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4 shares the pros are buying and selling

Our regular roundup of trades by professional investors, featuring St Modwen Properties, CVS Group, Alpha FX Group and Mears Group

by David Campbell, Selin Bucak on Sep 11, 2017 at 05:01

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Key stats
Market capitalisation£812m
No. of shares out222m
No. of shares floating182m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees345
Trading volume (10 day avg.)m
Profit before tax£53m
Earnings per share22.05p
Cashflow per share22.42p
Cash per share1.89p

St Modwen Properties

Citywire AA-rated fund manager Mike Fox has increased his stake in urban housing and regeneration business St Modwen Properties (SMP).

The ethical equity specialist has upped his holding in the business to 13.6 million shares or 6.1% worth £50 million at a share price of 368.5p, up 21.26% year to date.

The shares are mainly held in Royal London Sustainable Leaders fund, with some held by Citywire AA-rated Henry Lowson’s Royal London UK Smaller Companies fund.

St Modwen Properties’ shares are up 26.26% over one year and five brokers who are covering the company rate it a ‘strong buy’. Its price target was increased by Liberum Capital from 360p to 400p, while Numis Securities reiterated its buy rating and set a target of 432p.

The company recently completed the £470 million sale of its interest in the Nine Elms Square in London. It has said that it will use £70 million of the proceeds to fund its share of the construction. It will use the remained to reduce debt and fund further developments.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£865m
No. of shares out64m
No. of shares floating62m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees4130
Trading volume (10 day avg.)m
Profit before tax£7m
Earnings per share11.45p
Cashflow per share42.36p
Cash per share11.17p

CVS Group

Citywire A-rated small cap stockpicker Jonathan Brown has slashed his exposure to national veterinary business CVS Group (CVSG) as its shares climb to approach the record high hit earlier this year.

Brown cut his investment in the business from 9.6% of shares to 4.9% or 3.1 million worth £42 million at a share price of £13.35, up from a recent low of £12 in July to below May’s peak of £14.31.

The shares are primarily held in his £646 million Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Companies fund, one of the largest holders of the firm, with a smaller stake held in Ciaran Mallon’s Income & growth fund.

CVS, which has rapidly consolidated vet groups in recent years in addition to launching a range of own-brand products, is the largest sector employer in the UK, with 822 vets among 3,400 staff.

At the beginning of August Berenberg reiterated its buy rating and upped its price target to £14.25.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£174m
No. of shares out33m
No. of shares floating15m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employeesnot stated
Trading volume (10 day avg.)m
Profit before tax£3m
Earnings per share13.38p
Cashflow per share15.96p
Cash per share24.31p

Alpha FX Group

Citywire AAA-rated small-cap veteran Dan Nickols has continued to add to his holding in corporate foreign currency dealer Alpha FX Group (AFX), as its shares again begin to climb higher

Nickols upped his stake in the business from 8.2% of shares to 9.2% or just over three million worth £16.5 million at a share price of 555p, up 126% on the 250p it entered trading in April this year.

The shares are held in his £1.1 billion Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies fund, the largest external holder of the stock.

After trading sideways for much of August, shares in Alpha FX climbed to a fresh high above 535p last week as sterling approached parity with the euro last week, at an eight-year low exchange rate.

Broker Liberum rates the business a ‘strong’ buy, although the rapid appreciation has massively outstripped its May target price of 390p.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£449m
No. of shares out103m
No. of shares floating91m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees15719
Trading volume (10 day avg.)m
Profit before tax£22m
Earnings per share20.92p
Cashflow per share42.55p
Cash per share52.40p

Mears Group

Citywire AA-rated small cap stock selector Mark Niznik has upped his stake in social housing repair business Mears Group (MERG), as its shares slide to a 12-month low on a post-Grenfell profit warning.

Niznik increased his holding in the business from 4.9% to just above 5% or 5.2 million worth £22.7 million at a share price of 435p, down from a recent high of 530p six months ago.

The stake is a top-five position in his £431 million Artemis UK Smaller Companies fund, which he has managed since joining the business a decade ago.

Broker Liberum cut its target price on the business from 540p to 500p last month after it warned that local authority clients were pausing new contracts following June’s Grenfell Tower fire, sending shares in the business more than 13% lower since early August.

Chief executive David Miles said that the hit was ‘frustrating’ but was also ‘entirely understandable in the circumstances and the group will be working closely with its partners and clients’.

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  • St. Modwen Properties PLC (SMP.L)
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  • CVS Group PLC (CVSG.L)
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  • Alpha FX Group PLC (AFX.L)
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  • Mears Group PLC (MERG.L)
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