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Where will plc be in 10 years?

Investors have been flocking to fast-fashion e-tailer (LSE: BOO). The company has shown tremendous growth to date. But where will it be in 10 years and is the stock a top pick for growth investors today?

Fashioning comparisons

Boohoo listed on AIM in March 2014 at 50p a share. After a stumble, which saw the shares fall to a low of 22p in January 2015, the company hasn’t looked back. The shares closed yesterday at a new high of 147.25p. With 1.12bn shares in issue, the market is valuing the business at £1.65bn.

Revenue for Boohoo’s financial year ending 28 February is expected to come in at £290m. This provides a useful starting point for where Boohoo might be in 10 years.

If we go back to 1998, Primark posted a similar revenue of £295m that year. Ten years later, this hugely successful fast-fashion retailer had increased its top line to just shy of £2bn. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.7%.

Primark’s growth has been impressive but it’s a bricks-and-mortar chain and a better comparator for Boohoo may be online-only pioneer ASOS (LSE: ASC). ASOS posted revenue of £299m in calendar 2010 (again similar to Boohoo’s current revenue) and increased this to £1.6bn in calendar 2016. This gives a CAGR of 32.4% over six years. Analysts expect growth to moderate somewhat over the next few years, so that the 10-year CAGR would fall to about 27% (revenue near to £3.3bn).

Projected valuation

If Boohoo were to match ASOS’s projected 10-year revenue growth, we’d be looking at Boohoo delivering revenue of around £3.2bn come 2027. But what of valuation?

ASOS currently trades at 2.75 times trailing 12-month revenue, while Boohoo — at the earlier higher-growth stage — trades at 5.7 times. If, by 2027, Boohoo is trading closer to ASOS’s 2.75 rating, we’d be looking at a market cap of £8.8bn, compared with today’s £1.65bn.

ASOS’s shares in issue have increased by 15.5% over 10 years, due to director and employee incentive plans and so on. Assuming a similar increase for Boohoo, the current 1.12bn shares would increase to 1.29bn. So, at the mooted 2027 market cap of £8.8bn this would give a share price of 682p — a 363% increase from today, or a 10-year CAGR of 16.6%.

Is Boohoo good value today?

Given that some top FTSE 100 companies, such as Reckitt Benckiser, have done CAGRs into double digits in the last 10 years, does my projected 16.6% for Boohoo offer sufficient reward for the risk of a relatively young company compared with a mature blue chip.

I think I’d be looking for a CAGR of 20% for a greater margin of safety. To get that, I’d need Boohoo’s shares to be trading at 110p today — about 25% below their actual level.

Of course, Boohoo may turn out to be an even bigger success than ASOS and more than justify its current premium price. Reasons for optimism on this score include the company’s recent acquisitions of PrettyLittleThing and certain assets of collapsed US firm Nasty Gal and also the fact that Boohoo’s retail gross margin is running at 57% compared with 47% for ASOS when it was at the same stage of revenue generation.

So, I can understand investors bidding up the price. But I feel Boohoo will have to deliver nothing short of stunning growth over 10 years to justify it.

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G A Chester has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended ASOS. The Motley Fool UK has recommended and Reckitt Benckiser. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.