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Corporate news review Tuesday 15th August 2017

Hargreaves Lansdown HL. reports net FY new business of £6.9bn, AuA up 28% to £79.2bn and active clients up 118k to 954k. PBT is up 21% to £265.8m, and HL raises its dividend by 20% to 29p per share.

John Menzies MNZS says it has enjoyed a positive first half, with underlying PBT up 36% to £24.7m and a proposed 11% increase in the interim dividend to 6p. Chairman Dr Dermot F. Smurfit said: “Overall, I am very pleased with the Group’s performance in the first half and we look to the future with confidence as demonstrated by the increased dividend payment.”

Mears Group MER reports interim results in line with management expectations, with revenue up 1% to £470.8m.

Plant Impact PIM publishes the first presentation on its R&D platform and pipeline. The full presentation can be found at www.plantimpact.com/investors.

Rockhopper Exploration RKH updates on the Abu Sennan drilling concession, onshore Egypt, in which the Company has a 22% working interest. Production from the six fields within the Abu Sennan concession remains stable, averaging 3,300 barrels of oil equivalent per day (“boepd”) gross during the first six months of 2017. The group also updates on the Al Jahraa-9 well.

WideCells WDC raises £750k gross through the issue of 5,357,143 ordinary shares at 14p per share via a private placing with new and existing shareholders and the Board of Directors. The funds raised will be used to execute on a range of additional opportunities the Group has identified since listing in July 2016, rapidly accelerate the roll out of its three stem cell services divisions, CellPlan, WideCells and WideAcademy, and further its penetration of the rapidly growing stem cell market.

Wood Group WG. / Amec Foster Wheeler AMFW – The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) today accepts in principle the remedy formally offered by Wood Group on 9 August to complete the recommended all-share offer for Amec Foster Wheeler. Robin Watson, CEO of Wood Group said “Today’s announcement is an important milestone and gives us further confidence in our ability to complete the transaction in quarter four this year.” Jon Lewis, CEO at Amec Foster Wheeler said “We welcome the announcement by the CMA. Our offer of a proposed remedy in May and the early commencement of the sale process to potential buyers of the upstream oil and gas business has ensured we have navigated this process ahead of schedule increasing the likelihood that the transaction with Wood Group will close in quarter four this year.”

Corporate news review Monday 14th August 2017

Clarkson Plc CKN reports a strong half-year performance, with underlying PBT up 25% at £21.9m, on revenues up to £156.8m (2016: £147.2m). Underlying EPS grew 9% to 57.5p, and CKSN has a robust balance sheet, with £71.4m of net funds, up from £46.7m this time last year. CEO Andi Case says the solid cash position means that irrespective of market conditions, CKSN can invest in the business for future growth, and the company is in a good position entering H2.

DX Group DX. / John Menzies MNZS – Merger discussions have been terminated. While the respective Boards believed that the proposed combination had strong strategic logic for all stakeholders, the DX Board has been unable to agree suitable terms.

EVR Holdings EVRH says its subsidiary MelodyVR Ltd has entered into a music licensing agreement with ARESA GmbH, the Anglo-American Rights European Service Agency. EVRH CEO Anthony Matchett said the agreement with ARESA “further enhances our opportunities for the distribution and monetisation of our vast library of content and further extends our market-leading position as the world’s only licensed VR music platform.”

Tracsis TRCS says group trading for the year has been in line with market expectations, with revenues in excess of £34m (2016: £32.6m) and good trading experienced throughout all parts of the business. EBITDA & adj PBT are in line and also ahead of the previous year (2016: EBITDA £7.6m, APBT £6.9m). TRCS remains debt free and highly cash generative.

Hothschild Enjoys Boom In Mining

Hochschild Mining HOC has returned to profit and produced an exceptionally strong set of first half results, especially for a company in the beleaguered mining industry. Last yea’rs first half loss of $43.4m was turned into a profit of $60.3m after silver production of 17m ozs exceeded expectations with a rise of 31% and gold production rose by 188%. Total revenue was up from $190m to $339m. leading to a rise of 195% in like for like profit and 156% in earnings per share. It describes its environment as being constructive and is paying an interim dividend of 1.38 cents which it regards as being appropriate at “this early stage of the cycle”. More goodies to come then ?

Wood Group WG Despite the challenging conditions in oil and gas and an unchanged outlook for 2016, with EBITA expected to be down by 20%, Wood Group is raising its interim dividend by 10.2%. This reflects the determination of the company to raise its 2016’s dividends by double digits even if the results look fairly disastrous.   Like for like revenue for the half year to 30th June fell by 18.7%, profit was down by 63% and basic earnings per share by 63.2% but at least the shareholders are being well looked after.

Menzies (John) MNZS claims a positive first half to the 30th June thanks to the collapse of sterling and a rise in aviation turnover of 7%, which between them enabled the company to increase its interim dividend by 8% to 5.4p. Profit before tax fell from £5.8m to £3m and reported earnings per share of 4.7p became a loss of 2.4p. Turnover was static. Shareholders will be pleased to note that the board is determined to address historic performance shortfalls.

Mears Group MER A fall of 5% in profit before tax has not stopped the company from raising its interim dividend by 6% for the half year to 30th June as a sign of confidence in the future. Net debt soared by some 350% from £4.2m to £14.1m. and he company plans to reduce revenue by getting out of  unsustainable contracts which raises the question as to why it got into them in the first place.


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