Company News

Lessons From a Failed Investment

This is a premium article, available to ShareSoc full members and SIGnet members. Recent troubles at the AA (AA.) and Petropavlovsk (POG) brought to mind another problematic investment that I am more familiar with and which shares some characteristics of those companies. That investment is Gulf Marine Services (GMS). IPOs by Private Equity Vendors Like the AA, GMS was floated by its original private equity owners, with a premium listing on the LSE main market, in March 2014. GMS is a relatively straightforward business: ...

Victoria and Downing One VCT Annual Reports, and Rio Tinto Mea Culpa

With it being all quiet on the financial front, with a lot of people on holiday, I had the time to read a couple of Annual Reports over the weekend. First came Victoria (VCP), a producer of flooring products (carpets and tiles) in which I have a relatively small holding. Chairman Geoff Wilding always has some interesting things to say and their Annual Report is an exemplary model of shareholder enlightenment. He commences with this statement: “There is an old Yiddish adage ...

Blancco Campaign Update #4

Campaign members will recall that the restatements of the Blancco accounts for year ending June 2016 and other accounting corrections led to a loss of over £135 million in shareholder value. The previous CEO exercised Stock Appreciation Rights prior to the disclosure of these restatements. ShareSoc referred these issues to the Financial Conduct Authority in January 2018 and, as far as the audit by KPMG was concerned to the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England & Wales (ICAEW) in February 2018. ICAEW ...

Shenanigans in Siberia: the Petropavlovsk Saga and Why Retail Investors Matter

One of ShareSoc’s key beliefs is that private investors are important and their voice needs to be heard. The current, for want of a better word, shenanigans, at Petropavlovsk (POG) gives private investors a key role in determining the future of a company. Background Books could be written about POG, and probably deserve to be. It is a gold miner in Siberia, whose shares rose to above £5 in 2011, before collapsing under the weight of debt and being rescued by an emergency ...

Redcentric: Unprecedented Progress for Shareholders – At Last

Two Cheers for the FCA in the Case of Redcentric Two cheers for the FCA: they have achieved a positive outcome for shareholders affected by the case, and have been pragmatic, albeit after a very long time. It is also good to see the other objective of our campaign potentially achieved - of prosecuting individuals for their alleged misdemeanors. Such actions are essential to deter others from criminal activity. Background Redcentric has been an extraordinary case. They key issues at the time when serious ...

Market Trends, Big Miners and Will the Music Stop?

Stock markets continue to rise. They seem to be ignoring the bad company results that are going to come out in the next few months. Although there are signs that the Covid-19 epidemic is weakening, some sectors such as hospitality are going to be in lock-down for some time. The economy is clearly going into recession with many employees being laid off. The lack of consumer spending, not just because some people have less money to spend, but because others are ...

Scottish Mortgage Investment Policy and LSE RNS Announcements

The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMT) have issued their Annual Report and AGM Notice. Readers who hold this trust will not need reminding that it has shown a remarkable performance over the last few months. That’s when the stock market has been decimated by the Covid-19 epidemic and the share prices of many other similar trusts and of the companies they hold have fallen sharply. Last year SMT achieved a total share price return of 12.7% to the end of March and ...

Eurasia Erasure

by Mark Lauber, Director, ShareSoc Eurasia Mining is a junior mining company listed on the AIM market. Having traded in a range of 0.4 to 0.7p for the last two years, it spiked up in October 2019, reaching a price of 7.2p by the time it was suspended on 11 February. The reason given for the suspension was that clarification of the relationship with CITIC was required. On 9 April a further RNS was issued, stating that WH Ireland had resigned as Nomad, ...

Unsatisfactory Avast AGM, and Designated Accounts

I “attended” the Avast (AVST) Annual General Meeting today. This was of course held on-line using Zoom with only one director in physical attendance (Warren Finegold) who chaired the meeting. Zoom seems to be becoming the de facto standard for on-line meetings. The Chairman of the company, John Schwarz, gave a brief presentation backed up by some slides. To summarise, it was another strong year of growth and profitability. A new CEO is now in place. EBITDA was up 8% with strong ...

Property Shares Spooked by Land Securities and Pets at Home Accounts Attacked

Land Securities Group (LAND) published their annual results yesterday. I don’t hold the stock but what they said seems to have spooked the whole property sector. The company is a large holder of both retail and office property. For retail property, only 38% of rents due were collected within 10 days of the due date in March. For offices it was better at 89% but that is still down from the prior year at the same time. What possibly really scared people ...