Marshall Motor Holdings said it has seen improvement in its profitability and is set to meet its expectations for 2015. It is reported to be in a strong position for more acquisitions.
The car dealer and leasing company said its retail and leasing divisions both improved year-on-year in 2015, though this has been offset partially on the bottom line by a rise in costs for the group related to its stock-market float in London in April.
Marshalls said in a statement it still expects a big improvement in profitability in the year to the end of December, despite the costs, and maintained its expectations for 2015.
Marshall Motor will publish its annual results on March 17.
It added: “The remaining net proceeds of the IPO, together with the group’s £75 million revolving credit facility – which is currently undrawn – provide significant resources to fund further organic and acquisition-driven growth.”
"The group continued to build on the strong financial performance reported during the first half of the period with further material improvement in profitability during the second half of the period," it said in a statement.
"During the period the group's financial performance in both its retail and leasing divisions was ahead of the comparable period in 2014.
"This was partly offset, as expected, by increases in central costs (including additional costs related to our new public company status as reported in the first half of the period)."
“Our focus remains on ensuring a strong strategic and financial case for any transaction we seek to make.”
The group's retail division continued to show "good growth" in both revenue and profitability during the period compared to 2014.
This was driven by a combination of contributions from recently acquired businesses, brand portfolio management in the prior year in line with strategy and like-for-like growth.
The group also recorded like-for-like unit growth in both new and used vehicle sales and aftersales revenues.
During the first half of the financial year, Marshall's leasing division reported a material growth in profitability, largely driven by increased de-fleet activity.
As anticipated, fleet disposals in the second half of the year were more in line with those reported in the comparable period in 2014.
Residual values remained robust and the number of vehicles in the fleet at the end of the year was, as expected, broadly in line with last year.
Marshall broker Investec said the dealer looks “well-placed to deliver robust growth”, with a material earnings boost from its recent acquisition and scope for further deals to be made given its strong financial position.
Investec analysts said Marshall's guidance to higher profit for 2015 was reassuring, and Investec expects the recent acquisition of car dealer SG Smith, which it bought for £24.4m in November, should deliver a "material earnings per share enhancement".
In addition, with a debt-free balance sheet and an undrawn £75m revolving credit facility as its disposal, Marshall "has the firepower to make more deals like this".
The analysts said they expect Marshall to produce further growth both in its existing businesses and those newly-acquired units in 2016 and kept a buy rating on the shares, with an unchanged 230 pence price target.