Smallcap Report - COST, JSG, CKN, MMC

Friday, Jan 04 2013 by

Another quiet day for RNSs. Engineering group Costain (LON:COST) issues a good solid pre-close trading statement (since their results are due to be issued on 6 March, then the Close Period starts 2 months before that, so 6 Jan).

They finished the year in line with expectations, order book slightly down on last year £2.4bn vs £2.5bn, and with over £700m of work secured for 2013 (presumably up from the "in excess of £650m secured for 2012" at this time last year, although the wording could be ambiguous, since both are in excess of a stated number).

They also have a "strong cash position and no significant borrowings".

This looks a nice steady company, churning out reliable EPS of around 30p on average each year, and a steadily rising divi (10p last year). So the expected EPS of 30p this year puts them on a PER of 8.3, and a divi yield of 4.2%. At first glance that looks fairly attractive to me, for a company which should benefit from the cyclical upturn in the economy which will happen at some point. So could be worth a further look?

Dry cleaning outfit Johnson Service (LON:JSG) puts out an in line trading statement for y/e 31 Dec. Results will be issued in early March. Interestingly, they say that the dry cleaning estate has shown LFL sales growth, "the first such increase for a number of years".

If dry cleaning is a proxy for the overall health of the economy, then this could be a reassuring sign. Although a trend I have noticed, is that with many people feeling insecure about their jobs, people are tending to dress more smartly in the office, in order to project a more professional image. When I turn up for meetings without a tie these days, I'm usually the only person in the room tie-less. Whereas a couple of years ago there were more open-necked shirts. So perhaps JSG are benefiting from a trend towards smarter office dress?

Anyway, the shares look fully priced to me, EPS forecast of 4.4p means they are on a PER of about 8.5 at 38p. Cheap? Not really, when you consider they have £59m of debt (which is 62% of their market cap of £95m). So that would take the PER up to almost 14 if you add back the debt. There are better bargains out there in my view.

Shipping broker Clarkson (CKN) issues a brief statement saying that despite challenging markets, trading continues to be in line with expectations. Nice company, but the shares look fairly priced to me (whereas I'm looking for bargains!)

Management Consulting Group (MMC) issues an in line trading statement, and a share repurchase programme. It looks fairly cheap on a PER basis, with 2.7p EPS expected for 2012, so at 23p a share I make that a PER of 8.5.

However, I don't like the balance sheet - loads of intangibles, and too much debt. They note that y/e net debt is £30m, and has reduced well in the last few years. There is a reasonable divi yield of about 3.5%. It's not for me, due to the balance sheet being too weak for my preference.

OK that's it for this week, should be busy next week with lots of trading statements I would imagine, so be sure to check back here every day.

I always Tweet to announce when articles are published here, so if you follow me on Twitter, @paulypilot then you will be amongst the first to know when reports are published (which saves checking back multiple times).

Meet the Management

Oh, also want to mention that there is an interesting "Meet the management" event being organised by Equity Development on 17 Jan in London, in the evening. The 3 companies presenting all look interesting; Regenersis, Tracsis, and VP Group.

I'm told there are a few spaces left, so if you would like to attend then check out the contact details here. I shall be attending, so say hello if you also attend! I'll be the guy with no tie!

Regards, Paul.

Filed Under: Smallcaps,
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Costain Group PLC is engaged in engineering consultancy, construction and operations and maintenance. The Company operates in four business segments: Environment, Infrastructure, Energy & Process and Land Development operations in Spain. It provides front-end engineering consultancy, construction and ongoing care and maintenance services across market sectors, including water, waste, power, rail, hydrocarbons and chemicals, highways and nuclear process. The Environment division focuses on the water and waste markets. The Infrastructure division includes its operations in the highways, rail, and airports sectors. The Energy & Process division includes the hydrocarbons and chemicals, nuclear process and power sectors. The Company has Land Development activity in Spain. more »

Share Price (Full)
5.0  1.8%
P/E (fwd)
Yield (fwd)
Mkt Cap (£m)

Johnson Service Group PLC is engaged in textile services and facilities management. The Company operates in three segments: Textile Rental and Drycleaning. Textile Rental consists of workwear rental supply and laundering, linen rental for the hotel, catering and corporate hospitality markets and sale of ancillary items. Drycleaning has over 350 stores nationwide, provides drycleaning, laundry and ironing services, carpet cleaning and the supply of drycleaning consumables and equipment. In August 2013, the Company announced the sale of its Facilities Management (FM) activities (the Disposal) to Bell Rock Bidco Limited. In March 2014, Johnson Service Group PLC completed the acquisition of the entire share capital of Bourne Services Group Ltd. more »

Share Price (AIM)
0.0  0.0%
P/E (fwd)
Yield (fwd)
Mkt Cap (£m)

Clarkson PLC is an investment holding company. Its subsidiaries are involved in the provision of shipping related services. Its segments include broking, financial, support and research. Its broking division represents shipowners and charterers in the transportation by sea of a range of cargoes. The financial division includes a futures broking operation, which arranges cash settled contracts for differences based upon standardised freight contracts and a financial and investment services division representing the provision of advice to clients on the financial aspects of a range of shipping-related transactions. Support includes port and agency services representing ship agency services provided throughout the United Kingdom and property services regarding the provision of accommodation. In November 2013, Clarkson PLC announced that Clarkson Port Services acquired Gibb Tools Limited. In January 2014, Clarkson PLC acquired Aquamarine Sweden AB, a provider of ship brokerage services. more »

Share Price (Full)
-33.0  -1.7%
P/E (fwd)
Yield (fwd)
Mkt Cap (£m)

  Is Costain fundamentally strong or weak? Find out More »

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About Paul Scott

Paul Scott


Paul trained as an accountant, then spent 8 years as FD for a ladieswear retail chain.He became a professional small caps investor in 2002 to date.Paul writes a small caps report for on weekday mornings. He joined Fundamental Asset Management Ltd as a research associate in 2014, as part of their Small Cap Value Portfolio team. more »

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