Astaire Securities this morning said a move by private equity firm Cinven to make a 56p per share offer for support services group Spice Plc (LON:SPI) highlighted the potential further value that can be derived from the business. Spice rejected the offer and there are currently no discussions taking place. Astaire pointed out that the management had already made progress in turning the business around with the disposals of the Telecom and Gas businesses. At Byotrol Plc (LON:BYOT), the anti-microbial hygiene business, Astaire put a positive spin on news of improved sales last year but picked out the company’s low cash balance of £0.8m as an area of concern. “As an infection control business we have consistently preferred Tristel (LON:TSTL) for its established position in the Hospital supply market and continue to do so,” the broker said.
Elsewhere, HB Markets recommended a “buy” at semiconductor maker Cml Microsystems (LON:CML) on the back of a 12% rise in revenues to £18.02m and narrower losses at £0.39m. HB said that cautious forecasts would look for £1m of pre-tax profits next year and gave investors a price target of 87p. Elsewhere, the broker downgraded Innovise Plc (LON:INNO) to “hold” after what it called disappointing results in which lower margins and higher costs reduced pre-tax profits by 20% to £0.48m last year. HB said it expected the IT services market to remain challenging for the rest of the year and said the company was fairly priced.
FinnCap urged a “buy” at accountancy group Begbies Traynor Group (LON:BEG), whose shares have been de-rated since the start of the year following a tailing off in insolvency work. Nevertheless, hopes are high that there should be an increase in demand for sorting out stricken companies later this year, leading the broker to fix its target price at 80p. Elsewhere, FinnCap initiated coverage of Halfords Group (LON:HFD) and advised a “buy” at the leisure retailer following what it described very solid preliminary results. The firm said its recommendation was based on the resilience of the group’s core trading format and its strong cash flows which underpin an attractive dividend yield in a sector context.
Evolution Securities maintained a “buy” advisory at Intermediate Capital Group (LON:ICP), the investor and credit management group, but claimed that while last week’s full year results confirmed that “a corner has been turned vis-à-vis the financial momentum of the business and the risk profile, a healthy degree of caution remains in respect of the European macro outlook”. Nevertheless, the broker said that “while forecast risk remains on both the up and down sides, the valuation and potential total return remain attractive”. Turning to drugs group Vectura Group (LON:VEC), Evolution also recommended a “buy”, noting that phase III trials of its novel treatment chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) skewed its risk/reward profile to the upside in the near term. In addition, it said that investors should not write-off the possibility of Vectura re-licensing the US rights to its generic version of an asthma/COPD product, which were recently handed back by Sandoz, in turn triggering a major slide in the share price during March.
Finally, Westhouse Securities urged a “buy” at Nautical Petroleum (LON:NPE), whose partner Egdon Resources yesterday announced that its Keddington 3-z well in Lincolnshire had begun producing oil at 265 barrels per day. Egdon holds 75% of the licence and Nautical holds 10%. Westhouse described the result as “excellent” and said that while a 15% rise in Nautical’s share price yesterday looked like an overreaction, it was maintaining a “buy” on valuation grounds.
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