Understanding where The SulNOx Group story fits into the investment world – A guest article by our former Chairman Stephen Bamford, a former Fellow of The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.
In the early part of my investing career, a wise investment manager said to me that “the long term is made up of a lot of short terms”, so when you invest in a company step back and work out if your main story has true long term potential. The day to day ups and downs then become less worrying. This has served me well and I would like to share three statements, made to me as a fund manager, that gave me the belief that these investments had true long-term potential.
- “My aim in this business is to get Yorkshire housewives really good bargains and make the food manufacturers pay for them”. The man who said this ran Associated Dairies a company that delivered milk to the doorstep, but he and his team turned the company into ASDA.
- “Now that you can make industrial equipment using these new electronic components, why would you do it any other way? My aim is to become the best electronic component distributor in the UK”. His company, Electrocomponents, became a darling of the stock market for decades.
- “In the not too distant future, you will be able to carry your telephone in your pocket – The market for this technology might be substantial”. The man who said this to me in 1984, saw his business become the most valuable company in FTSE100 Index in 1999. It was, and still is, called Vodafone.
The point I am making is that a great story does not change because of bear markets or crashes like in 1987, 1999/2000 or 2008. So, what was it that appealed to me about the SulNOx Group at the beginning of our story in 2014, when I joined the company?
The aim of the proprietary technology of SulNOx has always been to improve the efficiency of the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels and in doing so:
- Save fuel i.e. increase miles per gallon.
- Reduce maintenance by cleaning the engine from the inside.
- Reduce all the major toxic emissions, particularly PM2.5, widely recognised as a killer of human beings.
- Helping users understand that buying our products will actually save them money, whilst they become greener.
- Hence the title of this article, “Saving the planet need not cost the earth”.
Now that I had a story that excited me, I used my investment experience to understand what attributes the Stock Market likes, and they are:
- Something special and potentially unique
- A venture that does not require large sums of capital to progress to the next stage
- An understandable story, with a clear strategy
- A clear market lead and barriers to entry
- A sensible valuation of the business
- Dividend paying potential over time
Something special and potentially unique
This is clearly a personal opinion for each individual to make but now that the SulNOx Technology is “patent pending” in the UK and about to be worldwide, indicates that the company possess something special and no one else has it.
A venture that does not require large sums of capital to progress to the next stage
For me this was very important, as I remembered that the cellular telephone industry had to invest £100m to build a network over Britain before the mobile industry could take off.
This is not the case for the SulNOx Group, as it has never intended to make its own products and signed an agreement with a world class chemical business to blend our unique products and hence will never have to raise large sums of capital.
An understandable story, with a clear strategy
You can see above that I have told the story of SulNOx in nine lines, so it is clearly not complicated. From the earliest days we have always intended to work with Distributors and Independent Sales Organisations who have far greater geographical and sector contacts than we could ever have. In simple terms, we are the unique source and these companies will become our retailers.
A clear market lead and barriers to entry
It has taken SulNOx six years to get to the point of filing our world patent and the ongoing requests for testing and trialling are never ending. If anyone thinks that this business is easy to break into, they are welcome to try. In reality the Intellectual Property of SulNOx is undoubtedly important but customers will only start buying in large quantities once they see people around them moving ahead with our product range. Once this happens, it is reasonable to believe that this will feed through to the bottom line.
A sensible valuation of the business
This is absolutely subjective, and all investors will have differing views. The two SulNOx products cover 34% of the hydrocarbon world. It is widely agreed that the world burns some 100m barrels of oil a day, so our marketplace is 34m barrels of oil each and every day. No right-minded person would suggest that we could ever deliver products to everyone in a marketplace of this size – the merest fraction would do! As I said in my 2018 AGM presentation, it is for the market to decide what our shares are worth, and I have every confidence that all will be well.
Dividend paying potential over time
Over my decades of investing, one fact has emerged that is consistent – a growth company that pays a dividend tends to be on a 1% yield or less. A 1p dividend therefore equals a £1 share price and that could be interesting in a year or two at the SulNOx Group. It is anticipated that the Company will have few requirements for fresh capital once sales begin and therefore the potential for a progressive dividend policy not only becomes possible but indeed likely. If it is your belief that orders for this company’s products could be large, then the dividend paying potential might become exciting to you.
Investing is a very personal matter, and you must decide for yourself if this story is for you or not. Over 50 years of investing money, I have had many failures as well as successes and there is no such thing as a riskless investment. Many brokers and Financial Advisers ask me to tell them the story of the SulNOx Group and I am happy to do so. The decision to buy or sell is entirely your own, but one thing is certain – this is a fascinating story, and this company will have an integral part on the “Path to zero emissions by 2050”.
Mr Stephen Bamford has no role in the SulNOx Group, having retired from corporate life and his directorship of SulNOx on June 1st, 2020. He remains a significant shareholder in the Company. The views expressed above are purely his own.