With ASOS’s (LSE: ASC) shares now changing hands at 5,800p it’s hard to believe that the UK’s largest online fashion retailer was once available for a measly 3p per share. If you’re busy doing sums in your head right now, then I’ll put you out of your misery and tell you that’s a 193,233% increase in the share price! A paltry £600 investment back in the day now being worth a cool £1.16m.
Hindsight is clearly a wonderful thing. But with the AIM-listed retailer continuing to deliver rapid growth, is it possible that the company’s spectacular share price rise could be repeated in years to come?
Strong sales momentum
This morning’s trading update clearly shows why ASOS continues to be ever-popular with investors. The strong sales momentum demonstrated during the first half of the financial year seems to have continued, with total retail sales up 32% to £660.1m during the four months to the end of June. Management now expects sales growth for the full financial year to August to be at the upper end of the 30%-35% range. These figures are not to be scoffed at, but nevertheless I remain cautious about the business’ sky-high valuation.
It’s been almost 16 years since ASOS was launched on the London Stock Exchange, and there’s no doubt that it will always be remembered as one of the most successful IPOs in history. But with a market value in excess of £4.7bn and already a significant international presence, I think it will become increasingly difficult to justify the shares’ hefty price tag. At 75 times forecast earnings, I’m concerned that the market’s very lofty valuation doesn’t leave much room for error when it comes to delivering on expectations .
Keep the faith
Another small cap stock that’s performed exceptionally well in recent years is Henry Boot (LSE: BOOT). The Sheffield-based land development, property investment, and construction firm has seen its pre-tax profits triple in the last few years to £39.5m from just under £13.4m in 2012.
The company’s rapid growth has not gone unnoticed by small-cap investors who’ve managed to push the share price up to and beyond the previously uncharted 300p level. Less than a decade ago, the company’s shares were being traded at less than 50p, and I think a six-fold increase is a fitting reward for loyal shareholders who have kept the faith. The question on investors’ minds will be whether to cash in on the success, or hold on for further gains.
I personally think that Henry Boot has the potential to provide investors with even greater rewards in the years to come. Increased activity in the UK property development market should help to fuel further growth as this is the area where the group generates most of its revenue. And despite the 75% share price surge over the past year, the business still trades on a very reasonable 12 times forecast earnings for 2017.
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Bilaal Mohamed has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended ASOS. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.