Sureserve Group looking to rejoin dividend list as first-half 2020 performance defies pandemic

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  • Leading UK compliance and energy support services group
  • The AIM-listed firm employs over 2,100 people
  • Executive chairman, Bob Holt is an experienced manager and developer of service businesses

What Sureserve Group does:

Sureserve Group Plc (LON:SUR) is a leading compliance and energy support services group for UK customers in the outsourced public and regulated services sectors focused on creating better environments in which to work, live and learn.

The AIM-listed firm employs over 2,100 people, and its group of specialist companies have knowledge and expertise in improving, maintaining and developing buildings and services for social housing, schools and colleges, public buildings, energy services and industrial and commercial buildings.

The group’s vision is to be a unique and outstanding compliance and energy services group, where it leads its market and innovates in sectors.

Sureserve’s executive chairman, Bob Holt, who has been in charge since in July 2016, is an experienced manager and developer of service businesses, with a career in the service sector spanning over 35 years.

His stated aim is to provide experienced executive leadership to navigate the business through challenging market conditions whilst setting a clear strategic direction for the group for the medium term.

How is it doing:

Even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Sureserve put in a good performance in the first half of 2020, helped by the classification of its gas, water and electrical service businesses as key services.

In a trading update on August 19, the company said it remains confident that trading for the financial year ended September 30, 2020, will be in line with management’s expectations.

Sureserve pointed out that since reporting its interim results in May, it has been awarded 21 new contracts with an annualised value of GBP16mln, adding GBP40mln to the order book, which is at a seasonal high. In anticipation of identifiable increased market opportunities, the group said its bidding teams have been strengthened in both divisions.

The company also said that its strong trading performance over the last 12 months has enabled its board to consider a sustainable dividend policy, which is more than adequately covered by significant earnings per share and regular recurring cash flows.

Sureserve said it had paid off all its borrowings at the end of July, 2020, and continues to have a GBP25mln revolving credit facility at its disposal, along with an overdraft to fund any significant growth ambitions in the future.

The group’s net debt as at the end of March, reported with its interim results, had been GBP3.5mln, which was significantly down from the GBP12.9mln debt at the same stage in 2019.

Those numbers saw the company post revenue of GBP109.8mln for the six months ended March 31, 2020, up 7.1% from GBP102.5mln a year earlier.

Sureserve’s first-half pre-tax profit jumped to GBP2.6mln from GBP1.1mln, while group underlying earnings (EBITDA) was up 27% year-on-year to GBP3.9mln, boosted by a significant improvement in performance from its Compliance division.

That unit contributed GBP73.4mln in revenue, up from GBP65.7mln a year earlier, and EBITDA at the division rose by 40% to GBP3.7mln. Meanwhile, the firm’s Energy Services division posted revenue of GBP37.3 million, down 2.0% year-on-year, but with EBITDA up 1.6% to GBP1.9mln.

Inflection points:

  • Further growth in Compliance unit
  • Energy Services revenue to improve
  • Dividend payments resumed

What the boss says:

In August’s trading update, executive chairman, Bob Holt told investors: “Sureserve’s performance in challenging circumstances highlights not only the significant commitment of our workforce, who have performed impressively throughout the pandemic but also the strong operational and financial platform we have established.”

He added: “Sureserve’s strong cash position and newly strengthened bidding teams give us confidence in being able to make further progress in the order book this year and I look forward to bringing you further positive news in the future.”

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