Small Cap Report (9 Apr) - LOQ, GTC, DRV, NPT, NRR

Tuesday, Apr 09 2013 by
7

Pre 8 a.m. comments

Another contract win for a widely-followed company, Lo-Q (LON:LOQ) has been announced today, this time for a theme park in Turkey. No financial details are given, but it's a 2-year contract, with an option to extend for another two years, to provide the Q-bot virtual queuing system for eight of the park's largest rides.

The shares recently peaked at a pretty bonkers price of around 670p (which was a forward PER of about 40!), but have since come off to a perhaps more reasonable 537p. The forward PER of 32 doesn't tempt me I'm afraid, still much too warm for my tastes. Although as supporters point out, each contract won is a stream of recurring revenues, so earnings will lag behind the valuation, which is an argument that has some merit to it.

EPS will surely need to come in a long way ahead of broker consensus of 16.2p and 17.6p this year and next year, to justify the current rating? I can get to a price of about 400p at a stretch, but a more reasonable price looks to me around 300p based on existing forecasts. But if you think they will out-perform forecasts, then it's worth more! You pays your money, and all that.

They should start paying dividends now too, in my opinion. I notice that the Beneish M-Score throws up a warning flag over possible "earnings management". Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just pointing it out as an area that investors might want to look at, and gain reassurance about.

 

 

I like the look of results from Getech (LON:GTC). This is a specialist consultancy in the resources sector, which owns a database of global garavity and magnetic information, which is licensed to oil exploration companies.

At 65p the market cap is £19m.

Interim results to 31 Jan 2013 show a very successful half year, with turnover of £4m delivering a profit before tax of £1.4m (up a whopping 290% on the equivalent prior year period), although the increase against last year's H2 is less pronounced.

Diluted EPS is 3.328p, so if we double that (assuming no seasonality from H1 to H2) then it's about 6.7p annualised, so a PER just under 10. Looks pretty…

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accesso Technology Group plc is a United Kingdom-based company engaged in the development and application of ticketing, mobile and e-commerce technologies, and virtual queuing solutions for the attractions and leisure industry. The Company's solutions include accesso LoQueue, accesso Passport, accesso Siriusware and accesso ShoWare. accesso LoQueue is a queuing solution that includes Qsmart, Qbot and Qband. The accesso Passport ticketing suite is built where its customers shop. accesso Siriusware provides clients with ticketing and admission solutions, and includes various modules, such as OnSite Ticketing, OnLine eCommerce, Point-of-Sale and Guest Management. accesso ShoWare offers a range of ticketing software solutions for theaters, fairs, arenas and tours. The Company's products and services support attractions in the world, including a range of paid admission operations ranging from theme parks, water parks and zoos to cultural attractions and sporting events. more »

LSE Price
690p
Change
 
Mkt Cap (£m)
189.3
P/E (fwd)
13.7
Yield (fwd)
n/a

Getech Group Plc is a United Kingdom-based company, which provides geological services, reports and data to the petroleum and mining industries to assist in their exploration activities. The Company's segments include Multiclient products and services, Consultancy projects and All other segments. Its Multiclient products and services segment includes Globe, which is its live Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Earth platform; Gravity and magnetics, which offers global databases; Multiclient regional reports, which include reports on various exploration areas, and Multi-Satellite Altimeter Gravity Programme, which is a three-year study covering gravity data for the continental margins of the world. Its Consultancy projects include Consultancy and licensing rounds, under which the Company provides technical support and advice to the Mozambique government, and GIS software and services, under which, the Company, through Exprodat Consulting Limited, offers Exploration Analyst Online. more »

LSE Price
26p
Change
 
Mkt Cap (£m)
9.8
P/E (fwd)
7.4
Yield (fwd)
n/a

Driver Group Plc (Driver) is a United Kingdom-based company, which provides consultancy services to the engineering and construction industries. The Company conducts its operations through three operating divisions: Europe & Americas (EuAm); APAC, Middle East & Africa (AMEA), and Initiate. The EuAm and AMEA divisions provide various services, such as quantity surveying, litigation support, contract administration, and commercial advice/management. The Initiate division offers development, project and contracting management services to the infrastructure market in the United Kingdom. DIALES is its witness support service provider. Driver Project Management provides the strategic and leadership disciplines necessary to develop and deliver a project. Driver Project Services provides customer-focused project controls solutions across a project lifecycle. Driver Trett provides multi-disciplinary consultancy services to support delivery of its clients' projects. more »

LSE Price
60.5p
Change
 
Mkt Cap (£m)
31.9
P/E (fwd)
11.1
Yield (fwd)
2.0



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12 Comments on this Article show/hide all

Edward Croft 9th Apr '13 1 of 12
3

Paul - I've been reading Robert Haugen's most excellent little book "The New Finance" in which he expounds on the fact that most growth estimates are far too optimistic. Mean reversion is a very powerful force - any competitor looking at LOQ right now must be thinking - wow those ROCE /ROE numbers / growth figures are great - there's money here. The world turns and shifts its resources to compete with the successful. Will LOQ still have such great numbers in a few years? Does it have a sustainable competitive advantage? Does it have an economic moat?

LOQ was David Stredder's standout pick in 2009 - it's made shareholders a tonne of money since then. I agree with you that the valuation looks to have priced perfection in - at these levels you'd have to have great conviction as a buyer - I can't see a margin of safety at this price.

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Paul Scott 9th Apr '13 2 of 12
3

In reply to post #72330

Hi Ed,

Interesting thoughts.

Another point is that the markets assume growth to be steady & predictable, whereas in my experience for smaller companies, it more often tends to be quite erratic - i.e. rather than steady 20% profits growth p.a., you get a zig-zag upwards, with profits suddenly shooting up say 60% one year, then maybe 10% the next year. So I like to find good companies that have disappointed in the short term, but will out-perform in the long term (easier said than done!)

That's especially the case with operationally geared companies such as software companies, where the product is very high gross margin, but the overheads are fixed. Most overheads are salaries in that type of company, and it's difficult to adjust those in the short term. So management tend to have to estimate what their likely sales will be, put in place a fixed overhead to achieve that, but then can be wrong-footed towards the end of the year if a few sales contracts are not closed in time. Clever customers can also delay deals until year end, and squeeze out a big discount as they know the vendor is desperate to meet year-end figures.

The good thing with Lo-Q is that their revenues are recurring, although the bad thing is that they are volume dependent, and hence bad weather over the short summer trading period when most water parks operate, can whack their numbers hard.

I can see the niche for Lo-Q in water parks, and they seem to be executing in that niche very well. But I'm less convinced that Lo-Q have much of a moat in other areas, where a smartphone App can be provided by anyone. As you say, if you become very successful in a niche, that draws in competition eventually.

Also, I don't buy LOQ's CEO's claim that queues are everywhere. In reality, long queues that need a virtual queuing system are only needed in a very few places, such as theme parks, or Benefits offices (who use a paper-based system perfectly happily). So I don't believe that any smartphone system will be used at rail stations, or post offices, or anywhere else for that matter, Theme Parks are very much a unique case as they are closed environments. I think that's just hype. Same with Doctors surgeries, etc - they want you physically there, not milling around outside when the Doctor is ready to see you!

That said, if LOQ carry on picking up more theme park contracts, then earnings should gradually grow into the valuation. But I cannot see 100% upside with a 1-2 year view on the share price from here in a reasonable scenario, which is usually my key criteria for investing. Although obviously the shares have done amazingly well historically - but that means nothing. It's all about what the price does from today that should drive whether to buy more, hold, or sell.

The bulls are VERY bullish on it though, and are smart people who have done their research! But I cannot help thinking there is also a fair bit of euphoria in there too at the moment. Happy to be proved wrong though!

Cheers, Paul.

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shanklin100 9th Apr '13 3 of 12

Hi Paul

So you disagree with LOQ's stance that their patents provide strong protection from competitors?

Have you any evidence to support this suggestion?

Cheers, Martin

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Paul Scott 9th Apr '13 4 of 12

In reply to post #72333

Hi Martin,

Patents usually just protect a certain method of doing something, but very rarely a whole concept.
Plus they are very expensive & difficult to protect.

So I would not personally place any reliance on the assertion that LOQ can block anyone else from developing a smartphone App to do virtual queuing.

Cheers, Paul.

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shanklin100 9th Apr '13 5 of 12

Hi Paul

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Currently, LOQ appears to have no competition wrt its queuing products and is winning new business at a reasonable rate.

Like many I see the market forecasts as far too low albeit the company's profitability is sometimes adversely affected by the costs associated with the first year of newly won business.

I am sure I read somewhere a statement by Tom Burnett, the LOQ CEO, that if Walt Disney adopted LOQ products they (WD) would make an extra $250M - $300M per annum, which does suggest to me that LOQ is massively under-valued by the market. As and when I find this quote I will post details here.

Best wishes, Martin

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Edward Croft 9th Apr '13 6 of 12

In reply to post #72340

Fair point re. Disney but is there evidence that Disney may do so?

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CantEatValue 9th Apr '13 7 of 12

In reply to post #72341

At the last meeting I saw LOQ present Tom explicitly stated he thought they had zero chance of ever getting any business from Disney as they like to do everything in house.

I do think that LOQ have strong switching costs for their existing theme park contracts and that business looks fairly wrapped up to me but like Paul I don't really buy the other queuing ideas so much (but could well be proved wrong) and the current price basically assumes everything goes too well for my liking.

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shanklin100 10th Apr '13 8 of 12
1

I agree its unlikely that LOQ will ever pick up any business from Disney but just wanted to highlight:
- the huge potential market LOQ have to sell into and
- the fact that no significant competition has materialised

What I get rather frustrated about is the way that every positive RNS from LOQ is being used to justify giving it a good kicking here, whereas weak RNSes from companies such as Vianet are used to justify the suggestion that they become long-term holds.

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shanklin100 10th Apr '13 9 of 12

WHI Ireland have upped the EPS forecasts for GTC from 4.22p to 4.59p for the current year and from 4.66p 4.95p for next year.

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Paul Scott 10th Apr '13 10 of 12

In reply to post #72352

Hi Shanklin,

I'm not kicking LOQ at all, and if you check back at my comments I think they've been pretty balanced, mentioning positive RNSs, and often saying what a good company it is, etc.

What I have repeatedly questioned is the VALUATION, because based on existing forecasts it looks far too high to me. And even then I've pointed out that if the bulls are right, and results exceed forecasts, then that would justify the valuation.

Companies on very high ratings are priced to perfection, and hence should attract closer scrutiny. Whereas companies (like Vianet, which you mentioned) on bombed out valuations due to under-performance, can become more attractive as they fall, because the dividend yield increases to a very attractive level.

As you can see from my Equity Active report on the VNET profits warning, I didn't pull any punches at all & was highly critical of management!

I appreciate though when you're long of a stock, it's not pleasant to listen to an opposing point of view, but there are many times in the past where I wished I had, as the exuberance of a hugely profitable investment can very easily make one see things through rose tinted spectacles.

Cheers, Paul.

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carmensfella 11th Apr '13 11 of 12
2

For any Stockopedia members tuning into LOQ for the first time I have been a very long term holder and probably well placed to explain where the likely significant growth over the next couple of years is going to come from when compared to the year just ended.

Firstly there is the fact that 2012 was not a good year for weather helping the company....Last year Lo-Q’s revenue was up 18% despite a very wet UK and a very hot US holiday season. Like-for-like sales were up 12.6%. Imagine if the weather had been more supportive to higher attendances at the parks.

Secondly the company signed a partnership with Sanderson in the Far East that should be delivering some new contracts in that region quite soon and certainly during 2013.

Thirdly the accesso deal looks to be a masterstroke not just for the two businesses being stronger as one but also due to the cross selling potential and great management team that has been acquired. They will help accesso deliver growth to LOQ in revenues and earnings in 2013.

Fourthly so far in 2013 the dollar strength has worked very well in favour of LOQs 90% overseas dollar earnings. That movement so far, if it holds and certainly could be significantly hedged at this point by management if desired, would increase flat 2013 earnings by about 10% when converted.

Finally the company has stated that year two and three in new parks see very significantly increased use of the products and repeat business that means all the new parks signed up in 2011 and 2012 will deliver VERY significant growth in 2013.

I certainly look forward to 2013 and expect very good newsflow and upgrades to forecasts to be likely if the above factors play out as I expect.

David

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boothbym 23rd Apr '13 12 of 12

Any thoughts on the bounce over the last 2 days back to £6 from £5? Quite a few £25k buys at £5.90

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About Paul Scott

Paul Scott

I trained as an accountant with a Top 5 firm, but that was so boring that I spent too much time in the 1990s being a disco bunny, and busting moves on the dancefloor, and chilling out with mates back at either my house or theirs, and having a lot of fun!Then spent 8 years as FD for a ladieswear retail chain called "Pilot", leaving on great terms in 2002 - having been a key player in growing the business 10 fold. If the truth be told, I partied pretty hard at the weekends too, so bank reconciliations on Monday mornings were more luck than judgement!! But they were always correct.I got bored with that and decided to become a professional small caps investor in 2002. I made millions, but got too cocky, and lost the lot in 2008, due to excessive gearing. A miserable, wilderness period occurred from 2008-2012.Since then, the sun has begun to shine again! I am now utterly briliant again, and immerse myself in small caps, and am a walking encyclopedia on the subject. I love writing a daily report for Stockopedia.com on most weekday mornings, constantly researching daily results & trading updates for small caps. Cheese! more »

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