Lots of results from my kind of stocks and too many for me to go into great detail. So look out for results and updates from the likes of Britvic (BVIC), Nichols (NICL) & Unilever (ULVR) in the food, drinks and personal care area. Britvic & Nichols have both made add on acquisitions which should enhance their growth prospects. There is also a small (5%) placing from Britvic to help fund their Brazilian deal and it looks the best value of these stocks on a mid teens PE compared to 20x+ for the other two.
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) have reported more fund outflows reflecting investor worries on emerging and far eastern markets and less favourable investing conditions generally. They do however flag their strong balance sheet and diversification efforts but the market doesn't seem to like it.
Meanwhile after my DIY efforts yesterday and my purchases from Screwfix which is owned by Kingfisher (KGF) I see their results seem OK with even France finally showing some signs of life. Bloomsbury Publishing (BMY) have also had a good start to the year in what is a quiet quarter for them any way. Finally SSE has reiterated their earnings expectations and promised dividend increases at least in line with RPI going forward from the current full year dividend which gives a yield of 5.5%.
That's all for now as I am preparing to do a piece with the ADVFN Podcaster Justin Waite at Sharepickers.com today. So I'll try and do a quick update later with what I'm covering and details of where you can listen to it if that is of interest to you.
The beer comes from Marston's (MARS) who had a reasonable looking trading update for the 41 weeks to 18 July 2015.
This saw their destination & premium locations as well as their taverns reporting positive like for like (LFL) sales growth of 1.7% and 1.6% respectively. Encouragingly they had seen stronger trading in the last 10 weeks with +2% LFL, operating margins up slightly year on year and they are on track to open 25 new pubs. Meanwhile they continue to dispose of lower return wet led pubs and move more towards franchising some of these. Their brewing side also grew by 4% and was this boosted to 10% by the acquisition of Thwaites during the year.
They made some interesting comments on the effects of the proposed living wage which has been seen as a negative for the general retail and hospitality trades. On this they said:
"The recently announced Government plans to introduce a mandatory Living Wage by 2020 are consistent with our expectation that the gap between the National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage would be closed over time. The additional cost of meeting the higher target of £9 per hour by 2020 will mean that wage costs will be modestly greater than we had expected, but the impact compared to our plans is mitigated by the fact that we had anticipated increases above the rate of inflation, and the lower rate of corporation tax from 2017."
The shares are a bit of a curates egg as they have drifted back recently below 160p where they trade on around 11 to 12x earnings with a yield of 4.5% which is expected to grow by around 5%. The yield and the shareholders 20% discount remain the main attractions on this one, however the balance sheet is quite highly geared albeit they do benefit from some reasonable property backing.
Meanwhile if you've got bills you've gotta pay then you may have come across or used one of Pay Point's (PAY) terminals in one of the 27,000+ shops that they operate in. They have had an in line Q1 IMS statement today showing modest growth so probably nothing to get too excited about there in the short term, although the shares have responded positively first thing being up by about 1% in a weak market. So it seems like steady as she goes but I should have more to say on that tomorrow.
The chat part today comes in the form of Q1 trading update from the Quad play telecoms provider Talk Talk (TALK). In this despite only delivering 3.5% revenue growth they say they are confident in delivering 5% for the full year together with strong EBITDA and free cash flow growth. They did however warn that H1 would look weak and that much of the growth would be h2 weighted due to the timing of the delivery of their on going (MTTS) cost saving plans. The market doesn't seem to like this that much as the shares have been marked down by 6% first thing as it seems to be a familiar pattern of jam tomorrow with this one as they continue to invest in growing the business. Despite this they have continued increasing the dividend rapidly and the cover has therefore eroded to around 1x. Thus the strongly growing 4% yield seems attractive on the face of it, but it may be vulnerable to the forecast growth slowing or stopping if they don't end up delivering the growth in profits and cash flow that they are expecting. Otherwise the shares don't seem that attractive on other valuation metrics like the PE of 25x so a hold at best for yield I would say.
Finally before I go we had a quarterly update from Easyjet (EZJ) which saw better revenue per seat than the guidance they issued in May. The better than expected revenue per seat was driven by trading in the UK and beach routes across Europe in May and June & the successful implementation of revenue management initiatives, offsetting in part the impact of the movement in Easter and the French Air Traffic Control strikes in April which together decreased revenue per seat at constant currency by three percentage points. They also grew capacity, passenger numbers and the load factor.
So it seems quite positive overall and the market agrees as it has marked the shares up by 4% this morning to 1736p where it is climbing nicely toward the 1800p price target I set when I suggested it as a trading buy earlier in the year when it was below 1600p in my Prepare for boarding post, I hope some of you got on board and are enjoying the flight too.
Any way must fly got some plumbing to try and turn my hand to - toodle loo.
As promised here is the link to the Podcast Episode 255 on Sharepickers.com with Justin Waite in which I talked about PayPoint (PAY). This currently comes in at the top of the Compound Income Scores and features as the most recent purchase in the Mechanical Portfolio. Amongst other things some of the main points discussed were:
...struggling to find value in terms of investment and my commentary. So in brief today we have had results / updates from a number of reasonable quality Companies, although none of them could be described as cheap or good value I would say.
For example in the personal care area we have had results from PZ Cussons (PZC) who mainly do soap and also Croda International (CRDA) which is a chemical company supplying speciality ingredients to the personal care industry. Both fine companies with PZC for example having increased their dividend this year for the 42nd year in a row despite flat profits and earnings against tough trading conditions which they expect to continue. As a result this one trades on 19 to 20x with a yield of just over 2% which is towards the expensive end of things as far as I'm concerned.
Similarly Croda which has even higher returns on its assets and decent margins has reported interims today and continued a pattern of steady growth albeit at a slightly slower rate of around 5% on this occasion. However this one also trades on around 20x with an indicated yield of 2.78% for this year. However, I note that their dividend policy is for a 40 to 50% pay out which would indicate a dividend of more like 68p rather than the 78.8p currently forecast, so maybe analysts are factoring in a special dividend that I'm not aware of? So again a good quality company but at a full price I would say.
Meanwhile staying in the Chemicals sector we have also had results from Victrex plc (VCT) is a United Kingdom-based company engaged in the manufacture of polymer solutions. The Company's products are used in smartphones, oil and gas equipment, medical devices, aeroplanes and cars. This is another quality outfit which is struggling to grow this year against a few headwinds in some of its business areas but it also has a record of fairly consistent growth and decent margins and returns on capital. The rating is again fairly full, but maybe slightly more interesting on around 20 to 18x with a 2.7% to 3% yield depending on if you use September 2015 or 2016 numbers.
Finally in the Financials area we have had results from IG Group (IGG) which as expected after the Swiss Franc situation earlier in the year have come in slightly down as a result. Despite this they have maintained the dividend as promised although this does break a long run of growth as they have now raised the payout ratio to 70%. Thus they will be relying on returns from the investments they are currently making in expanding into stock broking and overseas markets plus further progress in the UK to deliver growth in the future. Continuing the trend this one is on 18x next years earnings but with a higher yield of 3.8% reflecting the lower cover and assuming they return to growth as expected.
So there you go some good quality Companies for you today, but all looking a bit on the expensive side. I guess that's what you get when you have been in a steadily rising market for six years or so - cheap quality stocks become harder to find.
..or Financial Independence and Retiring Early which I thought I would write about as there is not much news today. Having said that there is lots of press today about the Governor of the Bank of England talking about interest rates rising, maybe later this year. I seem to remember we had the same blarney from Carney last year and we were supposed to have seen a rate rise by now. So I remain sceptical of that and I will believe it when I see it.
Any way back to the point of today's post. For some the idea of financial independence and retiring early may be appealing and to others it might seem like a pipe dream or even a nightmare if they love their job. So what are the best ways to achieve this and how much do you need? Well as ever it depends on what lifestyle you want to lead and how much you realistically need to live on for the rest of your days. Now rather than reinvent the wheel (as I have better things to do with my time) I'll recommend a few good blogs and sites out there that have covered this ground already.
So first up the answer to the above question - how much do you need and maybe even life the universe and everything is not apparently 42 but 25 according to an interesting site called Mr. Money Mustache (I know that's the wrong spelling but that's the address). He explains why he thinks 25 is the answer in this post and also references a useful site where you can plug in your own numbers and see how you would have fared in the past here. While these are US centric I'm sure similar results could be achieved for those using UK equities or a diversified global portfolio. He also looks at The Shockingly Simple Maths Behind Early Retirement which is all about saving hard if you can and he touches on the mindset required for achieving this with a bit on Stoicism.
Meanwhile in the UK we have similar sites and one I stumbled on recently is called Fire v London which is about Financial independence in London (which is how I stumbled on Mr. Mustache). Hat tip to Mike at The7Circles.uk (a useful site for UK investors) for putting me onto Fire v London. The Fire v London site also put me onto a useful resource for Private Investors which might help with the often asked question of how to calculate the returns on your portfolio. This comes from something called boglehead.org which is a Wiki set up by John Bogle the founder and retired CEO of the Vanguard Group.
Links to various formats of useful spreadsheets for this purpose can be found here.
Finally, last but not least is another blogger called Wheelie Dealer who is quite helpful and educational and who has written recently about how much you need to retire. All interesting, I hope you find these useful and that they might help you on you way to your own Financial Independence and retiring early - if that is what you want.
Talking of which since I get strange looks and people seem dazed and confused when I say I'm an investor or I'm retired perhaps I'll start saying I'm a FIRE-man which might make them see me in a better light and seem less bemusing for them. Talking of bemusing I'll leave you with a bit of old music today (which if the Led Zeppelin dazed & confused link above doesn't float your boat) then the video below might amuse and it seems appropriate to today's post - I am the god of hell fire and I bring you: