Easyjet (EZJ) reported in line interim results today & they make most of their profits in the second half, so I won't dwell too much on the detail which you can read for yourself. In this they did however say the following:
"We are confident that over the full year we will again grow passenger numbers, revenue and profit. As a result of easyJet balance sheet and the Boards confidence in the future success of the business, the annual dividend payout ratio will increase by a quarter to 50% subject to AGM approval."
This is something the founder has been arguing for and probably reflects the maturing of the business. Since they say they are trading in line it should be safe to assume that current forecasts of around 145p should be OK for now. With the new payout policy detailed above this would however suggest a full year dividend (which is paid in one payment in the first quarter of the year) could be more like 72.5p rather than the current 65.1p forecast. On this basis at the current price of around 1480p this would leave this well managed group looking good value on just 10.2x this years earnings with a dividend yield of 4.9%.
On the technical front in the chart below you can see that they are also cruising at a low altitude compared to their highs around 1800p last year. Thus if they were able to return to those kind of levels it could offer potential returns of 20%+ returns from here, although in current markets obviously nothing guaranteed. While looking at the 3 year chart, given the recent downtrend, a longer term support area appears to be in the 1200p to 1250p region.
Another busy day for announcements in another difficult day for the market on the back of Chinese stocks being down 6% and the oil price heading back down to $30. So I'll comment in brief on a couple of stocks I have covered in the past and which are currently held in the Compound Income Scores Portfolio. These are Easyjet (EZJ), Q1 IMS and possibly another chance to get on board perhaps and XL Media (XLM) launching a strategic review considering all opportunities for maximising value for shareholders.
What a first week to the New Year in stock markets with Chinese shares being suspended limit down a couple of time this week which has spooked markets around the world. Today after they removed the trading halts the Chinese market actually managed to close up - go figure. So it seems like we will have a more positive end to the week, but I did hear an interview with Neil Woodford on the BBC Today programme talking bearishly on the outlook for China, so we may not be out of the woods just yet. To cap it off there is quite a lot of news today so lets dive right in.
First up in relation to the Compound Income Scores (CIS) portfolio re-screening I did at the start of the year. Worth noting that Next (NXT) have now started to buy back more shares as their share price dipped below their indicated buy back price on the back of their trading update. So this should help to support the price going forward in the short term but if the price remains below their threshold and they continue to buy back stock with their surplus cash then there may not then be any special dividend this year. Time will tell on that, but worth bearing in mind if you are attracted by the high headline yield which includes specials. Meanwhile in this weeks market volatility I also note that the two purchases of Easyjet (EZJ) and Zytronic (ZYT) that I made for the portfolio are now available at knocked down prices. So if you have done your research and like the look of those then you can pick them up at better prices now than I did when I added them to the CIS Portfolio.
Talking of the CIS Portfolio we have also had an interesting announcement today from Photo-Me (PHTM) which was included in the original portfolio and therefore still held in the Annually rebalanced version which I am running to see if screening quarterly has added value. It exited the quarterly screened portfolio quite early on as its score deteriorated on the back of some earnings downgrades and still only scores 64. In today's update they have however flagged positive trading in their Japanese operations ahead of the introduction of a new ID card in January, with turnover up by 90% in November and December. They say that if this is continued in the rest of their financial year then all things being equal they would expect to to report results materially ahead of current market expectations. Now I understand that companies usually have to put these kind of statements out if they come to realise that their profits are going to be at least 10% or so away from consensus in either direction. So we should probably expect at least 10% upgrades and possibly more if the trend is continued for the rest of their financial year. The shares are up nearly 9% so they have probably factored most of it in but I guess it could be better than that, although it is hard to get a handle on it as I can't find what proportion of the Asia and ROW division is in Japan, but at the full year they had added 1,000 machines there and said that Japan was the largest territory by far by reference to size of the machines estate and revenue. I did some very rough back of the envelope calculations and if it was say two thirds of that division then this could lead to an extra £11m of operating profit from Japan which could lead to upgrades approaching 30%, but I must stress that is very much a guestimate without knowing the actual proportion they have in Japan and if the recent trend will continue or not.
Meanwhile in a strange coincidence the stock which replaced Photo-Me in the portfolio, Paypoint (PAY) has announced the sale of part of its planned disposal with the sale of its Online Payment businesses comprising PayPoint.net and Metacharge to Capita, for a consideration of £14 million satisfied in cash at completion today. This leaves the sale of the Mobile Payments business to be competed in due course and we won't therefore know if the proceeds come up to their downwardly revised expectations until then. This is another one which is now on offer at a cheaper price than I paid for it in the portfolio, although it still has its attractions as it still scores 92. So maybe another opportunity there perhaps if you like the look of that one?
Finally we have had an update from another high scoring stock which I have mentioned in the past and which I own as part of a broadly diversified income portfolio, namely XPP Power (XPP), which announced its Q4 trading was in line with expectations. This has driven revenue growth of 8% in FY15 (4% in constant currency). This was helped by a recovery in orders from the US, and overall Q4 order intake was strong, providing positive momentum going into FY16. The recently acquired EMCO business is also said to be trading well and the company has already identified cross-selling opportunities. They also announced a further dividend and suggested that the full year dividend would be up by at least 7% to 65p for the full year which is in line with forecasts. This one also scores well with a CIS of 86 and reasonable looking rating of around 14x with a 4.5% yield.
Phew there you go, oh yes and I've updated the Scores today too as usual. So time now for a well earned coffee break - cheers see you back here next week, have a great weekend and be careful out there whatever you are up to in the market or elsewhere.
We had Passenger Statistics for December from Easyjet (EZJ) today, which on their own are not that interesting there were a couple of interesting snippets within them. Firstly the load factor (how full the planes are) was down in December by 1.8% despite passenger numbers being up by 4.6%. They put this down to the effects of the Paris attacks and flagged that with around 23% of their capacity during December was in France and they are the second largest carrier in that country. However on a more positive note they did say that load factors are now returning to more normal levels (which is in line with previous experience with these types of events) and that they do not anticipate any change to full year forecasts at this stage.
Meanwhile closer to home in brief we had a trading update from the housebuilder Persimmon (PSN) which as expected looked pretty positive. It looks to me as though the revenues they are suggesting are slightly ahead of forecasts so I assume we might see some more upgrades ahead of the full year numbers next month.
This was the third quarterly re-screening since the portfolio was started and I have to say it was one of the hardest so far. Firstly I had to fight typical behavioural biases as I was tempted to apply some valuation constraints and thereby take some profits in some of the big risers. However, since I have not done this up to now and the behavioural bias I'm trying to avoid is selling winners too soon, I resisted the temptation again this time, although perhaps I will apply them with a full re-screening at the annual stage. Any way the other reason I avoided this was that using the 80 threshold on the Scores also suggested a rather excessive 6 sales, 2 of which seemed reasonable, 2 which seemed 50 / 50 and 2 which didn't seem to make that much sense. Thus for this quarter I went with 75 as the cut off which meant the 2 sales that seemed reasonable to me went ahead which I'll discuss in the next section.