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Boohoo - American boost means sales still going strong

Nicholas Hyett | 15 January 2019 | A A A
Boohoo - American boost means sales still going strong

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No news or research item is a personal recommendation to deal. All investments can fall as well as rise in value so you could get back less than you invest.

Boohoo Group Ordinary 1p

Sell: 159.00 | Buy: 159.15 | Change -1.90 (-1.18%)
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Excluding exchange rate effects, Boohoo's fourth quarter revenues rose 43%, reaching £328.2m.

Full year revenue growth is now expected to be between 43% and 45%, ahead of previous guidance for 38% to 43% growth. Guidance for full year EBITDA margins has been narrowed to 9.25% and 9.75%, from the 9% to 10%.

The shares rose 1.7% in early trading.

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Our view

Boohoo.com sells fast fashion aimed at 16 - 30 year olds. And it sells that fashion very cheaply. It's not uncommon to see dresses sell for under £5.

While other retailers have been struggling as consumers tighten the purse strings, Boohoo's been growing strongly.

An exclusively online presence means the group can stock small quantities of lots of different styles, and ramp up orders of the most popular. This 'test and repeat' model means Boohoo is ideally placed to keep up with the frantic pace of fast fashion.

We've also been impressed by the group's acquisitions, of PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal. The fact a significant number of these new customers are in the USA opens up a potentially huge market too.

While such strong sales have helped profits rise, and should continue to do so in the future, operating margins are unlikely to make significant progress beyond their current 7-8% level. That's partly due to the costs associated with posting out and processing returns on an average order size of just £43.41, but also because costs are rising as Boohoo builds the infrastructure to support future growth.

Reinvesting profits back into the business makes sense, but means there's no dividend on offer just yet.

There are other challenges too. The retail environment is particularly tough, and recent profit warning from rival online giant, ASOS shows the troubles aren't just on the high street.

Boohoo hasn't come down with the same cold, but its lofty rating of 40 times earnings means there's scope for the shares to fall if performance doesn't meet expectations.

All-in-all though we think Boohoo has a lot to shout about. There are real pockets of opportunity abroad - even if seizing them is expensive. And while customers want to buy clothes the same price as a meal deal, Boohoo will keep selling them.

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Trading details

Revenue across all geographic regions increased, with the biggest improvement coming from the USA, which improved 80% to £70.4m.The UK and European businesses saw a 33% and 54% increase respectively, while Rest of World increased 32%.

Sales from the boohoo branded website rose 14% to £163.5m in the quarter. Meanwhile, there was a 96% jump in revenues from PrettyLittleThing, which reached £144.2 million for the quarter and Nasty Gal revenues improved by 76%, reaching £20.6m.

Group gross margin for the fourth quarter rose 1.7 percentage points to 54.2%..

Joint CEOs Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane said the group continues to invest in its "proposition, operations and infrastructure" to capitalise on global growth opportunities.

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Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Thomson Reuters. These estimates are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. Investments rise and fall in value so investors could make a loss.

This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment. No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. Non-independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place (including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing. Please see our full non-independent research for more information.