Edison Investment Research is terminating coverage on Jupiter US Smaller Companies and SNP Schneider Neureither & Partner . Please note you should no longer rely on any previous research or estimates for this company. All
forecasts should now be considered redundant.
Previously published reports can still be accessed via our website.
Companies: Jupiter Us Smaller Companies
The most terrifying words in the English language are, or were at least according to the late president of the United States Ronald Regan: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." and for investors in global smaller companies, this could be prescient. Most investors into smaller caps are attracted by the prospect of exponential business growth. Young companies with innovative products are supposed to offer a disruptive threat to established companies, with huge potential markets to grow into. However, developments in society and politics could be calling into question the ability of smaller companies to generate the same excess returns in the coming decades. The chief issue is regulation: while regulation is often mooted as in the interest of society at large, there is evidence that in recent years the chief beneficiaries of regulation have been the large players in existing industries, who are better able to adapt to the increasing costs. In this study we consider how the regulatory burden is affecting markets around the world and what it means for investors in the various regions.
Companies: JUS USA JEO MINI AJOT
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) is continuing to deliver improved investment performance following a tightening up of its investment process in October 2017. The trust has outperformed its small-cap equity benchmark over the last one and three years in both NAV and share price terms. Increased stock market volatility in recent months has presented manager Robert Siddles with an increasing array of attractive investment opportunities across a range of industries; although this has increased portfolio turnover, the manager continues to invest with a long-term view, aiming to generate capital growth while preserving capital during periods of stock market weakness.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) aims to grow capital over the long term through investing in a diversified portfolio of US smaller and medium-sized companies. Robert Siddles has been at the helm of the portfolio for over 18 years, looking to preserve capital rather than chasing short-term growth. Robert has a risk averse investment approach and is attracted towards the areas of the market that lack positive sentiment. These areas, in his view, are where patient investors are able to take advantage of market inefficiencies and misguided sell-offs from market participants utilising a short-term approach. A slight change to the strategy was made in 2017, when the board believed that poor performance was due to the trust not running its winners. As such, Robert was encouraged to further concentrate the portfolio and run winners longer. As a result, the number of holdings has reduced dramatically and, according to data from JPM Cazenove, JUS is made up of just 44 positions. Over the past year, Robert has shifted the portfolio toward more cyclical stocks, taking advantage of market weakness in Q4 2018. As such the trust’s largest positions remain in financial services (21.1%), producer durables (20%) and consumer discretionary (15.2%). With very little exposure to energy (2.1%), utilities (3.8%) and technology (7.1%). Robert’s value focused approach has been out of favour over the past five years, and this has been reflected in the medium-term performance figures. With this said, 2018 saw the relative performance turn around and the trust outperformed the benchmark Russell 2000 and the IA peers in a falling market. Outperformance has largely continued into 2019, and the trust has delivered NAV returns of 16.3% to the start of May, almost 5% more than the AIC peer group, and 1.3% more than the Russell 2000. Currently the discount sits at 8.6%, considerably wider than JUS’s main competitor, JPMorgan US Smaller Companies, which trades on a discount of 2.3%. The board has consistently committed to using buy-backs over the past few years, aiming to maintain a discount of less than 10% in normal market conditions.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) is managed by Robert Siddles, who aims to generate long-term capital growth, while preserving capital in periods of stock market weakness, from a diversified portfolio of mid- and small-cap US equities. Since October 2017, the manager has employed a tighter investment process, increasing JUS’s portfolio concentration and enhancing the sell discipline. This has proved effective; since then, the trust has outperformed its US small-cap equity benchmark by more than 15pp. Relative performance has remained robust during recent months, which have been characterised by high levels of stock market volatility.
Two years after the shock election of Donald Trump and with the US mid-term elections approaching on 6 November, we thought it a good time to strip out all the noise and bluster and assess what the Trump administration has really meant for US markets and the trusts that invest in them. We can identify two key policy moves Trump has achieved as President: tax reforms and trade tariffs. Each has significant ramifications for certain sectors and trusts, some good and some bad. The long-term effects are still in the balance, with the midterms a crucial fork in the road. Since Trump was inaugurated as president, the landscape of the US market has arguably transformed, with greater optimism around the near-term prospects for equities and greater pessimism around international relations. We take a look at how trusts have positioned themselves vis-à-vis these trends. “I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.” Arguably the most significant piece of Trumpian legislation for the economy and the stock market was his wide-ranging tax reform introduced at the end of December 2017. This included cutting n the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and a dramatic change to the current model of taxation, in particular the taxation of US corporations’ foreign subsidiaries.
Companies: IBT USA BRNA ATT JAM JUS GVP GVP
Run by Robert Siddles for over 17 years (previously at F&C), the £147m trust takes a risk-averse approach, aiming to preserve capital rather than chasing short-term growth. Robert pays particular interest to the areas of the market that lack positive sentiment, in his view enabling patient investors to take advantage of the misguided sell-offs from market participants utilising a more shorter-term approach. Performance has been dull over the recent medium term, however, 2018 has seen an extraordinary turnaround for the trust, and it has done well relative to the benchmark, the Russell 2000. Since the year began the trust has delivered returns of 22.0%. The outperformance has principally come from the smallest stocks in the portfolio (< $1 bn) and the manager has had success in his stock selection in stock selection in materials & processing, consumer staples, producer durables and technology sectors. However, sectors like health care and energy have performed poorly within the portfolio. Currently, the trust’s largest allocations remain in financial services (21.1%), producer durables (18.9%) and consumer discretionary (18.9%). The board has used buy-backs actively over the past few years, helping to maintain an average discount of less than 10%. As of the end of October 2018, the discount sits at c.-9%.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) aims to generate long-term capital growth from a focused portfolio of mid- and small-cap US equities. Since 2001, the trust has been managed by Robert Siddles. Following the announcement of adjustments to JUS’s investment process – running a more concentrated portfolio, a greater focus on selling underperforming holdings, while holding on to successful positions for longer – the trust has enjoyed an improvement in investment performance. It has delivered above market results in periods of both positive and negative stock market returns, illustrating its commitment to capital preservation. The board has also reduced JUS’s management fees, removed the performance fee and introduced the trust’s first gearing facility.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) aims to achieve longterm capital growth for shareholders from a diversified portfolio primarily of quoted US smaller and medium-sized companies. Run by Robert Siddles for over 17 years (previously at F&C), the £146m trust takes a risk-averse approach, aiming to preserve capital rather than chasing short-term growth. Robert pays particular interest to the areas of the market that lack positive sentiment, in his view enabling patient investors to take advantage of the misguided sell-offs from market participants utilising a more shorter-term approach. The trust remains overweight in financial services (+4%), producer durables (+5%) and consumer discretionary (+4%), compared to the Russell 2000 Index. The largest underweight positions come in health care (-7%) and technology (-4.6%), where the trust holds positions of 9.2% and 9.8%. 2018 has brought fresh life to the trust with a 5% outperformance relative to the index, and despite the multitude of macro uncertainties, the chairman and manager believe that the growth of corporate profits should continue, making the US smaller company sector, in their opinion, an attractive one for longer-term investors. As of the end of March 2018, the discount sits at -8.4%. The board has consistently committed to using buy-backs over the past few years, helping to maintain a discount of less than 10% in normal market conditions. This strict policy has seen the discount retreat, with the average reducing from -11.43% in 2016 to -9.04% in 2017.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) has announced a number of new initiatives and enhancements to its investment process, aimed at boosting shareholder value and the potential for long-term growth and capital preservation. The manager intends to increase concentration in favoured holdings and be less keen to take profits in winning stocks, at the same time as acting more quickly to cut positions that are not proceeding as hoped. Meanwhile, the board has put in place the trust’s first gearing facility, scrapped the performance fee and introduced a new, tiered management fee, alongside a commitment to growing the trust to a target £200m over the next two to three years. While JUS’s value investment style has been out of favour in the US for the past decade, Fund Manager Robert Siddles says that with the bull market in growth stocks becoming more and more extended, the case for value is stronger than ever.
Jupiter US Smaller Companies (JUS) invests in small and mid-cap US companies with the aim of achieving long-term capital growth with capital preservation. Robert Siddles, the manager since the trust’s launch in 1993, seeks to invest in companies with strong franchises, equity-owning managements, high free cash flow and pricing power, which have experienced a period of share price weakness and offer at least 50% upside to their assessed fair value. This conservative approach means that the portfolio can underperform in periods when either high-risk stocks such as biotechnology lead, as happened in 2015, or when the market rises rapidly, as occurred last year.
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FY20A results largely reflect a period prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, yet show Duke entering a more challenging FY21E with momentum. Yesterday's trading update demonstrated another notable rise in quarterly cash receipts for Q2/21, as royalty partner trading continues to improve. As some partners' forbearance measures will expire this month, Q3/21 receipts should continue this upwardly momentum. This opens the door to a return to cash dividends at some future point. Today, Duke also confirms it is now seeking new royalty partners, alongside follow-ons.
Companies: Duke Royalty
Litigation Capital Management has announced FY20 results with gross profit up 7% to A$21.7m and PBT of A$9.2m, slightly behind expectations albeit the Group had already flagged that delays to 3 cases during the year would result in resolutions in FY21, thereby impacting FY20 results. That said, excellent strategic progress through the year and good news flow as well as increasing scale suggests more value to come. Reiterate buy
Companies: Litigation Capital Management Ltd.
To achieve YoY revenue growth over H1/20A despite the challenges of Covid-19 and its impact on the travel sector is testament to Equals' resilience and increasing focus on B2B and International payments services. While weaker gross profit and EBITDA margins have impacted profitability in H1/20, we see potential for an earnings recovery in H2/20 given cost reduction measures currently being undertaken. This should lead Equals to cash breakeven in Q4/20 and FCF positive by early FY21.
Companies: Equals Group Plc
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact globally in many areas. While primarily a health issue, it has had wide-ranging implications for stock markets, which have now rallied after the plunge in share prices in mid-March when the full severity of the emerging pandemic became more widely appreciated. Nonetheless, the FTSE 100 Index remains almost 20% off its late February 2020 figure.
Companies: AVO ARBB ARIX CLIG DNL GDR ICGT NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RECI STX SCE TRX SHED VTA YEW
Frontier IP has announced it has invested £320k in a £720k convertible loan financing of Nandi Proteins. Nandi Proteins is developing functional proteins for food ingredients aimed at reducing levels of fat, additives and gluten in processed foods addressing important social, health and environmental concerns about processed food. Frontier IP holds a 20.1% equity stake in Nandi Proteins; the last disclosed value of the holding was back in July 2017 at approx. £2.9m. Connected in part to the announcement today, we have used the opportunity to refresh our cash flow forecasts to reflect the net £2.1m proceeds of the July 2020 fundraise, the planned deployment of proceeds into bridge financing and refreshed our Sum-of-the-Parts valuation analysis to reflect the excellent portfolio progress made in FY’20. We anticipate a 50% increase in the unrealised profit on the revaluation of investments in FY’20e to £5.82m (vs. £3.0m prior estimate; £3.85m in FY’19). Applying the peer group multiple of 1.6x on Yr1 Book value of late-stage assets and incorporating the £2.1m proceeds and dilution associated with the July placing, implies an intrinsic value of 82p/share, 27% above the current share.
Companies: Frontier IP Group Plc
The impressive full year 2019 results included some eye-catching numbers, including a record PBT of £40.1m (nearly 3x FY18 @ £14.3m), £620m of reserves acquired over 16 legacy deals, and $842m of (estimated) Contracted Premium in the Program business – on track to breach $1bn in FY20 as previously guided and $1.5bn-$2bn in 2022-2023.
Companies: Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd.
Sigma Capital (“Sigma”) has partnered with global alternatives manager EQT to deliver and manage a £1bn GDV private-rented sector (“PRS”) housing fund focused on Greater London. EQT will invest £300m equity, complemented by debt (including a Homes England facility), to build 3,000 homes in 5 years. Sigma will generate fee income as development manager, a recurring fee income stream from managing completed assets, as well as participation in returns via a minority co-investment (£16m) and a profit share. We estimate that the fee income alone is worth £45m to Sigma in the first five years: 50% of the current market cap. Crucially, this is a step up in AuM bringing a high quality long-term recurring earnings stream. We will reforecast following interim results (expected tomorrow) to provide full context.
Companies: Sigma Capital Group Plc
Secular stagnation refers to the economic theory that growth will be persistently low for some time to come, due to an imbalance between savings and investment. If capital is saved rather than invested productive capacity lies idle, while the drag on consumption reduces demand in the economy. As a result GDP growth is reduced. As we have previously discussed, there is no historical evidence that GDP growth has a direct impact on stock market growth – in contradiction of the theorised linkage via earnings. However, in a world of secular stagnation in which there is a glut of savings, corporate earnings will be muted as demand for companies’ wares remains sluggish, which should negatively impact stock market growth. High rates of savings would also push equity valuations higher than they would otherwise be and thereby reduce future returns. Investors can respond to this situation in a number of ways. One is to try to find active strategies, which either seek to harness certain factors likely to boost returns or to generate high stockspecific alpha. In the first case this could mean looking to harness the small cap premium or to the emerging markets which should see greater earnings growth over the long run. It could also mean looking to the tech sector, where earnings are dependent more on secular changes within the economy than the growth rate of the economy. In the second case this would mean looking for highly active stock pickers who run concentrated portfolios and aim to pick the winning companies which can steal market share from competitors. We believe the investment trust universe is the perfect place to find such strategies, as the structure allows managers to focus on managing their strategy and not inflows and outflows, while being able to take exposure to relatively illiquid assets and harvest the premium for doing so. Another way of responding is to look for alternative assets which offer comparable or superior returns to the equity market as a whole. In our view, when we look at likely equity returns over the next ten years, some alternatives look compelling. In the below we sketch a rough idea of likely equity returns over the next decade and then introduce some trusts we think have the potential to generate similar returns from more predictable cash flows and potentially less volatile NAVs.
Companies: USF HICL NESF TRIG UKW NBLS
With the sale of the Singaporean operations for £1.6bn, the new CEO, Amanda Blanc, shows her intention to focus rapidly on its preferred markets (the UK, Ireland and Canada). The next candidate for sale is the French unit. This transaction is more complicated than the previous one, with the necessity to obtain the agreement of Afer, its key partner in France. With potential proceeds of £2.9bn, Aviva could reduce its debts significantly and allocate more capital to the UK bulk annuity business.
Companies: Aviva Plc
Interim results demonstrate YoY growth and a resilient outcome that has exceeded management's expectations from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is testament to the degree of recurring revenue generated across the business. FY21 trading looks to be more challenging, as notably lower new insurance sales post-lockdown will translate into lower premium income. A number of organic opportunities are being worked on to fill the shortfall. Rising UK redundancies and their impact on policyholder retentions creates great uncertainty, hence our forecasts remain withdrawn and recommendation remains Under Review.
Companies: Personal Group Holdings Plc
In line interim results to 30 June 2020 show the strength of this business amid a difficult environment. This is the first step in what should be an exciting growth trajectory toward a larger, scaled up business with high recurring revenues and ownership of the full supply chain in the personal injury and clinical negligence market for clients requiring long-term, risk-adjusted returns. We reiterate our TP of 50p, noting further upside potential as acquisitions are completed.
Companies: Frenkel Topping Group Plc
We believe now is an interesting time to invest in Northgate, with a new executive board and a capable management team in place who have already delivered progress on an ongoing turnaround as we await a full strategic review. The group now has a clear and well communicated capital allocation strategy in place and improved earnings quality, in our view. We believe that the growth opportunity in the UK, the value of the Spanish business and the progress made to date with the turnaround are not being reflected in the share price, which is currently 15.9% below book value (414p per share in FY19A rising to 468p in FY22E). We use a variety of valuation methods including P/B, SOTP, DDM and DCF modelling and arrive at an average implied share price of 450p, 29.0% above the current share price.
Companies: Redde Northgate Plc
As anticipated, Record has confirmed a material uplift in AUME following the rebound in financial markets from April. We upgrade FY21E forecast EPS by +18%, with higher staff costs offsetting some of the benefit. We expect AUME growth to be more modest from herein. While no performance fees have been recognised over Q1/21 and will be harder to achieve due to Covid-19, any future recognition would have a materially positive impact on earnings. Covid has temporarily paused new client wins, but we expect further additions to come as conditions improve.
Companies: Record Plc
L&G reported an operating profit from continuing divisions (excluding Mature Savings and General Insurance businesses) of £1,128m, -2.2% yoy. The COVID-19-related cost was £129m. LGR posted a growing operating profit to £721m. Net profit amounted to £290m vs. £874m a year before, being affected by the reduced discount rate used to calculate LGI reserves. The Solvency II ratio stood at 173%. The Board recommended an interim dividend of 4.93p/share, stable relative to H1 19.
Companies: Legal & General Group Plc
Belvoir’s H1 results evidence both strategic progress and profits growth. Given the challenges presented by COVID-19, this bodes very well for the group’s long-term growth potential. H1 adj. EPS grew +16%, the acquisition of Lovelle contributed well and in July the group entered into a strategic alliance with The Nottingham Building Society. Cash flow remained strong and the progressive dividend policy has been reinstated, with a 3.4p interim declared plus an additional 2p, as partial compensation for the missed 2019 final. With the resilience of lettings and the current record activity levels in sales and new mortgages the Board is optimistic that full-year results will hit its pre-COVID expectations and we make no changes to our PBT/EPS forecasts. Our target price of 233p (48% upside) assumes a 10% discount to the small/mid cap market. Given the above average performance in H1 and continued evidence that the long-term growth strategy is yielding value we see good upside to this target over time.
Companies: Belvoir Group Plc