The old stockmarket adage that delayed news is always bad news held true this morning when AIM-listed Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) updated the market on its accounting review and the lack of interim results – which are still not ready. It is all bad news – and very bad news for Neil Woodford who holds about 23% of the equity: the dividend has been scrapped and we had the announcement of what amounts to a strategic review. Of course, strategic reviews are themselves a red flag of more bad news to come. It is grim.
AIM-listed Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) was spun out of Stobart Group (STOB) is, of course, a Woodford Dog – Neil holds about 23% of the stock. When the shares were suspended last month in the wake of an accounting scandal because the interims would be delayed, we were told that the numbers would appear in early September. Well, they haven’t appeared and the next opportunity for release falls on Monday – the sixteenth of the month. According to my maths, that will therefore be the second half of September. Where are the numbers?
Looking through the accounts of AIM-listed Eddie Stobart (ESL) to establish who the possible bidder is, in the wake of the company's suspension from trading on AIM on late accounts and an accounting scandal, something caught my eye. The FY17 accounts note a £475,000 interest-free related party loan to directors of a subsidiary company!
Early this year we showed the Shorted AIM shares at the start of 2019. How's the performance at the end of August? (those in bold remain from 2018)...
We missed this one. we cannot spot every car crash waiting to happen. But we did give an alert of sorts. Week in week out, Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) featured in Steve Moore's table of the most shorted AIM shares. When bears hunt in packs, like this, they are rarely wrong, especially when the biggest cheerleader on the other side are Bulletin Board Morons or, as in this case, Neil Woodford. So what were the red flags? There were three big ones:
It never rains when it pours for Neil Woodford. This morning we were told that his investment into the breaking of the laws of physics has been revalued downwards and at 7.30am we learnt that shares in AIM-listed Eddie Stobart (ESL) have been suspended, the accounts will be late, the dividend is under review (ie going to be chopped) and the CEO has walked (ie been pushed). This is all in relation to an audit review. Apart from that everything is fine…..oh, apart from the profit warning – and dear old Neil's funds holds 22.89% of the company, as at 2 August worth, at last night's close, £62 million. Oh Dear.
From the FCA's spreadsheet of short positions required to be disclosed to it, the following shows the shorted AIM shares with positions from 2017 and thus far in 2018 (by net short position %) - and if this position has increased (red), reduced (green) or remained unchanged (black) since last week...
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