No one knows a company quite as well as its directors, which is why it is worth keeping an eye on director buying and selling.
We have combed through UK directors' deals and published the purchases and sales that caught our eyes. Our table is compiled using company announcements, and is not exhaustive. The table is ordered by aggregate value.
Short sellers hit The Hut
Shareholder ardour for the most hotly-anticipated IPO of last year has somewhat cooled. Manchester-based e-commerce retailer The Hut Group was the biggest stock market listing on the London market for five years, with the company raising £920 million in new money in an IPO that valued the business at £5.4bn, or £5 a share. Its shares soared to almost £8 in January but have come crashing down below its issue price in recent weeks.
The group founded by chairman and chief executive Matt Moulding gained Softbank’s seal of approval in May, with the Japanese investment giant putting $730m in the company as part of a $1 billion fundraise. It also secured an option to take a 19.9 per cent stake in the company’s THG Ingenuity platform that handles e-commerce operations for other brands, at a price of $1.6bn.
However, investors disliked a plan to spin off its beauty arm, which was announced last month as the company reported an £81.3m interim loss before tax, despite a 45 per cent revenue hike to £959m. It has also attracted the attention of short sellers, with Zurich-based PSquared Asset Management holding a net short position equating to about 1.01 per cent of THG’s shares, according to Financial Conduct Authority data. It began shorting the shares in late August.
Purchases by non-executives Iain McDonald and Zillah Byng-Thorne provided brief respite for its shares, which closed the week ending 8 October at £4.53. But selling pressure resumed after Moulding hit out at short sellers at a Capital Markets Day event on Tuesday, after which its share price plunged by 35 per cent, closing at £2.85.
The focus of the event was to explain its THG Ingenuity business to investors and set out its 2030 sustainability strategy.
On Wednesday, THG issued a statement saying it knew of "no notifiable reason" for the share price tumble and that it had not declared any material new information at the event. "The group also has a very strong liquidity position as it enters its peak trading season, with available cash as at 30 September of £700m", it said. MF.
Currys boss eyes high street bargain
The mixed bag of brands that operated under the Dixons Carphone umbrella will disappear this month, with the Carphone Warehouse, Currys PC World and Team Knowhow brands being phased out as it operates under a unified Currys brand.
This is one way of drawing a line under the hapless merger between Dixons and Carphone Warehouse, which was agreed in 2014 at a valuation of £3.8 billion. At the time, the combined business had a network across the UK and Ireland of almost 1,400 stores.
After various restructurings and reorganisations that saw the standalone Carphone Warehouse retail arm and the Dixons Travel airports businesses being culled, that number now stands at just over 300. The group’s valuation has similarly shrunk and the business is now worth £1.4bn.
The company has clearly underperformed. Revenues of £10.3bn in the year to April 30 were lower than they were four years ago and it only just managed to eke out a £12m small profit after a couple of years of heavy losses. This covered a lockdown period where purchases of laptops, tablets and other electronic equipment was so strong that it has triggered a worldwide chip shortage.
Liberum Capital argued in a note on Monday that the sell-off in the company’s shares has been overdone, though, and it is now “far too cheap”. Currys’ Nordics business alone generated underlying earnings of £151m last year. At a10-times price-to-earnings multiple this would value it at more than £1.5bn, meaning investors are getting a UK and Irish business with a £5bn turnover making a 4 per cent margin “for free”, it argued.
Chief executive Alex Baldock clearly agrees, having purchased more than £100,000 worth of shares on October 4.
However, given its recent record, both investors and customers may need longer to be convinced that the changes taking place at the business are more than cosmetic. MF.
|Company||Director/PDMR||Date||Price (p)||Aggregate value (£)|
|Alphawave||Victoria Hull||01 Oct 21||255||199,999|
|Currys||Alex Baldock||04 Oct 21||122||100,012|
|Digital 9 Infrastructure||Jack Waters (ch)||01 Oct 21||108||21,500|
|Ferguson||Catherine Halligan||30 Sep 21||139 †||20,498|
|Hiscox||Bronek Masojada (ce)||01 Oct 21||837||125,550|
|Moonpig||Kate Swann (ch)||06 Oct 21||287||199,086|
|NB Private Equity||John Falla||07 Oct 21||1,558||31,162|
|Real Estate Credit Investments||Bob Cowdell (ch)||04 Oct 21||155||24,800|
|Oberon Investments||Robert Hanson (ch)||06 Oct 21||7||102,180|
|RELX||Andrew Sukawaty||05 Oct 21||2,170 (ADRs) †||217,000|
|Severfield||Kevin Whiteman (ch)||05 Oct 21||76||50,002|
|Smiths Group||John Shipsey (PDMR)*||04 Oct 21||1,442||99,495|
|Smiths Group||Noel Tata||04 Oct 21||1,435||28,700|
|Tate & Lyle||Gerry Murphy (ch)||04 Oct 21||683||68,380|
|Tate & Lyle||Warren Tucker||04 Oct 21||683||49,736|
|Tate & Lyle||Kimberley Nelson||04 Oct 21||2,770 (ADRs) †||30,465|
|Taylor Wimpey||Jitesh Ghadia||06 Oct 21||149||104,296|
|TheWorks.co.uk||Carolyn Bradley (ch)||06 Oct 21||47||49,651|
|THG||Zillah Byng-Thorne||06 Oct 21||408||49,670|
|THG||Iain McDonald||05 Oct 21||423||105,748|
|Tiziana Life Sciences||Gabriele Cerrone (ch)||1 Oct-5 Oct 21||50||79,350|
|TP ICAP||Nicolas Breteau||06 Oct 21||149||31,248|
|Company||Director/PDMR||Date||Price (p)||Aggregate value (£)|
|Brooks McDonald||Robin Eggar (PDMR)||30 Sep 21||2,450||95,795|
|City of London Investment||Barry Olliff||06 Oct 21||550||166,304|
|Creightons||Paul Forster||04 Oct 21||110||32,995|
|EKF Diagnostics Holdings||Christopher Mills (ch)||01 Oct 21||84||1,071,000|
|Keystone Law||Robin Williams (ch)||05 Oct 21||820||24,600|
|Keystone Law||William Robins (PDMR)||04 Oct 21||820||315,700|
|Quartix Technologies||Laura Seffino (PDMR)||05 Oct 21||473||97,533|
|S&U||Christopher Redford*||05 Oct 21||2,880||57,600|
|*Spouse/Family/Close Associate. † Converted from US$. NB: In issue 8 Oct, the sell listed for P Roy of S4 Capital was both a buy/sell. His holding was unchanged.|