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.