Software developer’s stock has done well since falling off cliff

What a difference a couple of years makes.

Software developer Gentrack found itself deeply out of favour with the market when, shortly after its June 2014 float, the firm downgraded profit forecasts provided in its initial public offering prospectus following delays with major client contracts.

Not a good start.

The stock, issued in the IPO at $2.40 apiece, fell off a cliff and closed as low as $1.75 in September last year.


But shares in the provider of management software used by utilities and airports have rallied since then, gaining 91.4 per cent to close at $3.35 last night.

Craigs Investment Partners initiated institutional coverage of the stock last week with a "buy" rating and 12-month price target of $3.82.

In a note the sharebroker said it had received "consistently positive feedback" on Gentrack from blue chip customers it had interviewed for its research.

"Customers cited [Gentrack's] significantly lower price point and superior customer service as clear differentiators [to big rivals] and superior functionality compared to smaller vendors."

Deregulation bonus

Craigs also said deregulation of Britain's energy sector would drive Gentrack's growth in the medium-term, as the number of utilities servicing that market would increase.

In May the company reported a 23 per cent jump in half-year profit, to $3.8 million, as sales in the UK division increased.

At the time of the interim result the firm said it expected full-year revenue to increase by 20 per cent, up from a forecast for 10 per cent-plus growth provided at last year's annual meeting.

Mark Devcich, head of research at Pie Funds, which holds Gentrack shares, said the software company had been receiving strong interest from Australian investors. A comparable ASX-listed firm, Hansen Technologies, was trading at a higher valuation than Gentrack, despite having slower organic growth, he said.

"They've got a good balance sheet and they are actively looking for acquisitions, which would be a catalyst to re-rate the stock as well."

Gentrack recently completed the installation of its software at Sydney Airport.

Road to listing

Auckland-based ContainerCo's path towards an NZX listing is looking increasingly clear after the company this week announced a new board member and finance manager.

The container depot and repair operator appointed director Paul Ridley-Smith as an independent director, while also hiring George Paterson as general manager for strategy and finance.

While the company stopped short of explicitly flagging listing plans, it made a point of noting that Ridley-Smith is the chairman of Trustpower and a director of retirement village operator Arvida, both of which are NZX-listed firms.

The appointments follow ContainerCo's announcement last month that it had hired Wellington investment bankers Cameron Partners to advise on "strategic growth options".

Other potential listings on the horizon include New Zealand King Salmon and Perpetual Guardian.

Ejection seat

It's an urge many listed company executives are likely to have felt, but managed to resist.

Chris Lee, chief financial officer of HK-based PAX Global, raised a few eyebrows in Asian markets last week when he ejected Macquarie analyst Timothy Tam from a results briefing.

Tam initiated coverage on the point-of-sales systems provider in April with an underweight recommendation, making him the only analyst with a bearish view on the stock, according to Bloomberg.

Lee was quoted by the news agency as saying the analyst was asked to leave because PAX disputes parts of his report, not because of his rating. It seems the CFO scored an own goal, though.

Other analysts were quick to show solidarity with their ejected colleague.

Japanese investment bank Nomura cut its rating on the technology firm following the briefing in a note titled "CFO conduct disrupts shareholder value". PAX shares fell 2.1 per cent on the day of the briefing and traded at HK$6.17 yesterday.