Full-year results from DiscoverIE Group (LSE: DSCV) today were encouraging. The electronic components designer and manufacture delivered some robust figures and said that in the trading year to 31 March it experienced “strong growth in sales, earnings and the order book”– music to the ears of those following the firm’s growth story.
The share price hasn’t moved much today (so far), suggesting that the market expected decent trading figures. However, the stock rose around 100% over the last year or so, driven by perky forward earnings projections and a valuation re-rating. That’s a performance that crushed returns from holding a FTSE 100 tracking fund over the period and is a good example of why it can be lucrative to invest in smaller firms outside the footsie as long as we do thorough research first. I think the operational and share price momentum looks set to continue, so I’m hanging onto my shares.
Compared to the previous trading year, revenue elevated 11%, underlying operating profit lifted 18% and underlying earnings per share moved 16% higher. The directors expressed their confidence in the outlook by pushing up the full-year dividend by 6%. Chief executive Nick Jefferies said in the report that the firm’s design and manufacturing division achieved “strong” organic growth in both revenue and profits during the year, and an efficiency programme boosted profits in the company’s custom supply division.
The order book moved 12% higher and, in order to cope with the increased demand, the company invested in additional production capacity at sites in India, Slovakia and South Korea. During the current trading year, the directors plan to invest further funds in China and Rotterdam. Looking forward, Mr Jefferies said the new trading year started with “continuing growth in orders and sales” and DiscoverIE is “well positioned” to benefit from the ongoing technology changes unfolding in the firm’s target markets.
Trading up the value chain
The growth agenda seems clear with the firm stating that it aims to increase sales “well ahead” of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the economic cycle by “focusing on structural growth markets.” The plan involves shooting for both organic and acquisitive growth and “moving up the value chain” to further increase revenues in the “higher margin” design and manufacture (D&M) division. Progress so far has been brisk, with the company earning around 71% of its operating profit from the D&M division during the year and 29% from Custom Supply. The directors have their sights set on expanding sales in North America and Asia in order to “internationalise the business.”
One of the things I find most attractive about the firm’s business model is that it designs and manufactures “application-specific” components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) making DiscoverIE integral to these OEMs’ production processes. Such arrangements lead to high levels of repeat revenue and long-term customer relationships that potentially keep incoming cash flow steady and reliable.
The company’s journey from distributor to specialist designer and manufacturer is transforming its prospects, and I think the growth strategy looks set to drive further investor returns from where we are now. This one is well worth your research time, I reckon.
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Kevin Godbold owns shares in DiscoverIE Group. 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.