Market Prognosis

A concise summary of the major macro events of the past 24 hours, and selected UK company-specific news.

January 30, 2024

Peak pet pampering, Lebanese food & data for big pharma

Macro & Overnight

China’s equity markets remain volatile as the impact of the liquidation of China Evergrande is digested amidst demands for more stimulus measures from the Chinese authorities.

The US is poised to get quarterly results from most of the Mag Seven this week.

UK Company News

Argentex warned that its significant investment in people, technology and overseas expansion failed to deal with market conditions that have remained challenging and several costs that had not been anticipated previously prompted the appointment of a new CFO.  

Argentex continues to struggle to become a technology-led FX and payments provider. 

Comptoir, the Lebanese restaurant chain, issued an update with revenue performance of approximately £31.5m (2022: £31.0m). It ended the year with 21 managed restaurants and six franchise restaurants. net cash at 31 December 2023 of £5.4m (H2 2022: £5.7m). 

I love the food, healthy and fast and probably the UK’s equivalent to the US obsession with Mexican fast food. Comptoir is tiny but has proven resilient. With a relatively new management team and the ability to open tier-1 locations, it has the balance sheet to do so. 

Diaceutics, the data provider to big pharma, grew revenues by 22% in 2023 and order book growth of 57%. Over 50% of revenues are now recurring (35% previously). It is now the primary commercialisation partner for pharma and biotech companies launching precision medicines. It continues to grow as global pharma accelerates the shift to precision medicine to improve patient access, capture lost revenue and increase profitability.

Diaceutics is a must-have B2B data provider for Big Pharma, moving to a SaaS-type model. Furthermore, its customers have high-margin products, which require a very high level of bespoke targeting to reach the right customer. 

Microlise updated organic revenue growth of 12% and cash conversion above 90%. It expects its results to be ahead of current market expectations and expects to deliver strong revenue growth in FY24, driven by further organic growth and recent M&A.

Microlise points to a positive growth inflexion in its support of the global transport logistics industry. 

Pets At Home said that it saw resilient peak demand but below our expectations. It assumes no sequential improvement in its retail business in run rate through Q4 against strong comparatives. Its expectations of our Vet Group performance are unchanged.

Even pets are having to trade down. More peak pet pampering than peak pet ownership. 

Speedy Hire warned that new contract revenues will have only a marginal benefit in FY24, with the full effect coming in FY25. National customers are now up 3% year-on-year at the end of the third quarter, compared to +5% at the end of H1. Meanwhile, revenues from Regional customers have continued to track 6% down year on year, unchanged from the position reported at H1. The warmer winter period has also impacted revenue from seasonal products. 

More evidence of tougher times in small-scale RMI projects as consumers prioritise other areas of spend above home improvement and upgrades. 

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