Company News

Report: Volex Webinar

I listened in to a Volex webinar on 11th November which was very well attended and presented. I have been a shareholder in Volex for some while and they have done very well achieving their targets of raising their gross margins by improving their product mix, dropping much of their lower margin cables business. Margins have been increased to 10.3% and they are doing well with their electric vehicle cables as the growth in this market continues. Volex have manufacturing operations in China, ...

Chrysalis – Vote NO at 26 November General Meeting

Shareholders are excluded from this GM and there is no pre-meeting webinar to discuss these highly contentious proposals to wind up the VCT and distribute any monies raised (less administration fees, including payments to the failing fund manager and some directors). Several members of the ShareSoc VCT Investor Group (including Tim Grattan, Mark Lauber, Roger Lawson and myself) met on 10 Nov to discuss Chrysalis' plans. Our conclusion was that shareholders should vote against these proposals for the following reasons: Chrysalis is ...

Epidemic Over? Unable to Trade and Chrysalis VCT Wind-Up

Pandemic News The news that the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 appears to work (at least 90% of the time) and has no negative side effects gave stock markets a good dose of euphoria yesterday (9th November). It suggests that we might be able to return to a normal life in future, but exactly when is far from clear. Actually producing and distributing the vaccine is going to be a mammoth task and it is very clear that it will only be given ...

Market Musings

The stock market seems to be positively benign at present, if not almost somnambulant. While certain sections of the economy have gone to hell in a handcart, the enthusiasm for technology stocks has not abated. My very diversified portfolio is up today at the time of writing by 0.4% helped by good news from Dotdigital (DOTD) today and a sudden enthusiasm for GB Group (GBG). Optimism about a more general recovery in the economy seems to be still prevalent. It’s probably a ...

Avingtrans Preliminary Results Call 2020

Yesterday, 1st October, I participated in Avingtrans' results call. The call was based on the results presentation, here: https://www.avingtrans.plc.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/AVG-Results-Presentation-FY20.pdf. A research note from finnCap, containing forecasts is freely available here: https://researchlibrary.finncap.com/File/View?file=80864f18-44e7-4d07-8c04-138f93ac28e0 (subject to registration). I have held Avingtrans shares since 2006, so know the management team and story very well (which has evolved over time). I consider them to be competent and honest. In the call they described the company as a "mini-Melrose", i.e. operating a buy and build strategy in the ...

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 ...