As foreshadowed by Shares recently, today's half-year figures from Stanley Gibbons (SGI:AIM) confirm the stamp-selling star is making great strides with its global growth and web-based strategies. However the shares cheapened 3.5p to 301.5p after a strong run, as internet investment spend has held back interim profits.


Web chart - Stanley Gibbons - Aug 2013


The £86.7 million cap's interim numbers to the end of June reveal sales 17% ahead at £17.2 million, underpinned by strong 28% growth in philatelic trading and retail revenues to £2.9 million.


Taxable profits for the period eased from £2 million to £1.8 million as a reflection of increased investment in online initiatives to drive future growth. Trading profits rose 9% to £2.3 million once one-off costs, accounting adjustments and web development spend are added back.


Encouragingly, total revenues generated online surged by an impressive 16% to £1.2 million.


Stanley Gibbons has the stated ambition to become the leading global collectibles e-commerce trading platform.


The integration of November's $1 million purchase of US-based collectibles trading platform bidStart should help it get there. By bringing bidStart into the fold, the philatelic trader hopes to develop its heritage brand internationally.


The Aim-traded firm is well placed to ride booming international appetite for rare and high value British stamps, coins and other collectibles such as military medals. Amid slowing global growth and sticky inflation, high net worth individuals are increasingly looking to the collectibles asset class as a store of value.


Significantly, more than 60% of sales were generated from outside the UK in the half, up from 47% a year earlier. Prospects in the Far East, where a new office in Singapore is already trading profitably, look attractive given buoyant demand for Chinese rare stamps.


Having assessed the lay of the land in Latin America, Stanley Gibbons says it will not be opening an office in Brazil any time soon, though awareness of the brand in this vast market is said to be growing. The firm also generated its first sales of US rare stamps in the period.


Prospects for the second half appear highly positive. In today's upbeat statement, Stanley Gibbons highlights the securing of another seven-figure, internationally-recognised collection of 'early Great Britain postal history' which will help it sate demand from high net worth collectors in emerging overseas markets.


Furthermore, chief executive Michael Hall insists commemorative products celebrating the birth of the Royal Baby should boost the topline figures in the second half.


Underscoring the board's confidence, investors are treated to a 9% hike in the half-time dividend payout to 3p.


This is underpinned by Stanley Gibbons' £7.7 million cash pile which was boosted by another £1 million during the period.

Issue Date: 08 Aug 2013