Whether to seek share price growth or dividend income is an age-old question, but is it a choice we really have to make? Here are two companies with news out today that I think are set to provide years of both.
Personal injury profits
NAHL Group (LSE: NAH) is perhaps not a familiar name, but its National Accident Helpline brand is — and that, along with the rest of the firm’s marketing services provided to the legal profession, looks like good business to me. I wasn’t surprised to see first-half pre-tax profit up 17% to £7.5m, as reported in Wednesday’s interim figures, together with a 5.6% rise in earnings per share. Cash conversion of 95.7% helped the firm hike its interim dividend to 6.35p per share.
But what does surprise me is the valuation of NAHL’s shares, priced at 263p. Forecast EPS growth of 19% this year and 33% next gives us low P/E multiples of 8.9 and 8.6. That results in PEG ratios of 0.5 and 0.3 respectively — anything around 0.7 or lower is usually considered a good sign by growth investors.
This low valuation has come about through fears of changes to personal injuries regulation — plans to curtail whiplash claims were announced last autumn by George Osborne, but he’s history now. But even when changes do come, NAHL seems to be on top of it, with chief executive Russell Atkinson speaking of the firm’s diversification and its “deliberate strategy to reduce volumes and focus on higher value case types,” which is helping to improve margins.
And on top of that, NAHL is expected to pay dividend yields of around the 7.5% mark, which should be well enough covered by earnings. It’s a risky investment, but I see over-reaction in the low share price and I think it could be a winner.
Building on services
Another tempting combination of share price growth and dividends I see is Interserve (LSE: IRV), whose shares are down 29% over the past 12 months to 402p. But they’ve been recovering of late, having picked up 80% since early July, and that includes a 4% hike on the day the services firm announced a new contract. Interserve’s construction joint venture Khansaheb is set to expand the City Centre Ajman mall in the United Arab Emirates under an £81m deal.
August’s first-half results revealed modest improvements all round, with the interim dividend lifted by 2.5% to 8.1p per share. Net debt was reduced to £275.6m, from £308.8m at the end of 2015, though that should rise again by the end of this year to £300m-£320m — and that does concern me a little.
The firm’s guidance was unchanged, so we should see a full-year EPS fall of around 5%, but the City folk have a return to growth on the cards for next year. And with what chief executive Adrian Ringrose described as a “healthy future workload” (which stood at £7.6bn at the interim stage), I can see further years of steady earnings growth.
On valuation terms, we’re looking at P/E ratios of just 6.3 this year and 5.8 next, and on top of that we have dividend yields of 6.3% and 6.6% pencilled-in. I was previously concerned that a cut might be needed, but strong forecast cover and the confidence the firm has shown by increasing its halftime payment have allayed that concern.