Interactive Investor

Best AIM companies of 2022 confirmed

21st October 2022 15:32

by Andrew Hore from interactive investor

Share on

It’s been a tough year for smaller companies, but there are plenty of great businesses worthy of recognition. Here are the 11 winners at this year’s recent AIM Awards.

Fireworks new 600

The AIM Awards winners have been announced at a dinner at Old Billingsgate in London. There was a good spread of winners covering many sectors. The winners were:

Best investor communication

This year: NWF (NWF)

Last year: EMIS (EMIS)

NWF Group (LSE:NWF) has been in the running for the investor communication award in the past, but it has not been on the shortlist since 2016, having previously won this award in 2011.

The fuels, feed and food distribution company has always made sure that it provides investors with comprehensive information about the business. Bumper fuel distribution profit generated record results in the year to May 2022. Group revenues were 30% ahead at £878.6 million, while underlying pre-tax profit jumped from £11.9 million to £20.9 million.

NWF continues to perform strongly with the feed division recovering, helped by higher milk prices, and food distribution trading better than expected. Fuel distribution volumes are lower than in the previous year as people delay refilling their tanks, although margins have improved. Profit is expected to be £12 million this year, but it could be better if trading remains as strong.

Best-performing share

This year: Tintra (TNT)

Last year: Zephyr Energy (ZPHR)

Tintra (LSE:TNT) has had many guises in the 16 years since it was introduced to AIM as Weather Lottery. It was subsequently called Boxhill Technologies and St James House. It became Tintra on 2 August 2021 right at the beginning of the relevant period for this award. There was a 310% increase in the year to the end of July 2022, although much of that rise came in the last day of the period when a scaling up of the financial technology business was announced.

Last year’s winner, oil and gas explorer and producer Zephyr Energy, is 4% ahead of the share price at the end of July 2021. It is unusual for a winner of this award to have a higher share price more than one year later!

Best use of AIM

This year: Marlowe (MRL)

Last year: RWS (RWS)

Safety and compliance services provider Marlowe (LSE:MRL) was on the shortlist for this award in 2020 and it has made strong progress since then. The group has been built up via acquisitions, but it has also generated organic growth. Last year, revenues were £315.9 million and organic growth was 9%. Management has shown that it can grow earnings per share as well as profit, which is not always easy for acquisitive companies.

Revenues are 66% higher in the first four months of the current financial year. Organic growth is in high single digits. Cost savings from some recent acquisitions are going to be better than expected. Run-rate revenues of £500 million are targeted by March 2024.

Best technology

This year: Neometals (NMT)

Last year: Renalytix (RENX)

It is unusual for a mining company to win best technology, but Neometals Ltd (LSE:NMT) has its own lithium-ion battery recycling technology. There is a lithium-ion battery recycling joint venture with SMS Group called Primobius. Neometals also has a 70% stake in Reed Advanced Materials, which has developed the ELi lithium process. This reduces the requirement for reagents and is at semi-pilot testing stage.

Battery metals producer Neometals already had an ASX listing prior to joining AIM in February.

Diversity champion award

This year: Bango (BGO)

Last year: Team 17 (TM17)

Mobile payments platform developer Bango (LSE:BGO) has THRIVE values (transparent, happy, reliable, innovative, victorious, expressive). New workers get a Bango buddy to help them settle in, as well as an allowance to spend on an ergonomic workspace. Neck and shoulder massages are available each week. Personnel can create a club and Bango will contribute 50% of the cost.

Bango won the best technology award in 2012.

Celebration toast with champagne picture.

AIM transaction of the year

This year: Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB1)

Last year: Brickability (BRCK)

Earlier this year, mortgage broker network operator Mortgage Advice Bureau (Holdings) (LSE:MAB1) acquired The Fluent Money Group for £73 million. A placing raised £40 million at 1,050p a share to help finance the deal. This acquisition will be materially earnings enhancing in the first full year.

Fluent is a telephone advice broker for second and first charge mortgages plus bridging finance. The group had 2,160 advisers after the deal was completed. Fluent generated revenues of £38.5 million in the year to March 2022.

Mortgage Advice Bureau has been growing market share over the past decade. Fluent can pass on new leads to the network. Brokers are more likely to join networks because of the increased regulation and difficult trading conditions.

Peel Hunt believes that 2023 pre-tax profit for the enlarged group could jump from £28.9 million to £49.1 million. This should enable dividends to rise by more than 50% to 47.3p a share, which would be covered more than 1.3 times by forecast earnings.

AIM corporate governance

This year: Pebble Group (PEBB)

Last year: YouGov (YOU)

Promotional products supplier Pebble Group Ordinary Shares (LSE:PEBB) publishes an annual ESG (environmental, social, governance) report, and this includes progress dashboards for specific ESG areas. Progress made in the past year includes a gender pay gap analysis and implementing a well-being plan for staff. It has also implemented a code of ethics for suppliers and established an internal product sustainability standard.

AIM growth business of the year

This year: Eagle Eye Solutions (EYE)

Last year: Impax Asset Management (IPX)

Digital coupons and loyalty technology provider Eagle Eye Solutions Group (LSE:EYE) joined AIM in 2014 when it had minimal revenues. Since then, it has built up revenues and moved into profit in the year to June 2021. The client base has expanded outside of the UK into North America and Australasia. The latest client is in Indonesia. North America contributes 56% of group annualised recurring revenues of £23.9 million.

In the year to June 2022, underlying pre-tax profit was £2.5 million, on revenues of £31.7 million, and it is expected to rise to £3.2 million this year. Net cash was £2.7 million at the end of June 2022, and this will continue to increase.

Best newcomer

This year: Facilities by ADF (ADF)

Last year: Calnex Solutions (CLX)

Facilities by ADF (LSE:ADF) was the first AIM new admission of 2022 when it raised £15 million at 50p a share. The company provides vehicles and services to the film and TV industry and cash will help to finance the growth of the vehicle fleet. Clients include Netflix and Disney.

The latest interims showed revenues increasing from £11.5 million to £12.6 million, although there was a reduction in profit because of higher post-flotation costs and shorter duration productions hitting margins. There will be more longer duration productions in the second half and full year pre-tax profit is expected to beat the 2021 figure of £7.7 million. The order book is already filling up for next year.

Entrepreneur of the year

This year: Alan Foy, Smart Metering Systems (SMS)

Last year: Andrew Day, Keywords Studios (KWS)

Smart meters manager and battery storage sites operator Smart Metering Systems (LSE:SMS) was best newcomer in 2011 when Alan Foy was chief executive. He held the role from 2007 before stepping down last March and he is no longer on the board. He previously worked for Scottish Power.

He has built up Smart Metering Systems from a business with revenues of £12.4 million in 2010, when a majority of revenues were from smart meter installation, to £108.5 million in 2021. Index-linked annualised recurring revenues from meter management is currently £93.1 million.

Alan Foy was a major shareholder earlier this year, although he transferred 3.79% of the company to Bank Julius Baer in security for a loan it made him. At the end of January, he still held 900,000 shares.

Company of the year

This year: Next Fifteen Communications (NFC)

Last year: Focusrite (TUNE)

Marketing services provider Next Fifteen Communications Group (LSE:NFC) started out on Ofex (now Aquis Stock Exchange) when it was known as Text 100 before moving to the Main Market and then to AIM in March 2005. Historically, Next Fifteen focused on marketing and analytics services for the technology sector, but it has diversified its client base over the years.

Over the past 10 years, Next Fifteen shares have risen by 672%, although they have fallen by nearly two-fifths so far in 2022. Next Fifteen is still in the middle of a bid for M&C Saatchi (SAA) and this is the main reason behind the recent share price slump.

The current business continues to trade strongly. The latest interims show 31% organic revenue growth and acquisitions added to that growth. In the year to January 2023, Next Fifteen is expected to increase underlying pre-tax profit from £79.3 million to £115 million. The year end has changed and in the year to July 2013, pre-tax profit was £7.7 million. Earnings have increased from 6.65p a share to a forecast of 82.2p a share this year.

Andrew Hore is a freelance contributor and not a direct employee of interactive investor.

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.


We use a combination of fundamental and technical analysis in forming our view as to the valuation and prospects of an investment. Where relevant we have set out those particular matters we think are important in the above article, but further detail can be found here.

Please note that our article on this investment should not be considered to be a regular publication.

Details of all recommendations issued by ii during the previous 12-month period can be found here.

ii adheres to a strict code of conduct.  Contributors may hold shares or have other interests in companies included in these portfolios, which could create a conflict of interests. Contributors intending to write about any financial instruments in which they have an interest are required to disclose such interest to ii and in the article itself. ii will at all times consider whether such interest impairs the objectivity of the recommendation.

In addition, individuals involved in the production of investment articles are subject to a personal account dealing restriction, which prevents them from placing a transaction in the specified instrument(s) for a period before and for five working days after such publication. This is to avoid personal interests conflicting with the interests of the recipients of those investment articles.

Get more news and expert articles direct to your inbox