TASTY: £8m Market Cap Could Still Be Remarkably Cheap After FY 2021 Reiterated 5-6 New Restaurants Despite ‘Prevailing Economic Uncertainties’

04 August 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tasty (TAST):

  • The absence of pandemic restrictions ensured a bumper H2 performance that TAST acknowledged may not be repeatable during the current year.
  • Higher wages, rising utility costs, “prevailing economic uncertainties” plus a June update that did not refer to H1 trading could be other signs of FY 2022 not being that profitable.
  • Rent reductions of 27% now appear to be temporary, and explain why total lease obligations remain in excess of £50m.
  • Repaying an emergency loan, appointing a new executive alongside plans to open 5-6 new restaurants confirm management’s mindset has moved from ‘survival’ to ‘recovery’.
  • Although the £8m market cap could be remarkably cheap if TAST ever sustains a modest margin on decent sales, other shares could offer more dependable returns. I continue to hold.

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FW THORPE: Record H1 Results Reveal Thorlux Orders Up 25% And Another Special Dividend As Companies Scramble For Energy-Efficient Lighting

01 August 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • A record H1 performance bolstered by the acquisition of Spanish firm Zemper and complemented by another special dividend.
  • Progress at Thorlux continues to be modest, but a new MD, an order book up 25% alongside growing demand for energy-efficient lighting support future optimism.
  • Dutch profit was assisted by the absence of earn-out provisions, with new manufacturing facilities at Famostar underpinning “continued rapid sales growth“. 
  • Net cash remained significant at £37m after extra stock investment suggested component shortages were no longer as severe as they once were.
  • A P/E of 27 seems generous, but could reflect significant ‘ESG’ attractions as TFW showcases its environmental credentials to quoted companies scrambling for LED lighting. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: LIONTRUST ASSET MANAGEMENT

28 July 2022
By Maynard Paton

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Difficult market conditions have prompted yet another bout of ‘back to basics’ filtering.

Introduced the other month to identify James Halstead, this screen short-lists companies that offer cash-flush balance sheets, robust margins and dependable dividends. SharePad returned 19 matches:

(Source: SharePad)

I selected Liontrust Asset Management because the shares were highlighted by ace fund manager Keith Ashworth-Lord within his latest Buffettology fund factsheet. Mr Ashworth-Lord wrote:

“Liontrust Asset Management (-15.5%) announced final results which showed substantial growth in average AUM (+43%), revenue (+41%), dividends per share (+53%) and free cash flow (+122%).

The reaction of Liontrust’s share price — which will be seen by the teenage scribblers in the City as high beta — is symptomatic of current market sentiment. As a result, the shares trade on a trailing free cash flow yield of 15% and a trailing dividend yield of 8%. Talk about ‘value’.”

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full Liontrust Asset Management article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

[Podcast] TRISTEL With Mark Atkinson And Maynard Paton

27 July 2022
By Maynard Paton

I have recorded another pilot episode of The Private Investor’s Podcast with my good friend Mark Atkinson. We talked about Tristel and the company’s hospital disinfectants and shareholder open day: 

We cover:

  • 0:00 Tristel’s open day and when we invested.
  • 1:31 Tristel’s business and disinfection chemistry.
  • 3:00 Tristel’s revenue and profit.
  • 5:56 The price I purchased and when I started selling.
  • 7:01 The latest trading update and the potential for US growth.
  • 12:51 The different products Tristel offer.
  • 16:21 Debtors and product restructuring. 
  • 18:26 The shareholder open day.
  • 20:90 High gross margins.
  • 21:92 Patent expiries.
  • 23:44 The CEO, CFO and the non-execs.
  • 26:24 A buy, hold or sell?
  • 29:41 Closing remarks.

We may record more podcasts if sufficient interest is shown.

Happy listening!

Maynard Paton

PS: Tristel’s open day took place on 18 July 2022 and the recording was made on 25 July 2022.

Disclosure: Maynard owns shares in Tristel.

M WINKWORTH: Outstanding FY 2021 Heralds Promising FY 2022 Following 23% Q1 Dividend Lift And Prospect Of Sales Again Exceeding Lettings

08 July 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for M Winkworth (WINK):

  • Extraordinary levels of activity” due to pandemic stamp-duty reductions ensured an outstanding FY 2021 with underlying profit up 167%.
  • Talk of sales income again exceeding lettings income plus lifting the Q1 2022 dividend by 23% underpinned a promising FY 2022.  
  • Earnings at the company-owned Tooting office may have slumped during the year, although the effective return on the branch’s valuation remains impressive.  
  • A super 34% margin, net cash at more than 20% of the share price and trade receivables at just 7% of revenue leave the accounts in good order.
  • A possible 9-12x P/E and 6% yield match WINK’s past rating as investors presumably worry about potential problems within the housing market. I continue to hold.

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Q2 2022: 8 Years Of Special Dividends

30 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

Happy Thursday! I trust your shares continue to perform better than mine during 2022.

A summary of my portfolio’s progress:

  • Q2 return: -2.9%*.
  • Q2 trades: None.
  • YTD return: -15.7%* (FTSE 100: -1.0%)
  • YTD winners/losers: 2 winners vs 9 losers.

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

My portfolio’s 2.9% Q2 drop leaves my shares 15.7% lower this year and nursing their worst half-year decline since I commenced this blog at the start of 2015. I think I have to go right back to the second half of 2011 to find a similarly underwhelming six-month performance.

At least Q2 did not reveal any major RNS disappointments. Andrews Sykes, Mountview Estates and M Winkworth in fact lifted their ordinary dividends while S & U and Tasty disclosed promising progress despite the uncertain economy.

But the market’s disillusionment towards smaller companies is leaving many of my shares marooned at best.

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S & U: Record Dividend Delivers 6% Yield After FY 2022 Results Signal Higher Expected Write-Offs And Risk Of ‘Adverse Economic Environment’

28 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • A “lower than normal” bad-debt provision underpinned a record full-year profit, which in turn supported fresh highs for net asset value (NAV) and the dividend.
  • Very mixed signals are emerging from the main motor-loan division, with encouraging collection rates offset by “a more heightened risk of an adverse economic environment” and higher expected write-offs among new loans.
  • Further surplus cash from the motor-loan division was redirected into the property-loan subsidiary, which reported a bumper performance and prompted optimistic near-term management predictions.
  • ROCE levels remain modest and suggest SUS’s inherent value is biased towards the asset value of its loan book rather than annual earnings.
  • Despite current-year profit running “above budget“, the £21 shares trade at 1.24 times NAV and offer a 6% yield. I continue to hold.

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[Podcast] PHOTO-ME INTERNATIONAL With Mark Atkinson And Maynard Paton

19 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

I recently recorded a pilot episode of The Private Investor’s Podcast with my good friend Mark Atkinson. We talked about Photo-Me International and the investment potential of passport photos and self-service washing machines: 

We cover:

  • 00:00 Introduction and portfolio YTDs.
  • 00:52 Photo-Me and why Mark has been buying.
  • 05:10 Is self-service laundry a winning business model?
  • 09:26 How do the fruit juice and pizza machines work?
  • 12:16 The financials of Photo-Me.
  • 13:51 Serge Crasnianski recently invested £20m. What does he know?
  • 19:01 Other directors and the absence of a board-level CFO.
  • 19:51 The recent trading statement and expected revenue.
  • 20:24 Is Mark still bullish and would he buy more?
  • 22:51 How big a position is Photo-Me for Mark?
  • 23:26 Would Maynard now buy Photo-Me?

We may record more podcasts if sufficient interest is shown!

Happy listening!

Maynard Paton

PS: The recording took place on 14 June 2022.

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

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19 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

Difficult market conditions for highly-rated ‘quality’ shares have prompted further back-to-basics filtering.

Hence a new screen to identify companies offering robust financials, respectable growth, useful director ownership… and a reasonable valuation.

The exact filter criteria I employed for this search were:

  • Net borrowings less total leases of no more than zero (i.e. a net cash position excluding IFRS 16 lease obligations);
  • An operating margin of 20% or more;
  • A five-year uplift to operating profit of at least 50%;
  • Management owning at least 10% of the company, and;
  • A forecast P/E of 20 or less.

I applied the screen the other day and SharePad returned 17 matches:

(Source: SharePad)

I selected IntegraFin because:

  • The £1 billion market cap was among the largest on the list;
  • The operating margin was a remarkable 78%, and;
  • The shares had dropped 49% from their five-year high.

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full IntegraFin article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

CITY OF LONDON INVESTMENT: FuM Drops 13% To Below $10b After H1 2022 Discloses 49% Margin, Welcome Special Dividend And (Finally!) Some New Client Money

19 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for City of London Investment (CLIG):

  • The Karpus merger ensured impressive headline progress, but this H1 performance was almost identical to the preceding H2 as funds under management (FuM) remained at $11b.
  • Wishful thinking perhaps, but two consecutive quarters of net FuM inflows following consistent FuM outflows may signal clients re-appraising CLIG’s ‘value’ approach.
  • Rough market conditions during the subsequent H2 will test CLIG’s investments, with FuM dropping 13% to below $10b not indicating obvious outperformance.
  • A wonderful 49% margin and net cash of £25m funding a welcome £7m special dividend suggest the accounts can survive any further market weakness.
  • Although the possible P/E is 11 and the yield tops 7%, the shares have been rated modestly for years as major new clients remain extremely elusive. I continue to hold.

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MINCON: FY 2021 Reveals H2 Mining Sales Up 30% And ‘Outstanding’ Greenhammer Tests Yet Obvious ‘Moat’-Like Financials Remain Highly Elusive 

02 June 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mincon (MCON):

  • A better-than-expected performance, bolstered by a record H2 and perhaps a cracking Q4 following less pandemic disruption.
  • Positive progress was recorded at all three product divisions, with higher commodity prices pushing H2 mining sales up 30%.
  • Encouraging development news included the long-awaited Greenhammer system delivering “outstanding” test results and potentially becoming available to purchase this year. 
  • Despite the long-term commitment to first-class product manufacturing, MCON’s financials sadly still lack signs of an obvious ‘moat’.
  • The shares do not appear outrageously expensive, assuming H2 extrapolations and upbeat FY 2022 trading do indeed support a 15x P/E. I continue to hold.

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[Podcast] Small Caps, Stock Picking And Index Trackers With Maynard Paton 

19 May 2022
By Maynard Paton

I recently spoke with Lee Cleasby on his Fund Your Retirement podcast. I talked about.

  • My investing journey and experience.
  • RAMP investing: respectability at a modest price (more details here).
  • When to sell or not to sell?
  • Small-caps trailing the FTSE 100.
  • Focusing on UK shares.
  • How beginners should start investing.
  • A real-life example of pound-cost averaging.
  • Starting a pension for my two-year-old son.
  • Coping with media negativity and volatile markets.
  • Thoughts on cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
  • A book recommendation.
  • My website and newsletter.

I think I am better at blogging than talking. Have a listen and decide for yourself:

Happy listening!

Maynard Paton

PS: The recording took place on 5 May 2022. Not quite sure about the weird American voice at the start!

TRISTEL: Pandemic-Disrupted H1 2022 Reveals Product Cull And Profit Reclassification With Dividend Held And Share Price Now 50% Lower

30 April 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • An underwhelming pandemic-disrupted performance, with the dividend held for the first time since FY 2013 as hospital customers delayed resuming normal purchasing activity.
  • Progress was complicated by the understandable culling of numerous ‘non-core’ products, although the associated reclassification revealed TSTL’s surface disinfectants to be less profitable than previously declared.
  • Sector “lobbying” within the United States for EPA-approved disinfectants might have created a new “commercial opportunity” for TSTL’s DUO foam. 
  • Brexit stock-piling, share options and US costs offered a wide range of profit outcomes, but cash flow remained respectable and bolstered net cash to a useful £9m. 
  • A 50% lower share price on a possible 32x multiple is not an obvious bargain, especially if patent expiries, automated competition or single-use medical equipment cause disruption. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report: BEEKS FINANCIAL CLOUD

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23 April 2022
By Maynard Paton

Every share has a bull case and a bear case.

Our job as investors should be to consider the arguments from both sides, and decide which is the stronger before buying or selling.

Beeks Financial Cloud is a good example of a company with distinct pros and cons:

For the bull case, the cloud-computing specialist offers:

  • A strong competitive position in a fast-growing industry;
  • A wonderful revenue history created by recurring customer payments, and;
  • Shareholder-friendly management led by a ‘thin cat’ entrepreneur.

But for the bear case:

  • Past growth has required substantial investment and extra funding;
  • The underlying economics of the business remain unclear at best, and;
  • Plenty of future expansion is already priced into the shares.

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full Beeks Financial Cloud article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

Q1 2022: Surging Energy Prices And The Companies Most Vulnerable

01 April 2022
By Maynard Paton

Happy Friday! I trust your shares have performed better than mine so far this year.

A summary of my portfolio’s first quarter:

  • Q1 return: -13.2% loss* (FTSE 100: +2.9% gain).
  • Q1 trades: None.
  • Q1 winners/losers: 0 winners vs 11 losers.

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

My portfolio’s 13.2% Q1 drop is sadly my worst three-month performance since I commenced this blog at the start of 2015. My largest three-month declines prior to this year were 11% during August, September and October 2018 and 8% during January, February and March 2020.

The primary cause of my Q1 reversal was a profit warning from (by far) my largest holding, System1. Not helping matters were underwhelming results from (what was) my second-largest holding, Tristel.

The rest of my portfolio seems to have suffered from the market’s general unease towards smaller companies.

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