Small Cap Value Report (24 Jan 2017) - SPRP, FEVR, EMR, PZC

Tuesday, Jan 24 2017 by
53

Hi there,

Today brings with it too many interesting updates for me to cover them all, but I'm planning to start with:




Sprue Aegis (LON:SPRP)

Share price: 172.5p (-2%)
No. shares: 45.9m
Market cap: £79m

Trading Update (for the year ended 31 December 2016)

(this section written by Graham Neary)

As most readers will be aware, this company had a shocker in 2016, driven by a battery problem, weaker demand, and supply chain issues.

This is a mixed update which describes the company working through various challenges, as it tries to get back to normal performance levels:

Sales are expected to be approximately £57.1m (2015: £88.3m) and the operating profit* (post a £0.2m restructuring charge) is expected to be approximately £2.1m (2015: £12.8m).  The Group delivered an improved performance in the second half with an estimated H2 2016 operating profit* of £3.0m (H1 2016: operating loss of £0.9m before share based payments charge). 

That sounds like a reasonable H2 result, in the circumstances, but note that it is before share based payments of £0.6m (which increased slightly, compared to 2015).

If paying out share awards was irrelevant to the operating performance of a company, it wouldn't pay them, I think - so share awards should always be included in operating numbers like this. There is nothing special about these annual payments which means that external shareholders can simply ignore them.

So I would argue that a more meaningful operating profit figure would be £2.4 million in H2, up from a £1.4 million loss in H1.

My opinion

Looking forward, I'd like to be bullish on the company's recovery prospects. What I really need to understand is how overstocking in France led to such a large sales collapse there - was management at fault? Were lessons learned? Perhaps the annual report will help to explain.

Cash is now £14 million, leaving the enterprise value (market cap minus cash) at £65 million. Further business recovery is due, and will be needed to justify this valuation.




Fevertree Drinks (LON:FEVR)

Share price: 1190p (+5%)
No.…

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Disclaimer:  

All my own views. I am not regulated by the FSA. No advice.

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Sprue Aegis plc (Sprue) is engaged in the business of design, sale and marketing of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and accessories. The Company also operates its own CO sensor manufacturing facility in Canada. The Company is also a provider of home safety products. The Company's principal products include smoke alarms and CO alarms and accessories. Sprue manufactures CO sensors for use in all its CO alarms. Sprue serves in the United Kingdom retail and the United Kingdom's fire and rescue services. The Company offers a range of brands, including FireAngel, AngelEye, Pace Sensors, First Alert, SONA, BRK and Dicon brands. The Company's subsidiaries include Sprue Safety Products Limited, which is engaged in distribution of smoke and CO alarms, and Pace Sensors Limited, which is a manufacturer of CO sensors. more »

LSE Price
210p
Change
2.4%
Mkt Cap (£m)
96.3
P/E (fwd)
21.0
Yield (fwd)
4.4

Fevertree Drinks plc is a United Kingdom-based holding and investment company. The Company is a developer and supplier of premium mixer drinks. The Company's premium mixers consist of a range of all natural carbonated mixers, including Tonics, Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer, Bitter Lemon and Lemonades. The Company sells a range of products under the Fever-Tree brand, which include Indian Tonic Water, Naturally Light Tonic Water, Elderflower Tonic Water, Mediterranean Tonic Water, Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer, Naturally Light Ginger Beer, Bitter Lemon, Sicilian Lemonade, Lemonade, Spring Soda Water and Premium Cola. The Company caters to hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as supermarkets. The Company sells its products to a range of markets, such as the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. more »

LSE Price
1572p
Change
0.1%
Mkt Cap (£m)
1,812
P/E (fwd)
58.2
Yield (fwd)
0.4

Empresaria Group plc is a United Kingdom-based international specialist staffing company. The Company's principal activity is the provision of staffing and recruitment services. The Company operates through three segments: UK, Continental Europe and Rest of the World. Its operations in Continental Europe are primarily in Germany, Austria and Finland. The Company operates in over six sectors, which include technical and industrial; information technology (IT), digital and design; professional services; retail; executive search, and healthcare. The Company has three main service lines, temporary recruitment, permanent recruitment and offshore recruitment services. The Company's brands include Alternattiva, Ball and Hoolahan, Become, FastTrack and Greycoat, among others. It has operations in approximately 20 countries, which include Japan, Indonesia, India, Australia, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and Mexico. more »

LSE Price
140.5p
Change
 
Mkt Cap (£m)
68.9
P/E (fwd)
10.0
Yield (fwd)
1.0



  Is Sprue Aegis fundamentally strong or weak? Find out More »


23 Comments on this Article show/hide all

Steve Hill 24th Jan 4 of 23

I would also really appreciate your comments on XLM, looks like the RNS tried to hide the fact that revenues fell in the second half of the year after growing by 39% in the first half, which seems very strange.

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Glaws2 24th Jan 5 of 23
3

Graham

SPRP - the overstocking in France was by the retail distributors - the collapse in sales is due to the distributors clearing their own inventory and not placing orders to SPRP.

Regarding the share based payments I was led to believe that (in this case) these were notional charges required by accounting regulations and that company was not planning on making any such payments this year. I would be upset if they were rewarding performance in 2016.

I was more concerned over the comments on exchange rates - pretty much all their costs are incurred in USD and have thus gone up but only a percentage of sales are in Euros. Suggests margins are going to thin along with profits.

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Graham N 24th Jan 6 of 23
2

In reply to Glaws2, post #5

Thanks Glaws. That sounds very dysfunctional, do you think SPRP could have done anything to prepare for or deal with the actions of their distributors?

If it's true that the share based payments aren't happening, I'll be glad to amend the article. I've just checked the interim results, and they had a share-based payment charge of £0.3 million in that period, too. It may relate to payments for prior service, but it still needs to be deducted from operating profit either in the current period or in the previous period to which it relates, in my view.

Thanks

Graham

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Glaws2 24th Jan 7 of 23

In reply to Graham N, post #6

It is indeed odd that the French distributors overstocked so much - but obviously SPRP were happy to supply them.

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bestace 24th Jan 8 of 23
3

On Sprue Aegis (LON:SPRP), yes the cash balances are healthy but I note they have declined every six months since June 2015, including in this latest 6 month period where they declined by a further £0.4m.

Part of the reason for the decline in cash was explained at the last interims as being due to a purchase of £7m "buffer stock", which they claimed they were confident of being able to sell over a 12-month period. Given that stock balances are still much higher than they were before this purchase and now represent nearly a quarter of last year's revenue, some further clarity on the stock balances and on their recoverability would have been welcomed.

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Inepttrader 24th Jan 9 of 23
2

In reply to tabhair, post #2

Hey tabhair,

I saw the announcement (£LAKE) and there was one thing I didn't get: a fairly heavy loss, in debt, but still declaring a dividend? Isn't that a terrible time for any sort of div? Are there good reasons for the management to do that?

Disclosure: I owned shares until this morning's RNS.

| Link | Share | 2 replies
paraic84 24th Jan 10 of 23
2

In reply to Inepttrader, post #9

There's a lot to digest in the Lakehouse (LON:LAKE) announcement and I plan to read over it more thoroughly in the coming days. I note they say Property Services, which is around a third of revenues (I haven't seen whether it says how much profit it makes), will comprise a far smaller part of the Group in the future. So I'd be interested to know whether this is a potential bottom or whether profits could fall further - I'd be interested in others' thoughts. I agree with Inepttrader that paying a dividend is probably not a smart move even if it would be quite nice to receive. I don't currently own Lakehouse (LON:LAKE) but it's on my watchlist. I'd be v interested in others' thoughts including Graham if he has time though I appreciate there's a lot to report on at the moment!

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tabhair 24th Jan 11 of 23
2

In reply to Inepttrader, post #9

Lakehouse (LON:LAKE) were originally floated as an income stock. I believe Slater invesments have it in their income fund and given the pressure they put on changing management, they are naturally quite keen to retain the dividend.

The debt itself is actually not so bad. From the last trading update, it's actually reduced from £30m to £20m, so I don't think there is any risk of a covenant breach. When you strip out the accounting losses from intangible write-off's, there is actually decent cash flow in the business, especially when you consider that 2016 was a nightmare year. I could actually see this one doing very well in 2017 (assuming some other part of the business doesn't blow up).

| Link | Share | 1 reply
Inepttrader 24th Jan 12 of 23

In reply to tabhair, post #11

Thanks for the info tabhair.

If Lakehouse (LON:LAKE) are under heavy institutional pressure to give dividends even when it might hurt the long-term business (or at least not help it), then I don't mind sitting this one out. But I do hope they do well in 2017, and as you say there is at least potential for a quite big turn around.

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Aislabie 24th Jan 13 of 23
3

In reply to Steve Hill, post #4

I too am trying to tease out what XL Media XLM is saying. I am not sure where your numbers are derived from. It appears to me that with $103mm of Revenue for the year, and $51mm in the first half,the second half has grown - very slightly.
Could you be mixing $ and £ ?
That said, for a professed growth company, these numbers do not show any in the second half and the company does not appear to address this at all. In fact this makes a third straight quarter of revenue at just over the $50mm level. It is making me uneasy

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Aislabie 24th Jan 14 of 23

In reply to Aislabie, post #13

Sorry - third straight half year - not quarter

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Housemartin2 24th Jan 15 of 23

In reply to Aislabie, post #14

Re XLM. I read it as no growth in Q2 from gambling but some from other sectors (which are v small ) Pretty significant but no explanation so not a good communication.

I leave aside using EBITDA and excluding share based payments which is not new and for which XLM is not alone.

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Steve Hill 24th Jan 16 of 23
1

In reply to Housemartin2, post #15

Re XLM, if you compare H2 2015 with H2 2016 revenues have fallen by approx 2%.
No wonder their FO was a seller late last year.
What can possibly have happened for revenue growth to fall from 39% to -2% in 6 months ?

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purpleski 24th Jan 17 of 23
1

In reply to Glaws2, post #7

Not that odd. I live and run a small business here in France and the whole need for smoke detectors was incredible hyped/well publicized and I suspect that stockists just got the numbers wrong because a large number of households and landlords simply did not bother installing them and simply ignored the regs.

PS I have fitted them but not Sprue Aegis (LON:SPRP). £AMZN offers a huge choice!!

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purpleski 24th Jan 18 of 23
1

Fevertree Drinks (LON:FEVR) I like them very much and hold. I am intrigued why Evil Knievil has taken agin them so much.

Master Investor 23/12/15
"I wish I knew how to monitor sales at Fevertree (FEVR), now 595p. This is surely staggeringly overrated. But it’s a bold bunny that shorts it here. After all, lunacy has taken the price up here. Who’s to say the lunatics will not continue hard at it?"
https://masterinvestor.co.uk/evil-diaries/the-evil-diaries-you-could-knock-me-over-with-a-feather/

Master Investor 08/06/16
"I shorted Fevertree (FEVR) at 730p. This is surely ridiculously overvalued. The problem is that it might become even more ridiculously overvalued. I had to pay 2% p.a. to borrow stock."
https://masterinvestor.co.uk/evil-diaries/evil-diaries-2-4/

Master Investor 24/01/17
"Fevertree (LON:FVR) continues to defy gravity and looks like a short nap for 2017 at 1,120p."
https://masterinvestor.co.uk/evil-diaries/magic-can-hang-around-for-longer-than-is-convenient/

That said he wrote today "This enabled me to sell again." So I dont quite understand his perspective.

I happy to hear the bear case but I just can't see it.

Anybody have any thoughts?

Regards
Michael


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Laughton 24th Jan 19 of 23

In reply to purpleski, post #18

purpleski - apparently he also shorted Boohoo.Com (LON:BOO) some time ago and is still short. I guess he can't be right all of the time??

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arfournier 24th Jan 20 of 23
5

@Laughton shorting a growth stock solely due to valuations metrics is a good way to get smoked.

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billytk 24th Jan 21 of 23
9

In reply to purpleski, post #18

Hi Purpleski. Well done again here. I remember having a similar conversation with you when they were pushing £10 a share and I said I'd rather be short at that price / valuation. It it a bonkers valuation but everyones in love with growth stocks at the moment so while the markets remain irrational I'll sit on the sidelines. I can see them getting taken out by a bigger player so a short is dangerous but on a general market sell off I'd expect the growth stocks to take a battering.

As a side note, I was in a bar the other day and ordered a G&T and they asked me which tonic I'd like. I opted for the schweppes out of spite :-) and said I don't like fevertree. I didn't tell the barman it was because I didn't buy the shares at £5 though.

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Andrew niven 25th Jan 22 of 23
2

We tried to become distributors for fever tree in barbados and could not get anywhere with them even though my hotel clients are all screaming out to stock their product
Very weird as nobody else stocking,

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Simon Cannell 16th Feb 23 of 23

On the latest REC series there's an interview with the CEO of Empresaria https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/rec-scale-up-r...if anyones interested

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About Graham N

Graham N

Full-time investor and independent analyst. Prior to this, I spent seven years in the financial markets as an analyst and institutional fund manager. I'm CFA-qualified and hold an audited, FTSE-beating investment track record.  Away from finance, my main interests are recreational poker and everything to do with China, especially Mandarin Chinese. more »

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