Small Cap Value Report (10 Aug 2016) - LOOK, RTC, SDY

Wednesday, Aug 10 2016 by

Good morning!

Very quiet for results today, but there are always a few other topical things for me to rattle on about here.

In case you missed it, I updated yesterday's article later in the day, it covered BOO & QRT. Plus also later sections on STM and SCS - both of which look quite interesting actually.

I was surprised to read a Tweet yesterday from Richard Crow, pointing out that the Small Caps Index had hit a new high. It's almost as if Brexit never happened - why did we all get so stressed about it?! Or, are we being lulled into a false sense of security now, before earnings disappoint later this year? Who knows.

Looking at the chart below of SMXX, it looks like this;

Glass half full person - we're breaking out to a new all time high!

Glass half empty person - it took 7 years (until 2014) to regain the losses after the peak in 2007, and we've traded sideways since 2014!

Both views are true, but just place a different emphasis on things.

I reckon that a lot of money was probably taken out of the market before, and immediately after Brexit. So some of that is probably sheepishly coming back into the room! Hence prices in a lot of smaller caps rising at the moment.


If you're a subscriber (and I hope everyone is, as that pays my wages for writing these reports!) then you can click on this link SMXX to analyse the constituent companies within each Index.

I particularly like the scatter chart, showing a blob for each constituent in the index, analysing where it sits, based on the Stockopedia Quality & Value ranks. So we should generally be aiming for stocks in the top RHS green segment, and avoiding ones in the lower LHS. Hovering over each blob reveals the name of the company (but won't on the screenshot below, unfortunately);


Some people, like Ed, use the StockRanks to "farm" for a portfolio of stocks, which as a portfolio have statistically out-performed. Whereas I'm more of a "hunter", so I like to pick my own stocks, and then use StockRanks as a sense…

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As per our Terms of Use, Stockopedia is a financial news & data site, discussion forum and content aggregator. Our site should be used for educational & informational purposes only. We do not provide investment advice, recommendations or views as to whether an investment or strategy is suited to the investment needs of a specific individual. You should make your own decisions and seek independent professional advice before doing so. Remember: Shares can go down as well as up. Past performance is not a guide to future performance & investors may not get back the amount invested. ?>

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Lookers plc operates as a motor retail and aftersales company in the United Kingdom. The Company operates through two business segments: motor distribution and parts distribution. The motor division consists of over 150 franchised dealerships representing over 30 marques from approximately 100 locations. Aftersales represents the servicing, repair and sale of franchised parts to customers' vehicles. Its parts division operates in the independent aftermarket sector of the United Kingdom's motor retail market, where it operates through three operating companies: FPS, Apec Braking and BTN Turbo. FPS is a warehouse distributor of automotive parts. Apec Braking is a provider of dry braking (pads and discs). BTN Turbo is a distributor of turbochargers and supplier of related value added services. Its operations are also carried out across Ireland. It sells approximately 180,000 new and used cars and vans per year. In addition, it has an independent parts distribution business. more »

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RTC Group plc is engaged in engineering and technical recruitment business. The Company focuses on white and blue collar recruitment providing temporary, permanent and contingent staff to a range of industries and clients in both domestic and international markets. The Company's segments include ATA, Global Staffing Solutions (GSS), Ganymede Solutions Limited (Ganymede) and The Derby Conference Centre Limited. ATA Recruitment Limited (ATA Recruitment) provides recruitment solutions to the engineering and technical sectors. It has two core operating units, which include projects and branches. Ganymede supplies labor into safety critical environments, and supplies and operates contingent labor within the rail industry. GSS is a staffing solutions and resource provider. GSS works with clients across the globe that are focused on delivering projects into a range of sectors, such as aerospace and defense, ports, mining, and oil and gas. more »

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Speedy Hire Plc is a tools, equipment and plant hire services company. The Company's segments include UK & Ireland Asset Services and International Asset Services. UK & Ireland Asset Services delivers asset management and focuses on relationship management. International Asset Services delivers overseas projects and facilities management contracts by providing a managed site support service. Its geographical segments include UK, Ireland and Other countries. It operates across the construction, infrastructure and industrial markets. Its hire fleet comprises a range of small tools, specialist equipment, and large plant vehicles and machinery. It also retails a range of tools and equipment, as well as safety personal protective equipment (PPE) and site supplies. It also offers various services, such as on-site operative training, test and repair, fuel supply and management, industrial shutdown project management, on-site depots and hire desks. It also offers partnered services. more »

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  Is LON:LOOK fundamentally strong or weak? Find out More »

27 Comments on this Article show/hide all

Paul Scott 10th Aug '16 8 of 27

In reply to post #146286

Hi A topper,

I disagree. The market looks ahead, so it prices-in known future factors, and uncertainty.

We're still guessing as to what shape Brexit might actually take, but the reality is for most companies, it won't make the slightest difference - trade will carry on as before, and worst case there's a 3-4% common external tariff for exporters to EU to pay - which has already been more than recouped from sterling becoming more competitive.

I think the market is recognising that broadly speaking, things are going to be OK. That's why shares are going up. Also, with interest rates so low, where else do people put their money???

Regards, Paul.

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paraic84 10th Aug '16 9 of 27

The other sector that is getting walloped at the moment is construction. Lavendon (LON:LVD) for example is now trading on a P/E of 5.9 even though it has a good international presence now (although there may be uncertainty about how it might be affected in France and Germany post-Brexit). Although construction numbers haven't been great I still see a lot going on in London in particular with more houses still needing to be built. In the UK I wouldn't be surprised if the Government's autumn statement also announces more state funding for construction projects as a way of injecting a bit more into the economy and demonstrating the new Government will do everything to continue supporting UK PLC.

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cafcash49 10th Aug '16 10 of 27

Paul, I think your point about where else do people put their money is absolutely right, that is what is keeping this bull market going imo.

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Paul Scott 10th Aug '16 11 of 27

In reply to post #146307

Hi Charles,

Yes. I think particularly for pensioners, they want some yield from their money, and bank interest rates are now so low, it's almost forcing them to look elsewhere - which is exactly the point of putting interest rates that low.

Decent, dividend paying AIM shares are particularly attractive for wealthy pensioners too - since not only do some pay a nice divi, far more than available from banks, but also after 2 years they're free from Inheritance Tax - a fantastic, and often overlooked tax break.

Mind you, the danger of pensioners buying AIM shares, is if they don't know what they're doing, or have a lousy adviser, and end up in lots of speculative crap.

Regards, Paul.

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heron 10th Aug '16 12 of 27

Paul - I think Tosca are also large (largest?) shareholders in HSS which is a major competitor of Speedy. I don't think Tosca declare that in the letter

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Flackwell 10th Aug '16 13 of 27

In reply to post #146286

LOL - All but the most blind (including the BBC and those petition riggers) know it is happening

Mrs Merkel knows, Junker knows, and the rest of the world knows too

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A topper 10th Aug '16 14 of 27

In reply to post #146301

Hi Paul, thanks for replying. I think you're spot on regarding the link between rock bottom interest rates and inflated share prices. Also agree that the market is forward looking and prices-in known future events. But the time horizon matters - near term events have greater impact on current sentiment and prices than events in the more distant future. My feeling is that what investors are pricing in for now is relief that Brexit looks like being a longer term, not an immediate, shock.

When it actually happens, I do think there'll be a huge amount of uncertainty which will cause companies to stop investing and consumers to spend less, even if trading rules remain broadly unaffected in the end.

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kenobi 10th Aug '16 15 of 27

In reply to post #146310

I agree Paul, that is the point of low interest rates, however it does produce behaviour that is causing asset bubbles, people who would have saved money in the banks, then buy shares or property, causing bubbles in these assets, at the same time the bans then don't have deposits as who is going to keep money in banks at these rates ? So the government has to have funding schemes for the banks. This doesn't seem like a healthy economic enviroment to me, the banks should have started raising rates years ago, at perhaps a half to one percent pa, sure house prices would be lower, and probably other assets, but would that have been such a terrible thing ?


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FREng 10th Aug '16 16 of 27

In reply to post #146322

Half the country voted to leave and most of them are not going to get whatever it was that they believed they would get when they voted (such as £350m/week for the NHS). That feels like a degree of political uncertainty that is probably not yet in the market.

Then there's jobs and wages. Neither look optimistic for UK-focused shares.

Then there's immigration. There's a manifesto commitment to reducing it and the PM is committed to that but many firms need immigrant labour (skilled and unskilled) and immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take out.

Then there's inflation (which I wrote about a couple of SCVRs ago.

The current bull run feels like irrational exuberance to me. OK for successful stock pickers but likely to be bad for the small cap market as a whole.

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JohnEustace 10th Aug '16 17 of 27

In reply to post #146301

As Mrs. T didn't quite say, there's no such thing as the market. There's just a lot of people making individual decisions and trying to bet according to the outcomes they expect. But people are subject to all manner of behavioural and cognitive errors. Adding those up doesn't confer any magical ability of the market to foresee the future.

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bobo 10th Aug '16 18 of 27

Exec Chairman, just such a silly structure, I avoid them

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PJ0077 10th Aug '16 19 of 27

In reply to post #146331

As long as investors arrive at their (often dubious) individual decisions independently AND there is a wide diversity of opinion, then the array of behavioral & cognitive errors surely cancel out?

This, of course, is not to say that what emerges gives the market 'perfect foresight'... given the prevalance of a potential huge number of known unknows & unknown unknowns.

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Trident 10th Aug '16 20 of 27

I spoke to my bank manager about moving some cash, and the penalties etc. I said in passing that I would imagine a lot of cash is moving due to low interest rates and talk of negative rates.

H e then advised me the access saving rates were all about to drop in the next week or so. He said a lot of people will not risk their money in the market, and will still stick to cash.

I am not so sure he is wholly right, though inevitably some will fear the downside. I will retain cash, but am exposing a further % of cash resources to the market having benefited from investing in the post referendum turmoil. After a few initial wobbles I have seen one fund with US dollar Company exposure go up nearly 20% .

Strange times!

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rhomboid1 10th Aug '16 21 of 27

My Bank Manager rang me up pre Brexit and asked whether I'd meet with one of his colleagues from their managed funds arm. He said " if we can get your money to work pre referendum you'll be well placed to enjoy the uplift when EU membership is confirmed..."

In the 10 years or so I've known him he has come up with one useful suggestion, he suggested he reduce the frequency with which he spoke to me as I seemed happy to paddle my own canoe .

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JohnEustace 10th Aug '16 22 of 27

In reply to post #146340

Surely the referendum is the prefect example of those errors not cancelling out but if anything amplifying in a feedback loop of conviction that Remain would win?

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PJ0077 10th Aug '16 23 of 27

In reply to post #146355

Well, quite. . positive feedback loops imply that diverse & independent opinions are no longer prevalent.

The potentially wise crowd becomes dumb, and mis-pricing occur.

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Paul Scott 10th Aug '16 24 of 27

In reply to post #146325

Hi Kenobi,

I completely agree with you - post no.15.

However, as an investor/trader, I want to make money - so I accept Govt/BoE policy as it is, and seek to make money from it, whilst keeping close to the door (i.e. avoiding illiquid micro caps).

We seem to bein a semi-normal state of ultra-low interest rates. I agree this is complete madness, but that's where we are.

I suspect that sooner or later, inflation is likely to rear its ugly head again - what happens then, who knows? Normally interest rates would have to go up, but things aren't normal any more, the whole system has gone haywire. We're really in uncharted territory.

As regards equities - yes there are pockets of over-valuation, but overall I don't see the market as particularly over-valued. Not to the extent that some commentators are suggesting anyway.

Regards, Paul.

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kenobi 10th Aug '16 25 of 27

In reply to post #146373

Yes I agree, it's mad but that's the market we've got. (it's no good saying I wouldn't start from here if I were you, as the irishman said when asked for directions )

Interesting your point re inflation, I wonder whether unlimited migration has acted as a damper on wages (at least normal wages not directors etc), and now if we brexit and limit migration, which seemed to be one of the main reasons, might this push up inflation and start the unwinding of the current situation ?

There's a long trend of downward pressure on interest rates, even Carney was only suggesting that normal rates in the future might be 2.5% rather than the 5% we might have though of in the previous economic cycle.

I do fear for what will happen to get us out of this, I feel like I felt before the credit crunch, I knew it couldn't go on, it was crazy but I'd never heard of a credit crunch and didn't know what was going to happen.


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alan martin 11th Aug '16 26 of 27

If we carry on at such low interest rates, what will happen to all pension schemes? Stick to sensible investments, I say.

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Sniggolb 12th Aug '16 27 of 27

I have rarely read such rubbish abut the effect of Brexit from the liberal lobby who clearly all sit down when they want to pee. I am pleased that Paul (whom God preserve) has now seen the light and realises that there is nothing to fear except fear itself. Heck, we are the fifth largest economy in the world and we are full if energy and guile.

In five years time we will wonder why we were ever in the EU at all.

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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 on most weekday mornings, constantly researching daily results & trading updates for small caps. Cheese! more »


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