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Directors’ Deals: YouGov finance chief offloads shares

YouGov is often thought of as merely a political pollster, but that misconception obscures the centrality of commercial market research to the company’s operations — custom research is the company’s biggest revenue driver. The shares of the data analytics business have soared by almost a quarter over the past 12 months as it works through the final stages of its long-term strategic growth plan.

The company aims to double revenue and adjusted operating profit margin, alongside hitting a compound annual growth rate of above 30 per cent for its adjusted earnings per share. Tough targets. But consensus forecasts suggest that the market thinks YouGov could very well achieve this.

YouGov’s latest results, released last month and covering the half-year to January 31, suggest that things are moving in the right direction. The company’s interim revenue was up 28 per cent to a record £101mn, with especially strong performances from the custom research and data products divisions, and the operating profit margin jumped by 50 basis points to 13.8 per cent.

Custom research, which posted £42mn of revenue for the half (42 per cent of total sales), was bolstered by the acquisition of the market-leading Swiss research agency LINK Marketing Services AG. This demonstrates the depth of the company’s growth ambitions, significantly boosting its presence in the European market.

With these results helping to bump up the shares by 10 per cent over the past month, perhaps chief financial officer Alex McIntosh sensed a good selling opportunity. He disposed of £196,000-worth of shares on April 12 at 1,276p each. Only time will tell whether this will prove to be a wise selling point — the company continues to make strategic progress, recently announcing the launch of YouGov global profiles, “the world’s largest globally consistent audience data set”.

Kingfisher non-exec’s £500,000 show of confidence

Kingfisher enjoyed a pandemic boom, with its home improvement goods flying off the shelves as those stuck at home naturally turned their attentions to their immediate surroundings. But the B&Q and Screwfix owner now faces a tougher retail outlook, with consumer confidence plummeting amid economic uncertainty and the soaring cost of living.

The company’s shares are down by almost a third over the past year, and by over 10 per cent over the past month. Despite the strong set of full-year results released in March, the retailer warned that it expects lower profits for its 2023 financial year — something that has clearly not cheered the market.

For the year to January 31, Kingfisher hit £13bn in revenue and £1bn in statutory pre-tax profits. Both B&Q and Screwfix put in robust performances, with the latter’s sales up 14 per cent to £2.3bn as 68 new stores opened their doors — a sign of management’s confidence in the future of the company’s physical retail outlets.

Yet online sales have benefited hugely from the pandemic. These revenues, which deliver around a fifth of all sales for the company, were up by 171 per cent against the two-year comparative.

But overall trading after the year-end was weaker, with first-quarter like-for-like sales down by 8 per cent. The company expects adjusted profit before tax for this financial year to be in line with consensus forecasts of around £770mn, a significant drop from the high of the 2022 financial year.

While management is “very mindful of the heightened macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty that has emerged since the start of the year”, board member Jeff Carr seems confident about the company’s prospects. The non-executive director bought £519,000-worth of shares on April 11, paying 260p per share.

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