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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MOUNTVIEW ESTATES: £11m Special Dividend Accompanies Acceptable H1 2022 Performance And Could Signal New ‘Run Off’ Phase Leading To Estimated Returns Totalling £264 Per Share

25 March 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mountview Estates (MTVW):

  • An acceptable H1 performance, albeit profit was suppressed by fewer property sales that in aggregate achieved a relatively low gross margin.
  • Certain property disposals realising a record 65% premium to their 2014 valuation alongside an £11m special dividend do not suggest inherent trading difficulties.
  • Management remarks of “difficult times that may lie ahead” may explain why expenditure on new properties remains low and net debt has been kept at just 4% of the property estate. 
  • The special dividend, low expenditure and modest debt all perhaps signal a new ‘run off’ chapter, whereby the group consistently sells more properties than it buys.   
  • Book value inched to a record £102 per share, although run-off guesstimates suggest total dividends following a complete estate disposal could total £264 per share. I continue to hold.

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ANDREWS SYKES: Better-Than-Expected H1 2021 Witnesses European Sales Rebound 29% As Net Cash Reaches £22m And Potential Dividend Yield Hits 5%

07 March 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Andrews Sykes (ASY):

  • Following the disappointing finish to FY 2020, a better-than-expected H1 performance with revenue and profit up 7% and 14% respectively.
  • Progress was buoyed by ASY’s European operations, which witnessed sales rebound 29% to set a new divisional H1 record. 
  • A restatement revealed previously undisclosed furlough income had represented 12% of H1 2020 profit.
  • The books remain in good shape, with a robust 22% margin and net funds at a sizeable £22m, although extra pension contributions are still required.
  • A possible P/E of 13.5 and yield of 5% hardly seem expensive for the appealing financials and potential of further European expansion. I continue to hold.

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SYSTEM1: Data Services Reaching 43% Of Revenue Supports Long-Term ‘Platform’ Ambitions Although Q4 Consultancy Warning Emphasises Risk Of Transition Mishaps

02 March 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for System1 (SYS1):

  • An acceptable H1 performance, albeit with profit lower than I had anticipated due to greater costs associated with the transition to Data services.
  • Data services continue to advance, representing 36% of total revenue for H1 and reaching 43% for the subsequent Q3.
  • UK revenue jumping 33% in part through an influx of new Data clients suggests the partnership with ITV is working.
  • A Q4 sales warning relating to old-style Consultancy activities emphasised management’s upbeat ambitions are susceptible to mishaps.
  • Net cash now represents 25% of the market cap, with long-term multi-bagger upside still obtainable if LTIP revenue targets are met and healthy ‘platform’ margins are delivered. I continue to hold. 

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TASTY: Re-Opening Closed Restaurants, Rents Cut By 27% And ‘Extremely Encouraging’ Trading Support Hope Of A Recovery Following Pandemic-Disrupted H1 2021

28 January 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tasty (TAST):

  • A predictably poor performance due to the pandemic, albeit with revenue up 33% on the even worse H1 2020 following greater takeaway and delivery sales.
  • Favourable changes to both the ‘going concern’ small-print and CVA commentary suggest the risk of failure has diminished.
  • But underlying net cash of £4m does not leave enormous room for error given an estimated underlying cash outflow of £1m for this H1.
  • IFRS 16 total lease obligations remaining at £55m looks odd given annual rents may have been reduced by 27%.
  • A post-results update citing “extremely encouraging” trading plus plans to re-open the remaining closed restaurants provide hope of a recovery. I continue to hold.

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M WINKWORTH: Exceptional H1 Sets New £2m Profit High As Record Quarterly Dividend Plus Third Special Payout Underpin ‘Busy’ FY 2022

13 January 2022
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for M Winkworth (WINK):

  • An “extraordinarily active” sales market led to an exceptional six-month performance, with the H1 £2m profit exceeding WINK’s peak annual profit from FY 2014.
  • Subsequent trading updates then lifted FY 2021 expectations and announced a record quarterly dividend alongside the third special payout of the year.
  • Market-share gains versus London rival Foxtons plus very encouraging progress at the company-owned Tooting office underpin the prospect of a “busy” FY 2022. 
  • The accounts remain in good order, with this H1 showing a super 38% margin and net cash and investments supporting close to 20% of the share price.
  • Near-term earnings may well subside if housing activity cools, but WINK’s reliable dividends may limit the downside with a possible 5% income. I continue to hold.

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My Portfolio: Year In Review 2021

01 January 2022
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 4,609-word post provides a ‘year in review’ of my current holdings. I recap how each business performed during 2021 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 2022 will most likely be caused by the shares I already own rather than any new shares I will buy.

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FW THORPE: £27m Acquisition Spend Underlines New Expansion Ambitions After Special Dividend Complements 19th Consecutive Annual Payout Increase

14 December 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • A remarkable recovery following a factory fire ensured a satisfactory FY 2021, which included a record H2 and a special payout to complement the 19th consecutive annual dividend lift.
  • Customers seeking “tried and tested” manufactures alongside ongoing demand for SmartScan counterbalanced component shortages, the pandemic and Brexit.
  • £27m spent on new acquisitions has underlined TFW’s expansion ambitions and signals a firm desire to earn greater returns on the group’s £76m cash hoard. 
  • The accounts remains in good shape, although the record 47% gross margin may be short lived if supply difficulties and rising costs continue. 
  • A P/E of 30 feels generous, but might reflect operational reliability, a positive ‘buy and build’ strategy, significant ‘ESG’ attractions and/or potential growth beyond lighting systems. I continue to hold.

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CITY OF LONDON INVESTMENT: Net Client Withdrawals Of $752m Continue To Limit Re-Rating Potential Despite FY 2021 Showcasing Record $11.4b FuM, 49% Margin And £26m Net Cash

25 November 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for City of London Investment (CLIG):

  • The Karpus merger ensured a record financial performance and a 10% dividend lift, although funds under management (FuM) during H2 (+4%) did not enjoy the buoyant market gains experienced during H1 (+31%).
  • Further client ‘rebalancing’ led to FuM withdrawals of $752m — almost entirely negating the net client inflows of $758m received during the previous five years. 
  • The absence of fresh client money and investment gains lagging the MSCI World index — as well as staff using paper payslips and fax machines — could be evidence of a business rather stuck in its ways.
  • A startling 49% operating margin, net cash at a hefty £26m plus small demands on cash flow confirm the accounts remain in good shape.
  • Although the possible P/E is 10-11 and the yield tops 6%, the shares have been rated modestly for years as major new clients remain very elusive. I continue to hold.

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BIOVENTIX: FY 2021 Results Unveil Record H2 Profit (+14%) While Finite Troponin Income Shifts Longer-Term Perspective Towards Pyrene Project And Alzheimer’s Research

05 November 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Bioventix (BVXP):

  • Acceptable annual figures that included a record H2 profit (+14%) despite the pandemic continuing to disrupt demand for routine blood tests.
  • Mixed progress from vitamin D and other established antibodies leaves near-term growth dependent mostly on the fast-selling troponin product. 
  • Additional research efforts suggest pyrene biomonitoring and detecting Alzheimer’s disease may be the more likely long-term pipeline winners.
  • A 19% dividend lift, another special payout, 70%-plus margins and low retained-profit requirements underlined the wonderful economics of collecting antibody royalties. 
  • Troponin’s finite income and a resultant sum-of-the-parts valuation do not indicate an obviously tantalising £36 share price. I continue to hold.

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TRISTEL: Pandemic-Disrupted FY 2021 Admits H2 Profit Down 36% But Also Re-Introduces FDA Timetable As Sector Rival Implies $180m US Market Opportunity

29 October 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • A disappointing pandemic-disrupted performance, with H2 revenue and profit down 15% and 36% respectively on the preceding H1.
  • Progress was curtailed as NHS outpatient clinics closed and orders “dried up“, which left certain UK product sales running at a six-year low.
  • Overseas revenue up 3%, a resilient 16% H2 margin, net cash of £10m and a 2% final-dividend lift suggest the business is not broken just yet. 
  • A re-introduced timetable for product launches in the United States provides hope of the seven-year FDA process concluding during 2023.
  • The £236m market cap remains elevated, and is supported by a sector rival implying the US market for ultrasound-probe disinfection is worth up to $180m. I continue to hold.

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S & U: Record H1 Profit Prompts Welcome 50% Dividend Rebound And Management Talk Of Loan Volumes Increasing 25%

19 October 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • A record H1 profit performance supported by a “lower than normal” bad-debt provision and the dividend rebounding 50% to pre-Covid levels.
  • The main car-loan division has recovered well from the pandemic, with collection rates (94%) and on-time first payments (98%) now standing at multi-year highs.  
  • The fledgling property-loan operation enjoyed a bumper six months following the government CBILS scheme.
  • Interest charges at 3%, increased borrowing facilities and headroom of £65m indicate no obvious funding concerns.  
  • The £28 shares are close to an all-time high and may already reflect management’s webinar talk of car-loan volumes increasing 25% to 25,000 a year. I continue to hold.

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MINCON: Mixed H1 Suffers Pandemic Disruption And Extends ‘Moat’ Questions As Management Expects A Better H2 After Creating A ‘Platform For Future Growth’

22 September 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mincon (MCON):

  • A very mixed H1 performance, as record €67m six-month revenue contrasted with profit down as much as 13% due to general pandemic disruption.
  • European construction revenue encouragingly climbed 50% supported by numerous smaller projects and innovative sector products.
  • Customer testing of the “disruptive” Greenhammer system remains on hold, although other developments are now “poised to deliver“.
  • The move to selling a wider range of equipment direct to customers continues to limit margins/returns on equity/cash flow and raise doubts about an indisputable competitive ‘moat’.
  • While a P/E of 20 is not a clear bargain, the long-time family management expects a stronger H2 and claims to have established a “platform for future growth“. I continue to hold.

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SYSTEM1: Better-Than-Expected FY 2021 Results Reveal Accelerating Data Transition And Bold £1 BILLION Market Cap Opportunity

07 September 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for System1 (SYS1):

  • A better-than-expected H2 accompanied some bold management commentary that cited an eventual £1 billion market cap. 
  • The acceleration towards ‘scalable’ data products continues, with ‘disruptive’ pricing and partnerships with ITV and LinkedIn spearheading the transition.  
  • Downgraded option targets and upgraded director pay looked awkward given the optimistic narrative and receipt of government pandemic support.
  • Greater net cash, a mooted share buyback and a 21% adjusted H2 margin suggest the accounts have recuperated from their pandemic nadir.
  • Despite extra growth investment limiting near-term earnings progress, long-term multi-bagger upside may still be obtainable. I continue to hold. 

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MOUNTVIEW ESTATES: Estimated NAV Still Surpasses £200 Per Share After Remarkable H2 Shows Welcome 1.55x Sales Premium And 12.5% Final Dividend Lift

15 July 2021
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mountview Estates (MTVW):

  • A respectable performance supported by a remarkable H2 comeback, with full-year profit up 5% after declining 18% during a pandemic-disrupted H1.
  • Property sales realising a welcome 1.55x premium to their 2014 valuation alongside the first dividend lift for three years suggest favourable near-term trading. 
  • A small text change to AGM-related statements imply some unhappy shareholders have started to engage with management. 
  • Debt of £22m stands at a 21-year low and represents just 5% of the £398m property estate.
  • Book value inched to a record £101 per share, although my calculations still point to a balance sheet inherently worth beyond £200 per share. I continue to hold.

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