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UK TRADING UPDATE SUMMARY: Dividends Continue To Suffer From Covid-19

Thu, 26th Mar 2020 12:47

(Alliance News) - The following is a round-up of updates by UK companies on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, issued on Thursday and not separately reported by Alliance News:

Hostelworld Group PLC - hostel operator - Cancels 2.1 euro cent final dividend for 2019, but says net cash "strong". Bookings deteriorate more than guided earlier in March, now sees first-quarter 2020 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation hit of EUR5 million. Reducing marketing spend, enacting other measures to save cash.

Quiz PLC - fashion retailer - Revenue and margins to be "materially" below expectations for year ending March 31 as traffic in stores and online visits slump. Physical stores and concessions now closed. Unable to give guidance for financial 2021, currently looking to renew facilities expiring in April. Eliminating all non-essential spend.

Topps Tiles PLC - tile retailer - Does not plan to pay interim dividend for current financial year ending September and withdraws guidance. In "good" financial position, believes it can weather 12-week closure of retail stores followed by weak quarter after reopening. It is "clear" Covid-19 will materially reduce revenue and profit. Retail like-for-like sales in 12 weeks to March 21 down 3.1% yearly.

Ince Group PLC - legal services - Cancels interim dividend previously declared. Covid-19 having "significant" effect on UK operations, as well as international. All discretionary spending limited, not possible to forecast trading performance during pandemic. Not confident on meeting market expectations for year ending March 2020 or financial 2021.

Knights Group Holdings PLC - legal services - Revenue and cash flow impact from Covid-19 limited to-date, but stopping all non-essential spending, reducing board salaries by 30% and employee salaries over GBP30,000 by 10%. Difficult to predict long-term impact, cannot provide guidance. Performance in year ending April 30 in line with market expectations, balance sheet "strong", lenders supportive.

Aukett Swanke Group PLC - architect - Says concept & pre-planning and technical services largely unaffected by Covid-19 disruption, but on-site work more difficult. Cost impact so far "minimal", liquidity "good", so far business is functioning well.

GYG PLC - superyacht services - Balance sheet "strong" after positive performance in 2019 and early 2020, can withstand market uncertainty. Most shipyard operations still going, though some suspended, but work contracts postponed not cancelled. No contract cancellations so far, "strong" start to first quarter of 2020, too early to predict Covid-19 impact.

Mpac Group PLC - automated packaging - Withdraws final dividend for 2019 to conserve cash. Has "strong" balance sheet, debt-free, well-positioned to navigate disruption, but unable to predict impact. Expects order intake to fall in 2020 as customers defer investment decisions and delay ongoing projects.

Brickability Group PLC - concrete blocks and bricks - Trading in line with expectations for second half ending March, earnings for full-year to meet expectations. Manufacturing sites now closed after UK government advice. "Well-positioned" for uncertainty, strong balance sheet, but will still cease all discretionary spending. Unable to give guidance for soon-to-begin financial year.

Northbridge Industrial Services PLC - industrial equipment - Financially "resilient", balance sheet strong, believes can recover from temporary downturn. Uncertain on impact from Covid-19 in 2020. Lower oil price beginning to impact work in Australasia and Asia, overall demand likely to be lower, hitting revenue.

Hargreaves Services PLC - industrial services - Defers 2.7p interim dividend already declared until things become more clear. Since late January, trading largely unaffected by Covid-19, but not possible to forecast what future impact might be. Reducing non-essential spending, in talks with existing and potential new lenders.

Van Elle Holdings PLC - ground engineering - Cancels 0.2p interim dividend already declared. Spread of Covid-19 having a "significant" impact on trading, expects further disruption. Has positive cash, but talking with lenders over financing options. Difficult to predict future impacts, taking action to preserve cash.

ADES International Holding PLC - oil & gas drilling - Not seeing significant impact on operations from Covid-19, trading meeting expectations.

STV Group PLC - broadcasting and media - Withdraws planned 14.7p per share final dividend for 2019. Has "good" access to liquidity, focused on reducing costs, no dividend and lower spending to save GBP10 million. Says TV and online viewing "strong" during first-quarter 2020.

Vianet Group PLC - data management, real-time usage monitoring for pubs - Withdraws final dividend, will save firm GBP1.2 million. Has "good liquidity" but taking action to reduce costs. Mandatory closure of pubs, bars, restaurants to hurt Smart Zone customers; allows reduced contract rates. Trading in financial year to March, and full-year profit, to meet market expectations, rise year-on-year.

BigDish PLC - yield management platform for restaurants - Puts in place immediate cash preservation measures, engages advisory firm to source funding without need for share placing. Optimistic restaurant industry will recover once allowed to reopen. Manchester team furloughed. Has enough funding until end of 2020.

London Security PLC - fire safety - Most offices, engineers not working. Reducing costs, but expects Covid-19 outbreak to hurt trading.

Non-Standard Finance PLC - consumer lending - Will not be paying final dividend for 2019. Withdraws all guidance and medium-term targets, "significantly" reducing lending volumes. Offering credit to "key workers". Says trading environment "unprecedented", unable to say how much trading will be hurt.

Ocean Wilsons Holdings Ltd - maritime services - Main operating subsidiary Wilson Sons withdraws USD0.54 per share dividend, recommends new USD0.21 per share payout. Wilson Sons financially "solid", unable to give guidance on how Covid-19 will hit trading. Ocean Wilsons reduces own dividend to USD0.30 from USD0.70 per share withdraws own guidance.

Princess Private Equity Holding Ltd - private equity - Too early to quantify impact on investments. Net asset value falls 1.0% over February, March to fall further. Confident liquidity is sufficient to meet debt requirements.

Merian Chrysalis Investment Co Ltd - investment trust - Believes Covid-19 impact likely to be "modest" on most portfolio companies, but says it is impossible to predict. Merian has "strong" balance sheet, no leverage.

Better Capital PCC Ltd - investment trust - Covid-19 has "inevitably" had serious effect on companies in BECAP12 Fund, likewise on BECAP Fund. Difficult to quantify damage so far. Better Capital says "improbable" investees can be exited "sensibly" during lifetime of funds, firm to de-list in coming weeks.

Impact Healthcare REIT PLC - healthcare real estate - Balance sheet "resilient", low gearing, room on covenants and undrawn facilities. Performance during 2019 "strong", pretax profit up 59%. Tenants have "strong" rent cover, some tenants in talks with NHS to provide beds.

JLEN Environmental Assets Group Ltd - environmental infrastructure investor - Expects drop in power prices in short-term due to lower demand, but long-term price outlook better. JLEN financially "strong", reaffirms dividend plans. Portfolio performing well so far in 2020, especially wind.

Anglo Asian Mining PLC - gold, copper, and silver miner - Operations at Gedabek and Gosha mines ongoing despite restrictions in Azerbaijan. Mining and maintenance continues, able to secure necessary supplies outside of country. Unable to ship gold dore to refiners, however, due to flight restrictions. Financially "strong", maintains 2020 production guidance.

Caledonia Mining Corp - gold miner - Lockdown in South Africa having knock-on effect in Zimbabwe, mainly in the supply of equipment. Confident Blanket mine can continue producing gold, believes enough equipment in place to operate well past April 16 lockdown finish date. Cash position solid, boosted by higher gold price recently.

Gem Diamonds Ltd - diamond miner - Puts Letseng mine in Lesotho on care & maintenance for three weeks due to government-enforced lockdown.

Resolute Mining Ltd - gold miner - Gold production not yet affected by government action in Mali and Senegal. No change to current output or cost guidance.

Hummingbird Resources PLC - gold miner - Business continuing as normal, no impact on production at Mali's Yanfolila gold mine.

Metals Exploration PLC - gold miner - Continues to be able to sell gold dore from Runruno mine in the Philippines. However, future ability to ship gold dore abroad not guaranteed. Has seen some interruptions to supply chain, not material yet.

RockRose Energy PLC - oil & gas - Still expects to pay final dividend of 25p per share for 2019. Cash position "strong", has hedging in place to mitigate oil price fall. Reviewing spending, at least USD50 million of planned 2020 spending will be postponed. No material impact yet on operations.

Inspired Energy PLC - energy consultant - Decides to defer 2019 final dividend, despite having "robust" balance sheet, strong corporate order book standing at GBP58.5 million as of February 28. Not able to give any financial guidance for 2020 due to uncertainty over how Covid-19 will play out.

MetalNRG PLC - natural resources investor - On-site work stops at Gold Ridge project in Arizona. Proposes alternative terms to seller of Romanian oil project amid oil price fall, due diligence completed. Pursuing "attractive" prospects given current market turmoil, confident on weathering "storm".

Sunrise Resources PLC - pozzolan and perlite miner - Making steady progress at CS project, Nevada, where state government has implemented measures similar to UK.

By George Collard; georgecollard@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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