Another busy Thursday with a throng of results and updates as the New Year reporting season gets into full swing. Of interest to the Compound Income Scores Portfolio were trading updates from Jupiter Asset Management (JUP) and Hays Group (HAS) the international recruitment Company. While also of interest was a sponsored note from Hardman & Co. on Alliance Pharma (APH) - covering the background and benefits from their recent add on acquisitions which you can read or download from here if that is of any interest, or click below if you want to read more.
No news of note today to comment on so just thought I'd put out a quick administration update. Now I know I was not that prolific on the blog last year, but it has come to my attention that for some reason the e-mail updates had stopped working along the way. With quite a few people signing up for this recently this has hopefully now been rectified, although nobody had complained about not receiving them!
Any way hopefully this might go out today around noon as an e-mail so if you happen to have seen this or are on the list and see it at least you'll know it is working. If not and you would like to see it can I ask you to check your junk mail folder with your provider because I know my messages often end up there for some reason. Again if you do want to see them I believe there are ways to add the e-mail address to your safe senders list or something similar depending on your e-mail provider.
Failing that I have also been trialling a weekly summary of posts that would go out on a Saturday morning. If that would be of any or more interest then do get in touch and let me know & I might think about changing the schedule of the e-mails to weekly or starting a separate list depending on the feedback, if any - thanks.
We have had a couple of updates today from stocks in the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP), namely Games Workshop (GAW), Ferrexpo (FXPO) & one from Stock Spirits (STCK) which has been in the portfolio and which nearly made it in at the last re-screening this month. If none of those are of interest no doubt you'll click away now, but if they are read on.
We have had a trading & business update today from one of the stocks in the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP) - namely Taptica (TAP) the £290m market cap. mobile advertising firm. It says that they expect to report EBITDA ahead of market expectations with Tremor Video DSP achieving profitability ahead of schedule. It is this last point that seems to be the main driver behind the expected beat as since its acquisition in August it has been integrated quicker and is now expected to report a profit in 2017 rather than in 2018 as had been expected.
In addition to this Taptica also continued to expand its Tier 1 client base as well as increase its business with its existing household-name clients. The growth was driven by the significant contribution to revenues from the Company's newly established international offices, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region, and, in particular, by the strong performance of Adinnovation in Japan, in which Taptica acquired a majority stake in 2017. They did say however that they expected revenues to be in line but did expect a higher EBITDA margin which also helps to explain the beat and probably helped by the early swing into profit from Tremor mentioned above.
Before any upgrades today on the back of this announcement the shares were still on a reasonable looking rating of around 14x for 2018 forecast eps, although they did say they are still confident of delivering solid year-on-year EBITDA growth for 2018 in line with market expectations which suggests these numbers may not be upgraded at this stage, although the current year 2017 forecasts obviously will be.
Thus despite the strong share price gains in the last two years it still looks reasonable value given the on going rapid growth in their market and the international and product expansion they have been undertaking. This probably reflect the volatility in profits that they have shown in the past and their Israeli base. They do however seem to be building a decent track record now and like XL Media seem to be enjoying something of a re-rating along with the growth. I guess this could go further, given the growth, if the market chooses to place a bit more trust in it, and in terms of momentum it is looking good as it is trading around all time highs and looks like breaking out again. It still looks good on the Compound Income Scores too.
With it being the first week of the new month and a New Year in this case I undertook the monthly re-screening of the portfolio having not done any trades on the back of the one in December given the likely thin market conditions and some marginal sales that came up at that time. There were however two natural sales this month, the first of which was the insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thomson (JTL) which had only entered the portfolio at the end of October on the back of some upgrades. This time around the score had deteriorated to 69 as the previous upgrades seemed to have been reversed. This was now well below the 75 to 80 sale threshold that I normally use, having been just around it in December. Thus it was a natural sale on the process and therefore booked a small profit of around 6% on this as the share price had risen despite the downgrades. Personally I felt indifferent about it too as it is on close to 20x with a 2.6% yield and only had fairly modest dividend growth forecasts of 5.3% in the current year.
This was replaced with another financial in the shape of Miton Group (MGR) the small (£64m Market Cap.) fund management company, although the emerging market specialist City of London Group (CLIG) ran it a close second as it seems pretty stable, good value and emerging markets still seem relatively cheap. I did also debate this with myself as the portfolio already has a fund manager and a broking company, but hey we are in a bull market and global economies seem set fair so I let it go in as the highest scoring qualifying candidate after applying my value constraints. The other attraction with Miton, in contrast to JLT, was that it had already said they were going to beat forecasts and had upgrades accordingly. Despite this and a rise in the price post the announcement it seems to have drifted back since (on profit taking presumably), so it also seemed to be offering an attractive entry point. It also offers reasonable valuation characteristics of a PE under 12x and a yield of close to 4% based on next years (December 2018) forecasts which suggest dividend growth of 27% after this years forecast 10%. That does seem like quite a jump so maybe this years dividend could be better than expected as analysts often upgrade earnings but fail to adjust their dividend forecasts, plus they have a cash rich balance sheet too. Finally also worth noting that they only seem to pay the dividend once a year in May with an XD in March - so another reason why this may be an opportune moment to pick some up. However, given the small market cap. it may not be that liquid, but in the interests of full disclosure I have managed to buy some myself having booked a decent trading profit on some Polar Capital (POLR) that I picked up towards the end of last year after they had strong upgrades.
The second natural sale based on a decline in its score, also primarily on downgrades, was the expensive, quality, defensive(?) stock Diageo (DGE) where the score had fallen to 73 making it much more of a marginal call. The valuation is looking stretched though as the share price momentum it has displayed has left it with a PE of 22.2x, a yield of 2.55% and an earnings yield of less than 5%. So I decided to follow the process rather than my own feelings as personally I continue to hold it as part of a broader diversified income portfolio.
A couple of similar or defensive type stocks which came up as possible replacements were Stock Spirits (STCK) and AB Foods (ABF). Neither of these seemed particularly cheap either so in the end I replaced it with a much cheaper, but more cyclical company which scores highly. This was the equipment rental firm VP which trades on a sub 10x PE with a yield of 3.2% with dividend growth forecast to be 15% and a good track record on that front too. It had also seen upgrades recently on the back of an upbeat trading statement, although the shares had also drifted back a bit recently too. It does feel a bit like I'm coming late to this particular party, but then that's what following a quantitative process does, makes you take what feel like uncomfortable decisions. In this case I can probably rationalize it given the valuation and the strongish economic background generally.
Other candidates in a similar space were Ashtead (AHT), dismissed because it yielded under 2% and Somero (SOM) which was sold back in August for the portfolio, but which I picked up myself toward the end of last year. It looks pretty solid (pun intended) assuming they can deliver the promised second half recovery from poor weather related trading in H1. It didn't score as well as or look such good value as VP on a PE and yield basis, although it does offer a more attractive looking earnings yield, but personally I can see the attractions and they could also be a beneficiary of the recently proposed US tax changes.
So there ends the update on the trades & other ideas from the Compound Income Scores Portfolio monthly screening and don't forget if you would like to identify more opportunities like these yourself by using the Compound Income Scores as part of your investment research process too, then you can read more about them and gain access to them for the equivalent of just £1 a week by clicking here or on the Scores menu in the navigation menu toward the top of the site or the three bars if you are on a mobile / tablet. Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year.