Tasty: Phew! Not Heading For Bankruptcy Just Yet As £4m Property Proceeds And £1m Underlying Profit Compare To £8m Market Cap

13 March 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Tasty (TAST).

Event: Preliminary results for the 52 weeks to 31 December 2017 published 13 March 2018

Summary: Phew! I had thought TAST’s plunging share price was signalling these results would be accompanied by an emergency equity placing. As it turns out, the beleaguered restaurant chain continues to report a profit and has surprised me by raising £4m — equivalent to half of its market cap — from two property transactions. Furthermore, management now has a proper turnaround plan in place, the second half showed a few glimmers of hope while the upside could be considerable if a recovery ever occurs. I have bought more shares, both before and after these results.

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Town Centre Securities: 57 Years Of Unbroken Dividends And A Share Price 25% Below NAV

08 March 2018
By Maynard Paton

Today I’m continuing my hunt for Watch List shares by evaluating Town Centre Securities (TOWN).

Here are the initial attractions that prompted this research:

* Illustrious payout history: The business boasts an unbroken 57-year record of dividend payments.

* Substantial long-term shareholders: The founding/managing family boast a sizeable 52%/£78m investment.

* Discount to book value: The 281p shares trade at a 25% discount to the group’s 375p net asset value.

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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Getech: 17-Month Results Provide Further Hope Of A Profit Rebound And Decent Share-Price Upside

02 March 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Getech (GTC).

Event: Final results for the seventeen months to 31 December 2017 published 28 February 2018.

Summary: A change of year end, various exceptional items, the effect of an acquisition and the company’s own ‘cost base’ definition meant studying these numbers was not straightforward. However, it was clear the geoscience software specialist has returned to profit, while it was also obvious the new boss remains confident about the group’s competitive attractions. Looking ahead, I am still hoping some encouraging revenue talk alongside tight cost controls could one day lead to much higher earnings and decent share-price upside. I continue to hold.

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Tristel: H1 Results Boast 24% Profit Jump Before North American Costs As EPA Decision Now Set For 16 April

23 February 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on Tristel (TSTL).

Event: Interim results and shareholder presentation for the six months to 31 December 2017 published 20 February 2018

Summary: These first-half figures were slightly better than I had expected, with December’s AGM statement having downplayed the group’s underlying progress. Welcome revenue advances — both in the UK and abroad — were delivered by TSTL’s main disinfectant products, while adjusted profit would have soared 24% were it not for the costs of entering North America. Sadly it remains anyone’s guess as to when those costs will eventually see any payback. Nonetheless, the first North American milestone is looming — an EPA product approval decision is expected on 16 April, and the share price is optimistic. I continue to hold. Continue reading

James Latham: The Family Owns 50%-Plus And Has Delivered 10% Long-Term Dividend Growth

15 February 2018
By Maynard Paton

Today I’m re-starting my hunt for Watch List shares with a look at James Latham (LTHM).

Here are the initial attractions that prompted this research:

* Owner-friendly management: The Latham family has £75m-plus riding on the share price and appear to run the business in a sensible (and LTIP-free) manner.

* Respectable track record: Recent decades of the group’s 261-year history have witnessed average dividend growth of approximately 10% a year.

* Asset-rich accounts: The books boast a sizeable cash position, freehold assets and a share count that has not changed since at least 1994.

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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City Of London Investment: Market Gains Deliver Best-Ever H1 As Increased Dividend Supports 6% Yield

19 January 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on City of London Investment (CLIG).

Event: Trading update and shareholder presentation/summary results for the six months ending 31 December 2017 published 17 January 2018.

Summary: Favourable market movements helped CLIG report its best-ever first-half figures, with revenue, profit, net cash and the dividend all moving higher. However, the finer details showed the emerging-market fund manager struggling to capture new clients as its main strategy under-performed. Meanwhile, fee rates are still being chipped away and staff costs keep on climbing. The shares may look under-appreciated on a P/E of 10 and yield of 6%, but sadly a re-rating does not appear imminent. I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Q4 2017: 2 Top-Ups And Up 10.5% For 2017

01 January 2018
By Maynard Paton

Happy 2018! I trust you have enjoyed a successful year’s investing and that you continue to find my Blog useful.

I’m currently celebrating my third anniversary as a full-time investor — and I am reasonably satisfied with how things have turned out so far.

Indeed, with no income other than my capital gains and dividends, I am pleased my portfolio has recorded a positive performance during each of the last three years.

However, the three years have not been all plain sailing. In particular, I did wonder whether foregoing an annual salary was such a bright idea during the mid-2016 Brexit lows. Still, a recovery eventually emerged that has continued throughout 2017.

All that said, I’m disappointed to have under-performed the market for the second consecutive year. Unfortunately for me, a decent collection of 2017 portfolio winners was counterbalanced by one big loser.

Let me explain what happened.

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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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Daejan: NAV Creeps To New £103 Per Share High And I Now Wonder Whether I Should Buy Once More

29 November 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Daejan (DJAN).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2017 published 29 November 2017

Summary: From what I could tell from the chairman’s 216-word update, DJAN has had to work hard of late to achieve somewhat modest progress. Currency movements and Brexit apparently kept a lid on this H1 performance, although NAV still managed to creep to a £103 per share all-time high. Dull updates from low-profile businesses often cause share prices to stagnate, and so I’m not too surprised the property group’s discount to book has widened since I first bought during 2015. I now wonder whether I should buy once again. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Mountview Estates: NAV Reaches Fresh £89 Per Share High Despite Weakest H1 For 4 Years

23 November 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Mountview Estates (MTVW).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2017 published 23 November 2017

Summary: It took MTVW’s chief exec just 265 words to describe the group’s weakest first-half performance for four years. Still, the nature of this property-trading firm means earnings can be somewhat variable from time to time. What is important, though, is that net asset value improved once again to a fresh high while debt continues to be reduced to a new low. My sums point to a possible NAV of £209 per share based on the firm’s long-term margin. I continue to hold. Continue reading

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

World Careers Network: FY 2017 Figures Show Revenue And Cash At All-Time Highs, But Earnings Will Remain Depressed Until At Least 2019

03 November 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on World Careers Network (WOR).

Event: Preliminary results for the twelve months to 31 July 2017 published 02 November 2017

Summary: These figures from the recruitment software developer were never going to be great. The overriding theme of the last three years — greater marketing and product investment — once again hit earnings and will continue to do so throughout 2018. The statement talked of some client-fee reductions, too. Still, at least overall revenue and the hefty cash position have both advanced to new all-time highs. Exactly when a profit revival will occur remains anyone’s guess — but I am hopeful the chief exec/71% shareholder will one day oversee a recovery. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Getech: 2017 Results Spotlight Product Attractions And Recovery Potential From £9m Market Cap

31 October 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Getech (GTC).

Event: Interim results for the twelve months to 31 July 2017 published 31 October 2017

Summary: These results were never going to show a major turnaround, but glimmers of hope continue to emerge at the geoscience software specialist. In particular, a new chief exec has cut costs, reorganised the firm and spotlighted some of the company’s product attractions. True, minimal earnings are likely during the short term. But with the upbeat stock market making obvious buying opportunities hard to find, I am beginning to warm to GTC’s recovery potential. I continue to hold. Continue reading

System1: H1 Profit Slumps 70% But Finer Details Provide Hope For Shareholders

27 October 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on System1 (SYS1).

Event: Interim results and shareholder presentation for the six months to 30 September 2017 published 27 October 2017

Summary: The marketing-services group had already alerted investors to these disappointing figures. However, the setback was explained honestly by management and I note 50% of the business continues to grow at a fair rate. So everything does not appear completely lost just yet. That said, adopting the tag of industry ‘pioneer’ will always court competition and it seems rivals have tempted some customers away. The share price has been thumped since the summer, but is now looking quite interesting. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Tristel: I Had To Delve Deep Into These 2017 Results After Underlying Revenue Gained Only 7%

25 October 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Tristel (TSTL).

Event: Final results and shareholder presentation for the year to 30 June 2017 published 19 October 2017

Summary: July’s trading statement from this medical disinfectants specialist had already signalled these record results. However, the update showed underlying revenue growth of just 7%, with the UK up 3% and overseas up 10%. I’ve therefore had to delve deep into the numbers to ensure TSTL’s main products continue to sell relatively well. At least the company’s accounts and recent acquisition showed more obvious appeal. I must confess, I am nervous comparing the share-price valuation against the medium-term expansion potential, especially with the prospect of sizeable North American revenue as distant as ever. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Bioventix: Outstanding 2017 Results But Cagey Troponin Remarks May Leave 29x P/E Rather Exposed

16 October 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Bioventix (BVXP).

Event: Preliminary results for the year to 30 June 2017 published 16 October 2017

Summary: The antibody specialist delivered another outstanding set of results, as astonishing margins, robust cash production and magnificent equity returns once again underlined the group’s wonderful economics. However, matters were tempered somewhat by management remarks about the immediate revenue potential of a new product. It could mean progress during 2018 won’t be very impressive, which may leave the current 29x multiple rather exposed. I’m hoping things work out for the best, and continue to hold. Continue reading

Q3 2017: 2 Top-Ups And 1 Top-Slice, Plus Management Ratings From A+ To E

29 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Happy Friday! I hope you continue to enjoy my Blog… and that your shares have fared well during the summer.

After experiencing positive first and second quarters, my portfolio has maintained its gains and its performance has improved to 14.0% for the year so far.

Furthermore, following an inactive second quarter, I have since dusted off my share-dealing account and executed a few buys and sells.

I have top-sliced one holding and added to two existing holdings. More on those trades a bit later.

Sadly, I have to admit that — once again! — a lot of my time of late has been absorbed by matters outside of investing.

While I’ve managed to keep on top of the news from my own portfolio, I’ve still not had the chance to study other companies and publish fresh watch-list reviews. Continue reading

Andrews Sykes: H1 Profit Up 28% And Now On Course For Best Year Ever

28 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on Andrews Sykes (ASY).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 June 2017 published 28 September 2017

Summary: I was very satisfied with ASY’s first-half progress. The specialist hire group reported positive performances both within the UK and overseas and could now be on course to deliver its best-ever annual results. A 20%-plus operating margin and substantial net cash remain key bookkeeping features, while management hints of an encouraging second half have kept the share price buoyant. I continue to hold. Continue reading

S & U: Heading Towards 18 Years Of Unbroken Growth As Chairman Shrugs Off Rising Bad-Debt Worries

26 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on S & U (SUS)

Event: Interim results for the six months to 31 July 2017 published 26 September 2017.

Summary: These results displayed further “steady and sustainable” growth from the used-car loan firm. Although the seasoned executives remain optimistic about the group’s prospects and the wider economy, margins have dipped once again as the impairment charge representing potential bad loans continues to rise. Still, the 11-12x multiple appears modest given the company’s growth rate and there is a near-5% income, too. I continue to hold. Continue reading

FW Thorpe: Record Annual Results Spotlight Further Double-Digit Growth As Dividend Lifted For 15th Consecutive Year

22 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on FW Thorpe (TFW).

Event: Preliminary results for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 published 21 September 2017

Summary: Yet again this lighting specialist has delivered a very satisfactory annual performance, with revenue and profit attaining fresh all-time highs and the dividend lifted for the fifteenth consecutive year. Although the group’s largest division appears to be performing very well, other subsidiaries did not enjoy the very best of second halves. Management comments about 2018 seemed quite cautious, too. The accounts remain in pristine condition, but I am mindful of the shares trading at a rich multiple. I continue to hold. Continue reading

M Winkworth: H1 Revenue Drops 7% As Management Continues To Outperform Foxtons And Now Looks Towards Growth

13 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on M Winkworth (WINK).

Event: Interim results for the six months to 30 June 2017 published 13 September 2017

Summary: These figures could have been a lot worse, given the estate-agency firm remains dependent mostly on the standstill London property market. The major highlight derived from the statement was that WINK continues to outperform Foxtons, and it appears the group is now using the difficult sector to expand its franchising network. Meanwhile, the financials remain in order, the outlook seems relatively promising and yet the valuation is still in the doldrums. I continue to hold. Continue reading

Tasty: Grim H1 Results Reveal Huge £9.3m Write-Off, But Recovery Hopes Remain As Management Finally Shows Greater Turnaround Urgency

12 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Tasty (TAST).

Event: Interim results for the 26 weeks to 02 July 2017 published 12 September 2017

Summary: These results were always going to be somewhat grim, and news of a £9.3m write-off suggests about a third of TAST’s restaurant estate has now suffered trading problems during the last 18 months. At least the board is currently showing greater urgency with its turnaround plan and I would like to think these figures mark the low point for the group’s finances. I continue to believe the long-term upside could be considerable if a successful recovery one day prompts further restaurant expansion. I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Mincon: H1 Revenue Up 29% As New Projects Set To Herald Further ‘Meaningful’ Growth

06 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Mincon (MCON).

Event: Interim results for the six months ending 30 June 2017 published 17 August 2017

Summary: A very welcome set of results, which I calculate included the drill specialist’s best-ever quarter as a quoted company. Revenue and profit enjoyed significant advances, and it appears the group’s mining customers are now happy to place greater orders following the sector downturn of the last few years. Also pleasing was the improvement to cash flow and the possibility of certain new projects providing further “meaningful” growth. I continue to hold.
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City Of London Investment: Dividend Lifted For First Time Since 2011 As New Bonus Scheme Gets Ready To Pinch 2% Of Revenue

03 August 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on City of London Investment (CLIG).

Event: Trading statement and shareholder presentation for the year ending 30 June 2017 published 19 July 2017

Summary: Earlier updates had already signalled these summary annual results would be positive. However, the fund manager’s progress was supported entirely by favourable markets and currency movements — the year actually witnessed a net outflow of client money. Still, the icing on the cake was the first dividend lift for six years and, despite the share price climbing since this time last year, the payout still supports a 6% income. The presentation also outlined the potential cost of the new staff bonus scheme, and I am hopeful the cited 2% of revenue will not eventually rise towards the scheme’s 5% limit. I continue to hold.    Continue reading

Tristel: Second Open Day Showcases Positive US Promise In The Car-Park Marquee

26 July 2017
By Maynard Paton

Long update on Tristel (TSTL).

Event: Shareholder open-day presentation and trading update for the year ending 30 June 2017 published 19 July 2017

Summary: Similar to last year’s open day, this was a very useful shareholder event that accompanied a better-than-expected trading update. However, I thought the lack of any reference to UK revenue was odd and I await October’s full-year results for the finer details. For now at least, the disinfection specialist appears on course to meet its three-year targets and there are some promising developments with the planned venture into North America. Plenty of optimism, though, appears to be priced into the shares. I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Daejan: Annual Results Defy Management’s Brexit Gloom As NAV Reaches New £102 Per Share High

13 July 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Daejan (DJAN).

Event: Preliminary results for the year to 31 March 2017 published 12 July 2017

Summary: This time last year DJAN’s management was full of Brexit gloom, but here we are now with the commercial property group declaring new highs for revenue, net asset value and the dividend. Of course, the board’s caution may eventually prove to be shrewd, and I’m hopeful the veteran executives will be able to navigate through any wider property uncertainty — assisted in part by the firm’s relatively low level of debt. The shares trade at 63% of net asset value and I continue to hold.  Continue reading

Q2 2017: No Buys Or Sells, Plus Business ‘Moats’ Versus Motivated Bosses

30 June 2017
By Maynard Paton

Happy Friday! I hope you continue to find my Blog useful… and that your portfolio is still performing well during 2017.

After experiencing a buoyant start to the year, I am pleased my investments have generally held on to their value during the last few months.

All in all, the recent news from my portfolio has not been too bad, with a few minor share-price gains helping my performance improve to 9.5% for the year so far. 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

Mountview Estates: Bumper H2 Rescues 2017 Performance And Pushes Potential NAV To £206 Per Share

20 June 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on Mountview Estates (MTVW).

Event: Preliminary results for the twelve months to 31 March 2017 published 15 June 2017

Summary: These figures were somewhat better than I had expected. The regulated-tenancy property trader produced a record level of revenue during the second half to counterbalance a rather disappointing first half, and the end result was not far off the very strong numbers delivered for the previous year. I was also pleased net asset value advanced further to a new high while borrowings were reduced to a fresh low. My updated sums now point to a possible NAV of £206 per share based on the firm’s previous gains on sold properties. I continue to hold. Continue reading