S & U: Monthly Collections Reaching £12m Support Recovery Potential After H1 Statement Discloses Pandemic Write-Offs Of £13.8m

09 October 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • Extra write-offs totalling £13.8m did not seem too awful in the circumstances and should reflect the bulk of the pandemic disruption.
  • The interim dividend was reduced by 35% and management hoped for a full-year payout of between 80p and 100p per share.
  • Payment ‘holidays’ have left some 37% of accounts overdue, but monthly collections have rebounded to a respectable £12m after the half-year. 
  • Net debt of £108m remains significant, although cash flow covered interest payments a very reasonable 10x.
  • The shares trade relatively close to book value and could offer double-digit annual returns assuming a full recovery. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Monthly Collections Reaching £12m Support Recovery Potential After H1 Statement Discloses Pandemic Write-Offs Of £13.8m

S & U: Final 2020 Dividend And No Furloughed Staff Underline Management Confidence Of ‘Non-Prime’ Customers Repaying Loans Totalling £302m

19 April 2020
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • Another set of record annual figures that showed steady progress — albeit overshadowed entirely by the potential impact of Covid-19.
  • The boardroom’s confidence is encouraging. The final dividend was reduced only slightly and no staff have been furloughed.
  • Some £302m has been loaned to customers with patchy credit histories, and recouping that money has become vital. Management says collections are “very good”.
  • Net debt of £118m and a 26% net-interest margin lead to respectable returns on capital, but the borrowings will not prove ideal if defaults increase and profits fall.
  • Current-year earnings have become anyone’s guess, and a bargain-basement P/E may be rather less than the current 10x trailing multiple. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Final 2020 Dividend And No Furloughed Staff Underline Management Confidence Of ‘Non-Prime’ Customers Repaying Loans Totalling £302m

S & U: Record H1 Figures Show Profit Up Only 3%, Although Welcome News On Bad Debts Now Signals A ‘Resumption’ Of Growth

19 November 2019
By Maynard Paton

Results summary for S & U (SUS):

  • Record first-half figures that showed revenue up 7%, operating profit up 3% and the dividend up 6%.
  • Bad debts within the Advantage car-loan division have started to subside following 18 months of sharp increases.
  • Management remains upbeat as loan applications continue to flood in, and has appointed an industry ‘heavyweight’ as the new Advantage MD.
  • Progress at Aspen Bridging was “slightly short of expectations” but the division’s long-term potential could be considerable. 
  • Possible P/E of 11 and yield of 5.8% do not appear expensive if indeed the business can enjoy “a resumption of [its] usual rates of growth”. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Record H1 Figures Show Profit Up Only 3%, Although Welcome News On Bad Debts Now Signals A ‘Resumption’ Of Growth

S & U: Record FY Results Show Dividend Up 12% But Management Hints Of Slowing Growth Leave Yield At 6%-Plus

05 April 2019
By Maynard Paton

Results verdict on S & U (SUS):

  • Satisfactory double-digit growth supported mostly by additional car loans issued during the first half.
  • Rising bad debts clearly indicate borrowers are no longer as profitable or reliable as they once were.
  • Improved first-payment rate suggests underwriting tweaks have started to curb future write-offs.
  • Reduced level of customer lending during the second half generated surplus cash and lowered group debt.
  • P/E of 10.7 and yield of 6.2% reflect management hints of slowing progress. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Record FY Results Show Dividend Up 12% But Management Hints Of Slowing Growth Leave Yield At 6%-Plus

S & U: H1 Figures Show Write-Offs Soaring 32% But I Am Happy To Collect A 4.4% Income After The Dividend Was Lifted 14%

28 September 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on S & U (SUS).

Event: Interim results and presentation for the six months to 31 July 2018 published 25 September 2018.

Summary: SUS reported satisfactory first-half progress, with the group’s main car-loan division now set to deliver its 19th consecutive year of growth. The performance was accompanied by the usual drawbacks — tighter underwriting leading to fewer new customers, and debt write-offs continuing to soar (this time by 32%). The group’s boss reckons we’re at a “relatively late stage of the economic cycle”, too. Still, I remain happy to collect the 4.4% yield and back the veteran directors who carefully steward their £134m family shareholding. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: H1 Figures Show Write-Offs Soaring 32% But I Am Happy To Collect A 4.4% Income After The Dividend Was Lifted 14%

S & U: 2018 Results Showcase New Profit High As ‘Sensible Gear Changes’ Set To Control Soaring Bad-Debt Provision 

28 March 2018
By Maynard Paton

Update on S & U (SUS).

Event: Preliminary results and presentation for the year to 31 January 2018 published 27 March 2018

Summary: These results from the car-loan specialist once again provided an investment dilemma. True, shareholders received yet another respectable progress report from the accomplished executive team. However, the finer details showed potential bad debts soaring 59% — which was double the growth rate of revenue and customer advances. The chairman is set to make some ‘sensible gear changes’ to keep a lid on potential bad debts, but until the changes become evident, the share-price multiple could be stuck at 13. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: 2018 Results Showcase New Profit High As ‘Sensible Gear Changes’ Set To Control Soaring Bad-Debt Provision 

S & U: Heading Towards 18 Years Of Unbroken Growth As Chairman Shrugs Off Rising Bad-Debt Worries

26 September 2017
By Maynard Paton

Update on S & U (SUS)

Event: Interim results for the six months to 31 July 2017 published 26 September 2017.

Summary: These results displayed further “steady and sustainable” growth from the used-car loan firm. Although the seasoned executives remain optimistic about the group’s prospects and the wider economy, margins have dipped once again as the impairment charge representing potential bad loans continues to rise. Still, the 11-12x multiple appears modest given the company’s growth rate and there is a near-5% income, too. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Heading Towards 18 Years Of Unbroken Growth As Chairman Shrugs Off Rising Bad-Debt Worries

S & U: Annual Results Signal The End Of The Favourable Lending Trend As Impairments Jump 60%

30 March 2017
By Maynard Paton

Quick update on S & U (SUS).

Event: Preliminary results and presentation for the year to 31 January 2017 published 28 March 2017

Summary: These results from the car-loan specialist were quite respectable, although a 60% increase to bad debts does suggest the favourable under-writing conditions of the last few years may now have turned. Still, the veteran family management does not seem too concerned and, encouragingly, appears more interested in developing the business towards 2028 rather than 2018. That length of investment horizon suits me just fine. I continue to hold.

Read moreS & U: Annual Results Signal The End Of The Favourable Lending Trend As Impairments Jump 60%

S & U: Why I’m Backing These Moneylenders And Their £103m Family Fortune

03 February 2017
By Maynard Paton

Today I’m reviewing my latest new investment.

The company concerned is S & U (SUS), the shares of which I purchased at an average price of 2,070p (including all costs) during January 2017. The bid price is currently 2,045p and the position now represents between 4% and 5% of my portfolio.

I have to confess that SUS may not be everyone’s idea of a great business. The group was for years best known as a doorstep moneylender, but these days it solely provides hire-purchase finance to buyers of used cars.

A lot could go wrong here. SUS’s customers generally have patchy credit histories, while its loans attract 29% interest and are secured on depreciating assets. A deep recession may well cause substantial problems.

However, some impressive under-writing has delivered an illustrious record of expansion. Notably, bad debts have been controlled carefully — even during the difficult banking-crash years. Recent trading appears upbeat, too, with many potential borrowers actually being turned away.

All told, I’m trusting a family executive team that extols the virtues of “steady, sustainable growth” — and has at least £103m riding on the share price — can ensure the business stays out of trouble and instead continues to prosper and grow.   

Read moreS & U: Why I’m Backing These Moneylenders And Their £103m Family Fortune