Company News

Accesso Technology AGM Report

I attended the Annual General Meeting of Accesso Technology (ACSO) this morning (21st May) at their offices west of London. With a 10.00 am start time there were only about ten ordinary shareholders there. This company provides ticketing and queuing systems for theme parks and other visitor attractions. It had a great share price performance under the management of former CEO and then Executive Chairman Tom Burnet (who is still on the board as a non-exec director) until October 2018 when the ...

AB Dynamics Placing, and Metro Bank Troubles

AB Dynamics (ABDP) announced a placing to raise £50 million this morning. The money will be used to finance potential acquisitions, add production capacity and meet working capital requirements. This company provides vehicle testing systems and has been rapidly expanding recently. The share price has also been rising like a rocket in the last few weeks and on fundamentals the company is now very highly rated – prospective p/e for the current year is 47. So perhaps the company just saw ...

Lloyds Bank – Recommendation to vote against the Remuneration Report

I recommend shareholders vote against the Remuneration Report at the Lloyds AGM on 16 May 2019, because the proposal to pay the CEO a pension allowance of 33% of salary has attracted huge negative publicity. It has become a significant distraction and has negatively impacted the brand. The HBSC CEO accepted a reduction in his pension from 35% to 10% of salary. Antonio Horta-Osorio should have accepted the same, i.e. a 10% pension. The difference would be £293,000 year, but this is ...

Horizon Discovery – Defective Accounting Discovered

Horizon Discovery Group (HZD) announced their full year results this morning. Horizon is a biotechnology company focused on cell engineering and CRISPR screening. Revenue was up by 68% to £58.7 million helped by an acquisition. But the “reported loss” increased to £35.8 million due to the exceptional write-off of past investment in “In Vivo”. Although this is a non-cash impairment it suggests that there was past over-optimism in the viability of that business unit and excessive capitalisation of development expenditure. This ...

Supermarket Winners and Losers – Ocado, M&S, Waitrose, Sainsburys and ASDA

As a recent purchaser of Ocado (OCDO) shares I have received the notice of a General Meeting to approve the deal with Marks & Spencer (MKS). The agreement is the formation of a new joint venture and will effectively replace the previous partnership with Waitrose (part of John Lewis) to provide own-brand products. This looks a very positive deal for Ocado if you read the detail as the Waitrose deal was restrictive in some regards and Waitrose has also been developing ...

Audit Market Shake-Up, Ocado on TV, and Judges Scientific Presentation

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have issued their final recommendations to improve competition in the audit market after an earlier public consultation. This follows widespread concerns over the dominance of the big four audit firms, the lack of apparent competition on price or quality, and repeated complaints about the quality of audits following several big and small company failures. Audit firms seem to have got off relatively lightly if the CMA’s recommendations are implemented by the Government. Here’s a brief ...

Debenhams PrePack, Dunelm Trading, ASOS and Privacy

Department store operator Debenhams (DEB) has been put through a pre-pack administration. It’s been bought by a new company formed by its secured lenders. Mike Ashley of Sports Direct is furious. His company invested £150 million in the shares of the company in the hope of taking it over, which will now be worthless. He had some choice words to say on the subject which included that it was an “underhand plan to steal from shareholders”, “as normal politicians and regulators ...

Brands Have Limits – Saga and AA

I have written before about the merits of strong brands. This is a paragraph from my new book soon to be published (entitled “Business Perspective Investing”): “Trade marks help customers to identify with the product, and make it easier for them to select the product on a new purchase. Brands are particularly effective when there is actually little difference between competitors’ products - for example, lager beer, gin or washing powder. Brands are exceedingly valuable if well maintained. Coca-Cola is a ...

All Change at Superdry and Intercede – Perhaps

Readers are probably aware that founder Julian Dunkerton managed to win the votes yesterday (2nd April) at the EGM that he requisitioned at Superdry (SDRY). The votes to appoint him and Peter Williams were won by the narrowest of margins despite proxy advisors such as ISS recommending opposition. My previous comments on events at Superdry are here: https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/company-news/superdry-does-it-need-a-revolution/ . It did not seem clear cut to me how shareholders should vote, but I did suggest there was a need for change. There ...

Argo Blockchain and FT Letter

An announcement appeared this morning from Argo Blockchain Plc (ARB). It was well timed as I was going to write something on the hype surrounding blockchain technology soon. ARB has received a requisition to remove two of the directors, and appoint others. The company has been focused on providing a cryptocurrency mining service and floated on AIM at a price of 16p – it’s now just over 3p. But a few weeks ago it gave up the “mining-as-a-service” business to focus ...