FY20 ended on a positive note strategically for Renewi, with two non-core disposals and resumption of soil shipments by ATM. COVID-19 began to have an impact at the year-end, but cost reduction/cash preservation measures together with amended banking covenants allow financial flexibility. A strategy refresh (Renewi 2.0) provides investors with a roadmap for future business development focusing on core business strengths. Our estimates are temporarily suspended and are under review.
FY20 is ending in line with expectations and ATM resumed soil shipments during Q4. Waste management is considered to be an essential service during the coronavirus pandemic; while the wider business impacts are evaluated, Renewi has outlined initial cash preservation measures. Our estimates have been adjusted only to reflect no final dividend expectation and additional non-underlying charges in FY20; potential coronavirus impacts beyond this are under review and not currently reflected.
Trading so far in H220 has matched management expectations at the headline level and FY20 guidance is unchanged. Outlook caveats in Commercial cause us to temper our expected future growth rate here pending further updates. Despite this, we anticipate that Renewi will enter FY21 with a more progressive corporate agenda – starting with its Euronext listing at the end of January – centred on improving profitability of the continuing businesses. Despite our moderated earnings growth profile, in our view the investment proposition is strengthening.
Renewi’s previously noted increasing confidence of improved ATM production volumes in 2020 have proved to be well founded as the ban on using thermally treated soil in the Netherlands has been lifted. This sets a positive backdrop for management’s forthcoming strategy update and an expected secondary listing on Euronext shortly. On unchanged estimates, it also brings into focus mid single-digit earnings multiples beyond the current year which, given the above, look low by conventional standards.
As trailed at the pre-close stage, further Commercial progress and tangible evidence that ATM can become a more positive contributor to group earnings were Renewi’s strongest H120 messages. Disposals are facilitating group de-leveraging. FY20 guidance is unchanged; our estimates are c 16% lower in all years now from a number of model adjustments including a better representation of underlying UK Municipal run rates. However, single-digit earnings multiples for this strategically well-placed business should attract investor attention.
Management’s unchanged guidance and ongoing focus on debt reduction were the financial headlines for Renewi at the halfway point of FY20. Continued progress in the company’s largest division plus ATM appearing to be closer to resolving soil remediation issues are the two key pre-close messages, in our view. Other divisions are also performing in line with management expectations. Valuation multiples remain low in conventional terms with earnings and dividend growth expected to resume in FY21 on our estimates.
The previously flagged intention to sell Reym has crystallised through the announced disposal to REMONDIS Group for an EV of €64m (or 5.4x EBITDA). This move modestly dilutes our earnings estimates, further reduces net debt and reinforces Renewi’s waste-to-product recycling credentials. Gearing levels may still be high for risk-averse investors currently but the trend is clearly downwards. P/E multiples remain firmly in single digits currently and our estimates show a yield crossover in FY21.
Year to date trading has been in line with management’s expectations, which are also unchanged for the year as a whole. Forward momentum in the important Commercial division is continuing and we see other noted actions as positive, logical moves. Investor sentiment appears to have waned since the FY19 results announcement, but the investment case is gradually strengthening in our view and from a single-digit P/E base.
Selling the Canadian Municipal operations is consistent with Renewi’s strategy of simplifying its business portfolio and deleveraging the balance sheet. The completion of this transaction and possibly one other that has been flagged will allow investors to focus on the company’s positions, operational improvements and growth aspirations for its core markets. Progress here is likely to be reflected in a re-rating in our view.
FY19 was a mixed year for Renewi with variable portfolio performances and two particular external challenges faced (at ATM and Derby). Despite this, the company still delivered profitability in line with the prior year. Net debt reduction and operational improvements will be key focus areas for FY20 and beyond and these remain key near-term sentiment drivers in our view. The share price has started to recover over the last couple of months although the rating suggests this has further to go.
Management flagged stronger Q4 trading, in line with its expectations. Netherlands soil remediation activities require regulatory approval and a prudent stance has been taken over resuming shipments there, which is the primary driver of our significant estimate reduction. In this light, the steps being taken for debt management, including a proposed dividend reduction, are entirely logical. Renewi’s rating is at depressed levels – we feel due to earnings uncertainty and higher debt levels – but potential resolutions to both issues are visible. The company is still yielding 4.4%.
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Companies: JHD RNWH MPAY ERIS STM R4E ING TRMR RWI KDNC
Longer-term recycling trends remain favourable and the next phase of strategic development indicates greater focus in core areas to pursue growth. In the near term, we acknowledge that ATM will be a distraction until full permit authority is formally restored and is weighing on our earnings expectations, which have stepped down by c 20% this year and by a lower double-digit percentage in the following two years. In a period of stark, risk-averse market sentiment, Renewi’s share price has suffered, but a 20%+ NAV discount and an 8% prospective dividend yield should be clear triggers for investors.
Existing guidance for FY19 has been maintained. As before, this is partly dependent on ATM resuming full production by the end of October and an update on this will come with the H119 results, which are scheduled for 8 November. Otherwise, a better Municipal performance appears to be compensating for slight Q2 softness in other sub-sectors. Share price performance YTD is at odds with trading newsflow and H119 results may serve to remind investors of the value opportunity on offer.
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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 group has issued a trading update for the year ended 31 May 2020 highlighting an adjusted EBITDA of at least £11.5m which is close to the group’s original expectation, despite widespread disruption to operations in the second half. The statement notes ample liquidity headroom in excess of £10m with net debt (excluding IFRS 16 lease liabilities) reducing in H2 to £7.5m as planned. The Group’s order book and prospect pipeline remains strong overall and the update is accompanied by the announcement of two meaningful contract wins in the nuclear sector. A further significant positive development is the grant of outline planning permission for the conversion of the group’s 7 acre Hayward Tyler site in Luton into residential housing for up to 1000 dwellings. Whilst financial guidance for FY2021E remains withdrawn at this point due to on-going uncertainties around the impact of COVID-19, we see the group continuing to demonstrate good resilience, operating at close to normal levels, supported by exposure to multiple markets and a strong customer base that includes governments and their agents.
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
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
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