Here is another update on the Compound Income Scores Portfolio (CISP), this time on the monthly screening and recent announcements from companies in the portfolio.
Taking the announcements first, we had slightly underwhelming results from Headlam (HEAD) the flooring distribution company which struggled a bit for growth as one of its major customers cut back on orders and conditions in the UK were generally more difficult than the previous year as the squeeze on household budgets from falling real incomes presumably had its effect on demand for carpets etc. Having said that though the European performance was stronger and they also undertook some cost saving measures and made some add on acquisitions which helped to produce some modest 6 to 7% growth in profits and earnings despite the tougher domestic conditions. They also increased the dividend by 10%, helped by their robust balance sheet and their reasonably confident view of the future and a clear dividend policy based on a target level of cover. There was however no special dividend this year as there has been in the last few years given the outlook and the demands for capital investment that they see. Overall an OK set of numbers but the market didn't seem to like them that much and marked the shares down quite sharply on the day of the announcement. They have not recovered since and I note there have been a few small downgrades since then, so they may well continue to drift for now despite looking good value on 10x with a 5%+ dividend yield for the current year. So in summary good value and reasonable quality but lacking momentum and some concerns about the outlook, although their self help measures should help to alleviate the worst of this, so a hold for now but we will have to see how it scores come the next monthly screening to see if it remains in the portfolio. It does however, look like it has come back into a range of support between about 400 and 465p, see chart at the end.
On the same day we had better news from Bodycote (BOY) which saw strong growth, paid a special dividend and rose on the day as the market clearly liked these numbers and this helped to offset some of the weakness seen in the Headlam share price, which after all is the whole point of a portfolio. So we have something of an opposite here a quality cyclical which is benefiting from stronger demand and therefore is rated more highly (18x with a 2% yield or thereabouts) and which therefore has better price momentum which is supported too by earnings upgrades seen since the figures.
Moving onto the transactions this month these gave me something of a mental challenge as the scores challenged my preconceptions and natural inclination on some stocks as well as presenting some challenges in constructing a suitably diversified portfolio. Firstly on the sales the stocks that came as a result of the screening was Unilever (ULVR). Unilever is of course well know and a solid company which is a classic compounder and one which personally I'm happy to continue holding of a more broadly diversified income portfolio. I did decide to sell it for the CISP though to follow the process, as despite it being somewhat over sold in the short term, it still looks a bit of an expensive defensive, albeit not as expensive as it was given recent share price falls. It has however had earnings downgrades and I guess maybe investors generally are rotating towards more cyclical names given the improving economic situation globally if not in the UK.
The second sale candidate was XL Media (XLM), which even though it had only been in the portfolio for a short time, I decided to sell for a small profit despite the recent positive trading update. This was because the score had deteriorated on the recent re-rating and there had been some small downgrades. In addition to this the CISP still has exposure to this area via Taptica (TAP ) and they both seem to have come off recently as they have tapped the market for new capital and perhaps investor appetite for this area is satiated in the short term, so maybe you can have too much of a good thing.
Talking of having too much of a good thing that brings me onto the buys this month. Now back in January, which was poor timing with the benefit of hindsight, I did buy another market related stock in the shape of Miton (MGR), which gave the portfolio three positions in market sensitive stocks. Thus when Plus 500 (PLUS) came out top of the pops this month I didn't feel able to add it to the portfolio for that reason as well as being naturally biased against it myself. It does however look very cheap having just had a strong upgrades on the back of a positive trading update and it does trade on about half the rating of IG Group - so the scores are signalling that it should do well if you can stomach the risks. I note however that the directors have also placed a large slug of stock recently, although they do still retain quite substantial holdings - so even they are hedging their bets having tried to sell out previously at 400p to Playtech (PTEC). So in the end I bought some Amino Technologies (AMO) which helps TV networks with IPTV streaming and some Spectris SXS which helps companies with enhancing their productivity, see the name links for more details of their operations. Both these scored well and bring something different to the portfolio.
This now leave the portfolio looking reasonable value on around 14x with a 3.4% prospective yield based on the forecast dividend growth 15% for the current year, thereby hopefully it will deliver on the objective of delivering value, income and growth which the Compound Income Scores are designed to identify. So there you go that's it for this week and don't forget if you would like to find out more about the Scores and how you could gain access to them to help you with your portfolio monitoring and construction then check out the Scores page which has all the details.
A quieter end to the week after the manic start on Monday. I have however noticed that the market is generally seeing more activity as M & A reaches levels last seen in 2009 as Melrose (MRO) went hostile on GKN this week. There has also been a flurry of placings as companies use the stock market for its purpose of raising capital and also take advantage of elevated share prices too. A couple of these were in the mobile advertising space where both Taptica (TAP) and XL Media (XLM) raised fresh funds to bolster their finances for further add on acquisition. Both stocks have fallen back as a result of these and Taptica is now trading below the placing price and actually comes out top of this weeks Compound Income Scores, so if they can keep the growth going and integrate their recent and any future acquisitions successfully then this could be a good entry point - perhaps.
Finally today and for this week we have had an AGM trading update from Character Group (CCT) which despite all the news flow noise of the finance director leaving and the Toy 'R' Us related warning has remained in the CISP despite this as it continued to score sufficiently well. Thus the portfolio didn't sell out at the bottom of this longer term holding and has benefited from the share price recovery since.
Today's update is of the in line variety, although they still see the current year being down on last year as previously flagged. They do however suggest that they will see a second half recovery and are confident that this will lead to a return to their growth trend in 2019. As the management here seem to have been pretty good at calling the trends in their business I would be inclined to take those comments at face value. If they deliver on that I guess that could mean say 50p of earnings in in 2019 with say the currently forecast dividend of 25p which at today's lower price of 432p (-5%) would leave them on a still cheap sub 10x rating with a 5.8% yield. So while they may not excite much in the short term & indeed could even drift off further, this one still looks like a reasonably well run business, albeit in a somewhat fickle industry. I also note in passing that some people seem to be upset by the levels of boardroom pay here so might be worth checking that out to make sure you are comfortable with that too if you are considering an investment here.
Any way that's it for this week and as I say the latest Compound Income Scores are out as usual today, so if you'd like to know how Character Group and the other 593 stocks in the Compound Income Universe score then head on over to the Scores page to learn more about them (if you're not already familiar with them) and to see how you can access them. Safe investing and have fun whatever you are up to this weekend.
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.
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.