Property investor Ace Liberty & Stone (ALSP) has had a busy week of acquisitions and disposals. Shildon House in Gateshead has been acquired for £1.825m, while Hume House in Leeds is being sold for £3.55m – a profit of £1.88m – although the deal is not expected to complete until the end of this year. Ace has bought out the 62% shareholder in Radcliff Property, the company that owned Telephone House which was sold in October, for £1.235m. Ace has already received £2.8m from the Telephone House sale but there is a dilapidations claim on a former tenant and Ace will now get 100% of any settlement. In the six months to October 2015, revenues jumped from £404,000 to £990,000, while pre-tax profit increased from £282,000 to £514,000. There was a £252,000 cash inflow from operations and net debt was £2.64m at the end of October. Of course, this is before the latest deals and some others that have been announced since October. NAV was £13.8m and the property portfolio, valued at £20.1m, generates more than £2.26m of annual rental income. Hybridan has been appointed as broker. At 3.75p (3.5p/4p) a share, Ace is valued at £21.9m.
Wheelsure Holdings (WHLP), which develops locking nut devices for railway tracks, reported a sharply reduced loss in the year to August 2015. Revenues improved from £144,000 to £240,000 and combined with lower admin expenses this helped the loss decline from £406,000 to £228,000. House broker Daniel Stewart forecasts more than doubled revenues and near break even this year.
Hydro Hotel, Eastbourne (HYPD) reported a higher profit in the year to October 2015. Revenues edged up from £3.07m to £3.13m, while pre-tax profit moved from £124,000 to £134,000. There was £1.15m in the bank. Hydro has already announced an unchanged total dividend of 18p a share, although it is not fully covered by earnings. At 750p (725p/775p) a share, Hydro is valued at £4.5m. Second half trading improved after a weak first half. Staff costs are rising this year.
Investing company Globe Capital Ltd (GCAP) raised £100,000 at 0.105p a share and there is a warrant exercisable at 0.0025p each attached to each placing share. Globe had £11,000 left in the bank at the end of June 2015 and there had been a cash outflow of £188,000. The chief executive has resigned and this could mark a change in focus. Globe had been focused on investing in debt and equity of businesses but failed to find a suitable investment. New director and 3.3% shareholder David Barnett has a background in the fashion industry. Globe was previously known as Ford Eagle Ltd and when it changed its name in June 2013 it raised £207,000 via an open offer at 1p a share and it was capitalised at nearly £250,000 at the open offer price. Later that year, £199,000 was raised at 0.4p a share. At 0.625p a share, Globe is valued at £1.2m, although the bid offer spread is 0.25p/1p and there are no reported trades on the ISDX website suggesting that this is not necessarily fully reflective of the business particularly as the placing is at such a discount to the bid price.
AfriAg (AFRI) has decided to leave AIM and concentrate on its ISDX quotation and it says this could save up to £40,000 a year. Trading via ISDX has been increasing since this quotation was obtained. If shareholders agree AfriAg will leave AIM on 24 February. Although the strategy will stay the same AfriAg has hinted that it is assessing strategic options.
Vertu Motors (VTU) has bought three Honda dealerships from fully listed rival Lookers for £2m. Vertu has 12 Honda dealerships and this makes it the largest Honda car retailer in Europe and it also operates two motorcycle dealerships. All three sites adjoin existing dealership areas and they broke even last year. Vertu says that the acquisition will be earnings enhancing in its first full year.
Cathexis has increased its offer for Interior Services Group (ISG) from 143p a share to 171p a share. This bid is open until 17 February and will not be extended unless there is a rival bid. There were acceptances for the previous bid equal to 1.7% of the ISG share capital. Cathexis has taken its own stake above 30% so this is a mandatory bid.
Online business and marketing platform operator blur (BLUR) reported a decreased cash burn in the fourth quarter partly due to lower development spending. The quarterly cash burn more than halved to $1.5m. More of the projects put on the site are being taken up and completed, while the move towards larger customers is paying off. Revenues are estimated to have been $2.7m in 2015, while the underlying loss is around $10m. That loss is expected halve next year and the rate of cash burn will slow further and net cash is forecast to fall from £6.3m to £2.2m.
Learning Technologies Group (LTG) has expanded its US e-learning interests through the $26m acquisition of Nashville-based Rustici Software. The business is international and it is involved in a wide number of sectors. In 2015, revenues were $6.6m, mainly recurring, and EBITDA was $2.7m. Up to $11m more may become payable depending on performance. Watershed Systems Inc has been split from the rest of the business with LTG taking a 30% stake and the former Rustici owners will own the rest. Watershed is developing a new learning analytics platform that will gather and analyse learning data and LTG is injecting $3m for its stake.
Specialist IFA Frenkel Topping (FEN) says that 2015 figures are broadly in line with expectations with assets under management of £666m at the end of the year. House broker Shore has been updating its forecasts and it has reduced the 2016 figures but increased the 2017 ones. This is because 2016 is a transitional year as assets under management are moved to come under its own management. This still requires final FCA approval. A profit of £1.74m is forecast for 2016, rising to £3.28m in 2017.
IP-focused investment company FastForward Innovations Ltd (FFWD) has raised £5.6m from a placing at 15p a share – a premium to the then market price although it was as high as 18.25p earlier in the month. The share price ended the week at 15.25p. The shares issued are just under one-quarter of the enlarged share capital. The previous placing raised £3.17m at 8p a share. The latest placing follows the appointment of board director Lorne Abony as chief executive and he invested more than £800,000 taking his stake to 19.7%. He stood down from the boards of two investee companies – Vested Finance Inc and Vemo Education Inc – and he will not be involved in future investment decisions relating to them. There are seven investments in the portfolio. Abony has been the boss of two other AIM-quoted (and TSX-listed) companies that were based in Canada – Fun Technologies and Mood Media Corporation.
Tissue Regenix (TRX) has signed a joint venture with GTM-V to form a tissue bank in Rostock, Germany and management believes that this model can be used to expand internationally. Tissue Regenix has invested €250,000 in cash in the joint venture, which has been granted licences for human dCELL . Regulatory submissions for EU approval are being prepared and the first human tissue treatment products based on the dCELL decellularisation technology could be launched in Germany next year.
Call centre and outsourced customer services provider IBEX Global Solutions (IBEX) says that it has won two new clients in financial services and consumer electronics and it has opened a new operation in Nicaragua. There are plans for an additional site in the next few months. Focusing on higher margin business means that the interim figures will be in line with expectations and the second half will benefit from the new customers. The interims will be published on 24 February. House broker Cenkos forecasts 2015-16 earnings equivalent to 14.3p a share, which puts the shares on eight times prospective earnings.
A strong final quarter meant that publisher Quarto Group (QRT) beat 2015 expectations. A better than expected contribution from the Ivy Press acquisition and the strong performance of adult colouring books were behind the improved trading. A profit of around $13.5m is anticipated. Net debt was $59.7m at the end of 2015 – Northland had forecast $60.7m. A profit of around $15m is expected for 2016. At 217.5p a share, Quarto is trading on little more than six times prospective earnings.
Interim figures from automotive manuals and information publisher Haynes Publishing (HYNS) show an improvement in profit in what is the weaker half of the year. In the six months to November 2015, revenues were 3% ahead at £12.2m, while pre-tax profit increased from £55,000 to £295,000. However, capitalised development spending, net of amortisation, increased from £48,000 to £464,000. Net debt was ££475,000 at the end of November 2015. Haynes continues to review its structure and costs. US and Australian revenues were much lower and this was made up for by higher European revenues. There was growth in UK manual sales but against a weak comparative period but the focus is developing the digital platform. Digital revenues were more than one-quarter of the interim total. An unchanged interim dividend of 3.5p a share was announced. A full year profit of £2.47m is forecast. James Bunkum has joined the board as chief financial officer designate and he takes over the role in May.
Standard list investment company Highlands Natural Resources (HNR) has published its prospectus for the acquisition of 75% of patents and know how rights for DT Ultravert and it has raised £765,000 at 12p a share. The cash will cover the costs of field trials for the technology that are part of a potential licence agreement with Schlumberger.