Full year revenues fell 6.7% at constant exchange rates, to £2.7bn. Declines were spread across all three operating units, but Trade was hit particularly hard. Underlying operating profits fell 17% to £427.7m, better than expected.
The group announced a final dividend of 71.6p, taking the full year total dividend to 105.8p per share - in line with 2019.
The shares rose 1.7% in early trading.
Intertek makes most of its money testing and certifying the quality of products and components - everything from children's toys to huge components on oil rigs.
Exposure to natural resources, global trade flows and manufacturing have all been headwinds over the last year - as coronavirus wracked the global economy. However, we think Intertek's diverse offering and global customer base has shown remarkable resilience all things considered. Riding the global regulation wave remains a good place to be.
Safety checks across industries were already getting tighter and the pandemic is likely to amplify this. With services to help companies prove they comply with new requirements, Intertek is well positioned to help.
The part of the business geared towards natural resources tends to be more cyclical. Yet despite the severity of the latest oil price crash, revenues have fallen less than 10%. The Minerals business in particular benefitted from a surge in commodity prices which has supported global mining groups.
The other point in the group's favour is a strong balance sheet with net debt under control and access to more funding if needed. We think it's very unlikely the group will need to come to investors looking for extra cash.
Over the longer term the group's strategy calls for a shift towards higher-growth, higher-margin businesses - such as ESG related monitoring and quality assurance. Margins went backwards this year as a whole, but a dramatic improvement from the first to the second half gives us some confidence this is a pandemic related blip.
Overall, we think Intertek has proven its resilience in 2020, as a diverse and operationally sound business. We do have some concerns about how long it will take for growth to get back to previous levels, and that could make for an unexceptional couple of years. A price to earnings ratio that's some way above the long run average might not reflect that headwind, but is the price you pay for high quality businesses in the current market.
Intertek key facts
- Price/Earnings ratio: 28.0
- 10 year average Price/Earnings ratio: 21.6
- Prospective dividend yield (next 12 months): 1.9%
All ratios are sourced from Refinitiv. Please remember yields are variable and not a reliable indicator of future income. Keep in mind key figures shouldn't be looked at on their own - it's important to understand the big picture.
Full Year Results (constant exchange rates)
The Products division reported a 5.7% decline in revenue to £1.7bn, with underlying operating profits down 12.4% to £351.6m. Performance improved in the second half as demand for Assurance, Testing, Inspection and Certification (ATIC) services increased, although lockdowns in Western Europe and North American continued to negatively impact results.
Trade saw sales fall 9.9% to £592.6m, with underlying operating profits falling 42.6% to £47.1m. The Government & Trade Services segment was hit particularly hard as Chinese manufacturing activity was disrupted and lockdowns in the Middle East and Africa affected cross border trade flows.
The Resources business saw revenues fall 6.3% to £467.5m, with underlying operating profits down 8.2% to £29.0m. That reflects reduced exploration and production investment by commodity groups, as well as fewer operational inspections, partially offset by a strong performance in the mining sector.
The group spent £79.8m on capital expenditure in the year, down 31.7% year-on-year, with no acquisitions in the year. As a result free cash flow rose 9.4% to £415.7m.
Net debt (excluding leases) fell from £629.4m a year ago to £419.9m.
For 2021 Intertek expects to deliver good like-for-like growth, and margin improvements, with capital expenditure of between £110m and £120m and to finish the year with net debt of £350m-£400m.
This article is original Hargreaves Lansdown content, published by Hargreaves Lansdown. Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Refinitiv. 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.
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