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  • Writer's pictureMark Watson-Mitchell

A week full of interesting AGM’s – LUCE, MPAC, KLR, COST, HAT, and MBH

This week there are quite a number of Annual General Meetings being held for various of this column’s favoured companies.

There should be some AGM Trading Updates to look out for, normally being published on the morning just ahead of the meeting.

I list below a scattering of those that are due to present themselves to their shareholders:

Luceco (LON:LUCE) – Ready To Fizz Away

Tuesday 14th

The supplier of wiring accessories, EV chargers, LED lighting, and portable power products, reported 2023 results showing a mere 1.3% improvement in revenues at £209.0m, while its adjusted pre-tax profits were 9.3% better at £21.2m, leaving earnings unchanged at 11.1p, but with a 4.3% advance in dividends to 4.8p per share.

CEO John Hornby stated that:

“The Group is exceedingly well placed for growth through organic and further M&A activity in 2024 with its strong operational leverage and strong balance sheet.

Whilst we are mindful of the economic environment in 2024, we have a number of exciting product developments in progress, which provide us with good medium and long-term opportunities for growth together with our bolt on acquisition strategy, including the exciting recent acquisition of D-Line."

Liberum Capital is looking for £234.0m sales this year, £24.0m profits, 12.1p earnings and a maintained dividend, with a 170p Price Objective Buy recommendation.

The shares closed at 165p.

(Profile 15.06.20 @ 96.1p set a Target Price of 125p*) 

Mpac Group (LON:MPAC) – Processing Better Profits Ahead

Wednesday 15th

The group is a global leader in engineering and automation providing assembly and packaging solutions.

It designs, builds and supports the machines that assemble and package the products that millions of people around the world depend on. 

The 2023 results showed the group delivering a strong trading performance for the year, much in line with market expectations, with significantly increased revenue and profit, aided by the normalisation of margins throughout the year, together with a record order intake.

The Order Book at the end of 2023 was up 8% at £72.5m, while group revenues were 17% better at £114.2m, lifting its underlying pre-tax profit 103% higher at £7.1m, generating a 97% lift in earnings to 26.2p per share.

It reported that it has started 2024 positively and that trading is in line with expectations, while order intake is said to be encouraging, with a healthy and diverse pipeline of prospects, leaving the company well positioned for the year ahead.

For the current year to end December 2024 Shore Capital estimates suggest £120.0m sales, £10.5m profits and 38.7p earnings per share, together with a 550p ‘fair value’ on the shares.

The shares ended the week at 470p.

(Profile 19.12.19 @ 182p set a Target Price of 235p*) 

Keller Group (LON:KLR) – Digging Deeper For Its Profits

Wednesday 15th

In 2023 the world's largest geotechnical specialist contractor saw just a 1% increase in its revenues to £2.97bn, while its underlying pre-tax profit was 64% better at £153.4m, with earnings 53% higher at 153.9p and a dividend some 20% increased at 45.2p per share. 

CEO Michael Speakman stated that:

The strong momentum of the business is encouraging and whilst inevitably there will be fluctuations across the Group, our diverse revenues and improved operational delivery underpin our expectation that 2024 will be another year of underlying progress.

The significant improvement in business performance and continued disciplined execution of our strategy, will provide both resilience in the short term and drive growth in the long term, through both organic and targeted M&A opportunities. Accordingly, we view the Group's prospects with increased confidence."

Expectations for the current year to end December are for net sales of some £2.88bn, with profits around £160.8m.

The consensus average Price Objective for the shares is 1,355p.

Friday night’s close was at 1,142p.

(Profile 10.08.20 @ 643.5p set a Target Price of 750p*) 

Costain (LON:COST) – Priced Higher After Recent Run

Thursday 16th

The infrastructure projects group reported slightly lower £1.33bn revenues in 2023, but with adjusted operating profit 10.5% higher at £40.1m.

CEO Alex Vaughan stated that:

"The quality and balance of our forward work across our two divisions gives us good visibility on future revenue and margin.

We have more than 80% of expected revenue secured for 2024 and our forward work stands at around three times 2023 revenue.

We see continuing momentum in the business and remain confident in the Group's growth prospects."

He went on to comment that:

“Our expectations for further progress in 2024 remain unchanged.

As a result of our continued strategic and operational development, we remain on track to deliver an adjusted operating margin run-rate of 3.5% during the course of FY 24 and 4.5% during the course of FY 25, in line with our ambition to deliver margins in excess of 5.0%.”

Liberum Capital have the group’s shares as a Buy, looking for 100p per share as their ‘sum of the parts’ value.

The brokers estimate £1.22bn sales for this year, with £46.5m pre-tax profits, 12.3p earnings and 1.2p dividend per share.

The shares ended last week at 84p, a fraction off their one-year High of 86.60p.

(Profile 05.09.19 @ 155p set a Target Price of 250p) 

(Profile 02.08.21 @ 55p set a Target Price of 69p*) 

(Profile 24.08.23 @ 50p set a Target Price of 62p*) 

H&T Group (LON:HAT) – Funded Up And Expanding

Thursday 16th

The AGM Trading Update from my favourite pawnbroking and jewellery/watches retailer should make interesting reading.

The 2023 year saw a 39% increase in pre-tax profits at £26.4m, a 31% uplift in earnings to 48.5p and a 13.0% improvement in dividend to 17.0p per share.

Already this year the group has made a useful acquisition and has enhanced its funding lines, thereby enabling growth in its very important Pledge Book, while investing further in the group’s retail estate.

CEO Chris Gillespie has stated that:

With continued investment in scale and capabilities, along with growing our business in the context of wider macro-economic factors, we believe that the Group has an opportunity for significant growth in the medium term."

Brokers Shore Capital estimate that the current year to end December will see £33.5m profits, 57.2p earnings and a healthy 18.5p dividend per share.

The shares closed last week at only 421p.

(Profile 06.07.22 @ 332.5p set a Target Price of 400p*) 

(Profile 30.01.23 @ 429p set a Target Price of 500p*) 

Michelmersh Brick Holdings (LON:MBH) – Strong Foundations For Progress

Thursday 16th

The specialist brick manufacturer and brick-fabricator showed 2023 revenues 13.0% higher at £77.3m, while its adjusted pre-tax profits were 9.6% better at £13.8m, lifting earnings by 11.6% to 11.91p per share, covering its 5.9% hoisted dividend of 4.5p.

CEO Peter Sharp stated that:

“We believe the quality fundamentals in our business will provide resilience and we are well placed to continue our strategic progress through 2024 and beyond.”

Canaccord Genuity Capital Markets rate the group’s shares as a Buy, with a 180p Price Objective.

They estimate current year sales of £82.0m, with slightly lower profits of £13.4m, 10.7p earnings but with a maintained dividend of 4.5p per share.

The group’s shares closed at 100p on Friday night.

(Profile 27.03.23 @ 91p set a Target Price of 115p) 


(Asterisks * denote that Target Prices have been achieved since Profile publication)


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