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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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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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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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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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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My Portfolio: Year In Review 2020

01 January 2021
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 4,631-word post provides a ‘year in review’ of my current portfolio holdings. I recap how each business performed during 2020 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 2021 will most likely be caused by the shares I already own rather than any new shares I will buy.

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SYSTEM1: Remarkable Q2 May Lead To 8x P/E And Potential Recovery Helped By ITV Progress, New Clients And Net Cash

11 December 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for System1 (SYS1):

  • A pandemic-disrupted first half, albeit with headline numbers that disguised a remarkable return to profitability during Q2.
  • Revenue improvements within the Communications and UK segments suggest the tie-up with ITV is working.
  • A bold pricing structure, greater ambition clarity and even improved film-marking may explain why adidas has become a client.
  • The accounts are in reasonable shape, with significant net cash, positive cash generation and perhaps a decent profit margin following various cost savings.
  • Extrapolating the Q2 profit leads to a lowly 8x multiple and intriguing recovery/upside possibilities. I have bought more shares.

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TASTY: Survival Rests On Landlords, Barclays, Vaccinations And Christmas Burgers After H1 Covid Cash Burn Implies June 2021 Receivership

09 December 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tasty (TAST):

  • Revenue down 59% led to a £10m operating loss after the pandemic guaranteed an awful performance.
  • Cash of £3.2m and six-month cash burn of £1.6m implies TAST will run out of money by June 2021.
  • Immediate survival hopes seem dependent on landlord negotiations, CVA hints, a loan from Barclays, UK vaccinations and Christmas burgers delivered to your door.
  • One pandemic positive: management has been forced/allowed to instigate much-needed changes to an underperforming restaurant estate.
  • The £4m market cap could be a bargain, assuming government restrictions are lifted, rents are reset, competition is reduced and a recovery one day takes place. I continue to hold.

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MOUNTVIEW ESTATES: Significant Gross-Margin Improvements During Pandemic-Affected H1 May Underpin Possible NAV Of Up To £225 Per Share

04 December 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Mountview Estates (MTVW):

  • A pandemic-affected H1 that showed revenue down 23% and profit down 18% following procedural delays to property sales.
  • A maintained dividend, a lack for furloughed staff and rents up 1% did not signal inherent lockdown trouble. 
  • Significant gross-margin enhancements may reflect an underlying step-change in performance and have favourable implications for valuation. 
  • Expenditure on property purchases has picked up, with management hopeful of acquiring “exceptional opportunities”. Debt levels remain modest.
  • Book value inched to a record £98 per share, although new profit assumptions now point to a balance sheet possibly worth up to £225 per share. I continue to hold.

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BIOVENTIX: Very Satisfactory FY 2020 Showcases Record 79% Margin, 5th Consecutive Annual Special Dividend And Webinar Remarks Of Troponin Sales Quadrupling By FY 2022

12 November 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Bioventix (BVXP):

  • Very satisfactory FY 2020 figures, although H2 growth subsided to mid-single-digits after the pandemic reduced demand for routine blood tests.
  • A 21% final-dividend lift plus a special payout for the fifth consecutive year underpinned a generally positive outlook.
  • Revenue from vitamin D gained 10% and may finally have “plateaued”, while troponin sales quadrupling within the next two years is apparently “plausible“.   
  • The books remain in excellent shape with record 79% margins, robust cash flow, a £5m cash buffer and no debt.
  • The ace financials and predictable customer income leaves an understandably lofty P/E of 32. I continue to hold.

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TRISTEL: 20%-Plus Annual Growth, Odd UK Performance, Bumper Overseas Progress And Potential Pandemic Tailwind All Add Up To Possible 39x P/E

05 November 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for Tristel (TSTL):

  • Revenue and profit reached new highs following very satisfactory 20%-plus growth, bolstered in part by the pandemic.
  • The UK performance appeared odd, given H2 sales were lower than H1 despite the Covid-19 boost.
  • Overseas sales surged 35% during H2, with the purchase of Ecomed during 2018 now proving to be a great success.  
  • The accounts remain in good shape with high margins, appealing equity returns, net cash and respectable cash generation. 
  • A possible P/E of 39 might be justified if the pandemic leads to permanently greater demand for hospital disinfectants. I continue to hold.

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FW THORPE: P/E of 21-25x May Be Justified After FY 2020 Figures Reveal 18th Consecutive Dividend Increase, £63m Cash Reserves And Exciting SmartScan Growth Potential

23 October 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for FW Thorpe (TFW):

  • Creditable” figures that revealed second-half profit sliding 17% due to the lockdown.
  • A 2% final dividend lift, cash reserves of £63m plus the commendable funding of furloughed staff did not imply imminent financial difficulties.  
  • The SmartScan light-monitoring system provides exciting potential, with sales up 18% to represent 23% of total revenue. 
  • Talk of a “global recession” and a “downturn in orders” suggests trading during 2021 will be challenging.
  • A P/E of 21-25 seems generous but may reflect the ‘pandemic-proof’ balance sheet, SmartScan growth and/or resilient profit history. I continue to hold.

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