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by John Woolfitt, Atlantic Capital Markets
Fundamentals & Statement Summary
UK based building, construction & home improvement supply giant Travis Perkins (TPK.L) today announced half year results for the 6 months to June 30th, stating it had ‘successfully adapted to unprecedented markets.” Revenues for the period fell 19.3% to £2.78bn, leading to a loss per share of (45.7)p (4.2p HY19). Adjusted operating profit of £42m reflected the shortfall from lower volumes, partially offset by actions taken by the group to reduce and control operating costs.
Travis stated that a restructuring programme was underway to reduce overheads in line with the anticipated volume outlook, which will deliver cost savings of £120m on an annualised basis. In line with this, a strong focus on cash and working capital management resulted in a reduction of covenant net debt of £322m from 31 December 2019 to £22m.
The group said that significant improvements in digital platforms across all segments drove customer fulfilment, process simplification and improvements in branch network, underpinning market outperformance and supporting future growth. The demerger of Wickes is now paused until markets become more stable and predictable.
Travis said the long term fundamentals of the Group’s end markets remain robust, with ongoing demand for new housing and underinvestment in the repair, maintenance and improvement of the existing UK housing stock, although significant uncertainty remains in the UK economy in the near term. Technical guidance provided for 2020 included an effective tax rate of 22%, finance charges similar to 2019, capital expenditure in 2020 of around £70m to £80m and property profits of around £10m.
CEO Nick Roberts said Travis had made..“significant strategic and operational progress against the four strategic priorities we outlined at our full year results in March 2020.
“Although considerable uncertainty around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains, the actions we have taken to adapt and innovate in our businesses mean that the Group is well placed to continue to service our customers, support our colleagues, outperform our markets and generate value for our shareholders.”
Chart and Technicals
Source: FactSet and Hargreaves Lansdown
Travis shares have delivered a strong recovery since falling off the ‘COVID cliff’ in early March, dipping briefly to 573p on March 18th before recovering the 50-day MA envelope at the start of May. The stock performed well, trading above the MA envelope through to the end of July, when it briefly dipped below the level. Since that time support has come from the 50-day line, and with the gradual convergence of the 50 day average with the benchmark 200-day average, there is the prospect that the stock could develop a bullish golden cross configuration (the golden cross appears on a chart when a stock’s short-term moving average crosses above its long-term moving average) in the coming weeks. Provided this signal is confirmed, in line with the rising MA envelope and clear forward fundamental guidance provided by the company, our initial target is 1400p, followed by a return to the late February 50-day MA high at 1600p.
Summary and Atlantic View
Travis shares have delivered an impressive and solid recovery since March 18th. Despite the inevitable fall in revenues, delivering an adjusted operating profit during one of the most challenging trading periods faced by any company in history…ever, is a major achievement, and a solid endorsement of management strategy and the prompt response by the board to restructure and cut costs. As the UK starts to return to work, despite the attendant COVID uncertainties, Travis is selling into a robust market, supported by an ever-increasing demand for new homes and burgeoning maintenance market. Supported by a reasonably bullish charting configuration, and clear forward guidance from the company, Atlantic are confident that Travis shares will continue the current recovery and push on to an initial target of 1400p by mid November. Buy.
To take advantage of this trading idea, speak to a member of our dealing team on 01872 229000 or visit the Atlantic Capital Markets website here
Alan Green and John Woolfitt, Director at Atlantic Capital Markets discuss the month ahead.
We discuss the US Fed August meeting, and indications from Fed boss Jerome Powell that the administration was prepared to ride with higher inflation around 2%. The markets seems to translate as low interest rates for years to come…John gives his view.
John discusses the resilience of mining and commodity stocks in the face of the economic turmoil and Coronavirus threat, along with some of the trading calls from Atlantic over the past month.
Finally we look at some trading ideas and upcoming corporate news in September from Halfords #HFD, Meggitt #MGGT, JD Sports #JD, Travis Perkins #TPK, Tullow Oil #TLW and Costain #COST. Given the volatility in the markets, John advises using the Atlantic Alerts system – moving after the results not before. “If the tide goes out, make sure you’ve got some shorts on”.
ITV plc ITV made good progress in delivering its stategy in the quarter to the 31st March. Online viewing rose by 16% and Family Share of viewing by 4%. Total external revenue was down 4%. ITV Broadcast & Online revenue fared even worse with a fall of 7% at £489m compared to £526m in 2018 and ITV total advertising also fell by 7%. Advertising in the first half of the year will be impacted by continuing economic and political uncertainty with ITV total advertising expected to be down 6% over the first half. Over the full year delivery of double digit growth in online revenue is expected together with good organic revenue growth in ITV Studios.
Imperial Brands plc IMB claims a pleasing underlying tobacco performance in the six months to the 31st March with volume down 6.9%. Focus is being maintained on longstanding brands which are delivering high margin sales growth. In both Europe and the Americas revenue grew by 4%. Operating profit rose by 38.1%, basic earnings per share by 37.7% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 10%.
Travis Perkins plc TPK made a positive start to 2019 with strong first quarter sales growth. Like for like sales rose by 7.3% and total sales by 5.4%. Travis Perkins itself generated like-for-like sales growth of 8%, continuing the improving trend seen from the end of 2018.Wickes delivered encouraging sales growth in both DIY and showroom categories, with a strong turnaround in Kitchen and Bathroom performance. Sales in Plumbing & Heating were impacted by the milder winter.
Wetherspoon JD plc JDW saw third quarter like for like sales rise by 7.6% and total sales by 8.4%. Since the start of the financial year, the Company has opened three new pubs, closed seven and intends to open two further pubs in the current financial year. The trading outcome for the current financial year is expected to be in line.
Vertu Motors Plc VTU produced profit and cash generation ahead of expectations for the year to the end of February. The full year dividend is to be increased by 6.7% to 1.6p per share. Adjusted profit before tax of £23.7m was ahead of market expectations but down from £28.6m in 2018. Like-for-like revenue growth came in at 5.1% but in used vehicles revenue growth was particularly strong at 11.6%
Lighthouse Group plc LGT claims an excellent set of results for 2018 despite softening market conditions in the second half of the year. With an Interim dividend of 0.20p. per share already paid, a final dividend of 0.50p. per share is now proposed compared to 30p per share in 2017, making a 67% increase for the full year. Further growth is expected for 2019 notwithstanding current market uncertainty.
Travis Perkins plc TPK saw like for like revenue growth of 4.9% in the year to the 31st December, after a strong second half. in which adjusted operating profit, excluding property profits, grew by 10.7%. helped by successful cost reductions. Despite that, adjusted operating profit for the year as a whole fell by 1.3% and the rise in the yearly dividend was limited to 2.2%. Uncertain market conditions are expected to continue in the near future and adjusted operating profit for 2019 is expected to be similar to 2018 at 375m.
Meggitt PLC MGGT Organic revenue growth of 9% reflected a strong performance in growing end-markets for 2018, with 7% growth in civil aerospace, 10% in defence and 19% in energy. On an organic order basis growth came in at 12%. Recommended final dividend of 11.35p gives a full year increase of 5%. The Chief Executive regards it as a landmark year and further good progress is expected for 2019.
Augean PLC AUG is currently experiencing strong initial trading for the start of 2019 after a pleasing 2018 in which adjusted profit before tax increased by 69% and basic earnings per share by 56%. Cost savings exceeded their target. Trading in the first months of 2019 is well ahead of last year. Further growth is targeted in the core key markets of Energy from Waste and North Sea Decommissioning.
Hotel Chocolat Group HOTC Enjoyed strong sales growth across retail, digital & wholesale channels in the six months to the end of December. Revenue rose by 13% and both reported profit before tax and profit after tax rose by 7%. The interim dividend remains unchanged at 6p per share.Christmas was again successful, with the launch of the new Velvetiser Hot Chocolate maker which exceeded initial expectations six-fold.
Unilever plc ULVR Reports that emerging markets drove third quarter sales growth with underlying sales up by 2.6% and, over nine months, by 2.8%. Total third quarter turnover however was down by 1.6% after a 5.1 % currency impact. Developed markets were a problem and remained challenging, with turnover, led by of all things, ice cream in Europe, down by 2.3%. Emerging markets saved the day with volume up by 1.8% and turnover by 6.3%.
Rentokil Initial RTO obtained growth in its third quarter, from acquisitions which produced a total rise in company revenue of 10.10% but on an organic basis growth at 3%, was much lower. Strong performances came from Asa Pacific, Latin America and the target market of North America. Five further aquisitions were made in quarter 3 and prospects for the rest of the year remain good.
Stobart Group STOB is to increase its interim dividend by 50% for the half year to 31st August from last years 3p to 4.5p per share this year. Profit before tax came in at £111.6m compared to last years £10.8m and underlying EBITDA rose from £20.2m last year to £131.8m this year but after taking into account £123.9m of profit from the partial sale of its investment in Eddie Stobart Logistics, which appears to mean that excluding that one off bonus real EBITDA fell somewhat.
Travis Perkins TPK enjoyed continued strong third quarter growth across all its contract businesses and a significant improvement in sales in Plumbing & Heating. Group sales rose by 3.5% for the quarter rising to 4.1% on a like for like basis.
Tristel plc TSTL Sales and profitability in the year to the 30th June exceeded both market expectations and the company’s own internal plan,enabling the standard full year dividend to be increased by by 21%. Turnover for the year rose by 19% which included a 43% rise in oversea sale and earnings per share increased from 5.01p. per share to 8.06p
Travis Perkins TPK The real truth about the state of the UK economy is beginning to bite. With like for like third quarter sales growth falling to 2% and an uncertain UK outlook, TPK is to close over 30 branches and 10 distribution and fabrication centres. In addition challenging market conditions led to Plumbing & Heating sales falling by 3.9%, a performance which management regards as unsatisfactory. Like for like sales growth for the nine months of the year to date stands at 2.7% which adds emphasis to the 3rd quarter decline.
Reckitt Benckiser RB has been impacted by expected third quarter headwinds and other challenges which reduced the quarter’s like for like growth to 2% which became 17% if you take into account sterling devaluation. RB looks like yet another company whose day has been saved by the benefits provided by collapse of sterling. India and China produced strong growth but Brazil proved challenging. The target for full year like for like growth still remains at 4%.
Rentokil RTO is pleased with its 3rd quarter performance which produced like for like growth of 3.1%which was increased to 16.6% by contributions from acquisitions and compares to 2.7% for the year to date. Pest control had an excellent quarter with like for like growth of 5.9% whilst emerging markets shot up by 20.4% and growth markets by an even higher 26.3%. Europe on the other hand was tough in parts and particularly France.
Foxtons FOXT reduced activity in the London property sales market hit Foxtons hard in its third quarter with sales revenue down by a third. It believes that the London market remains very attractive and presents a huge opportunity for growth but it can not quite bring itself to provide any facts to justify its belief.
Hotel Chocolat Group HOTC which was admitted to AIM in May almost doubled last years statutory pre tax profit from £2.9m to £5.6m and expects a strong Christmas with what it describes as its “more cocoa, less sugar” policy.
OMG plc OMG expects revenues for the year to the end of September to reach £29m., ahead of market expectations after what it describes as a successful close to the year
GKN plc GKN The collapse of sterling was to bring a new dawn for what was left of British Industry, lied Diddy David and the rest of his old Etonian clique of rulers. Well the truth is that it hasnt, at least not yet. All it has done is help companies to mask performances which are downright unacceptable. Thus for its first quarter, sales are up by 12%, trumpets GKN. Looks great that, dunnit, until you see that two thirds of that came from acquisitions and a quarter of it from beneficial currency movements. A mere 1% came from like for like growth which means that GKN just failed to take advantage of the opportunities which a collapsing pound were supposed to bring. GKN land systems led the decline with like for like sales down 6% even after taking into account a 3% currency benefit. Headmaster comments – can do better, must do better.
Travis Perkins TPK produced good 1st quarter growth in all businesses with total sales rising by 5% and like for like sales by 4.2% or 9.5% over two years, which at least shows some long term consistency. And it is all due to the company having a clear focus on driving the maturity of the heavyside range centre network. Presumably they know what they mean, even if nobody else does.
Rentokil Initial RTO First quarter revenue grew by 11% but 9% came from acquisition and only 2.8% from like for like growth. Pest control in North America had a great three months with 54% growth but, wait a minute, most of this so called growth came from acquisitions and only 6.4% from like for like growth. Not surprisingly the company does not offer any hope of beating expectations for the full year. Management seems to think it best not to give any reasons for this.
Punch Taverns PUB The big Punch pub sale has continued apace during the 28 weeks to 5th March and it is so beneficial to the company that it is ahead of target on this front. What is a welcome change is that underlying retail profits and sales are also ahead of expectations. EBITDA is down by some 10% following 18 months of strategic disposals but average profit per pub is up by 3%. Amazing really that what was one of the countries largest pub owners was so bad at managing its estate that it had to sell a lot of it off in the hope that it could make a profit out of what was left. Obviously the buyers of all these pubs, thought they could make a better job of running them, than Punch had.
ARM Holdings ARM Poor old sterling. It can’t do right for doing wrong. Now ARM claims its first quarter results have been impacted by the weakness of sterling, whereas nearly everybody else has been cursing the pound for its continued strength over the past year or so. First quarter revenue rose by 14% in US$ terms or 22% in pounds. There was strong demand for the company;s most advanced technology and the number of chips shipped rose by 10% to 4.1 billion