The share price of wine retailer Majestic Wine (LSE: WINE) was topped up by 7% when markets opened this morning. It’s easy to see why. Underlying sales rose by 4.2% to £217m during the six months to 2 October, while adjusted pre-tax profit rose to £6.8m, compared to just £0.1m for the same period last year.
As the company heads into the busiest period of the year, further growth seems likely. Today I’ll look at the numbers behind this turnaround and explain why I think further gains are likely.
I’ll also look at a second company whose track record suggests to me that it remains a growth buy.
A vintage year
Majestic’s half-year figures showed good progress in several areas. The group’s adjusted operating margin rose to 3.4%, the highest since 2015.
One important reason for this is that the Naked Wines business — which funds independent winemakers and sells their wine to its members — has turned profitable.
According to today’s report, Naked’s sales rose by 15% to £67.8m, taking the group from an adjusted operating loss of £2.8m to a profit of £4.7m. Chief executive Rowan Gormley says that he sees this business — which operates online and is increasingly popular in the USA — as one of the group’s biggest growth opportunities.
Stronger UK performance
The profitability of Majestic’s core retail business also improved, with an adjusted operating margin of 3.8%, compared to 2.9% for the same period last year. This side of the business has benefitted from investment over the last year, including store refits, a new website and improved stock availability.
Looking behind the scenes at the group’s accounts, free cash flow turned positive during the half year and net debt has remained stable, at about £25m. Both figures reassure me that the group’s business model appears to be generating sustainable profits.
Majestic shares now trade on a forecast P/E of 23, with a prospective yield of 1.5%. Although this isn’t cheap, earnings per share are expected to climb by nearly 20% next year. I think the stock could continue to outperform the market and remains a buy.
Up 20% in one week
Dart Group (LSE: DTG) is probably best known for its holiday business Jet2. The group’s shares have risen by 514% over the last five years, as Dart has repeatedly outperformed expectations.
Last week’s half-year results showed sales up by 34% to £1,664m, while operating profit climbed 22% to £204.9m. Although the group’s half-year operating profit margin fell from 13.5% to 12.3%, management now expects full-year profits to be “materially” ahead of expectations.
Dart is preparing to launch expanded services for the summer 2018 season. The group has also invested in a number of new aircraft and facilities. I expect these changes to put the group in a good position to deliver growth, in a market that’s seen several rival budget airlines — such as Monarch — fail this year.
Still a buy?
Dart shares have climbed 20% since these figures were published, but the stock still looks quite reasonably priced on around 16 times 2018/19 forecast earnings.
I continue to rate the stock as a buy, but it might be worth waiting a little to see if the share price pulls back further from its recent highs of 700p+.
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Roland Head has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. 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.