ANDREWS SYKES: FY 2020 Small-Print Suggests ‘Comparable’ Performance For FY 2021 After H2 Profit Drops 37%

25 May 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Andrews Sykes (ASY):

  • H2 revenue down 20% and H2 profit down 37% disappointingly confirmed a lower level of pandemic resilience than H1. 
  • However, the main UK equipment-hire subsidiary apparently delivered a FY 2020 profit only “marginally below” that of FY 2019.  
  • Commendable ‘going concern’ text revealed a “cautiously realistic” assumption of a “comparable” performance for FY 2021.
  • The books remain healthy with robust margins, effective working-capital management and sizeable net cash, although the pension scheme is absorbing extra contributions. 
  • A possible P/E of 16-17 and yield of 4% do not appear completely outrageous given the appealing financials and potential for further European expansion. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report: WANDISCO

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21 May 2021
By Maynard Paton

The market is home to many companies with ground-breaking products that boast credible growth stories told by persuasive management…

…but which also need a bit more money from shareholders to see them through to profitability.

Sometimes they get the money they need and things work out.

And sometimes they get the money they need and, well, keep coming back for more.

WANdisco is one of those companies that keeps coming back for more.

Investors have handed $217 million to this software specialist since 2012…

…and yet customers, sales and profits remain extremely elusive.

But could WANdisco finally come good during 2021 after signing milestone deals with Microsoft and Amazon?

The directors are naturally optimistic, although they appear reluctant to help fund the company themselves.

Read my full WANdisco article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

TASTY: Awful FY 2020 Performance Reveals Improved H2 Cash Flow As Barclays Loan, Imminent Indoor Dining And 16p Options Target Support Pandemic Recovery Hopes

07 May 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tasty (TAST):

  • A predictably awful performance, with total sales down 46% and sales at operating restaurants down by approximately 30%.
  • H2 was not as bad as H1, witnessing improved cash flow and much lower write-offs.
  • A loan from Barclays may indicate TAST’s future is “assured“, but effective net cash of £0.25m is not a huge safety buffer.
  • Indoor dining should resume within two weeks, which ought to enhance cash flow and alleviate overdue obligations. 
  • A new option scheme that pays out in full if the shares reach 16p gives some indication of the possible recovery upside from the recent 7p. I continue to hold.

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M WINKWORTH: Record Quarterly Dividend Supports Potential 5% Income After FY 2020 Figures Imply 38% Returns On New Investments

30 April 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for M Winkworth (WINK):

  • A revitalised property market led to a much stronger H2, with management optimism underlined by a record dividend for Q1 2021.
  • Impressive market-share gains continue to be won from London rival Foxtons.
  • Early contributions from in-house branches are encouraging, with implied returns on investment of 38%.
  • The accounts remain in good order with net cash, respectable margins, positive cash flow and satisfactory returns on equity.
  • A possible P/E of 11-14 and a potential 5% income may offer upside should buoyant trading convert into much higher earnings. I continue to hold.

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

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23 April 2021
By Maynard Paton

I like companies that boast significant net cash. My reasons include:

  • Limited risk of funding difficulties should trouble strike;
  • Management might be sensible by holding ‘rainy day’ money;
  • The cash position may have resulted from superb profit generation, and;
  • The share price could be less volatile (especially if the cash position represents a large part of the market cap).

I therefore applied the following filter criteria within SharePad to identify some reasonable cash-flush businesses:

  • Trailing twelve-month net borrowings of no more than zero (i.e. a net cash position);
  • A market cap of at least £50 million;
  • Net cash of at least 10% of the market cap, and;
  • A trailing twelve-month operating margin of at least 1% (to include only profitable companies).

I found 38 matches, and Venture Life attracted my attention because the company:

  • Carried a significant 28% of its market cap as net cash;
  • Operated within the generally favourable healthcare sector, and;
  • Published impressive results last month.

Read my full Venture Life article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

S & U: £24 Shares May Already Reflect Pandemic Recovery After New Loan Quality Remains At 5-Year High And Management Comments Of Property Profit Quintupling

22 April 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • A predictably Covid-blighted statement that confirmed extra write-offs of £19.5m, full-year profit diving almost 50% and the first annual dividend cut since at least 1987.
  • Various calculations indicate credit quality at SUS’s motor-finance division declined by approximately 10%, due mostly to payment holidays.
  • Management’s webinar comments claimed property-loan profit could quintuple to £5m within the next three years.
  • Reduced net debt, interest charges at 3% plus fresh borrowing facilities suggest no obvious funding concerns.  
  • The £24 shares may already reflect improved collection rates, recovering loan transactions, new loan quality at a five-year high and the generally upbeat directors. I continue to hold.

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BIOVENTIX: H1 Revenue Up Just 1% To Outpace Wider IVD Market As R&D Efforts Narrow Focus And P/E Stays An Elevated 32x

09 April 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Bioventix (BVXP):

  • Acceptable interim figures that showed revenue up 1% and profit down an underlying 2% after the pandemic reduced demand for routine blood tests.
  • The performance appeared to have outpaced the wider in vitro diagnostics (IVD) market, with a 20% dividend lift underpinning management’s confidence. 
  • Progress from the important vitamin D and troponin antibodies was positive, while R&D efforts seem now to focus on just three projects.  
  • The accounts remain healthy with a super 76% margin, light demands on cash flow, a £5m-plus cash buffer and a potentially understated investment.
  • Predictable income and a competitive ‘moat’ presently offset the effective dependence on just two products to keep the P/E at an elevated 32x. I continue to hold.

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Q1 2021: My ABC Of Investing

01 April 2021
By Maynard Paton

Happy Thursday! I trust your shares have enjoyed a positive start to the year.

A summary of my portfolio’s first quarter:

  • Q1 gain: +5.4%* (FTSE 100**: +5.0%).
  • Q1 trades: None.
  • Q1 winners/losers: 6 winners vs 3 losers (and 2 non-movers).

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MINCON: Direct Selling And Construction Projects Help Lift FY 2020 Profit By 28% But Margin Comparison Raises Further ‘Moat’ Questions

30 March 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mincon (MCON):

  • Acceptable pandemic progress, with underlying revenue up 6% and profit up 28% due almost entirely to margin improvements.
  • Strategic efforts to sell drills direct and supply the construction market seem to have borne fruit and underpinned the higher earnings.
  • A margin comparison with larger rivals raises questions as to whether MCON’s products enjoy an indisputable competitive ‘moat’.  
  • Rising costs and enormous stock levels raise further questions about the group’s underlying economics. 
  • New products expected to “transform” drilling plus a desire to “innovate and disrupt the market” might justify the 19x-plus P/E. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report: NORCROS

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24 March 2021
By Maynard Paton

Let me start by confessing this article covers pension deficits.

What follows may not be that thrilling and does require you to concentrate. But please stick with me, especially if you have ever fallen victim to a ‘value trap’.

A burdensome pension scheme is a common reason why companies trade on permanently low ratings. The market essentially believes too much of their future profits will have to plug a retirement ‘black hole’ instead of being paid out as dividends.

A good example is Norcros, a £214 million manufacturer of bathroom showers, taps and tiles.

This share has stubbornly traded on a single-digit P/E for years…

Source: SharePad

… and studying the group’s pension situation goes some way to explain why.

Read my full Norcros article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

FW THORPE: Dutch Profit Up 15% And Improved Management Outlook Support ‘Resilient’ H1 Results

23 March 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • Resilient” figures that showed both profit and dividend up 2% despite the pandemic, Brexit and a factory fire.
  • Management’s previously gloomy tone has improved and the second half is now expected to witness a “steady” performance.
  • Expectations seem pinned on TFW’s Dutch divisions, where profit gained a remarkable 15% and progress generally within the group has been positive.
  • The cash hoard improved further to a record £65m, but the group margin still languishes below the healthy 18%-plus level of the past.
  • A P/E of 22-29 feels generous, although might reflect TFW’s operational reliability, opportunities for market-share gains and/or potential growth beyond lighting systems. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Screening For My Next Long-Term Winner: BEST OF THE BEST

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10 March 2021
By Maynard Paton

One of my favourite SharePad screens identifies good-quality companies that have grown without acquisition. The screen uses the following filter criteria:

  • Positive five-year turnover and operating profit growth;
  • A minimum 15% for both return on equity and operating margin;
  • Net borrowing of no more than zero (i.e. a net cash position), and;
  • A five-year acquisition spend of zero.

I ran the screen the other day and found 28 matches. I studied Best of the Best — or BOTB as it now calls itself — because I was already aware of:

  • Some very remarkable financials;
  • An extraordinary share-price performance, and;
  • Management deciding not to sell the business despite “extensive talks with a range of parties”.

Read my full Best of the Best article for SharePad.

Maynard Paton

TRISTEL: P/E Reaches Stratospheric 48x As H1 Figures Reveal Profit Improving Up To 31% And Headcount Increasing 19% To Prepare For Future Growth

09 March 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • A satisfactory pandemic-assisted performance, with revenue up 14% and profit up between 12% and 31% depending on the adjustments made.
  • Sales were bolstered by Brexit stock-piling, which will unwind during H2, with underlying UK progress still difficult to interpret.
  • Overseas sales improved a useful 20% although the United States regulatory project and other ventures remain very slow burners.
  • The 21% operating margin seems impressive in light of “one-off” payroll costs and the headcount increasing 19% to prepare for future growth. 
  • The 48x P/E looks stratospheric, but permanently greater demand for hospital disinfectants, further expansion plus growing economies of scale may justify a lofty rating. I continue to hold.

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CITY OF LONDON INVESTMENT: H1 Figures Reveal Record $10.9b FuM And Astonishing 55% Margin But Client ‘Rebalancing’ Keeps P/E Stuck At 11x

24 February 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for City of London Investment (CLIG):

  • Very buoyant markets alongside the Karpus merger helped funds under management (FuM) reach a record $10.9b and lift the dividend by 10%.
  • Client ‘rebalancing’ led to FuM withdrawals and, despite fledgling strategies attracting new money, overall fund flows remain frustratingly low. 
  • Recent leadership retirements have not led to any dramatic changes and shareholder information has remained reassuringly comprehensive.
  • The Karpus merger has raised the group margin to an astonishing 55%, but future bonus-pool arrangements could reduce such profitability.
  • The possible P/E is 11 and near-term yield might top 7%, although the shares have been valued modestly for years and a sustained re-rating remains very elusive. I continue to hold.

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[SharePad] Small-Cap Spotlight Report: ARGO BLOCKCHAIN

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24 February 2021
By Maynard Paton

Let’s start with a wealth warning:

  • This article covers bitcoin miner Argo Blockchain;
  • I am not a bitcoin expert;
  • The bitcoin price is highly unpredictable;
  • Argo’s share price is highly unpredictable, and;
  • Argo issues frequent updates.

Still, Argo is a company worth studying… not least because the shares have soared 25-fold in just two months:

(Source: SharePad)

Let’s find out what is happening.

Read my full Argo Blockchain article for SharePad.