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.
We had interim results from Character Group (CCT) yesterday, which I last wrote up here back in September last year. Then I suggested it could provide 20%+ returns if it managed to make it back to the top of its trading range at 550p. It managed this in March so you would have been able to lock in a decent return if you managed to sell them up there. Since then they had OK final results & a slightly disappointing trading update in January when they flagged that their H1 numbers would be down due to US$ cost effects. Despite this they said they were confident of meeting full year numbers.
The interims yesterday confirmed this fall in profits in H1 as expected and they reiterated their confidence in meeting full year estimates despite this and backed this up with a 28.6% increase in the interim dividend from 7p to 9p. Looking at the pattern of their recent dividends these have gone sequentially 5, 6, 7, 8, & now 9p so with a bit of straight line forecasting I think they might do a 10p final given their progressive policy, cash balances and high cover levels. This would give 19p for the full year versus current forecasts of 16.8p for this year and 19.5p for next year. This would give a yield of around 4% at current prices.
I also note in the chart below that the management have been fairly active buyers of the stock on dips and they were buying again recently and after yesterdays interims, suggesting they have some confidence in their forecasts / prospects as they seem to be able to forecast the swings in their business quite well.
Summary & Conclusion - This appears to be a well managed company which has developed quite a good record of delivering decent profits, earnings, cash flow and dividends in recent years, although longer term it has had its ups and downs. Consequently the market seems reluctant to afford it a decent rating and therefore a dramatic re-rating (outside of a bid) does not seem to be on the immediate horizon. They have however achieved a rating of between 10 & 12x in recent years, so if they do manage to hit forecasts for this year then this would suggest the price could get up into a 520p to 620p range, so a return at least to the top of its range / resistance at 550p / 560p does not seem too much of a stretch.
On the downside it could drift off further to the bottom of its range around 430p in the short term in response to these numbers, but I think that would be an even better buying opportunity if it happens. Of course they may be over optimistic and miss the full year numbers, in which case it would probably break down out of its range.
...or Part 2 of IT's a Christmas Carol. I left you yesterday with a look at the long term track record of this UK Investment Trust. Despite this track record and the shares currently yielding over 4% Mr. Market or Scrooge has seen fit to offer this one on a discount of a little over 20%. This may help to explain some of the share price underperformance in the last 10 years which is shown above and like yesterdays graph, is extracted from their report and accounts.
Currently there are a number of potential explanations for this discount which I'll mention in passing today before we take a look into the future with the final part of this trilogy. As I want to keep this brief I'll cover some of the bear points in bullet point form as follows:
Against that I think their Investment Philosophy seems quite sensible to me:
Our investment approach is shaped by six core beliefs. By following these principles we aim to maximise clients' portfolio returns while minimising their investment risk:
While on Portfolio construction they say:
"We like our portfolios to reflect the conviction behind our best investment ideas. Hence within UK equities we concentrate the holdings on between 30 and 40 stocks. Around 50% will be invested in small and mid cap stocks and 50% in FTSE 100 stocks. Our portfolios tend to have a higher than average yield compared to the overall index. Individual sector weightings reflect our stock selection process. However we do tilt sector positions in accordance with our macroeconomic views. Each portfolio is regularly reviewed by the investment team."
I also note that the two main investment managers between them own around £15m of stock, while the Chairman has around £1.9m so their interests should be aligned with shareholders. I'll ave more to say on that in the final part when we look into the future.
So there is a brief update on the current position, with a lot to like but equally, quite a few issues that help to perhaps explain why this one is a little unloved by Scrooge, despite their best efforts, a bit like Bob Cratchit in a Christmas Carol. Now if that has not put you off do check back for the third and final instalment when I'll take a look into the future and how this might resolve in a profitable fashion. However, be warned if you are a Tiny Tim trader don't come back expecting to find short term gains this is very much a long term buy and hold story which will hopefully stand the test of time like the original Christmas Carol.