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I reckon this Covid-resistant investment is one of the best UK shares to buy now

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Not many companies can say this: We have not seen any material impact from the COVID-19 pandemic thus far.” But that’s just what YouGov (LSE: YOU) said in today’s full-year results report. And I reckon that kind of resistance to the effects of the pandemic makes it one of the best UK shares to buy now.

In fairness, the international research and data analytics company went on to say it recognises that marketing budgets may come under pressure if the current pandemic “prolongs”.

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But that assessment hasn’t stopped the firm posting some barnstorming numbers for the trading year to 31 July.

Indeed, revenue rose by 12% compared to the prior year and adjusted earnings per share shot up by 21%. And, in a measure of the confidence and optimism radiating from the boardroom, the directors slapped a full 25% on the full-year dividend – impressive!

Why I think YouGov is one of several UK shares to buy now

And that’s the kind of performance we’ve become used to from YouGov. In its 20-year history, the company has delivered phenomenal growth. A glance at the financial and trading record reveals well-balanced annual increases in revenue, earnings, cash flow and shareholder dividends.

Indeed, if you’d been prescient enough to have bought the shares near 37p around 10 years ago, I reckon you’d be pleased with your investment. Today, the stock changes hands at 938p.

The finances are in good shape and there’s a net cash position on the balance sheet. Meanwhile, City analysts following the firm predict a continuation of the growth pattern. They’ve pencilled in a healthy double-digit-percentage increase in earnings for the current trading year to July 2021.

On top of that, it’s hard to fault the company’s quality metrics. Indeed, the operating margin and return-on-capital figures are running in chunky double digits.

Looking ahead, it’s clear from today’s report the directors have a well-thought-out plan for further growth. Meanwhile, trading in the current year has started “in line with the Board’s expectations.”

Chief executive and co-founder Stephen Shakespeare said in the report the company made “good” strategic progress in the year “with the UK and US continuing to be our key revenue and profit drivers.

Geographical diversity and potential

To put that in perspective, around 49% of adjusted operating profit came from the US in the period and 40% from the UK. Indeed, the company derives big business from each side of the ‘pond’. And I find the geographic diversity to be reassuring.

My assumption is YouGov will enjoy a bright future of expansion in both areas with potential to ramp up operations in the rest of the world as well.

Meanwhile, as we might expect, quality enterprises like this don’t come cheap. With the shares at 938p, the forward-looking earnings multiple for the trading year to July 2021 is just above 50.

However, the high-looking valuation hasn’t stopped this share delivering for its shareholders, and I’d consider buying it now.

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But its capital-light, highly scalable business model has previously helped it deliver consistently high sales, astounding near-70% margins, and rising shareholder returns … in fact, in 2019 it returned a whopping £150m+ to shareholders in dividends and buybacks!

And here’s the really exciting part…

While COVID-19 may have thrown the company a curveball, management have acted swiftly to ensure this business is as well placed as it can be to ride out the current period of uncertainty… in fact, our analyst believes it should come roaring back to life, just as soon as normal economic activity resumes.

That’s why we think now could be the perfect time for you to start building your own stake in this exceptional business – especially given the shares look to be trading on a fairly undemanding valuation for the year to March 2021.

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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.

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