GVC raises numbers but please no more number of the beast share sales says Chris Bailey

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: Time to fecking panic? If you hold sh*te yes! Time to write to Burford's Nomad, AIM Regulation etc. Listen HERE

I have written about GVC Holdings (GVC) a number of times this year, after making it one of my tips of the year back in late December. I have been critical on many occasions this year, predominately because of the ludicrous share sale by the Chair and CEO just days after loving up the full year numbers and prospects. Rather appropriately the share sale was at 666p. The number of the beast, indeed! However, now interim numbers read well on an overall basis...

Muddy Waters new dossier: ex CIA spooks called in to show Burford is, allegedly, misleading investors. Read HERE

First there is an earnings upgrade (admittedly at the ebitda 'comedy earnings' line - 'the Board now expects the Group to deliver full year 2019 ebitda within a £650-£670m range') as online growth (up 17%) continued to really contribute and even offset extra costs around new UK regulation/market change (unsurprisingly the number of physical retail shops under the Ladbrokes and Coral names fell by another 100 odd to just over 3,400 with many more to follow) and an ongoing German market push where full regulation is slowly being put into place. Yes, there are issues elsewhere which keep overall revenue growth to 5% and underlying operating profit actually technically slightly down (thanks IFRS 16 requirements). And yes, there remain lots of moving parts, including of course the big US push as liberalisation in this market continues. Therefore good to read that 'New Jersey full online launch on-track for the start of the 2019 NFL season in September'. Go American Football!

Read HERE: Corero Network Security – as suggested with 2018 disappointment having followed 2017 disappointment etc…

Elsewhere, the interim dividend was increased by 10% to 17.6p per share, which itself is equivalent to a 3% yield. Whilst I like a dividend, I would really like to see even lower debt as whilst 'Net Debt / EBITDA (pre IFRS 16) leverage full year guidance improved to 2.9x', this still seems rather high. Free cash flow generation did improve further though and free cash flow yields are currently running at a high single digit level. That's good news for dividend progression and lower debt levels over time.

Burford – Muddy Waters was wrong about joke corporate governance……so we’re changing it, and MW’s response. Read from Nigel Somerville, the Deputy Sheriff of AIM, HERE

So lots happening including an ongoing search for a new Chair, reflecting best practice regarding longevity of tenure. This is fine...but what the CEO/Chair have to ensure is that their optimistic words and corporate progress does not get blighted by further silly share sales. Time to eat your own cooking aggressively guys...especially with the share still well below the levels they last sold at. Certainly regulation and related gambling impacts on individuals remains controversial and will preclude some from investing but I still like this one and remain long / a buyer. You could even say I am happy to make a bet on it!

FREE Podcast: ShareProphets Radio Edition FIVE with Tom Winnifrith and a saint and a sinner. Listen HERE

Filed under: GVC Holdings, GVC, Bearcast, Muddy Waters, Burford, Corero, ShareProphets Radio

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