Following an excellent year of performance during 2019 (an nav total return of 27.5%), Herald Investment Trust (HRI) has seen its discount widen and the value of its portfolio companies fall since the outbreak of covid-19.
Companies: Herald Investment Trust
Following an excellent year of performance during 2019 (a net asset value (NAV) total return of 27.5%), Herald Investment Trust (HRI) has seen its discount widen and the value of its portfolio companies fall since the outbreak of covid-19.
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) generated strong positive returns in the first half of 2019, with marked outperformance by both its UK and US portfolios of their local market indices. Both a general market recovery and a recovery in global technology stocks have helped, but HRI’s UK and US portfolios have both benefitted from a wave of takeover activity, allowing HRI to lock in significant gains on these positions.
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) is approaching its 25th birthday. HRI’s manager, Katie Potts, has been there since launch, delivering considerable outperformance of equity markets. She has seen significant swings in sentiment towards the technology sector over that time.
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) is approaching its 25th birthday. HRI’s manager, Katie Potts, has been at the helm since launch, delivering considerable outperformance of equity markets. She has seen significant swings in sentiment towards the technology sector over that time.
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) provided very strong returns during 2017 (NAV and share-price total returns of 26.9% and 32.7% respectively) with strong absolute returns coming from all of its regional portfolios.
Herald, the small cap technology, communications and multimedia trust, recently passed a remarkable milestone. It has created more than £1bn for investors since it launched in 1994. Katie Potts, who has managed the fund over its entire life, points out that £98m was raised from investors (at launch and in subsequent issues). All of this and more has been returned via share buy-backs, yet Herald still has net assets of £952.3m (up from £791m at the start of 2017). 2017 has been good to Herald and to the sector in general; the trust’s share price is up 35.4% year-todate. Katie thinks that the UK stocks that form the core of the portfolio are still not excessively valued, especially given their potential for future profit growth. She says that it is this fact that distinguishes the current run of good performance from previous technology bull markets.
The Technology sector has been rising strongly in recent months. In this note, we discuss a number of stocks that contributed to a near 40% increase in Herald Investment Trust’s NAV over the year to the end of May 2017. Nevertheless, Herald’s manager is convinced that UK technology companies in particular, which comprise over half the portfolio, have the growth potential to justify continued progress.
The Technology sector has been rising strongly in recent months. This note discusses a number of stocks that contributed to a near 40% increase in Herald Investment Trust’s NAV over the year to the end of May 2017. Nevertheless, Herald’s manager is convinced that UK technology companies in particular, which comprise over half the portfolio, have the growth potential to justify continued progress.
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Herald Investment Trust’s (HRI’s) manager believes recent portfolio activity (bids for Avesco and Mentor Graphics) shows that HRI’s NAV does not reflect the true valuations of the underlying companies, particularly when a trade buyer is looking to gain control. The UK is seeing considerable expansion from the major technology players (such as Amazon, Apple and Google). HRI’s manager thinks that this development is expanding the skillset of the sector and boosts the ecosystem that supports these tech giants. Small-cap technology, particularly in the UK, has been suffering from a marked lack of liquidity and HRI has seen an expansion in its already significant discount to NAV this year. However, HRI’s UK portfolio has a predominantly global customer base and its manager believes it will likely benefit from an improved competitive position following sterling’s depreciation.
Q3 saw the market adapt to life post the UK’s EU referendum. Sterling continued to fall but most stock markets stabilised and discounts narrowed across most sectors. While the US election is dominating headlines, it does not seem to be having much impact on markets so far.
Companies: IGC DRIP DGN HRI PGIT SLPE SIGT
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Ramsdens has reported a strong set of trading results in the last twelve months to March 2020. COVID lockdown has led to store closures, which will lead to weaker trading over the following months. However, Ramsdens has a very solid balance sheet, is diversified and is well positioned to re-open stores and continue its growth. We use an 8x multiple on last 12 months to March 2020 earnings as a reflection of a normalised earnings base which reduces our target price to 162p from 180p. At this target price Ramsdens would trade on a CY20 P/B of 1.5x. This target price offers 15% upside and we re-iterate BUY.
Premier Miton have reported their H1’20 results, which have shown delivery of key operational milestones during the period and strong performance despite the COVID-19 fears. Since the end of March, markets have recovered and net flows have been positive in April, meaning AUM has reached £9.9bn. We believe this shows the resilience of the business and that the benefits of the merger are coming through. As delivery continues we believe Premier Miton will see a significant re-rating as the shares currently trade on just 9.7x CY20 P/E, a significant discount to peers and historic levels of 12.5x. We reiterate our BUY rating and DCF based target price of 152p, implying 52% upside.
Companies: Premier Miton Group
The Renewables Infrastructure Group - £120m capital raise
Marwyn Value Investors - Proposed share acquisition by manager and crystallisation of carried interest
DP Aircraft I - 5% ownership stake in Norwegian
Companies: Renewables Infrastructure Group Marwyn Value Investors
The Merchants Trust (MRCH) is managed by Simon Gergel at Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI). Aiming to continue to provide a high and growing level of income, he is adjusting the trust's portfolio in the wake of dividend cuts sparked by the negative economic effects of COVID-19. If there is an income shortfall in this financial year, MRCH is well positioned to maintain its dividend, with revenue reserves of more than 1x the last annual payment. It has not been an easy period for value managers over the last decade as growth stocks have led the charge; however, Gergel has outperformed the UK market over this period in both NAV and share price terms. The board reduced MRCH's gearing in late January 2020, which was opportune timing ahead of the recent significant stock market weakness.
Companies: Merchants Trust
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL GDR HAYD PCA PIN PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SHED VTA
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
The COVID-19-related crisis further increases the top-line pressure. However, the quarter showed ongoing efficiency gains and, above all, management’s cost of risk guidance stood significantly below our stress test based projections.
Companies: Lloyds Banking Group
In this note, we analyze the indebtedness of 35 international E&Ps publicly listed in the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the USA. For each company, we look at (1) cash position, (2) level and nature of debt (including covenants), (3) debt service and principal repayment framework and (4) Brent price required from April to YE20 to meet all the obligations and keep cash positions intact. We also estimate YE20 cash if Brent were to average US$20/bbl from April to YE20. While the oil demand and oil price collapse are of unprecedented historical proportions and the opportunities to cut costs much more limited than in 2014, most companies (with a few exceptions) entered the crisis in much better position than six years ago, with stronger balance sheets and often already extended debt maturities. In addition, this time around, many E&Ps have already been deleveraging for 1-2 years and are not caught in the middle of large developments that cannot be halted. The previous crisis also showed that debt providers could relax debt covenants for a certain period as long as interest and principal repayment obligations were met. This implies that as long as operations are not interrupted and counterparties keep paying their bills (Kurdistan), the storm can be weathered by most for a few quarters.
With (1) Brent price of about US$50/bbl in 1Q20, (2) reduced capex programmes, (3) material hedging programmes covering a large proportion of FY20 production at higher prices and (4) limited principal repayments in 2020, we find that most companies can meet all their costs and obligations in 2020 at Brent prices below US$40/bbl and often below US$35/bbl) from April until YE20 and keep their cash intact, allowing them to remain solvent at much lower prices for some time. In particular, Maha Energy and SDX Energy are cash neutral at about US$20/bbl. When factoring the divestment of Uganda, Tullow needs only US$9/bbl to maintain its YE20 cash equal to YE19. Canacol Energy, Diversified Gas and Oil, Independent Oil & Gas, Orca Exploration, Serica Energy and Wentworth Resources are gas stories not really exposed to oil prices and Africa Oil has hedged 95% of its FY20 production at over US$65/bbl.
Companies: AKERBP AOI CNE CNE DGOC EGY ENOG ENQ GENL GKP GPRK GTE HUR IOG JSE KOS LUPE MAHAA OKEA ORC.B PEN PHAR PMO PTAL PXT RRE SDX SEPL TETY TGL TLW TXP WRL
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: AGR CSH ESP DIGS IHR LXI PHP RESI SIR SUPR THRL SOHO BBOX SHED WHR
AFH Financial released an AGM statement suggesting that trading for FY20 remains in line with expectations. In the first four months of FY20 AFH has continued to see inflows at Q4’19 levels. The company also expects to see continued consolidation and a growing need for financial planning. Although the current market uncertainty has hit the industry, we believe that AFH is less affected than others by market movements due to its protection broking revenues and initial advice fees totalling 40% of revenues. We leave our forecasts and TP unchanged. These show AFH trading on 10.8x FY20 P/E falling to 9.7x in FY21, and yielding 2.8% rising to 3.1%. BUY.
Companies: AFH Financial Group
In the past month the group has made significant progress in pivoting its business away from its traditional face-to-face model. Although lending levels remain appropriately subdued, it has achieved an impressive collections performance, with its largest business running at about 90% of pre-lockdown levels. This, combined with the group’s high risk-adjusted margins has enabled it to generate £3m of FCF in the first three weeks of April, taking its net cash position to £38.7m as of 21 April. This strong financial position, combined with the group’s innovative approach to product development puts it in an extremely strong position to serve its clients and win share when the current government restrictions are eventually lifted. Reflecting this positive outlook we reiterate our BUY rating.
Companies: Non-Standard Finance
There has been much comment on the fact that equity markets in the US and Europe have been shrinking for some years now, certainly in terms of the number of quoted companies, if not in total market capitalisation (MCap). This paper has been written with the assistance of the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) and focuses on the evidence for such in the London market and, in particular, that for smaller and midcap companies. It assesses that evidence and considers explanations. Finally, we ask why it matters, and assuming that it does, what practical steps can be taken to reverse the trend. Successful public markets have been a key part of the United Kingdom’s economic success for generations, even centuries, and we should not allow them to wither on the vine.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX ASAI DNL GDR HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SCE TRX TON SHED VTA
TruFin is an operating company with holdings in four FinTech businesses that operate in underserved niches. The businesses have established market positions, proven routes to market and are growing fast. With this growth requiring no additional equity, and the realistic prospect of all four being profitable within our forecast horizon, we believe that executional delivery, and a resolution of the current shareholder uncertainty will result in the current discount to fair value unwinding. We initiate with a BUY rating and a 29.3p target price, implying 83% upside.
Smaller companies are usually a problematic area to invest in during significant downturns or recessions; and the sharp fall in 2020 hasn’t been an exception. In this article we assess the performance of smaller companies trusts throughout the pandemic, while identifying the factors that have differentiated the winners from the losers. This includes the impact that cash, market cap exposure, sector allocation, revenue exposure and growth or value biases have had, with some surprising results. We also ask whether now is an attractive time to invest in smaller companies, highlighting the trusts which stand out to us…
Companies: THRG GHE MINI RMMC ASIT ASL MTE TRG BRSC DSM
Despite the disruption caused by COVID, Harworth has continued to make good progress across each business area. Liquidity has also been enhanced with an increase in the RCF announced at the end of April.
Companies: Harworth Group