Belfast Telegraph

Weigh up investment in Poundland shares

by david kuo

Some investors might, understandably, be disappointed that they won't be able to get in on the ground floor when Poundland floats on the market.

This is the successful, 530-store chain that sells goods at price of just £1 – no more, no less.

Just recently, the company said it intends to float on the London Stock Exchange. Shares will, however, be offered to institutional investors only.

A float can add high, one-off costs to a company's expenses, especially if the share sale is targeted at retail investors who are only looking to buy a small stake in the business. That said, costs can be contained if the company sells large chunks of shares to small groups of professional investors.

Investors who might want to buy shares in the company can do so through the secondary market later on. But when buying shares in any company remember valuation matters. In 2010, Poundland was sold to its existing owners, Warburg Pincus, for £200m.

Currently, the company is estimated to be worth around £750m. That would value the business at a discount of 15 per cent to its historic annual revenues, which doesn't look too outrageous. By comparison, Sports Direct is valued at 1.8 times annual sales and online retailer ASOS is valued at seven times revenue. That said, it is important to look at the competitive landscape that Poundland operates in. Its closest rivals include Poundworld and 99p Stores, which have a strong presence in the Midlands and the South. So while Poundland is a strong player in the budget-retail sector, it does not have the field all to itself.

Another consideration is the economic environment. Poundland's growth has been primarily driven by five years of austerity. But as economic conditions in the UK improve, it is questionable whether Poundland's past growth can be projected into the future.

There are also questions about its buying power as the economy improves and other retailers begin to see a growth in sales.

Belfast Telegraph

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