Looking at the chart of WYG (LSE: WYG) its hard to justify an investment case for the company. Over the past year shares in the consultancy group have declined by around 30% and over the previous two years, the shares have fallen 7%. However, while WYGs chart looks ugly, the companys underlying fundamentals tell a different story altogether.
Fundamentals are key
Today WYG reported full-year results to March 31 showing growth across the board. Revenues rose 14% year-on-year to 152m while pre-tax profit grew 17% to 8.2m on an adjusted basis. Thanks to one-off costs, headline earnings dipped to 1.6m from 2.2m.
These strong results come only a few days after WYG revealed that it had received deals worth around 50m over the next three years in the UK and Africa. Management has also notified the market that the companys role as a delivery partner with the Ministry of Defence is likely to grow, which could lead to a doubling in the revenues generated from a tie-up with the ministrys infrastructure arm.
It seems as if WYG is firing on all cylinders. Alongside todays figures, outgoing CEO Paul Hamer noted: The opportunities we are seeing in our core consultancy services and international development markets, combined with our initiatives to drive efficiencyleave us in a strong position from which to deliver good growth in the current year.
City analysts are expecting yet another year of profits growth for the group with a pre-tax profit of 10.9m pencilled-in and earnings per share growth of 20% projected. If WYG hits these forecasts, management will have roughly doubled earnings per shares in five years, an impressive feat. Whats more, during this period pre-tax profit will have grown fivefold from 1.8m.
Nonetheless, despite this impressive earnings growth, the market doesnt seem to believe in WYGs growth story. Indeed, at the time of writing the company is trading at a forward (to the year ending 31 March 2018) P/E multiple of 7.5. Considering that the company is generating mid-teens earnings growth, this bargain basement multiple seems unwarranted.
Lack of trust
So, whats behind the markets lack of trust? It appears that investors are worried about the ability for WYG to be able to continue to grow in its home market as uncertainties surrounding government austerity and Brexit prevail. Around 45% of the groups revenues come from outside of the UK, but contracts in Libya and Saudi Arabia have done little to assure investors that the group can continue to grow sustainably outside of the UK.
Still, management is set on trying to grow the business and at the beginning of the year, announced that WYG is putting itself up for sale in an attempt to grow faster. A large acquisition is also being considered.
According to the Financial Times, when Dutch outfit Arcadis bought WYGs London-listed peer Hyder Consulting in2016, the bidder paid 12 times earnings. Applying the same valuation to WYG shares implies a share price of 164p (on estimated forward earnings per share of 13.7p). Put simply; it looks as if shares in WYG are seriously undervalued.
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