De La Rue now 'stabilised', banknotes show signs of recovery

Vacher: PLC now has a stable platform for future trading
Vacher: PLC now has a stable platform for future trading

Shares in De La Rue rose by more than 10% after the group announced year-end results that it hopes will draw a line under recent jitters about the future of the group.

However, its share price had fallen to a new 52-week low of 29.10p earlier this week when a large number of shares were traded, which puts the rebound into perspective.

At the time of writing the share price was 40.42p (52-week high: 111.00p). The group's market capitalisation is around £78.47m.

The year-end results, which were delayed, are in line with De La Rue’s latest forecasts and follow a string of profit warnings. Sales for the year to 25 March were down 6.8% at £349.7m.

Currency sales were down 9.4% at £254.6m, Authentication nudged up 1.6% at £91.7m, while the rump of the legacy Identity Solutions wing was down 12.8% at £3.4m.

Whopping exceptional charges of £47.1m propelled the business to an operating loss of £29.6m on continuing operations, compared with the prior year’s £24.2m operating profit.

The exceptionals were made up of £17m to terminate its supply agreement with Portals Paper, £12.6m in redundancies and impairments for the winding down of banknote printing activity in Kenya; £8.5m in other site relocation and redundancy costs, and an £8.5m non-cash charge relating to securities held in Portals.

£17.4m of the exceptionals have been paid, £9.4m is due in the current financial year, while £20.3m is non-cash impairments.

De La Rue said that it remained the number one commercial printer of banknotes worldwide.

Crucially, the group has successfully renegotiated its banking facilities including a “substantial relaxation” of the covenant ratios. This means it no longer has a material uncertainty note on its accounts regarding its ability to meet its covenants.

The PLC has also gained additional financial headroom after its Pension Trustee agreed yesterday (28 June) that it could defer £18.75m of pension scheme deficit repair contributions that had been due to be paid between April 2023 and July 2024.

The new schedule has been pushed back considerably, “to the FY26-FY29 timeframe”. The scheme will be provided with an equal amount of security regarding the outstanding amount.

CEO Clive Vacher said recent actions had stabilised the company.

“Following a significant downturn in Currency demand over the past 18 months, there are encouraging signs of recovery. In addition, our Authentication division is on track for significant revenue growth in FY24,” he said.

Fresh chairman Clive Whiley, who joined last month, said he had immersed himself in the business over the past six weeks and had gained “a clear understanding of the principal challenges facing the company”.

“My background gives me unique experience in managing companies through existential crises and it is my conviction that the fundamentals of De La Rue's business remain sound,” he stated.

“We are approaching the challenges facing the company with vigour and I am confident that today's announcement, which highlights support from our core lenders, pension trustees and other stakeholders will enable a focus upon the significant market opportunities from a stable platform.” 

The group’s IFRS pre-tax loss on continuing operations was £29.6m.

De La Rue has appointed Charles Andrews as interim replacement for CFO Rob Harding, who is leaving to join PayPoint and whose six-month notice period expires next month.