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Ian Pollard – Footasylum #FOOT impacted

Finsbury Food Group FIF has acquired 100% of the share capital of Ultrapharm Limited a specialist Free From bakery manufacturer with site in the UK & Poland. Finsbury claims that the acquisition  supports the Group’s ongoing strategy to further diversify its product capability into high growth areas.

Tax Systems plc TAX enjoyed a strong first half with revenue growth of 14% for the six months to the 30th June.EBITDA for the half year grew by 9% and order intake by 22%.

Footasylum FOOT expects growth for the full year to be significantly lower than previous guidance with adjusted EBITDA down to less than half  that for full year 2018. Revenue for the six months  to the 25th August  is expected to show a rise of 18.5% with online revenue in particular up by 28.5%. Trading has however, been impacted by weak consumer sentiment and more challenging conditions in July and August. Delays in store openings and upgrades.have also exacerbated the situation.

Biome Technologies BIOM delivered an exceptional start to the year and an outstanding first half enabled it to deliver a small operating profit of £0.2m. in the six months to the 30th June compared to last years loss of £0.2m. Group revenue for the half increased by 47% to £4.4m.

Safestyle UK plc SFE announces a comprehensive settlement of its claims against NIAMAC Developments Ltd (trading as SafeGlaze UK) for alleged trade mark infringement, passing off, misuse of confidential information, malicious falsehood and various other matters. NIAMAC has agreed that the existing court injunctions against it will be replaced by formal undertakings to the court. Steps have also been agreed to prevent the possibility of any acts of intimidation or harassment of Safestyle UK representatives and in addition, SafeGlaze UK will also change its trading name. A fairly comprehensive victory, if ever there was one.

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Ian Pollard – Finsbury Foods #FIF accelerates reshaping of Asset footprint !!

Finsbury Food FIF Once you read that the group has done well in accelerating the  reshaping of its asset footprint during the year to the 30th June, you know that it has had problems. Meaningless jargon is always a sign of a management lost for words even if it does manage to claim that its performance has been resilient. In fact so resilient that sales, taking into account closed businesses, declined by 3.4% and even the 50% owned European business saw a drop of 0.7%. On a like for like basis group sales rose by 2.4% and FIF is confident that it will deliver profits in line with expectation. The trading environment was very challenging with unprecedented commodity and labour inflation.

Inland Homes INL updates that growth in both revenues and homes delivered and under construction was strong during the year to the 30th June. Good quality also helped customer demand to remain strong, as did an average affordable selling price of 293,000 per unit. Open market completions rose by 46.3% and revenue by 66.7% but as for the future there seems to be a cloud on the horizon, with forward sales as at the trading update down by 23.1%

Plant Health Care PHC Is on track to achieve full year revenue expectations, which would represent 30% growth over 2017. In Brazil, Harpin αβ was launched in February 2018 for use on sugarcane  and demonstration field trials showed an average yield increase of over 20% whilst n the USA, an agreement has been reached which will give Harpin αβ access to the large corn seed treatment market.  First sales will be in the second half of 2018. The planted area of corn has now reached 90 million acres and significant growth is expected thereafter.

TP Group TPG claims it has made a strong start to 2018 with the completion of a number of major contracts during the half yer to the 30th June. A new manufacturing facility in Manchester has also been completed and it continues to be active in the acquisition field.

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Ian Pollard – Will bullying Melrose #MRO shareholders win the day?

Melrose MRO Today the gloves are off as Melrose goes to war in its attempts to persuade GKN shareholders to abandon its company. If ever an example was needed as to how the City is no longer a place for gentlemen, Melrose provides it with a hectoring, bullying diatribe threatening GKN shareholders with the terrible financial consequences of their own folly if they are stupid enough to reject Melrose’s offer.There is only one problem and it is a problem which Melrose has created for itself. Its attitude and language is so extreme that it makes it appear that this is its last desperate throw of the dice after which its ammunition is exhausted.

Thus Melrose’s final offensive, attacks GKN’s “hastily assembled and ill considered proposals”, threatens GKN shareholders that “unless they accept our offer” there will be dire consequences and compares GKN rebuttal with what they laughingly call their own “measured approach”. In fact there is nothing measured about today’s response.  Its warnings read like the last gambit of a contestant which is running scared and knows it has already lost the battle. Rarely in the world of takeovers has a company made such a disastrous tactical error. It deliberately chose to turn itself into the beast to be feared, a wolf without any sheeps clothing. People who are threatened and treated as stupid, tend to rebel. Melrose has only itself to blame if it is rebuffed.

Finsbury Foods FIF claims that half year results to the 30th December were robust and is increasing its interim dividend by 10% to 1.1p per share. Like for like revenue rose by 2.5% and profit before tax by 6.3% as the group showed resilience in the face of a sustained period of “market wide headwinds” which it says, will persist into the future.

Weatherly International WTI announces that it may have come to the end of a long and difficult road. It renegotiated its loans from Orion on the 31st August, 30th October and 31st December and it is now faced with repayments of $20m. by the 31st March. It admits that it is unlikely to generate sufficient surplus cash to be able to meet the repayment and its continued existence as a going concern will not be possible without Orion’s continued support, of which there is no certainty.

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Ian Pollard – Countryside Properties -A Lesson in Clarity and Profitability

United Utilities UU must have decided to make its half year report as obscure and meaningless as possible. Thus it is full of PR19S, ODIs, RCV Gearing and the latest craze, System Thinking. What it wont do because presumably it would make the figures for the 6 months to the end of September too easy to understand, is tell you the percentages by which mundane things like revenue and profit in all its various guises have risen. That is a fairly easy task for even the most junior office boy in most head offices – but perhaps I should not run the risk of being regarded  as sexist when of course I should have said “junior person”. So you can have your profits four ways – underlying, reported, underlying after tax and  reported after tax   but what you are definately not allowed to see are the figures on a statutory basis. The figure all show reasonable increases and the interim dividend is going up from 12.95p to13.24p per share. What that rise means in percentage terms is however a closely gaurded secret, known only to that junior person at head office who is the only member of senior management with the System Thinking skills able to work it out.

Thomas Cook Group TCG has woken up to the fact that it is a “good thing” to claim to have a customer focused strategy. Not before time, some may say, after the traumas of recent years. How serious they are about it remain to be seen but having discovered that it can lead to profitable growth,  there may be a fair chance that they will give it a go.

Their table of figures is not all that easy to understand but I think I have got it after the third reading. Profit after tax for the year to the 30th Spetember has risen from 1 to 12 which is clearly shown as a difference of  11 which in the last colomn becomes a like for like rise of 7 on a constant currency basis. If you would like to know what the 7 means you are invited to proceed to page 12 – clearly this must be part of the new customer focused strategy. Underlying earnings per share is understandable with a rise from 8.1p to 9.3p and there is an explanation that like for like group revenue on a constant currency basis has risen by 9%. The recommended dividend is  0.6p per share but we are not enlightened as to whether that is a rise or a fall on last year. Perhaps I should go back to page 12 to find out. And before I forget, cutting complexity is one way in which they intend to produce further growth. Some chance.

Countryside Properties CSP shows how it should be done. Simple. On an adjusted basis earnings per share rose by 71% in the year to the end of September, revenue was up by 32%, completion by 28% and operating profit by 34%. It was an excellent and record year and perhaps one of the most significant statistics (which will be very unwelcome to the competition) is that they reduced the average selling price by 8% which most housebuilders would regard as a criminal offence.

Finsbury Foods FIF announces that the UK retail food market hass moved from a deflatioary to an inflationary environment and thus helped to take the load off managements shoulders which is now finding it easier to run a bakery profitably. UK sales have risen by 5% whilst European sales are down by 3% despite all those fancy baguettes, brioches and black unsliced.

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RWS Holdings – Excellent Performance In An Outstanding Year

RWS Holdings RWS expects revenues for the year to the end of September to have risen to £163m, an increase of 33%, after producing an excellent performance in what it claims to have been an outstanding year. Profit before tax is expected to be strong and ahead of market expectations, helped by two acquisitions and currency benefits.The strong momentum across the group is expected to continue.

Finsbury Foods FIF has issued an update laden with gloom. Since the last update on the 23 August it has decided to close its loss making Grain D’Or factory, the closure to be completed by the 2nd December at a cost which could exceed £10m spread over 7 years compared to the current annual loss of £3.3m. The hurried decision to close the factory follows the loss of two large contracts since the year end. Savings will be made from the cancellation of capital investment programs which are described as having been significant. Current market conditions add to the air of gloom as does the high price of butter. The shape of the future depends on an upturn in the market.

easyjet EZJ  updates that it expects headline profit before tax for 2017 to be at the upper end of guidance, as revenues continue to improve, despite low summer fares in quarter 4 leading to a fall of 3.7% in revenue per seat. Exchange rate movements in 2017 are now expected to have had an adverse impact of about £100m. As for the coming year, capacity is planned to expand by 6%, falls in fuel prices are expected to bring benefits of between £125 and  £145m. whilst the foreign exchange impact is expected to be beneficial to the tune of about £20m.

CRH plc CRH has reached  agreement to acquire Ash Grove Cement Company (“Ash Grove”), a leading US cement manufacturer based in Kansas, for a total consideration of US$3.5 billion. The proposed transaction remains subject to Ash Grove shareholder and regulatory approval.

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Finsbury Food Faces Up to A Deflationary Market

Finsbury Food Group FIF claims it produced a strongly resilient performance in the year to 1st July, as it faced the challenges of a deflationary market which saw group like for like revenue remain flat. A final dividend of 2p per share is to be paid making a total of 3p for the year, a rise of 7.1%.. Sales and profit margins both increased and on a like for like basis adjusted profit before tax rose by 5.6%. The competitive success of the company is illustrated by a 15% rise in sales to continental Europe.