For many investors, finding multi-bagging stocks is the aim of the game. One company that certainly ticks the box in this respect is law-focused finance and investment management firm Burford Capital (LSE: BUR).
Taking today’s action into account, the shares have climbed a smidgen under 1,000% since July 2015, underlining the potential for a single business to completely transform a portfolio’s performance and, in doing so, the wealth of those lucky enough to be invested in it.
Just the start?
This morning’s interim results were predictably excellent. Post-tax profit hit $166.3m for the six months to the end of June — up 17% from the $142.7m achieved over the same period in 2017. Income rose by the same percentage from $177.5m to $205.2m with 65% of this from realised gains. Cash generation soared 61% to $299m with the company’s total assets also climbing 37% in value to $1.64bn by the end of the period.
While this kind of growth can’t continue indefinitely, I wouldn’t be surprised if Burford — thanks to its status as global leader in what can still be regarded as a niche market — replicated numbers like this for a while yet. Indeed, Chairman Sir Peter Middleton reflected that the company “continues to set the pace for a growing industry.” And CEO Christopher Bogart added that the commitment of more than half a billion dollars to new investments over the traditionally slow interim period fills management with “excitement” on Burford’s potential. While most definitely not a stock for income seekers, the 20% increase in the interim dividend to 3.67¢ only serves to emphasise this confidence.
Clearly, these superb figures coupled with the great outlook means that buying a slice of Burford’s success is no longer cheap. On a forecast price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 26, the stock is now looking pretty dear compared to its industry peer group. With sky-high operating margins and increasing returns on the capital it invests, however, one might argue that that the quality on offer deserves such a valuation.
Burford isn’t the only stock that’s defying gravity. AIM-listed premier technology solutions provider Accesso Technology (LSE: ACSO) is another example of just how quickly a company’s value can shoot upwards. Three years ago, its share price was a little above the 500p mark. Today it stands at 2770p.
Like Burford, further gains seem likely. May’s pre-AGM trading update highlighted a “strong start” to 2018 thanks in part to an extension to an existing deal with global theme park operator Ceder Fair Entertainment.
Positively, Accesso — led by relatively new CEO Paul Noland — is not resting on its laurels. In addition to rubber-stamping a new contract with Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System (marking the company’s first foray into the healthcare industry), it’s also attempting to push its Ingresso ticketing distribution system in the US. Elsewhere, the company’s ShoWare solution continues to be popular, with the mid-cap overseeing ticketing for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month.
Again, all this comes at a price. Changing hands for a seriously steep 46 times projected earnings, Accesso’s stock is even more expensive than that of Burford. While I don’t doubt that growth will continue and its valuation will eventually surpass the £1bn mark, prospective investors may wish to consider waiting for a general market sell-off before joining the queue for its stock.
Paul Summers 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.