It's a neat little trick to be able to consistently please investors, and one that Chester-based GB Group (GBG:AIM) is increasingly mastering. Today's trading update, from the identity verification technology specialist, gives us all a steer on how the first-half has panned out, and it reveals a couple of points of interest.
Firstly, this is a company with a long-standing reputation for putting the emphasis on the buy bit of the buy-and-build equation. Since 2011 the company has swept-up eight businesses, the most recent being April's $15.4 million (£9.9 million) deal to take full ownership of Loqate, the San Francisco-based location software and data tech designer.
But it would be a mistake to think GB is simply buying its growth. 18% of the 23% increase in revenues revealed for the six months to 30 September stem from the underlying business, which suggests to us that CEO Richard Law and his team have become pretty shrew business buyers, integrators and value extractors.
A second point worth noting is that GB is rapidly growing beyond its British roots. International expansion is an increasing strategic focus for the firm, and it's appears to be doing a very decent job. Overseas sales rose by 10 percentage points in the period, meaning that international income is an increasingly important part of the company, worth 19% of overall sales, or £6.14 million.
'The strategy is underpinned by the establishment of propositions for identity data intelligence, fraud management and regulatory compliance under the GB banner to both cement the company’s brand in new territories and encourage cross selling initiatives,' explains TechMarketViews analyst Michael Larner today.
The shares are up a relatively modest 5p today, or a fraction more than 2%, to 247.25p, which means the stock has jumped more than 37% since we last looked at the company in April. The shares are up 63% in 2015 and have performed staggeringly well over the past five years (see chart).
But let's not get carried away, much work lies ahead, for then long-run and simply to match current year market expectations. Analysts are expecting revenues of £76 million for the full year to 31 March 2016, implying a 33% jump on last year, and anticipate EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to hit £13.3 million, up from £11.8 million.
'This means that GB would need to deliver revenue growth of around 30% in the second half, helped only slightly by a maiden contribution from Loqate,' says Megabuyte's founder and chief analyst Ian Spence. Another acquisition should not be ruled out before then.
Even so, while hitting these targets may not prove the company, investors are being asked to stump up 33.6-times forecast earnings per share of 7.35p for this year. Even on the basis of that PE falls to a less jaw-dropping 26.7-times for the year to March 2017, it's a pretty full price to pay.