I last wrote about promotional products marketer 4imprint Group (LSE: FOUR) in May 2017 bemoaning the fact that I didn’t buy any of the shares in 2005 when I first looked at the company. If I had, I’d be sitting on a multi-bagging investment by now.
Even since my last article, today’s share price around 2,090p means the stock is up a further 16%. But I didn’t buy it then either, despite saying: “I think the shares could go a lot further and I’m likely to be a buyer of share-price dips.”
And today, the company released yet another set of blistering full-year results. Revenue rose 18% in 2018 compared to the year before and underlying earnings per share shot up 22%. The directors expressed their ongoing confidence in the outlook by pushing up the sterling dividend for the year by 25%.
The company deals in a range of promotional products such as pens, key fobs, bags, mugs and so on. Customer companies and organisations buy the items after they’ve been adorned with their logo or message and give them away as part of their sales and marketing effort. In 2018, 97% of the revenue came from North America, with the rest from the UK and Ireland.
Chairman Paul Moody explained in the report that the firm is aiming for $1bn annual revenue by 2022, which compares to the just over $738m reported today. Things have been going well. A year ago, the company embarked on a new approach to marketing that saw it invest in various marketing techniques including broadcast media such as TV and radio. Moody said the results so far from the brand development programme have “exceeded our expectations.” There were immediate gains in customer order activity, which contributed to the year’s strong financial performance.
A substantial market opportunity
Moody points out that the business model is “highly cash-generative,” and the financial record stretches back several years to show consistent annual gains in revenues and the dividend, which have all been well supported by the torrent of growing cash flow. There’s no doubt that business has been booming, and the firm announced it plans to bring forward plans by one year to expand its distribution centre in Wisconsin to help cope with demand. The project will cost around $5m.
Looking forward, the directors reckon the market opportunity “remains substantial,” and they’re pleased with the initial success of their brand-building initiative, which suggests more growth to come. Meanwhile, trading in the first few weeks of the current year has been “encouraging.”
The news has been relentlessly positive for years from this firm. I keep waiting for a cyclical slump in the business and the share price, but it never seems to come. Maybe it’s time I hopped aboard the growth story and bought some shares.
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Kevin Godbold has no position in any share 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.