate Capital became the manager in 2016, ICGT has earned mid-teen p.a. underlying returns every year. This has been achieved by leveraging the attractive PE market with incremental manager synergies. It has a concentrated portfolio of “high-conviction” investments (19% p.a. average returns over five years, 42% of portfolio, defensive growth focus) and a diversified third-party PE funds book. ICGT manages over-commitment tightly. The 33% discount to NAV is above peers.
Companies: ICG Enterprise Trust
In parallel with its H120 interim results, Mercia has announced the acquisition of NVM’s VCT business for up to £25m in cash and equity, funded by a £30m placing at 25p per share (a 22% discount). Subject to shareholder approval, the acquisition increases AUM to £760m and moves Mercia towards being the UK’s number one regional investor. The deal expands Mercia’s shareholder register, further dilutes existing major shareholders and means Mercia should be profitable before fair value adjustments, closer to its target of an evergreen model (c £1bn AUM). In its H120 results, Mercia’s direct investment portfolio increased to £102.0m, with £11.1m of cash invested in 16 companies and a fair value uplift of £3.2m. Mercia has £17.8m of unrestricted balance sheet cash (pre-placing) and the shares continue to trade at a significant discount to NAV.
The covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the share price of property companies, with 31% wiped off the value of their total market capitalisation during the first quarter of 2020.
Companies: AEWU CREI CSH BOOT INL HLCL THRL SUPR RESI RGL DIGS GR1T SOHO PHP BOXE ASLI UTG AGR UAI BLND UANC CAL SHED CWD WHR EPIC WKP GRI YEW HMSO PCA INTU NRR
Tatton passed the March 2020 market-crash stress-test with flying colours. Financial advisers continued to trust it with their clients’ money – net fund inflows were £86m in March (just under the FY20 average of £94m pm) – at a time when many funds saw record outflows. Over FY20 Tatton recorded £1.1bn of inflows, and despite the market bottom nearly coinciding with the 31-Mar year-end, AUM closed 10% above FY19 on £6.7bn. Revenue grew 22% to £21.4m; adjusted operating profit was up 24% to £9.1m; PAT jumped 72% from £4.9m to £8.4m; and full-year dividend increased 14% from 8.4p to 9.6p, a yield of 3.3%. Tatton remains debt-free with £12.8m of net cash.
Companies: Tatton Asset Management