M Winkworth: Q1 2020 Dividend Overshadows Foxtons-Beating 2019 Figures And Hints At Better-Than-Expected Pandemic Progress

31 May 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for M Winkworth (WINK):

  • Acceptable full-year figures that showed revenue up 8% and profit up 12% following an encouraging second half.
  • The declaration of a Q1 dividend for 2020 implies possible resilience to Covid-19 and hints at a better-than-expected pandemic performance.
  • Very impressive market-share gains continue to be won from London rival Foxtons.
  • Despite a number of accounting niggles, the books remain in pretty good shape with high margins and net cash.
  • A possible P/E of 8-12 and a potential income of 6% may offer upside should earnings revive and then one day thrive following Brexit, stamp-duty changes and Covid-19.
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FW Thorpe: Immediate Covid-19 Problems Prevented After £47m Net Cash Allows 2% H1 Dividend Lift And Commendable Refusal Of Government Assistance

18 May 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • Acceptable 7-9% first-half growth, although profitability has essentially stalled for the last 2-3 years as the LED mini-boom subsides.
  • A 2% dividend lift, net cash and investments of £47m, a “strong” order book plus an outstanding response to government assistance do not imply immediate Covid-19 problems.
  • However, trading is not perfect, as margins at the largest division continue to decline while overseas cross-selling progress remains slow and small. 
  • The SmartScan light-monitoring system could be a ‘hidden gem’, with sales up 50% last year to represent 20% of total revenue.
  • A P/E of 22-25 feels warm, but may reflect the ‘pandemic-proof’ balance sheet, SmartScan potential and/or resilient profit history. I continue to hold.
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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Hikma Pharmaceuticals

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14 May 2020
By Maynard Paton

One way to invest during the pandemic is to consider shares that have climbed higher as the market has dropped.

Such companies may well be ‘safe havens’ — businesses that are coping well with the lockdown, or perhaps even benefitting from the crisis.

I applied the following simple criteria within SharePad to identify potential ‘pandemic-proof’ names:

  • A share-price change this year of 0% or more;
  • A market cap of £250 million or more, and;
  • A profit of £1m or more.

On my shortlist was Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which has rallied 17% so far this year. Other attractions included:

  • An appealing 22% margin and 19% return on equity;
  • Profit being twice the level of debt;
  • A forecast 18x P/E not appearing too extreme, and;
  • The directors owning a useful shareholding.

Read my full Hikma Pharmaceuticals article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

Bioventix: 34x P/E Understandably Reflects ‘Pandemic-Proof’ Outlook As H1 Dividend Lifted 20% And Margins Hit 80%

01 May 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Bioventix (BVXP):

  • Very satisfactory 26% first-half profit growth led by continued demand for the group’s vitamin D antibody.
  • A 20% dividend lift alongside presentation references to broker forecasts were very reassuring given the current Covid-19 uncertainty.
  • The fledgling troponin product seems to have gained momentum while an emerging pollution-biomonitoring project offers intriguing long-term potential.
  • Despite a part-time FD and an accounting error, the books remain in excellent shape with terrific 80% margins, a notable cash buffer and no debt.
  • The seemingly ‘pandemic-proof’ outlook leaves the valuation remaining understandably rich with an underlying P/E of 34. I continue to hold.
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S & U: Final 2020 Dividend And No Furloughed Staff Underline Management Confidence Of ‘Non-Prime’ Customers Repaying Loans Totalling £302m

19 April 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • Another set of record annual figures that showed steady progress — albeit overshadowed entirely by the potential impact of Covid-19.
  • The boardroom’s confidence is encouraging. The final dividend was reduced only slightly and no staff have been furloughed.
  • Some £302m has been loaned to customers with patchy credit histories, and recouping that money has become vital. Management says collections are “very good”.
  • Net debt of £118m and a 26% net-interest margin lead to respectable returns on capital, but the borrowings will not prove ideal if defaults increase and profits fall.
  • Current-year earnings have become anyone’s guess, and a bargain-basement P/E may be rather less than the current 10x trailing multiple. I continue to hold.
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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: A Covid-19 Special

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08 April 2020
By Maynard Paton

I have just applied a new SharePad screen to seek ‘quality bargains’ amid the market chaos — and sadly the results were not that inspiring.

The problem is nothing to do with me or my filters or SharePad. Instead, the Covid-19 crisis has turned so many companies upside down…

…that trying to identify dependable shares right now is not exactly straightforward.

But fear not! To make amends, I have run through my previous SharePad articles — and highlighted some interesting names for your consideration.

Read my full Covid-19 Special article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

Mincon: Muddled 2019 Figures Reveal Profit Down 28% But All May Be Forgiven If The Maintained Dividend Signals A Resilience To Covid-19

08 April 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mincon (MCON):

  • A rather muddled and subdued update, the highlight of which during the present Covid-19 uncertainty was a maintained dividend.
  • Impairments, exceptionals, accounting quirks and profit diving 28% may all be forgiven if, as seems to be the case, operations have not been too affected by the pandemic.
  • An emphasis on “geotechnical” drills and lack of “challenger model” references imply new priorities as the business remains in a ‘moat-digging’ phase.
  • Appealing management remarks about product quality, patents and future innovation have yet to make any impact on the somewhat messy financials.
  • A post-results acquisition leaves the business with net debt while the underlying P/E of 16 is not an obvious bargain. I continue to hold.
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Q1 2020: 1 Sell, 1 Top-Up And An Emergency Portfolio Review

31 March 2020
By Maynard Paton

I always like to start my quarterly portfolio reviews with a happy welcome. But not this time.

The country faces a national emergency. Lives are at risk, supermarkets have empty shelves, jobs are being lost…and the finer points of individual shares no longer seem that important.

I have nonetheless decided to maintain this blog through these difficult times — although future posts may be sporadic.

I hope you will find my updates useful. One day I will look back at what I have published to remember how I coped (or not!) with the crisis. I may even emerge from these events a much wiser investor.

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City of London Investment: Market Crash Pushes Yield To 9% After Positive H1 Results Show 11% Dividend Lift And Potential To Maintain Payout

23 March 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for City of London Investment (CLIG):

  • Funds under management rallied to a record level in GBP terms, lifting revenue by 11%, profit by 22% and the dividend by 11%.
  • However, the market crash that followed these results has superseded a lot of the statement’s commentary and accounting.
  • Profit may now be running almost 40% lower than at the start of the year and may just about cover the 28p per share full-year dividend.
  • The accounts continue to sport high margins, decent cash flow and net cash — all of which ought to see the business through the present downturn.
  • Although the shares have been rated modestly on a P/E basis for years, the possible yield now tops 9%. I continue to hold.
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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: AB Dynamics

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18 March 2020
By Maynard Paton

Recent market ructions have sent many shares tumbling — and perhaps created some buying opportunities.

Amid the mayhem, I devised a straightforward screen. I simply looked for decent-sized businesses that were still expected to grow, paid a dividend and were conservatively financed.

I applied the following criteria within SharePad to identify some respectable candidates:

  • Forecast earnings per share growth of at least 10% this year;
  • A market cap of £250 million or more;
  • Must have paid a dividend last year, and;
  • Net borrowings of less than zero (i.e. a net cash position).

I then ordered the shortlist based on how far each share price had fallen since its 52-week high.

I selected AB Dynamics because, of the names on my shortlist, I knew AB possessed a reputation for ‘business quality’ and its shares had fallen among the furthest.

Read my full AB Dynamics article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

Tristel: Management Reveals Extra NHS And Chinese Orders To Combat Coronavirus After H1 UK Sales Advance A Superb 14%

29 February 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • Bumper first-half figures showed very satisfactory double-digit growth following superb sales increases within the UK and various overseas markets.
  • The underlying profit performance was complicated by undisclosed acquisition contributions, US regulatory costs, hefty option charges and cheeky bookkeeping.
  • Following these results, the coronavirus outbreak has led to an emergency “special exemption” order from China and prompted “substantial” extra purchases by the NHS.
  • The accounts remain in good shape with high margins, net cash and respectable cash generation.
  • The valuation has become extremely punchy with an estimated underlying P/E of 43. I continue to hold.
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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Boohoo

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16 February 2020
By Maynard Paton

Cash flow movements can often indicate whether or not a business enjoys a powerful operational advantage.

A strong business might:

  • Receive customer payments upfront for goods/services it has yet to deliver, and/or;
  • Pay suppliers months after goods/services have been received.

However, a weak business might:

  • Receive customer payments months after its goods/services have been delivered, and/or;
  • Pay suppliers upfront for goods/services it has yet to receive.

SharePad allows us to easily pinpoint companies that operate with advantageous cash flow movements. Boohoo, the prominent online fashion retailer, offers a good example of what to look for.

Read my full Boohoo article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: Greggs

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26 January 2020
By Maynard Paton

‘Run your winners’ is popular stock-market advice.

Great companies often remain great investments for a lot longer than most people expect…

… and can deliver life-changing rewards to anyone who refrains from selling out too soon.

Where can we find potential winners to run? I thought the best performing shares of 2019 would provide a good starting point.

One business that did well during 2019 was Greggs, the well-known bakery chain, which saw its shares rocket more than 80%.

Greggs is actually a textbook example of ‘running your winners’. The shares had already surged 100-fold before last year’s price jump.

Read my full Greggs article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

My Portfolio: Year In Review 2019

10 January 2020
By Maynard Paton

Happy January!

I trust you enjoyed the festive break and are now ready to battle the market for another twelve months!

This 5,562-word post provides a ‘year in review’ of my current portfolio holdings. I recap how each of the underlying businesses performed during 2019, as well as provide a few remarks about valuation.

As I mentioned this time last year, I find writing such reviews extremely useful — not least because I double-check my investment logic to ensure I am still invested for the right reasons! The upsets I will suffer during 2020 will most likely be caused by the shares I already own rather than by new shares I purchase.

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Q4 2019: 2 Sells And Up 13.1% For 2019

02 January 2020
By Maynard Paton

Happy 2020! I hope you enjoyed last year’s positive market and that you continue to find my blog useful.

A quick summary of my portfolio’s 2019:

  • Overall gain: 13.1%*;
  • Nine shares went up and six shares went down;
  • Performances ranged from Tristel, up 61%, to Tasty, down 74%;
  • Three shares were topped-up: Daejan, Mountview Estates and S&U, and;
  • Three shares were sold entirely: Castings, Getech and Oleeo.

(*Performance calculated using quoted bid prices and includes all dealing costs, withholding taxes, broker-account fees and paid dividends)

Before I review my 2019 performance, let me first outline what happened during the final quarter of the year.

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