after coronavirus blew the froth off the stock, this smart meter firm is worth buying

This year’s delays aren’t all bad news. Analysts at Goldman Sachs, which was involved in the firm’s flotation, forecast 850,000 installations this year, down from 1.2 million, as Calisen resumes work.

That means traditional meters will be decommissioned more slowly but the company is still expected to have a portfolio of around 12 million smart meters by 2025, which will be almost a quarter of the market.

Company followers at Credit Suisse, which was also involved in the listing, calculate that the assets will earn a 7.9pc post-tax rate of return, which is more than regulated water and wind assets currently make.

Installation has been such a hassle that it is fair to assume this new kit will remain hard at work in the understairs cupboard far longer than its projected 15-year lifespan.

So far, Calisen looks a smart, defensive investment and there will even be a small maiden dividend this year. What does raise some concern at a time of great uncertainty is net debt of £1.4bn.

Even by the group’s preferred measure of “adjusted net debt”, the figure of £804m equated to more than four times earnings at the year end. The debt multiple should drop back this year but peak again in 2023.

Between them, KKR and Calisen’s management still own three quarters of the shares. The private equity group is subject to a lock-up that prevents further selling until August – although these commitments are often not worth the paper they are written on. Bert Pijls, the chief executive, has made a longer-term pledge.

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