United Capital Friday released its 9M results for the period ended September 2017 and they reflected a decline in the bottom line. While gross earnings increased by 10.7% from N5.6 billion in 2016 to N6.2 billion in 2017. Profit Before Tax slipped marginally by 2.6% from N3.9 billion in 2016 to N3.8 billion in 2017. Profit after tax also fell sharply by 43% from N4.6 billion in 2016 to N3.2 billion in 2017.
2016 results for the company were largely boosted by extra ordinary gains of N1.5billion booked from the sale of its 50% stake in an insurance firm, UBA Metropolitan Life. Earnings per share fell sharply by 41% from 78 kobo in 2016 to 55 kobo in 2017, an indicator the company may not meet its 2016 performance. United Capital had an Earnings Per Share of N1.13 for the full year ended December 2016.
United Capital may also be experiencing difficulties in cost control as other operating expenses jumped from N1.1 billion in 2016 to N1.6 billion in 2017. The rise in operating expenses was mostly due to the increase in general operating expenses which moved from N878 million in 2016 to N1.2 billion in 2017.
Share prices analysis
Year to date, United Capital shares are up just 10.72%, underperforming the All Share Index which is up over 35% year to date. The stock is currently trading at a PE ratio of over 5x earnings, below the All Share Index average of about 9x. However, using the trailing twelve months calculation for earnings per share, the price to earnings ratio is just above 3x, well within our buy range.
United Capital is currently trading at a book value of about 1.23, another indicator that the stock may be overpriced. Fundamental analysis tend to prefer stocks with a price to book ratio that is below 1x or just 1.
Looking at its share price, the stock is currently 34% off its year high and about 35% off its year low. Its current result and the outlook for the end of the year also suggest it is difficult to see the stock climb back to the high of about N4. This is an indicator of a limited upside in the near term.
The limited room for price appreciation, and likely decline in full year performance compared to the prior year, could suggest the stock a SELL. However, looking at it knack for paying dividends with dividend yield that is often in the double digits there is also a case for a BUY decision.
United Capital is a favourite stock pick for Nairametrics, however it appears the party is over, at least in the near term. It will be interesting to see how the management of the company intends to improve bottom line considering the decline we have just had. Reports indicate an aggressive drive towards increasing their asset under management as well as increasing their roles it M&A and corporate deals market.
Buy sell or hold?
Considering the low price earnings ratio and the high price to book ratio we will target a buy price of N3. This implies United Capital is a hold for our portfolio (assuming we own the stock) but will consider buying more if it drops to N3 or below.
United Capital Plc was incorporated on the 3rd of August 2012 to act as a holding company for the United Capital Group. The company was listed and changed its name to United Capital Plc following the approval of shareholders on the 16th of December 2014. The principal activities of the company are the provision of investment banking services, portfolio management services, securities trading and trusteeship.
This article should not be taken as a buy, sell or hold advice. It is purely the opinion of the writer which may change as new information arises. Please seek advice from a professional before taking an investment decision.