Category Archives: My Sold Shares

Year In Review 2018

01 January 2019
By Maynard Paton

Happy New Year!

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

This first Blog post of 2019 provides a ‘year in review’ of my current portfolio holdings. I recap how each of the underlying businesses performed during 2018, as well as provide a few remarks about valuation.

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Castings: H1 Results Reveal Machining Turnaround Delayed By 2 Years While Depreciation Review Inflates Group Profit By 10%

15 November 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2018 published 13 November 2018.

Summary: CGS’s results were acceptable but contained several irritating drawbacks. In particular, a recovery at the engineer’s troubled machining division has been seemingly postponed for two years. Furthermore, management has now downgraded customer demand from “strong” to “steady”. Oh, and a depreciation review inflated group profit by 10%. CGS does have strengths — not least its cash pile and dividend history — but I suspect the firm’s stalled earnings will keep the shares marooned for now. I continue to hold.

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Castings: The 25-Year Dividend Record Now Shows 23 Increases, 2 Holds And No Cuts

15 June 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Final results for the twelve months to 31 March 2018 published 13 June 2018

Summary: These results came in below the engineer’s earlier expectations — but the performance did not appear too bad in the circumstances. Although CGS’s smaller machining division continues to lose money, its problems now look to be contained. Meanwhile, the larger foundry operation seems to be progressing well following a decent second half. A hefty cash position and the illustrious dividend remain key attractions, but the P/E of 13 does not suggest an immediate bargain. I continue to hold.

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Record: Alarming 10% Fee Cut Smells Of Management Guff And I Have Sold Out

20 April 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Record (REC).

Event: Trading update for the three months to 31 March 2018 published 20 April 2018

Summary: REC has struggled to make any decisive progress for several years now. The firm’s currency-trading strategies have floundered, clients have regularly jumped ship, while those clients that have stayed have demanded lower fees. Now comes the alarming news that REC’s bog-standard currency-hedging service will cut its fees by 10% to keep clients happy. To add insult to injury, greater costs will be required to cater for this product “enhancement”. I have been frustrated with REC for quite some time, and have belatedly decided enough is enough. I have sold my entire holding.

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Year In Review 2017

01 January 2018
By Maynard Paton

Happy New Year!

I trust you have enjoyed the festive break and are now raring to do battle with the market for another twelve months!

This first Blog post of 2018 provides a ‘year in review’ of my current portfolio holdings. I recap how each of the underlying businesses performed during 2017, as well as provide a few remarks about valuation.

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Record: Another Frustrating RNS That Leaves The Stock’s 5% Yield As The Main Highlight

20 November 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Record (REC).

Event: Interim results and shareholder presentation for the six months to 30 September 2017 published 17 November 2017

Summary: This was another frustrating RNS from the specialist currency manager. The cost base has ‘inevitably’ increased, yet revenue and client numbers remain stagnant and — as usual — there’s no real sign of the business enjoying an upturn anytime soon. At least REC continues to generate cash, retains a robust cash pile and distributes a healthy dividend. The yield is 5%, which is not too bad in the current market. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Castings: H1 Figures Just About Acceptable As Profit Per Tonne Reaches New £322 High

10 November 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2017 published 10 November 2017

Summary: Last month’s statement concerning a review of CGS’s machining division had already braced me for worrying news. In the circumstances, this RNS was not too bad. Sure, the machining division has reported a loss and will cut back on certain projects. However, CGS’s main foundry operation appears to be performing very satisfactorily, with profit per tonne reaching a new high. I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Record: 2017 Results Herald Welcome Larger Dividends And £10m Tender Offer To Help Company Founder’s Retirement Planning

23 June 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Final results and shareholder presentation for the twelve months to 31 March 2017 published 16 June 2017, and proposed tender offer.

Summary: There was a certain irony about these figures. REC makes its money by managing currency movements for clients… yet the group itself has prospered of late largely because the weaker GBP has translated into greater management fees. Whether REC’s clients have actually prospered is harder to say, as there still seems little evidence of a growing customer base. Still, I welcome REC’s decision to hand excess cash back via larger dividends, but the accompanying £10m tender offer does appear as if it was devised primarily to help REC’s founder plan for his retirement. With operating costs expected to rise, too, I reckon the tender price equates to an underlying P/E of 14-15. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Castings: Annual Results Are Worst Since 2011 As Management Talks Of ‘Robotic Handling’

14 June 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Annual results for the twelve months to 31 March 2017 published 14 June 2017

Summary: A lack of work at CGS’s smaller machining division meant these annual figures were the engineer’s worst since 2011. Thankfully there were no worrying omens for 2018 — the group’s order book apparently remains “steady” while the second-half performance even showed some promise. The hefty cash pile and a resilient dividend continue to be shareholder centrepieces, and talk of “robotic handling” suggests margin improvements may be on the way.  My P/E of 13 does not indicate a bargain and I continue to hold. Continue reading

Electronic Data Processing: ELEVEN Months On And The Strategic Review Has Gone Nowhere… And I Have Given Up Waiting

23 March 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

Event: Strategic review and pensions update issued 06 March 2017

Summary: Oh dear — EDP’s strategic review has not gone as well as I had hoped. The software minnow has taken ELEVEN months to finally own up to holding early-stage talks with just the one interested bidder. Other approaches have disappeared, due in part to unfavourable developments within the group’s defined-benefit pension scheme. I doubt EDP’s main shareholders can force anyone to bid and, without any sign of EDP having a Plan B, I have sold my entire holding. Continue reading

Year In Review 2016

01 January 2017
By Maynard Paton

Happy New Year!

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

This first Blog post of 2017 provides a ‘year-in-review’ of my current portfolio holdings. I recap how each of the underlying businesses performed during 2016, as well as provide a few remarks about valuation.

As I mentioned this time last year, I find writing such reviews extremely useful — not least because it encourages me to double-check my investment logic to ensure I am still invested for all the right reasons! Continue reading

Electronic Data Processing: 8 Months On And I’m Still Waiting For A Buyer

20 December 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

Event: Preliminary results for the twelve months to 30 September 2016 published 20 December 2016

Summary: What a letdown! I had hoped EDP could announce the conclusion of its strategic review within these results, but no such luck I’m afraid. Instead, shareholders have been left in the dark about possible corporate action as the underlying business puts in another dismal revenue performance. The irony is this company actually develops software for others to improve sales! I can only hope 2017 will see a generous buyer emerge and I can then move on. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Record: High Margin, High Yield… And High Time New Clients Were Found

21 November 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2016 published 18 November 2016

Summary: If nothing else, REC’s results are consistent — once again this specialist currency manager revealed stagnant financial progress, a lack of new business and a dependence on a handful of major clients. Nevertheless, the group sports high margins and cash-flush accounts,  while the P/E could be as low as 7 thanks to the weaker GBP. Talk of potential special dividends unfortunately remains talk for now, but at least the ordinary payout yields 5.2%. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Castings: £23m Cash Hoard Can’t Disguise Worst H1 Results For 6 Years

11 November 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2016 published 11 November 2016

Summary: Earlier statements had already signalled lower earnings for 2016/17, and these results were in fact CGS’s worst first-half figures for six years. The engineer still reckons lost work can be replaced, but the immediate outlook remains stagnant at best. The upcoming retirement of the chief executive brings some further uncertainty, too. Still, I don’t think good companies become bad companies overnight and the group’s long track record suggests a recovery will one day arrive. I continue to hold. Continue reading

French Connection: I Have Finally Given Up On This Turnaround

20 September 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on French Connection (FCCN).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 31 July 2016 published 20 September 2016

Summary: It’s taken me five years to realise that I have wasted my time with FCCN’s purported turnaround. The fashion chain’s latest results were very mixed, and I feel cash may now become tight if there is more bad news. I have belatedly concluded the problem Retail division could well lose money for some years ahead, while an activist investor may not be doing enough to instigate the necessary board changes. I have sold my entire holding. Continue reading

Record: Cash-Adjusted P/E Of 8 Plus Talk Of Special Dividends

23 June 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Final results for the twelve months to 31 March 2016 published 17 June 2016

Summary: These far-from-spectacular figures were no surprise. Indeed, both revenue and profit have stagnated for five years now and there was no real suggestion that improvements will occur anytime soon. What’s more, a new regulatory risk was disclosed that may hinder progress :-( Nevertheless, this specialist currency manager did talk of future special dividends, while the high-margin, cash-rich nature of the business remains attractive. I reckon the underlying P/E is 8 and the yield is 6%-plus, and I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Castings: Satisfactory Results Blessed With 30p Per Share Special Dividend

15 June 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Annual results for the twelve months to 31 March 2016 published 15 June 2016

Summary: A quite satisfactory set of results from the country’s largest foundry operator. Revenue, profit, the dividend and net cash all headed in the right direction, while a shareholder bonus was news of a 30p per share special payout. However, counter-balancing the 2016 figures was the admission of less work at the higher-margin machining division, which will hurt 2017 progress. Still, the shares do not appear expensive and I continue to hold. Continue reading

Electronic Data Processing: I Will Happily Swap This 6%-Plus Yield For A Generous Trade Buyer

06 June 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 31 March 2016 published 02 June 2016

Summary: This was another lacklustre update from the software micro-cap. It was disappointing in particular to see revenue continuing to stagnate and — despite various cost-cutting measures of the past — operating profit dropping lower. Thankfully EDP has put itself up for sale and I am very hopeful a generous trade buyer can be found to conclude what has been a somewhat frustrating investment. In the meantime, there is the prospect of a 6%-plus yield to collect. I continue to hold. Continue reading

French Connection: The Cash Pile Really Can’t Afford Another £9m Outflow

15 March 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on French Connection (FCCN).

Event: Preliminary results for the year to January 2016 published 15 March

Summary: An improved set of figures following last year’s awful interims. However, the numbers do suggest FCCN experienced a weaker Christmas while the cash pile really can’t afford another £9m outflow. Online sales were miserable, too. Still, Retail gross margins during H2 were the highest since 2011 and new board members may well help the moribund management. This value investment still requires inordinate patience… and I continue to hold Continue reading

Record: Another Mandate Loss But Stronger Dollar Sustains P/E Of 8 

07 January 2016
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Business Update published 07 January

Summary: Not a great start to 2016 — REC has admitted a significant mandate win from last year has now been ‘suspended’. Despite a more accommodating environment for the specialist currency manager, this update just adds to the disappointing client losses of late . Funnily enough, a stronger dollar appears to sustain my earnings guess even after today’s client withdrawal. Meanwhile, the shares do not look expensive on a possible P/E of 8. I continue to hold.

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My Portfolio: Year In Review 2015

01 January 2016
By Maynard Paton

Happy New Year!

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

This first Blog post of 2016 provides a short ‘year-in-review’ of each of my current portfolio holdings.

As I mentioned at the start of 2015, I find writing such reviews extremely useful — not least because it encourages me to double-check my investment logic to ensure I am still invested for all the right reasons!

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Electronic Data Processing: I’m Collecting A 7.9% Yield And Trusting A Trio Of Investors Will (Eventually) Take Action

11 December 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Electronic Data Processing (EDP).

Event: Preliminary results published 11 December

Summary: As expected, this dull software microcap reported no miracles. Cost savings should underpin the firm’s near-term progress, but revenue growth remains as elusive as ever.  At least  EDP still enjoys plenty of recurring income and has committed again to a hefty 5p per share dividend. I’m trusting the trio of North American funds that hold 28% of this stock will one day stir-up some corporate action so we can all exit at an advantageous price. I continue to hold.

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French Connection: Wow — £2.4m Compensation For Closing A Loss-Making Store!

30 November 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on French Connection (FCCN).

Event: Trading statement published 30 November

Summary: Phew! A pleasantly surprising update that revealed stable trading and a signal that losses could be narrowing. However, the most welcome news was the redevelopment of the group’s loss-making Regent Street store, for which compensation of £2.4m will be received from the landlord. I just wish FCCN could be paid off for all of its under-performing shops! I continue to hold.

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Record: 5%-Plus Yield Available As The Long Wait For Elusive New Clients Drags On

24 November 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Interim results published 24 November

Summary: A lacklustre set of results in which the board remained optimistic of further progress — but where new clients were still nowhere to be seen. This statement was particularly irritating due to higher-than-expected staff costs and commentary about an ‘increased’ dividend. However, at least my earnings guess has not changed. One day I trust REC’s currency strategies will have their day in the sun, but until then I must content myself with a useful 5%-plus yield and dreams of what could be. I continue to hold.

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Castings: Revenue Up, Profit Up, Cash Up, Dividend Up

13 November 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Castings (CGS).

Event: Interim results published 13 November

Summary: Just what I like — a concise set of results that reports steady progress and robust financials. In fact, I could not find anything to complain about, with revenue up, profit up, cash up, the dividend up,  plus the prospect of further growth during the second half. What’s more, the share price does not look that expensive. I continue to hold.

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Castings: I’ve Forged Ahead With This New Buy

23 October 2015
By Maynard Paton

Today I’m revealing my latest share investment.

The company in question is Castings (CGS), a long-established iron castings and machining group that’s based in the Midlands.

You may recall that, back in September, I added Castings to my watch list.

Well, after mulling over that write-up, I then bought in at an average price of 426p including all costs. The bid price is now 440p and the holding currently represents about 8% of my portfolio.

When I invested, I felt this £188m firm offered many traits of a respectable investment.

Important attractions for me included a durable dividend, an asset-flush balance sheet, improving productivity, good-value management and an upbeat immediate outlook. What’s more, a possible P/E of 11 suggested the shares were priced quite modestly.

However, I recognised CGS was by no means a one-way bet. Obvious risks include serving a small number of large customers and a recent profit history that has seen its ups and downs.

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French Connection: Grim Figures Confirm Basket-Case Status

21 September 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on French Connection (FCCN).

Event: Interim results published 21 September

Summary: A grim set of figures that had been flagged by an earlier profit warning. News of further store closures and maintained gross margins were reassuring in the circumstances, but the real saving grace was the relatively positive outlook for the second half. There’s still a chance this share could one day prove to be a bargain, but for now its basket-case status remains intact. I continue to hold.

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Castings: A Rare Combination In The Current Market

04 September 2015
By Maynard Paton

Today I’m continuing my hunt for Watch List shares with a look at Castings (CGS).

Here are the initial attractions that prompted this research:

Respectable financials: The accounts showcase a dependable dividend, net cash and property assets
Straightforward management: The executives do not collect grandiose wages nor own any options
Interesting valuation: The shares could offer a possible P/E of 11

As usual, I’m applying a question-and-answer template to help me pinpoint companies that match the criteria set out in How I Invest. I’m looking for as many Yes answers as possible.

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Record: I’ve Slashed My Earnings Guess By 27%

25 August 2015
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Record (REC).

Event: Business update published 25 August

Summary: A very disappointing statement. A major client has withdrawn $2.8bn from REC’s administration and I’ve had to slash my earnings guess by 27%. The shares have dropped significantly, though at 29p they remain valued at 10x possible profits and yield 5.7%. The business remains high margin and cash rich, but sadly still dependent on a small number of customers. I continue to hold.

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French Connection: Reasons To Keep Holding (As Well As Avoid!) This Frustrating Investment 

Today I’m summarising my current thoughts on French Connection (FCCN), a small-cap fashion retailer that continues to suffer from poor trading and which remains an under-whelming investment in my portfolio.

You can read my earlier Blog posts on FCCN here. But to cut to the chase, a trading statement in April owned up to weak retail sales and it’s likely the current year will witness FCCN’s seventh overall annual loss in eight years.

One day I’m sure a sustained turnaround here could deliver an exceptional share-price gain — although there is the real chance this company may never actually turn…

Anyway, prompted by FCCN’s share price falling steeply of late, I’ve weighed up the various pros and cons of what has become a very frustrating business and investment. Just to confirm, I continue to hold the shares.

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