A quick update on the two growing small cap stocks I featured recently. Firstly on Taptica (TAP), where I was wrong to say that there probably wasn't enough in the numbers for the shares to challenge their previous high in the short term. Well they have only gone and done it just to prove me wrong. I don't think however it would be a good idea to chase them up here as I note that the finance director sold 200,000 shares on 5th October 2017 at 445p & now holds only only 94,572, although I suspect he's probably got a few options no doubt. Of course I could be wrong again as stocks around 12 month highs can go onto perform well as investors (and maybe even the FD here) make behavioural mistakes by anchoring on the previous high price, although the shares are off this morning. It does however continue to score well in the Compound Income Scores (CIS) and as such is probably still worth sticking with despite the directors sale as these tend not to be as instructive as directors purchases.
Meanwhile on S & U (SUS) I note that the shares have managed to sneak up into their previous range between about 2000p and 2500p and sustained it for now. So some modest encouragement there despite the on going weaker new car sales, although that is not so relevant to them as they deal in loans for second hand cars. I note too that there have been some modest upgrades to forecast post the results which is a good sign, so some encouragement there too. Talking of upgrades there was also a good, detailed, sponsored (?) note from Edison which also included some upgrades and in which they maintained a valuation at 2,700p per share suggesting significant upside from the current share price.
If that is of interest to you I attach a copy below. On that basis and given my long standing holdings in this one I'm happy to continue holding it even though the CIS is only average on this one right now.
That just leaves me to wish you happy and safe investing and hope you have a great weekend whatever you are up to.
We have interim results from a couple of small cap growth stocks today. First was a long time favourite of mine S&U plc (SUS) the £237m market cap. motor finance group. Despite all the talk recently of potential problems in the car finance area and in particular the PCP area, they point out that they have no exposure to that type of lending. In addition the 20% or so growth that they reported today is a continuation of the growth trend they have seen for the last 17 years in this business. See the full RNS announcement for more detail on this in the commentary from the Chairman Anthony Coombs.
Talking of the Chairman's statement there were a couple of things in there that did give me some cause for concern, although on balance I'll give them the benefit of the doubt given their track record up to now. For the record though these were the fact that bad debt provisions were up sharply despite the strong employment background that was referenced in the statement. This was explained by Mr. Coombs as follows:
"Although a return, for competition reasons, to Advantage's traditional customer mix has seen an increase in impairment to revenue, risk adjusted yield has been protected by good interest rates. Indeed, current levels of impairment are significantly below those experienced just five years ago following the financial crisis, when the business continued to increase profits and maintained very good returns on capital employed."
Not quite sure what they mean by for competition reasons, may be they had tried to go up market & found more competition and so had to return to lower scoring higher risk customers to maintain the growth perhaps? The other thing that bothered me in this part of the statement and allied to that was mention of the fact that a refined Delphi 10 based scorecard system had been introduced. This might be a better explanation for the sharp jump in bad debts perhaps? I think this will need watching after the Provident Financial debacle recently where they messed up by changing a long standing way of doing business, although in this case the change does not seem as dramatic as in that case.
Aside from that the dividend was up by a pleasant 16.7% but the debt continues to rise to fund the growth, but remains relatively low for a finance business. Meanwhile the nascent Bridging Loan business is looking like it will be second half weighted after a slower start than expected. Assuming there is nothing in these numbers to change the forecasts dramatically this should therefore leave it on a reasonable looking sub 10x PE with a 5%+ yield with strong growth. The shares are up this morning back into the 2000 - 2600p range that they had been trading in, so it will be interesting to see if they can sustain a move back into this range in the short term. Or if they will be sold off again this might confirm the recent break down into a new lower range of 1500 -2000p perhaps, although be aware I don't claim to be a chartist.
Second up today, in brief was another Small Cap growth stock, the £213m Market Cap. Taptica (TAP) which is Israeli based and provides mobile advertising and has recently made an acquisition to move into the Video area too. In addition to this recent acquisition they have in the past made some other smaller acquisitions in their core area of mobile advertising to expand their geographic reach into Japan in addition to the UK, China, US & South Korea. In the statement they say they have ambitions beyond these areas to expand into ten hubs worldwide in the next three years to make it Russia, China, Germany, San Francisco, New York, Korea, Japan, India, South America and the UK. Thus it seems there should still be plenty of growth potential from geographic expansion in addition to their move into video advertising more recently & growth in advertising moving more onto mobile channels from more traditional areas like print and broadcast media.
Any way if it is of any interest I suggest you read the RNS and visit their website for more details and there was a conference call this morning too. The shares also look cheap for the growth they are delivering trading on about 12x falling to 10x for 2018, although the yield is lower than I normally like to see at just 1.7%.
The only other reason I mention it is that this is another example of one of those potentially unpalatable looking stocks which therefore trades cheaply and therefore scores well on quantitative systems like Stockopedia where it has a StockRank of 88 and on our own Compound Income Scores where is scores a maximum 100. So if you can get your head around the business and are not put off by it being a foreign company then it might be worth a look, but there's probably not enough in these numbers for it to challenge recent highs I suspect, although the shares are up this morning after recent weakness prior to the figures.
The corny title refers to one of my long standing holdings which has delivered excellent returns for me over the years. As I have written before it is one of those family run businesses which Lord Lee is fond of backing and indeed I think he has been in this one in the past. Any way I digress, but the stock concerned is S & U Plc which is now a £240 million market cap. car loan company which also has a fledgling bridging loan operation. So why mention it today? Well they have their AGM today and have put out a trading update statement ahead of that.
This confirmed continued strong trading despite what the share price might have been suggesting. If that is of interest you can read the announcement and learn more about S&U at their investor relations website. Here you'll also find links to some Proactive Investor Interviews with Anthony Coombs, chairman of S & U. I thought the last one, which you can view here if your want, was interesting as he seemed to be pretty confident about on going growth as they only take a small proportion of all the loans they are offered by their panel.
Cutting to the chase I think the shares look good value down here on around 10x this years forecast earnings with a 5% yield based on both of these growing in double digits, which seem likely given the latest update and the Chairman's confident comments in the interview after the finals in April.
Looking at the chart you are would not getting in at the top if you were to buy in now as the they have come back from over £25 to their current £20 or so. Looking at the chart below I have drawn on the trading range and what is called a triangle formation by connecting the highs in the recent downtrend and it looks like it might break out of this triangle one way or the other fairly soon. The theory is I believe that it should then move by around the height of the triangle which in this case is roughly 500p. So that would suggest targets on a decisive break, of either £15 or £25 which would be around the old highs which could then act as resistance.
My money is obviously on a breakout to the upside and having top sliced some of mine near the £25 high in 2015, I have been buying some back around the £20 levels recently. As ever you pay your money and take your choice. In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the 5% yield including the 39p final worth 1.95% which is due to go XD on 15th June.
A couple of positive updates from domestic Companies exposed to what are seen as the vulnerable sectors of Housing and Car sales. Firstly there was Bellway (BWY) the national house builder which has been one of my favourite plays in the sector over the last few years. They continue to look cheap given the on going strong trading and the price fall since the BREXIT vote. The current strong trading is however largely backward looking as they are updating to their year end which was 31st July 2016. Like many others on current trading they say it too early to tell the impact of the vote but they do observe that recent weeks have been encouraging, visitor numbers are still strong and the cancellation rate remains at a historic low. In addition to this they flag a strong forward order book which seems to account for around half of the turnover they did this year and having invested in land they say they are well placed to continue their sizeable contribution to meeting the UK’s requirement for new homes in the year ahead.
Thus they seem reasonably confident of continued strong trading in the year ahead, although I note that analysts have unsurprisingly down graded next years numbers heavily recently to the extent that they now see a near 10% fall for next year. Now as we know analysts are not that good at forecasting so it will remain to be seen if they have been too pessimistic or to optimistic in this regard. Personally I would tend to still be more favourably disposed towards the house builders given all the monetary and probably fiscal support to come and the on going housing shortage which should all help to underpin demand and allow them to keep pumping up the volume and paying out generous dividends. As ever though I guess you pay your money and take your choice and those that believe that the economy and housing market are about to crash on the back of BREXIT will obviously not be going near house builders or may be even shorting them.
Another of my favourite stocks S&U (SUS) the car loan finance company also reported a strong update today. If any thing the Chairman, Anthony Coombs was almost too cocky for my liking when he said: "In contrast to the recent gyrations and doom saying in the stock and currency markets following June's Brexit vote, trading in the real world at our Advantage motor finance business continues as strong and consistent as ever. Customer applications are at a record high with live customer numbers up 39% on last year at over 38,000 whilst margins are being maintained." Again this is largely backwards looking and they did suggest that credit quality was not quite at last years record levels but still within the range of expectations. He then went onto say: "A sound and consistent strategy, substantial investment and a dynamic and committed team both at Advantage and the Group, form the bedrock of S&U's progress. That is why, whatever the current economic uncertainties, we continue to regard the future with great confidence."
Now while I like to see a confident statement from management I do just get a bit worried about hubris kicking in when they start to sound so bullish when things are going well, which as we know in the stock market is not normally a good thing. Despite that caveat it does still look reasonable value on around 13-14x earnings with a near 4% yield. In addition looking at the numbers they are talking about I wouldn't be surprised to see some upgrades on the back of this so on that basis I'll stick with it.
We have had strong looking numbers from three stocks that I have covered in the past. First up alphabetically is Bellway (BWY) the well managed national housebuilder which unsurprisingly osi doing well given the recent buoyant housing market in the UK. This meant that turnover, margins, profits and therefore earnings and dividends were all up by strongly. Indeed the 43% rise in h1 earnings and 36% rise in the dividend were ahead of the growth rates forecast for the full year so it looks like some more upgrades might be due here. Even without that they still look cheap on less than 9x with a yield of close to 4% and with a Compound Income Score of 99 it seems likely to remain in the CIS Portfolio at the next review.
Meanwhile there were also some strong looking Q3 numbers from a former CIS Portfolio stock IG Group (IGG), the financial services firm which was focussed on spread betting but has more recently expanded into stock broking too. Their numbers today also look strong and have probably benefited from the more volatile market conditions in recent months.
It fell out of the portfolio when it had got onto an expensive rating and as lack lustre markets and the costs of investing in their stock broking business led to flat earnings and dividends. With the more volatile markets and presumably some return on their investments in stock broking forecasts are for some modest growth in earnings and dividends, which with the fall in the share price recently has brought the rating back a little.
It does however still look fairly fully valued on a PE of around 18x for this year, although the yield is more attractive at around 4%. It still scores reasonably well on the Scores but probably not well enough to get back into the portfolio.
Finally we had full year results from S&U (SUS) the motor finance and specialist lender. Comparisons here are muddied somewhat by the disposal of their home collected credit business which led to a 125p special dividend. The earnings seems to have missed forecasts by some way, but I suspect this may be due to the effects of the disposal as the dividend ex the special seems to be in line or may be 1p ahead of some forecasts.
So I guess the miss could lead to some downgrades although they do say they see very significant opportunities to maintain and even accelerate the steady and sustainable growth which has been S&U's hallmark. They also flag a 2x dividend policy going forward which, on current forecasts suggests a dividend of around 88p which at the current price of 2260p would give a yield of 3.9%. The PE again on current forecasts is a reasonable looking 13x, although it is probably best to see where forecasts settle.
If there are some downgrades then that might afford a better buying opportunity for the medium term if you are attracted to their simple business model, with lows around 2000p in the last year appearing to offer some support. Not one that scores that well but still one I'm happy to hold for the long term.