S & U: Record H1 2023 Prompts Management To Cite Broker’s £33 Price Target As £22 Shares Trade At Possible 1.2x NAV And Yield 6%

24 March 2023
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • A seemingly lower-than-normal bad-debt charge underpinned a record H1 performance, which in turn supported fresh highs for net asset value (NAV) and the dividend.
  • Mixed signals remain at the primary motor-finance division, with encouraging collection rates offset by lingering pandemic-related provisions and talk of “choppy waters ahead” testing “policies and procedures“.
  • Bumper progress at the property-loan operation heralded the subsidiary declaring its maiden dividend and another divisional executive appointed to the board.  
  • Debt remains under control at 42% of customer loans, although admin and other costs have reached their highest combined proportion of revenue since at least FY 2016.  
  • Management’s webinar commentary cited a broker’s £33 price target, with subsequent RNSs suggesting the £22 shares are not expensive at a potential 1.17x NAV with a 6% income. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report Revisited: WANDISCO

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18 March 2023
By Maynard Paton

You can become a better investor by occasionally visiting the stock-market graveyard.

One company that now seems destined for the cemetery is WANdisco, the software developer that the other week suddenly warned of “significant, sophisticated and potentially fraudulent irregularities“.

The shares have been suspended while independent investigators work out what exactly has occurred. Remarks including “significant going concern issues” make for grim reading:

The identification of these irregularities will significantly impact the Company’s cash position and lead to a material uncertainty regarding its overall financial position and significant going concern issuesThe Board now expects that anticipated FY22 revenue could be as low as USD 9 million and not USD 24 million as previously reported. In addition, the Company has no confidence in its announced FY22 bookings expectations.

I wrote about WANdisco for SharePad during May 2021 and the bombshell announcement must prompt a revisit. What can we learn to help us avoid the next great investment disaster?

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full WANdisco article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

SYSTEM1: Proposed Board Changes Have My Support After H1 2023 Cash Outflow Of £2m, Underwhelming Strategic Review And Frustrating Management Q&A

09 March 2023
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for System1 (SYS1):

  • H1 2023 revenue falling 15% to FY 2012 levels and underlying cash losses running at £2m-plus raised further doubts about SYS1’s services, marketing, pricing and expenditure.
  • Despite encompassing “all strategic options” and the board’s composition, a three-month strategic review simply “validated” SYS1’s existing plans with a greater focus on the United States. 
  • A management presentation revealed the transition to automated Data services still requires old-style consultancy work, and overlooked questions about partnerships, cash flow and expenses.
  • The unsatisfactory H1, underwhelming strategic review and frustrating Q&A were thankfully followed by two former executives proposing very welcome board changes.
  • Fresh executive leadership seems needed to maximise SYS1’s “superb, proven suite of products” and re-establish worthwhile levels of profit. I support the proposed board changes and continue to hold.

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MINCON: First Greenhammer Contract Heralds ‘Transformational Potential’ As H1 2022 Reveals Profit Up 18% Following 55% Construction Sales Surge

21 February 2023
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mincon (MCON):

  • A very satisfactory performance buoyed by healthy post-pandemic orders, showing revenue up 27% and profit up 18% to set new H1 records.
  • Positive progress was reported throughout the group, with construction-related sales up 55% helped by greater demand for specialist drilling.
  • The long-awaited Greenhammer system has won its first commercial contract and now offers “transformational potential” to MCON and the mining industry. 
  • Greenhammer and other new developments may hopefully improve MCON’s financials, given the group’s modest margin, significant stock level, net debt and poor cash conversion.
  • The shares do not appear outrageously expensive on a possible 16x P/E, although the group’s expansion led by the dominant family owners has yet to deliver superior returns to outsiders. I continue to hold.

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

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12 February 2023
By Maynard Paton

Difficult market conditions have prompted many investors to find safety through attractive dividend shares.

Hence a new screen to pinpoint companies that boast a dependable payout, a meaningful yield and respectable prospects.

The exact criteria I employed for this search were:

  • A record of dividend payments spanning at least 20 years;
  • A 10-year dividend growth record of 5% or more;
  • A minimum forecast three-year dividend growth rate of 5%, and;
  • A forecast dividend yield of at least 4%.

I applied the screen the other day and SharePad returned 14 matches:

(Source: SharePad)

I selected Telecom Plus from the shortlist as the company offered the highest forecast dividend growth for the next three years:

(Source: SharePad)

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full Telecom Plus article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

FW THORPE: FY 2022 Celebrates 20th Consecutive Annual Dividend Increase After Profit Up 29%, SmartScan Sales Up 49% And Encouraging Start Within EV-Charging Market

01 February 2023
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • A record FY outcome (profit +29%) bolstered by the acquisition of Spanish firm Zemper that supported TFW’s 20th consecutive annual dividend increase.
  • Progress at Thorlux was supported by impressive SmartScan sales (+49%), with the innovative lighting system reducing running costs for customers by as much as 62%.
  • A positive Dutch performance has led to a reassuring non-exec appointment and an encouraging start within the electric-vehicle charging market.
  • Net cash of £39m may arguably be only £9m following the subsequent purchase of TFW’s largest customer plus the eventual earn-out for Zemper.
  • A possible 24x P/E seemingly reflects TFW’s healthy order book, savvy acquisition approach, distinguished operating history and growth opportunities beyond the UK and lighting. I continue to hold.

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

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20 January 2023
By Maynard Paton

Today I have revisited a SharePad screen that applies two ratios favoured by ‘quality’ investors — operating margin and return on equity (ROE).

The exact criteria I re-used were:

  • An operating margin (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more, and;
  • An ROE (latest and 10-year average) of 20% or more.

Any business with a margin and ROE consistently above 20% is probably quite special.

To narrow the field down further, I also sought companies that carried net borrowings of less than zero (i.e. net cash):

(Source: SharePad)

I selected Quartix because it was among the worst share-price performers during the last twelve months. Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full Quartix article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

TRISTEL: Pandemic-Disrupted FY 2022 Reiterates Reassuring 10-15%/Year Sales-Growth Ambition As US Regulatory Approval Now Relies Upon FDA ‘Negotiation’ Over Product Batches

12 January 2023
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • Another pandemic-disrupted performance, although 10-15% per annum sales-growth guidance suggests hospital customers will soon resume normal purchasing activity.
  • Progress was complicated by an accounting U-turn, with Brexit stock-piling, share options, US costs and write-offs creating a wide range of profit outcomes.
  • Management webinar comments suggested a positive US regulatory verdict is dependent on a “negotiation” with the FDA concerning data tests using different product batches. 
  • A useful 17% operating margin, net cash of £10m, worthwhile cash conversion and low capital requirements imply the group’s disinfectants still enjoy favourable economics. 
  • An estimated 24x P/E for FY 2025 is not an obvious bargain, but a premium rating may be justified by a US product approval and hefty royalties appearing soon thereafter. I continue to hold.

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Q4 2022: Down 23.3% For 2022

01 January 2023
By Maynard Paton

Happy 2023! I hope you survived last year’s tough market and continue to find my blog useful.

A summary of my portfolio’s 2022:

  • Total return of -23.3% (Q4: +0.2%)*;
  • 2 holdings recorded a gain while 9 holdings recorded a loss;
  • Returns ranged from up 23%, for Bioventix, to down 67%, for System1;
  • One share was topped-up: City of London Investment, and;
  • No new shares were purchased and no shares were sold.

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

I publish a portfolio review after every quarter (Q1, Q2 and Q3), and this post recaps my October/November/December activity as well as my 2022 performance.

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My Portfolio: Year In Review 2022

01 January 2023
By Maynard Paton

Happy New Year!

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

This 4,680-word post provides a ‘year in review’ of my current holdings. I recap how each business performed during 2022 as well as provide a few remarks about valuation. 

These reviews are very useful to write, not least because they help ensure I am still invested for the right reasons. Any upsets I will suffer during 2023 will most likely be caused by the shares I already own rather than any new shares I will buy.

I undertook the same annual review at the start of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

My portfolio lost 23.3% during 2022. This other post explains that performance in more detail and clarifies how my portfolio begins 2023.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report: STRIX

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12 December 2022
By Maynard Paton

A profit warning and 32% share-price crash brought Strix to my attention the other week:

(Source: SharePad)

This small-cap dominates the market for kettle controls, and I wondered whether that strong competitive position could support an eventual recovery.

Let’s take a closer look.

Read my full Strix article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton