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Dixons Carphone plc DC Greece had become the jewel in Dixons international empire with like for like sales up 9% but it looks like that will not last for long unless Dixons management can start getting its act together. Smart phones is its problem. At one of its biggest Kotsovoulos stores in Athens it has had to stop selling smart phones because it has no staff trained and qualified to explain to customers what the terms of the contracts are which it offers with the three main service providers to enable it to give huge discounts on the prices of smart phones. Each model of smart phone has a price label next to it showing the discount and the specific contract which it offers with each provider. The problem is permanent, not temporary and it is that no staff member is allowed to tell customers what the terms of those contracts are because they are untrained and unqualified. Worse still they are trained to lie about the reason.Thus customers are told that a qualified employee from another store will be there from 5pm but it is just a lie. Other more truthful members of staff they will have to go to a store several miles away to find an employee with the necessary qualifications. They even advise customers to go directly to branches of the providers in a distant shopping mall, thus ensuring that Dixons loses the sale permanently. The manager joins in the deceit by claiming that the price labels do not advertise the package offered, they are purely notifications. Often it is the tiny things which expose the failings of management which is not on the ball, in some of our largest companies.
Thomas Cook Group TCG has been forced to admit that it can not compete with UK holidays when the UK enjoys hot summers, as it did this year in June and July. And if one thinks about it, that is not surprising because who wants to go through the trauma of spending part of their annual holiday trapped in a UK airport full of undrinkable coffee and British rail sandwiches, plus overbearing security officers waiting to pounce and perform an intimate body search at the slightest opportunity. What Cooks describes as the “unprecented” hot weather, led to higher levels of discounting and the recent trading performance has been disappointing, with full year operating profit expected to be only 280m. But then Cooks gives the game away by admitting that even bookings for next winter are down by 2% so the problems appear to be more ingrained than just a few weeks of summer sunshine. Dread the thought but could management perhaps be at fault if hot summer weather is followed by winter booking problems.
In the first half of 2018, Newbury Racecourse (NYR) increased media revenues by one-fifth and, along with growth in nursery and lodge revenues, this helped the racecourse operator to raise revenues by 5% to £7.33m even though two race days were lost to bad weather. Enough cash was generated to more than cover capital spending.
Block Commodities (BLCC) has signed a non-binding letter of intent with the Eelleet Network Corp, which intends to buy Block. There would be an all share recommended offer and the enlarged business would list on the Canadian Stock Exchange. Trading in Block shares has been suspended.
Ananda Developments (ANA) has obtained a £300,000 convertible loan facility with two directors, Charles Morgan and Melissa Sturgess. The annual interest rate is 10% and the conversion price is 0.75p a share. The manufacture of 15%-owned Liberty Herbal Technologies’ vaporisers and consumable packs containing four hapac sachets of 0.25g medicinal cannabis has commenced in China. AfriAg Global (AFRI) has applied for a medicinal cannabis licence in the UK. Fellow cannabis investment company Sativa Investments (SATI) has set up a German wholesaling subsidiary and it will invest €80,000 for a 60% stake.
In the six months to June 2018, St Mark Homes (SMAP) increased revenues from £71,000 to £139,000 and it made a small loss excluding negative goodwill release. The interim dividend was unchanged at 5.5p a share. The NAV is £5.9m, including £754,000 in cash, which is equivalent to 134p a share. St Mark is trying to gain planning permission for the commercial development in Sutton High Street. Two other properties in London are being redeveloped and sales have commenced. A development in Wembley should start in 2019.
TechFinancials Inc (TECH) reported a profit in the first half of 2018, but that was due to a change in the fair value of the option to acquire 90% of Cedex. Revenues fell 48% to $3.78m and the underlying loss of the fintech software provider increased from $282,000 to $971,000. The blockchain operations made an initial contribution of $1.23m to revenues. The B2C operations have ceased in Europe and the company wants to sell its subsidiary with a FSA licence. Higher regulations have hampered the B2B technology customers.
NQ Minerals (NQMI) reported an increased interim loss of $9.43m due to higher finance costs. Admin costs were flat. The development of the Hellyer gold project in Tasmania is progressing well and the first sales of concentrate should happen before the end of this year. Work continues towards a move to a standard listing.
Less than one month after asking for trading in the company’s 7% bonds 2021 to be suspended Positive Healthcare (DOC) has appointed Eric Walls and Wayne Harrison of KSA to advise on a liquidation process. Irregularities were identified at the principal operating subsidiary and Positive is unable to pay the next instalment of interest on the bonds.
Eight Capital Partners (MORE) had cash of £773,000 at the end of June 2018. That was before the former Cogenpower acquired €111,100 worth of 8% corporate bonds 2020 in Italian financial services company Finance Partners Group. Other financial services and technology investments are being considered.
EPE Special Opportunities (ESO) has been readmitted to NEX and AIM on 21 September, after it completed its migration from the Isle of Man to Bermuda.
IT recruitment and consultancy Parity (PTY) remains on track for an improvement in pre-tax profit from £1.7m to £1.9m but cash generation is not as good as expected. Net debt is still expected to reduce from £1.6m to £900,000. The previously announced Primark managed services contract has started well, although another contract has been delayed. The consultancy business continues to contribute a growing proportion of profit.
Tlou Energy Ltd (TLOU) has agreed locations for pilot production at the Lesedi coal bed methane project in Botswana and the first well should be spudded in October.
N+1 Singer has upgraded its forecast for EKF Diagnostics (EKF) following the interim figures. There was a 5% decline in revenues to £20.4m, while underlying profit improved from £2.3m to £2.7m. Around £250,000 has been added to the profit, taking pre-tax profit to £7.7m. The launch of haemoglobin analyser DiaSpect following FDA approval will boost next year’s figures. The spin out of RenalytixAI continues and it will require a general meeting.
Audio products supplier Focusrite (TUNE) says full year revenues were in line with expectations of £75.4m, while cash of £22.8m is better than forecast. A pre-tax profit of £10.8m is forecast. There are concerns about US tariffs.
Tanfield (TAN) has warned that it may not get anything for its stake in Snorkel if the call option is exercised. Management has already said that it will write down the value of the investment to £19.1m ($25.3m), which already knocks 12p a share off NAV, but there is a disagreement about the interpretation of the original agreement.
Disappointing results from the Atopic Dermatitis study has led Realm Therapeutics (RLM) to appoint MTS Health Partners to advise on strategy alternatives. Realm is considered to be in an offer period. There was $21.3m in the bank at the end of August.
Short-term weakness in the oil palm price has held back the progress of plantations operator MP Evans (MPE) in the first half, but crude palm oil production is increasing in line with expectations (91,900 tons in the first half). That means that full year revenues are likely to be flat and pre-tax profit will be lower. Longer-term growth will come from increased production from more recently planted areas.
Online women’s fashion retailer Sosandar (SOS) is coming up to its first year on AIM and the growth momentum continues.
Huadong Medicine Aesthetics has launched its recommended 32p a share cash bid for Sinclair Pharma (SPH) and that values the company at £166.6m.
There has been a lot of activity at Frontier IP (FIPP) in the past week. The AB Sugar head of innovation Matthew White is joining the company as head of commercialisation. Recycled building materials developer Alusid has raised £1.34m, including the conversion of a £348,000 loan from Frontier IP, which has a 35.6% stake. The Alusid investment had been valued at £700,000 and the latest fundraising values it at £1.73m. The cash will be used by Alusid to invest in its manufacturing facility, which should start production in 2020. The total cost will be £10m. A new company has been set up to develop new antibiotics. Frontier IP has a 10% stake in Amprologix, which has been spun out of the University of Plymouth. The first product is likely to be a cream that contains epidermicin, which can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA.
There was a switch in the mix of revenues at job screening services provider ClearStar Inc (CLSU) in the first half as revenues increased by 11% to $9.9m. The growth has come from Medical Information Systems, which has lower margins and this means that the overall loss is reducing more slowly than expected. The cash outflow is small. Net cash is $1.2m.
Diurnal Group (DNL) is going along as expected with the launch of its Alkindi paediatric adrenal insufficiency treatment in Germany but the market has been unnerved by a negative comment from a German government research organisation. It pointed out that the performance of Alkindi was not compared with another treatment which has not been given regulatory approval. This does not appear likely to affect the relationship with the German regulatory authorities. There will be news from the European phase III trial for Chronocort before the end of the year.
Stockdale has initiated research on professional services group Christie Group (CTG) and expects a full year profit of £3.5m. It has already achieved an interim profit of £1.75m.
VR Education (VRE) still had £4.9m in the bank at the end of June 2018. Since then there have been improvements to the ENGAGE platform ahead of the full commercial launch before the end of the year. The full version of Titanic VR was launched in August and it is set to be launched on Playstation.
Energy supplier Yu Group (YU.) continues to grow rapidly and it is moving into the water sector. Interim revenues jumped from £20.8m to £35.8m, while underlying pre-tax profit moved ahead from £1.15m to £1.8m. Growth is coming from the larger corporate sector which has held back margins because they are via brokers. The interim dividend is one-fifth higher at 1.2p a share. There was £18.2m in the bank at the end of June 2018.
N4 Pharma (N4P) has undertaken a strategic review following the failure of the reformulation of sildenafil to achieve its key targets in its clinical trial. It would cost a lot and increase risk if the company undertook further reformulation of this generic. The generics division has been closed and the focus will be the Nuvec delivery system. Initial results from research should be available before the end of the year. There was £1.6m in the bank at the end of June 2018.
Books publisher Quarto Group (QRT) increased interim revenues from $50.2m to $56.2m and the underlying loss fell from $8.7m to $6.6m. Net debt was $73.2m at the end of June 2018. Management is talking to banks to extend the bank facility until August 2020. Costs are being reduced.
Spinnaker Opportunities (SOP) intends to broaden its investment remit to include cannabis processing, as well as the energy and industrial sectors. Finance professional Alan Hume has joined the board of the standard list shell. He was previously an adviser to the company and until last year finance director of Zenith Energy (ZEN). Between 2010 and 2012 he was finance director of Xtract Energy (XTR).
Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd (BMV) has completed its feasibility report into the reopening of the Gubong gold mine and the joint venture with Southern Gold has started. Production of 10,000 ounces of gold is initially targeted.
Brand CEO Alan Green discusses i3 Energy #I3E, Itaconix #ITX, Smart Metering #SMS & Hastings Grp #HSTG on the Vox Markets podcast
Brand CEO Alan Green discusses i3 Energy #I3E, Itaconix #ITX, Smart Metering #SMS & Hastings Grp #HSTG with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast. Interview starts at 12 minutes 45 seconds.
Diageo plc DGE updates prior to its AGM that the year has started well but increased foreign exchange volatility in emerging markets will have a £175m impact on sales and a £45m.impact on operating profit for the fiscal year.
Stobart Group plc STOB has issued a pre close trading statement for the six months to the 31st August showing that aviation passenger numbers at London Southend Airport have risen by 37%. Further growth will be added with the start of Ryanair flights in spring 2019, the target being to reach 5m passengers per year by 2022. Stobart claims it is well placed to deliver the ambitious growth targets set by the Board to double the value of the business. An interim dividend of 4.5p per share is to be paid.
Kier Group plc KIE announces what it describes as a good set of results for the year to 30th June with all divisions performing well. The year ended with a record order book of 10.2bn in construction and services. Both profit before tax and basic earnings per share rose by 9% and an increase of 2% is proposed in the full year dividend.
Iofina IOF has continued to improve both revenue and profitability. in the half year to the 30th June. Revenue rose by 20% on top of which it benefited from price rises of 8% and production increases. Iodine prices are continuing to rise and production increased by 12% ahead of revised production targets. EBITDA was up by 6% and the operating loss was reduced to $47,000 and the loss before tax to $0.8m.
The City Pub Group CPC claims it made strong progress in the half year to the 1st July, with sales up by 24%, adjusted EBITDA by 25% and adjusted profit before tax by 73%. Nine pubs have been opened this year and it anticipates operating more than 50 by mid 2019. It is ahead of its strategy to double in size to 65-70 sites by 2021.The momentum seen in the first half has continued into the second half
Kingfisher KGF Despite double digit declines in virtually everything for the half year to the 31st July, Kingfisher tries to put a brave face on things and claim that for the third year in a row, it is on track to deliver strategic milestones. That can only be true if it had some very peculiar milestones in mind such as falls of 30.1% and 29.5% in statutory post and pre tax profits and basic earnings per share down by 27.1%.The half year report is littered with words such as tough, challenges, inefficiencies, mixed and difficult, each one a give away as to how bad things really are.
Constant currency sales fell by 1.1%, adjusted profit before tax was down by 18% and basic earnings per share by 15.4%. The performance in France needs support which does not sound very encouraging and all that is said for the outlook for the rest of the year, is that in its main markets things will continue to be mixed.
Babcock International Group BAB has issued a further update covering the period from the 1st April, confirming that it continues to make significant progress in expanding its international businesses. New offices are being opened in South Korea and Japan. Low single digit underlying organic revenue growth at constant currency is expected for the full year and margins are expected to be stable.
Stagecoach Group SGC provides an update for the financial year to the 27th April which is rather curates eggish. Revenue decreases in London Bus reflected the impact of contracts lost in the previous year but the regions provided like for like growth of 3.2%. Operating costs were higher in the hot weather which sounds like a sort of “wrong type of leaves on the line” sort of excuse. North America failed to impress with a like for like revenue decline of 3.8%.
Science in Sport SIS enjoyed strong growth in the half year to the 30th June with revenue rising by 20% to 9.93m. In the three months to August growth is described as having been very strong. Core business has been profitable at the half year for the first time with £0.3 million EBITDA. International markets also performed strongly with growth of 53% and international revenue now accounts for 34% of the total compared to 27% in the previous year.
Ocado Group plc OCDO produced revenue growth of 11.5% in the quarter to the 2nd September plus double digit growth of 11.4% in the average number of weekly orders.The average size of the orders remained constant at 106. The unique proprietary technology at the new warehouse at Erith enabled Ocado to process over 20,000 customer orders with 14 weeks of opening, compared to the 15 months it took the Andover warehouse to achieve the same throughput.
BBA Aviation BBA announces that it has acquired Firstmark Corp for a consideration of $97m. Firstmark is a leading provider of highly engineered, proprietary components and subsystems for the aerospace and defence industries.The acquisition enhances BBA’s exposure to the commercial and military aerospace markets.
Spire Healthcare Group SPI managed to maintain its interim dividend at 1.3p per share despite a decline in performance for the six months to the 30th June. NHS admissions fell significantly, coupled with lower than anticipated growth in Private admissions and the cost of investment in Clinical quality and Consumer engagement.Whilst revenue only fell by 1.1%, EBITDA was down by 20.6%, adjusted profit after tax by 52.7% and basic earnings per share by 52.9%. The company admits that the results are disappointing but claims that everybody else is facing similar headwinds and significant business challenges. Nonetheless it has a new strategy, which it claims “is absolutely the right one”, albeit the outlook for the full year has still had to be revised.
Plant Healthcare PHC expects strong revenue growth in the second half which would lead to growth of 30% for the full year. Revenue for the six months to the 30th June was down slightly from $3.1m to $3m.The company also expects to become cash positive in 2020.
Pure Circle Limited PURE showed a return to growth in both revenue and net profit after tax for the year to the 30th June. Sales rose by 10%, with a particularly strong recovery in North America, volume was up by 17% and net profit after tax by 20%.
Smart Metering Systems SMS is increasing its interim dividend by 15% for the half year to the 30th June, after a 27% rise in sales. EBITDA increased by 29% and profit before tax by 9%
Dairy Crest Group DCG expects profit for the half year to the 30th September to be slightly ahead of last year, with revenue driven by strong performances from its two largest brands, Cathedral City and Clover. Cathedral City continues to go from strength to strength reports the company and several new products will be released by the brand, over the coming months.
Finsbury Food FIF claims that its performance over the year to the 30th June has illustrated its resilience and ability to deliver against its strategic priorities.The dividend is to be increased by 10% after like for like revenue rose by 2.4% and on a statutory basis profit before tax, fell by 65.7% and basic earnings per share by 76.1%, whilst an adjusted basis they rose by 4% and 2.7%. respectively.
Christie Group CTG is raising its interim dividend by 25% for the six months to the 30th June after operating profit nearly doubled from £1.1m to £2. and basic earnings per share rose from 1.53p per share to 5.18p. Revenue for the half year rose by 10%.
Warpaint London W7L is increasing its interim dividend by 7% after sales for the half year to the 30th June shot up by 38.7%, or 7.3% on a like for like basis and gross profit rose by 30%. The order book as at the 30th June was significantly ahead compared to the same time last year
Galliford Try plc GFRD claims a very strong underlying performance for the year to the 30th June which is perhaps the understatement of the year, with profit before tax up by 145% and earnings per share by 128%. The final dividend is however reduced by 10%, following the re-statement of last years dividend. The continued financial support for the housebuilders by its friends in government begins to look more and more unjustified and more like an outright bribe to the industry in exchange for political support. This has become capitalist greed at its worst and nobody cares less that a direct consequence is that few can now afford what used to be a Tory birthright – ownership of your own home.
SSE plc SSE Things have not got any better for SSE after it issued its July update warning of the consequences of warm dry weather, lower consumption and higher gas prices, which were expected to impact first quarter operating profit by some £80m. It has continued to suffer from dry, still and warm weather and persistently high gas prices, resulting in higher energy costs, lower output from renewable sources and lower consumption. In the first five months operating profit has been negatively affected by about £190.m with the result that adjusted operating profit for the six months to 30 September 2018 is expected to be about halved from last year’s figure.
Sports Direct Intl SPD updates that its strategy to transform House of Fraser into the Harrods of the High Street will be ” a game changer.”, with current expectations that it will achieve between a 5% and 15% improvement in underlying EBITDA for the current financial year, excluding the acquisition of House of Fraser.
Dunelm Group DNLM reports what it describes as healthy sales growth during the last year which enables it to increase its final dividend by a mighty 1.9%. Group revenue for the year to the 30th June increased by 9.9% whilst like for like sales sales grew by 4.2%. Underlying operating profit before tax was down by 6.7%. The UK retail environment continues to remain challenging says the company but trading during the current financial year to date is in line with expectations .