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4 smaller company shares the pros are buying and selling

A round-up of trades by professional investors in Max Property, Amiad Water Systems, Acal and new flotation Kalibrate.

TR Property tops up Max Property (MAXP.L)

Marcus Phayre-Mudge, manager of the £850 million TR Property Investment Trust, has added to his stake in the company that owns St Katharine Docks and the High Holborn Estate.

The assets form part of Max Property Group’s portfolio, and Phayre-Mudge has bought another 165,000 shares in the firm. The purchase, worth almost £250,000, means he now holds 4% of Max.

Max is run by property tycoon Nick Leslau, who has also acquired and leased attractions including Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle back to Merlin Entertainments, and who appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire in 2008. Max was formed that year too, and over the past year its share price has soared by 36%.

Max expects to be boosted further early next year following the refurbishment of the Commodity Quay area of St Katharine Docks, with a 6,000 square foot restaurant already pre-let to Tom’s Kitchen.

Phayre-Mudge’s TR Property fund has enjoyed an equally good year, having returned 35% during a period when the FTSE All Share index has risen by just 13%.

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Aberforth takes some profits in Acal (ACL.L)

Aberforth’s respected small company team has trimmed its holding in Acal, a supplier of specialist electronics..

Aberforth sold 1.15 million shares in Acal, worth around £4 million, but still retains a 10.5% stake in the business.

Acal has been busily acquiring other firms this year, including a manufacturer of magnetic products, an electrical cord provider, and a designer of power systems. All have been bought without tipping the group too far into debt, so the spree has been welcomed by the market. Acal’s share price has more than doubled over the past year, surging from around £1.60 to over £3.50.

The Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust, which manages assets worth £1.1 billion, has returned 53% over the past year while the FTSE All Share index has risen by 14%. Analysts at Numis Securities recently highlighted the fund as ‘an attractive way to benefit from a pick-up in the UK domestic economy’, although Aberforth’s focus on buying companies that are undervalued by the market has been out of favour of late.

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Hargreave buys new float Kalibrate (KLBT.L)

Citywire AA-rated veteran stockpicker Giles Hargreave has taken a substantial chunk in the intitial public offer of shares in oil price software provider Kalibrate as it launches on London’s AIM market.

Hargreave took 2.32 million shares in the company or 7% worth £1.83 million at the offer price of 79p, rising to 86p once they entered the market, or a total value just above £2 million.

The shares are held on behalf of private clients at his broker and investment business Hargreave Hale, and in portfolios it manages on behalf of Marlborough Fund Managers.

‘Investor response has been strong and I am delighted with the success of our placing,’ said Kalibrate chief executive Bob Stein. The listing values the company at just above £35 million.

Kalibrate provides software allowing companies in the cut-throat retail petrol station market to check their rivals prices. The company currently has more than 200 clients in 68 countries, generating revenues of £15.47 million so far this year.

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Sheldon scoops up Amiad Water Systems (AFS.L)

Matthew Sheldon, a fund manager at Kleinwort Benson who specialises in environmental investments, has slurped up a large pool of stock in Amiad Water Systems.

Sheldon bought 1.8 million shares in the business, worth almost £5 million, meaning he now owns 7.8% of the firm.

Amiad produces water treatment and filtration solutions, although its progress recently has been far from fluid. The company issued a profit warning in October, having guided the market to expect growth only a month earlier. Amiad now forecasts that revenues this financial year will be more than 10% lower than in the previous period, while its profits could halve. Amiad blamed the weakness on delays to some of its projects.

Upon the profit warning, Amiad’s share price sank – dropping by 12% in a day. Sheldon, however, viewed that as an attractive entry point for a long-term growth story. ‘It was a unique opportunity to get a stake,’ he commented. Sheldon’s KBI Water fund ranks in the top 1% of its 1,800-strong Global Equities sector over the past three years, having returned 57% compared with 35% from the MSCI World index.

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Giles Hargreave
Giles Hargreave
14/43 in Equity - UK Smaller Companies (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 55.38%
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