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Wheelsure Holdings (WHLP), which develops locking nut devices for railway tracks, has been introduced to new potential customers in the US and Europe for its Tracksure products and it is undertaking a review of its resources and indentifying opportunities in other sectors. Tracksure already sells to the Norfolk Southern Railroad and potential US customers include major metro systems operators and a manufacturer of crossings. Tracksure is also in talks with a major European crossings manufacturer. At 0.9p (0.8p/1p) a share, Wheelsure is valued at £1.5m.
Diversified Oil & Gas (DOIL) has issued a further £3.6m of 8.5% unsecured bonds 2020, taking the total raised to £4.2m. Diversified has agreed to acquire around 1,000 oil and gas wells in the US for $4.8m, which is a 70% discount to estimated future cash flows. At current oil and gas prices, these wells should generate annual revenues of $6.5m and EBITDA of $1.5m. This will take the number of wells operated in the Appalachian Basin to more than 5,000.
Ecovista (EVTP) has raised £500,000 at 0.08p a share in order to finance further property investments. That is the market price of the shares. On 8 March, 1,274,998 shares were traded at 0.02p each and 15,000 at 0.075p each.
SQS Software Quality Systems (SQS) is growing strongly in the US but higher tax and minority interests charges held back earnings per share. That is why the dividend has been held steady at €0.13 a share. Revenues grew from €268.5m to €320.7m with organic growth on top of the additional contributions from acquisitions and pre-tax profit improved from €18.8m to €20.8m. Earnings per share were flat at €0.371 a share. Net debt was €6m at the end of 2015. Managed services continue to make a greater contribution and this should help profit to grow to €24.9m this year.
Outsourced point of service software developer Escher Group (ESCH) returned to profit in 2015 even though revenues were flat. This is because maintenance revenues grew by one-third and the figures are not dependent on one or two large licence agreements. Historically, international post offices have been the customer base but newer customers, such as central governments and banks are using the software. The shares are trading on around 20 times prospective earnings.
Private client broker Share (SHRE) has edged up its market share to 8% but 2015 revenues have slipped and it was only profitable because of the £1.7m gain on the disposal of part of its stake in the London Stock Exchange. The dividend has been increased from 0.62p a share to 0.74p a share, which is not covered by earnings and it may be difficult to cover even an unchanged dividend for this year. There may even be a reduction in the dividend this year, particularly as Share is investing in its systems – although the benefits will not show through until 2017. There was £11.7m in the bank at the end of 2015 and this provides some scope for maintaining the dividend.
Mercia Technologies (MERC) is paying up to £11m for Enterprise Ventures and the acquisition will be immediately earnings enhancing. Enterprise manages third party funds and will provide additional investment prospects in the technology sector and boost Mercia’s position in northern England. Enterprise also has an experienced investment team with a good track record of successful investment exits. One of Enterprise’s most successful investments is OptiBiotix (OPTI), which is developing treatments based on the human microbiome.
Abzena (ABZA) says that contract bookings for its expanded range of services have been strong. The Cambridge-based life sciences services provider says that last year’s acquisitions are being integrated and the manufacturing capacity in San Diego is about to be expanded. Abzena has signed a licence agreement for its ADC linker technology ThioBridge, which links antibodies and proteins to drugs. There is potential for licence fees and milestones of up to $150m as well as royalties on any products.
Avingtrans (AVG) has secured a £75m contract for the supply of rigid pipe assemblies, lasting ten years, with Rolls-Royce. The contract includes the engine programme for the Airbus A350, which should build up and reach maturity in 2019. Avingtrans recently completed the £3.5m acquisition of Rolls-Royce’s internal pipe manufacturing businesses. There have been no changes to forecasts with a profit recovery from £2.9m to £4.1m expected in the year to May 2016, and further improvement to £6m the following year.
Outplacement and recruitment services provider Penna Consulting (PNA) is recommending a 365p a share bid from Adecco. That values the company at £105.3m. This is the highest level the share price has been in the past decade and it is nearly treble the level it was one year ago. The shareholders will also receive a 4p a share interim dividend.
Outsourced customer leads and inquiries services provider Digital Globe Services Ltd (DGS) returned to profit in the first half and it is paying an interim dividend of 2.6 cents a share – the ex-dividend date is 17 March. There was no interim last year because of the reported loss but there was a final dividend of 4.1 cents a share. In the six months to December 2015, revenues were 29% ahead at $23.7m and an underlying loss of $405,000 became a profit of $1.41m. DGS did make a similar profit in the six months to June 2015. Net cash was $521,000 at the end of 2015, having paid dividends of $1.1m. To put this in perspective, DGS made a pre-tax profit of $2.9m in 2011-12, prior to joining AIM and it has a way to go to get back to the profit of $3.38m in 2013-14 even though revenues are much higher. That is why the share price has slumped from the placing price of 159p a share when the company joined AIM in February 2013. DGS is trying to diversify its client base.
Management is bidding 1.25p a share for quantity surveyor Baqus five years after it left AIM. That values the company at £1.25m, which is a small premium to the valuation of the business by Fairhurst Accountants. Seven directors are behind the management buyout. The share price slumped by 1.12p to 1.25p, when the AIM exit was announced in April 2011, which valued Baqus at £1.42m. Baqus argues that it has been difficult to attract and retain staff. Trading in the northern business is strong but London-based business has declined.
IP Group has sold its entire stake in Tracsis (TRCS). The disposal of shares in the transport optimisation software and services provider raised £13.1m for the IP-based businesses developer. The original investment was £400,000 and IP Group has received dividends of more than that figure.
China-focused healthcare sector investor Cathay International Holdings Ltd (CTI) owns 50.56% of Hong Kong-listed Lansen Pharmaceutical Holdings, which has admitted that its profit fell last year after a decline in sales of a rebranded product and launch costs of new products. That is before additional one-off losses, including losses related to the Chinese regulatory authorities found that a subsidiary had produced sub-standard ginkgo tablets. Overall, there will be a substantial decline in profit. There is a potential insurance claim relating to flooding but how this will be handled in the accounts is yet to be decided. Lansen associate company Zhejiang Starry Pharmaceutical is expected to join the Shanghai Stock Exchange during March. Lansen’s stake is likely to be diluted from 21.5% to 16.1%.