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The city gets its luxury yachts out, fuels its private jets and goes on holiday in August which is when there is a flood of company results from the the big boys who know that there are not many about to read the news if it is bad. June is an in between month when companies which few may have heard of, are left to make the headlines. But always amongst these tiddlers there will be just a few which are beginning to make their mark and becoming ready to challenge the big uns whose management has lost the plot and become sclerotic. These can the ones to keep an eye open for.
Next Fifteen Communications plc NFC announces that it has made a good start to the new financial year. Organic revenue growth has remained in high single digit figures, with acquisitions performing well and new account wins secured.
REACT group plc REAT found market conditions difficult in the six months to the 31st March. Turnover rose by 16% compared to the first half of 2017 but exceptional non recurring costs helped to produce a loss of of £327,000, virtually double that of 2017. The company claims that operational changes which have been made since the end of the half year will enable it to implement a growth strategy.
Prime People plc PRP The business performed well in the UK during the year to the 31st March but profit before tax was down from £1.9m to £1.19m after exceptional costs of £102,000 relating to the acquisition of Planned Recruitment Group in Hong Kong. Earnings per share fell by approximately a third from 12.97p to 8.58 per share.The final dividend remains unchanged at 5p per share and current activity is said to be encouraging.
Alan Green on Cadence #KDNC Catenae Innovations #CTEA Warpaint London #W7L Bonmarche #BON & Andalas Energy & Power #ADL
Alan Green CEO of Brand Communications talks about: Cadence #KDNC Catenae Innovations #CTEA Warpaint London #W7L Bonmarche #BON & Andalas Energy & Power #ADL
(Interview starts at 22 minutes 3 seconds)
Wynnstay Group WYN the first half year to the 30th April was seen as encouraging as the long awaited upturn in the agricultural sector kicked in and farm gate prices continued to recover, Growth was seen in both divisions and revenue from continuing operations rose by 10.3%, profit before tax by 15.7% and earnings per share by 13.3%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 5%.
Immunodiagnostic Sys Group IDH Revenue for the year to 31st March declined by 8% on a like to like basis. Adjusted earnings per share fell by 61% and EBITDA by 28%. Profit from operations was down by 43%. According to the new CEO appointed last November one good sign for the future is that good progress has been made in restructuring the company
Elektron Technology plc EKT updates that Bulgins order book is significantly stronger with year to date orders at record levels. Half year sales are expected to show a rise of some 8% on last year.
Best of the Best plc BOTB Preliminary results for the year to the 30th April were ahead of management expectations and are described by the company as being solid. Like for like revenue rose by 13.3% and profit before tax by by 5.8%. Online like for like revenue increased by 23% and a special dividend of 4.5p per share is to be paid on the 20th July in addition to the proposed ordinary dividend of 1.5p per share due on the 21st Setpember.
Inspired Energy INSE has continued to build on a strong 2017 and is trading in line with market expectations
Hornby plc HRN Years of mismanagement continue to take their toll at Hornby, where sadly, things seem to go from bad to worse with every year that passes. Revenue for the year to the 31st March slumped badly from £47.4 to £35.7m whilst the annul loss before tax edged slightly higher to £10.1m. Group sales for the 10 weeks to the 8th June are lower than expected, a self inflicted wound if ever there was one, caused it seems by the impact of insufficient investment in tooling in past years. The new CEO puts a brave face on things, claiming that they are currently laying down the foundations for their future success.
Ferguson plc FERG third quarter revenue rose by 10.2% and trading profit was up by 17.1% despite a miserable performance in the UK. The US continued to grow strongly and the fourth quarter has started well. Yet again the UK let the side down badly with growth of 0.7% which included price inflation of 3%. In the UK organic revenue declined by 10.9%, whilst trading profit slumped by 29.3% at constant exchange rates.
Ashtead Group AHT Announces another very successful year crowned with a strong fourth quarter which saw revenue and profit before tax each rise by 20% and earnings per share by 26%.Revenue for the year to 30th April rose by 20% and it is proposed to increase the final dividend to 27.5p per share making a total rise for the year of 20%.
Telecom Plus TEP performed as expected in the year to 31st March, with further growth in all areas of the business. Revenue rose by 7.1% and on a statutory like for like basis profit before tax just managed to edge ahead by 0.3%, earnings per share rose by 2.1% and the full year dividend is to be increased by 4.2% to 50p per share. The most notable achievement of the year appears to have been winning the Which “Best Utilities Provider” 2018 award.
Iofina IOF expects to see a significant rise in production for 2018 with a target of 575 to 605 metric tonnes of crystalline iodine compared to 503 metric tonnes in 2017. As a bonus on top of that, iodine price have continued to strengthen. The cloud on the horizon however, is that Iofina and a number of other companies have been found guilty of dumping iodine into China, resulting in the imposition of anti dumping duties. A final decision on this is not expected until the autumn but the poor state of trade relationships between the US and China means that a favourable outcome is not a certainty
DS Smith plc SMDS produced a strong set of results in the year to 30th April as it saw a return to growth. Revenue and adjusted profit before tax both rose by 17% on a constant currency basis and basic earnings per share rose by 10%. Margins were strong and good momentum is being maintained in the current year.
Volex plc VLX produced its best financial performance for five years and claims that it is strongly positioned for future growth. The year to the first of April saw the company produce its first statutory profit after tax since 2012. Last years statutory loss of $8.5m was turned into a profit before tax of $7m.and revenues are expected to show organic growth in the current year.
Angling Direct ANG is continuing its strategy of consolidating the fishing tackle market with the acquisition of Ted Carter Fishing Tackle which has a 3,000 s.ft. store at Preston. Carter had a turnover of £1.2m. in the year to 31st March and the consideration for the takeover is £125,000 plus stock at valuation, payable in cash.
Small cap award winners 2018
Company of the year
ZOO Digital (ZOO)
The ZOO Digital share price is ten times the level it was one year ago. ZOO localises film and television content and it has been investing in upgrading its technology and services over the past few years. This investment is paying off and the ability to offer cloud-based services is helping the business to grow and move into profit. Hollywood studios have been customers for many years and ZOO is winning market share. Newer entrants to the market such as Netflix have grown the demand for localisation of content. ZOO is expected to report an underlying pre-tax profit of £500,000 for the year to March 2018.
NEX company of the year
Crossword Cybersecurity (CCS)
Cyber security technology developer Crossword Cybersecurity originally floated on GXG and then switched to NEX. It was one of the youngest companies that was on the shortlist for this award. Crossword is generating modest revenues and it is developing cyber security products with partners. The real potential for the business will not be realised for a few years.
Impact company of the year
Walls and Futures REIT (WAFR)
Walls & Futures REIT is an ethical housing REIT that develops new housing for people with learning and physical disabilities or requiring extra care. In 2017, Walls and Futures achieved a total return on its portfolio of 11.5%, ahead of its benchmark total return of 7%.
IPO of the year
K3 Capital (K3C)
Business sales and corporate finance company K3 Capital Group joined AIM at 95p a share in April 2017 and the share price has more than trebled. Bolton-based K3 helps owners to sell their businesses and it gains clients through a direct marketing strategy. The AIM quotation and the related higher profile appears to have helped to accelerate growth. A move up the Thomson Reuters deal rankings is also helping. Last year, revenues rose by 26% to £10.8m, while pre-tax profit improved 18% to £3.6m. In the six months to November 2017, revenues were 34% ahead at £7.5m and pre-tax profit moved from £2.48m to £3.21m.
Fintech company of the year
FAIRFX Group (FFX)
Foreign exchange and e-banking services provider FAIRFX has a low cost model while offering an improved experience to the more established rivals. Turnover was £1.1bn last year, while revenues were £15.5m and this enable the company to move into profit. Corporate turnover was 52.3% of the total, up from 45.5%. The company recently moved its international payments book onto the City Forex platform following its acquisition. The focus is increasing scale to improve efficiency combined with the rolling out of new products.
Transaction of the year
Proactis (PHD) – merger with Perfect Commerce
Spend control software provider Proactis merged with Perfect Commerce in August 2017. The deal significantly increased the scope of the business and added to the management team. The integration of the businesses appears to be going well but the loss of a couple of large customers has held back progress in the year to July 2018. Even so, annualised contracted revenues are still £45.5m. Progressive Equity Research still expects a near-doubling of this year’s pre-tax profit to £10.2m, rising to £13.2m next year. That means that earnings per share growth is modest this year because of the additional shares in issue.
Executive director of the year
Bobby Kalar – Yu Group (YU.)
Electricity and gas supplier Yu Group floated on AIM in March 2016 at 185p a share. The current share price is more than four times that level. The focus is on commercial customers. Yu increased its revenues from £16.3m to £47m last year and annualised bookings continue to grow. Underlying pre-tax profit jumped from £195,000 to £3.08m. The dividend was increased from 2.25p to 3p a share. Trading continues to be strong and average annualised bookings per month were £6.6m. The cash pile has increased to £18.6m at the end of April 2018. Yu has obtained a licence to supply water.
Journalist of the year
Paul Scott – Stockopedia
Fund manager of the year
Nick Williamson – Old Mutual
Microcap fund manager of the year
Guy Feld – Canaccord Genuity
Analyst of the year
Kevin Ashton – Cantor Fitzgerald
Lifetime achievement award
Katie Potts – Herald Investment Management
Special services to small caps
John Jenkins (Founder of Ofex/NEX)
Daniel Thwaites (THW) increased its 2017-18 by 9% to £92.2m, while operating profit improved by 7% to £12.9m. There was a 79% increase in earnings per share to 13.8p, mainly due to a swing from a loss on interest swaps to a profit. The total dividend is unchanged at 4.46p a share. Investment in the pubs and hotels operations and in the new craft brewery at Mellor Brook has led to a rise in net debt from £47.6m to £63.7m. The old brewery will be demolished and the land will eventually be sold or developed. Poor weather means that the new financial year has started more slowly than last year.
Hellenic Capital has changed its name to Pelican House Mining (PHM) and is focusing on investing in early-stage resources projects in Africa. The focus is making capital gains on the investments. Pelican is trying to supplement its cash resources by selling a commercial property in Leeds, but the buyer withdrew. Pelican has retained the deposit. The investment property in Leeds is in the books at £204,000. Two directors, Simon Grant-Rennick and Mark Jackson, have been granted options over a total of seven million shares exercisable at 0.55p each.
Newbury Racecourse (NYR) says that its conference and events division is 22% ahead of the same time last year and the revenues of the hotel have risen by the same percentage. There has been a 17% rise in revenues for the nursery business on the back of occupancy rates rising by six percentage points. There are longer-term worries about the financial ability of bookies to provide sponsorship and other revenues. Management says it will not be paying any dividends until 2022 at the earliest after the current development projects are completed.
PCG Entertainment (PCGE) has raised £303,000 at 0.15p a share and around £119,000 will go towards paying the £119,000 settlement with D-Beta, which provided an equity sharing facility. D-Beta has sold its existing stake. PCG is talking to Cavitation Solutions Ltd about distributing cavitation technology, which deals with oil and other water pollutants, in China. It is also talking to ChainZy about distributing its blockchain-based technology in Asia. There is interest from third parties concerning the use of PCG’s media and gambling licences in China.
IMC Exploration (IMCP) has raised £250,000 at 0.7p a share and the cash will be used to develop the company’s three main gold and zinc projects.
South Africa-focused investment company Inqo Investments Ltd (INQO) has made a second investment in Uganda-based Four-One Financial Services, which manages the Mazima micro-pension scheme. This is the second tranche of the original investment and is in the form of a $100,000 convertible loan.
NWF (NWF) says that last year’s trading was much better than expected and net debt is lower than forecast. The feeds business improved its performance and trading of the fuels division was strong. The food distribution operations wee hit by reorganisation requirements and did not perform as well as expected.
Diversified Gas and Oil (DGOC) has got another large deal on the blocks and trading in the shares has been suspended. The Appalachian Basin oil and gas producing assets will be acquired for $575m and it will more than double the group’s daily production. This should be an earnings enhancing deal. A $225m share placing is required to help finance the deal.
RedstoneConnect (REDS) chief executive Mark Braund intends to leave the smart buildings technology company. Frank Beechinor will move from chairman to chief executive. The disposal of the systems integration and managed services divisions has been completed and the group can focus on its software business.
Ilika (IKA) has gained government funding of £4.1m for two battery technology projects in the automotive sector. The PowerDriveLine project is developing a solid state battery for hybrid and electric vehicles. The other project is headed by McLaren Automotive and is developing a battery for performance cars.
Secure payment products provider Eckoh (ECK) increased its full year revenues by 3% to £30m but pre-tax profit was 61% higher at £2.4m thanks to an improvement in operating margin. Growth in the US made up for a weaker contribution in the UK.
Redhall Group (RHL) slumped back into loss in the first half due to a delayed contract. However, it is still on course to make an improved profit in the full year. Interim revenues were 22% lower at £14.7m. There is strong demand for the company’s specialist doors from the nuclear and transport sectors.
Evgen Pharma (EVG) has enough cash to get to the end of 2018. There should be further positive news about the two ongoing clinical trials prior to the end of the year. Interim analysis of phase II trial of SFX-01 as a treatment for breast cancer show that six out of 20 patients, who had tumours that had initially responded to treatment but had become resistant, saw some benefit from the treatment of their tumours. The treatment has also been shown to be safe. The final results of the trial should be published before the end of the year.
Life sciences company Abzena (ABZA) has decided to focus on monetising its technology rather than raising money via a share issue. A non-binding heads of agreement with a third party would involve the sale of an interest in future royalties. If this deal is completed there would be enough working capital for the short-term.
Active Energy Group (AEG) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Young Living Farms for the sale of a PeatSwitch plant, which makes environmentally friendly peat replacements. The first plant is in Mona, Utah and the client is paying $3.4m in cash. There could subsequently be other plants at the client’s other sites.
Trading has resumed in the shares of Audioboom (BOOM) following publication of its accounts. The share price fell from 3.6p to 2.18p. The podcasts publisher has raised £4.5m from a placing at 3p a share.
WideCells Group (WDC) managed to raise £513,000 at 3p a share via a bookbuild on the Teathers app. That includes £183,000 from directors. The total amount raised by the stem cell services provider is £2.04m, including conversion of debt of £165,000. Shareholder approval is required for the share issue.Trading in the shares has resumed and the share price has fallen below the placing price. WideCells is using £615,000 of its £624,500 overdraft, which will be reviewed at the end of June. Shareholders have loaned £120,000.
China-based Gamfook Jewellery is planning to join the standard list. The online retailer customised jewellery wants to raise £5m in order to invest in retail sites. Gamfook has managed to generate cash from operating activities in the past few years, although next year there will be a significant working capital outflow according to forecasts. Gamfook is offering an 8.5% yield on its potential placing price of 15p a share and that would rise to 12.5% in 2019.
Air Partner (AIR) has completed its accounting review and the net assets overstatement of £4m net of tax is in line with indications. There were accounting errors and subsequent attempts to cover up the problems going back to 2010. The review has cost £1.3m. Air Partner still intends to pay a final dividend of 3.8p a share.
BATM (BVC) has won a $3m follow-on cyber security for a government department. The total contract value will be $7m.
Falcon Media House (FAL) has raised £500,000 via a convertible loan note issue. The conversion price is 1.5p a share.
Cash shell AIQ Ltd (AIQ) has raised £250,000 from an oversubscribed open offer at 20p a share but there was a delay of one day before the shares were admitted to trading on 14 June. The share price has slumped from a high of 160p to 24.5p over the past month.
Dukemount Capital (DKE) has agreed a 30-year lease on a second property in north west England. Housing association Inclusion Housing is paying £168,740 a year for the lease subject to planning permission for extra rooms. The property needs to be refurbished.
Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd (BMV) has executed the 50/50 joint venture agreement with Southern Gold for the Kochang mine and the feasibility report is expected before the end of September. The required $500,000 investment has nearly been completed by Bluebird and it is on course to invest the required $250,000 in Southern Gold. First gold is expected before the end of 2019.
Aveva Group AVV There are now so many ways of calculating profits that the figures have become almost meaningless and companies have the freedom to chose between profit before tax, on a diluted, adjusted, normal or statutory basis and the difference between these four can be and often are enormous. Companies can elect the headline for their results as ranging from a whopping loss to a thumping big profit. For the year to the 31st March Aveva has chosen to present them on a combined basis which shows an 8.6% rise in revenue and profits slumping by 34.3% unless you prefer the statutory figure with a rise of 8.8% or, even better, a rise of 23.3% on an adjusted basis. Thus Chairman and CEOs are left with complete freedom as to how they can best describe the company’s performance. Aveva decides the year as being transformational and promises that the years ahead are going to be even more exciting. Nobody can agree or disagree with these comments when all we know is that the company is either making a loss, or if not, then it is making a profit.
Majestic Wine WINE returned to profit and describes itself as making headway in headwinds in the year to the 2nd April. Last years loss of 1.5m was turned into a profit of 8.3m, with Naked Wines, where sales rose by 11.8%, being the key driver. UK retail remained challenging. Reported revenue rose by 2.3% but the final dividend reflects the transformation into profit with a rise from 3.6p to 5.2p. More important for the future is the fact that 20% of the business is now in the growth markets of the US and Australia.
PZ Cussons PZC has given plenty of notice of the bad times from which it is suffering in Nigeria and the UK and it now updates that trading in both these countries has continued to be difficult, with Nigeria actually getting worse. In other markets results have been robust and profit before tax for the full year is now expected to just scrape into the bottom end of the previously forecast range. Still worrying though to see how many of these household name companies are being dragged down by poor UK performances.
NWF Group NWF updates that it has delivered an outstanding performance, especially in fuels in the year to the end of May. Trading has been significantly ahead of both current market expectations and the previous year.
Mulberry Group plc MUL Revenue in the year to 31st March rose by 1% and retail sales by 3%. On the international front sales were good with a rise of 20% but the UK was flat and has gone even flatter since the year end with a drop of 9% and leading to a 7% fall in like for like goup retail sales for the 10 weeks to the 2nd June. Mulberry tries to put a brave face on the dismal news but can a fall of 9% in UK like for like retail sales over10 weeks be passed off as significant progress. New subsidiaries have been opened in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan but that has not been able to offset the lame excuse of a fall in UK footfall. Mulberry has a problem ad it seems to be getting worse.
Redhall Group plc RHL Despite a strongly growing order book, a strong tender pipeline and major contract awards in nuclear new build Redhalls first half performance has been impacted by programe delays. An adjusted operating profit of £0.2m has been turned into an operating loss of £1.9m. and a net cash position of £0.1m has been turned into debt of £4.5m Never mind, it has a transformation strategy underway.
Dewhurst plc DWHT did not have good first half. Sales and profits fell and group revenue declined by 5%. Profit before tax was down by 4% and operating profit collapsed by 19%. The strength of sterling had a 5% negative impact – presumably they must have found a part of the UK which had a different exchange rate to he rest of the country.. The interim dividend remains unchanged at 3.5p. per share. The business climate is seen as being reasonably positive, except of course for the UK., so presumably there my be a good chance of them getting a positive impact from the continuing fall of the pound.
Eckoh ECK at least brings some cheer into what is otherwise a gloomy day for UK plc. A strong performance in the US saw revenue there rise by 16% for the year to the 31st March and the UK order book grew strongly in the second half. Profit before tax increased by 61% and the final dividend is being increased from 0.48p to 0.55p, a rise of 15%. It is good to see that there some companies with management whose eye is on the ball and is not content to just sit back and whinge about the results of its own incompetence.
Ken Baksh – Brexit worries?…Think instead about European Property play,on a discount with dividend yield over 5%..payable quarterly in Euros,if desired
Launched in December 2015, the Schroder European Real Estate Investment Trust targets growth regions in Continental Europe and aims to provide a regular and attractive level of income together with the potential for long term income and capital growth.
With a certain degree of uncertainty surrounding the UK commercial property market (slowing economic growth, BREXIT) increasing number of investors are looking to continental Europe for their real estate exposure, and the SERE would seem to tick many boxes.
Ideal for an investor seeking above average income, with predominant exposure to European economies, and exhibiting low correlation with several other asset classes.May suit more cautious investor looking for income,paid quarterly, with lower correlation with mainstream bond and equity markets.
Following recent Interim figures published on June 12th-Hot from Press!
Results released on Tuesday 12th June, show Net Asset Value increasing 6.1% over the last six months to March 31st,2018 to Euro 1.39(£1.22), and dividend pay-out moving towards the company target of 5.5% on issue price. The current LTV ratio is 28%, and the company’s weighted interest cost is around 1.3% with a duration of over 6 years. The fund is fully invested in a portfolio with a value more than Euros 237 million and is currently 97% occupied. At current price of 113.5p, the stock trades on a discount to NAV of approximately 7% with a prospective annual yield of 5.4% payable in Euros or Sterling.
- Eurozone economic data continues to remain positive, growing faster than the UK over recent quarters and this relative outperformance is expected to continue. Private business surveys point to further growth and property and investment activity remains robust. A recent sample of German companies, for instance, showed rents rising between 4% and 6% over the last twelve months.
- SERE invests in cities/regions characterised by large liquid real estate markets such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Paris where local GDP are outperforming the national averages.
- The Trust is managed by Jeff O Dwyer, an experienced real estate investment manager, who is supported by nearly 100 property specialists located in key European hubs. The team see over Euro 2 billion of introductions each month, with the near-term pipeline comprising over Euros 115 million yielding between 5.8% and 7.5%.
- The process/risk control involves holding the bulk of the portfolio in stable income producing developments (approx. 70%) while adding a greater capital return component to the other 30% via refurbishments, change of use, lease extensions etc. A large portion of the rents are index linked.
- The purchase of a data/mixed user investment in Apeldoorn in February this year, on a very attractive 10% income yield leaves the fund fully invested.
- Geographical weighting is currently Germany (22.7%), France (50%), Holland and Spain (27%) by value. Approximately 45% of the property portfolio is represented by offices and 40.3% by retail, the latter predominantly in logistics centres, smaller supermarkets and convenience stores. These figures were effective on March 31, 2018.
- The top five properties were in Paris, Seville, Berlin and Biarritz.
- Portfolio is almost 100% occupied with a 6.8 years average lease time and net property income yield of 6%
SERE targets a fully covered Euro yield of 5.5%(7.5 Eurocents on a Euro equivalent issue price of Euro1.37). Dividends are declared in Euros, and paid quarterly, with UK shareholders being given the option of sterling or Euro pay-outs. Lease structures vary across Europe, but most typically have some form of inflation linkage, providing support for the target dividend.
Current discount to NAV (Euros 1.347-December 31st, 2017) represents a good level to be obtaining exposure to mainstream European property.
- The portfolio seeks to enhance property returns with a relatively modest level of gearing currently 28% LTV, (35% target LTV). The blended all in debt cost is 1.3% with an average maturity of around 6.5 years.
- Closed end fund structure with daily liquidity via a listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
Sources (LSE,company management and Numis Securities)
Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.
Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.
Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.
All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.
Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.
All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.
You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk
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Please contact Ken, (email@example.com) for further information