Before I discuss my investment performance this year I think it is worth talking about benchmarks. I appreciate this isn’t the most interesting topic in the world, but it was something I needed to review and, especially since there were a couple of surprises along the way, I thought it was worth writing up.
This morning Wey Education issued their long-awaited annual results. For the benefit of those not entirely familiar with the company, I think it is worth quoting their own description of their principal operations:
Full-year results time is rapidly approaching at Wey Education, the highly successful B2B and B2C education company delivering live online lessons to 8-21 year olds. Their 2018 and 2019 results were issued on 29th October and 11th November respectively, both Mondays, leaving 9th November probably the most likely date.
The critical figures were already detailed in the latest Trading Statement which was delivered promptly as the vast majority of their teaching finished for the year back in July.
The owner of InterHigh (online school for 8-18 year olds) and Academy21 (online education for state schools) today issued a trading update in which they report revenue for the year ending 31st August will be in excess of £8m, versus guidance at the H1 results of £7.9m. They also report that profitability will be ahead of expectations.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday Wayne, Mark Simpson (@DangerCapital) and I run a live interactive show along the lines of FT Alphaville’s “Markets Live” (before it was replaced with “Markets Now”). On Wednesdays and Fridays Mark Simpson (@DangerCapital) and I lead “Small Caps Live”, but on Mondays Wayne leads the charge with “Large Caps Live”.
Today’s Large Caps Live was a bit special as Wayne surprised us by having spent the night digging out several details concerning Boohoo (definitely a large cap with a recent valuation of £5bn) that had not been reported before. To quote:
While “Lockdown in Leicester” only superficially sounds like an intimate Kasabian gig, the reality may be just as sweaty.
As reported in Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, Tazeen Ahmad first looked at working conditions in some of Leicester’s clothing factories in 2010. In January 2017 she returned and found that while boohoo had revolutionised marketing and distribution, little had changed in manufacturing.
With the arrival of covid-19 and its particularly deadly effect on British Asians, concerns over worker exploitation and health and safety have heightened in recent months. These now may be coming to a head with the lockdown in Leicester now being directly linked by Vivek Chaudhary to the rag trade and conditions that appear to be the very definition of a sweat shop.
I last held Boohoo back in January 2019 and my notes cite a lack of trust in management as well as factory conditions as reasons for selling. I first noted concerns over the Pretty Little Thing acquisition in June 2018, but I was disappointed with the ShadowFall research published in May 2020 that contained little new and was easily countered. I can only theorise that Matthew Earl hoped its publication would shake out other issues – this may still come to pass.
Aside: Sadly Tazeen Ahmad is no longer with us. Society needs more proper investigative journalists like her, as well as Vivek Chaudhary and Matthew Earl. Pasting bits of other people’s work together, adding a couple of jokes and posting it on your blog is no substitute.