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SThree plc
Trading update – FY’20 profit upgrade

SThree has released a brief update ahead of the scheduled Q4 trading update expected on 12th December. The key headline is that an improving trading backdrop over the last few months has driven a better than expected profit performance. Market consensus was clearly too light with the company now guiding for an FY’20 outcome above the top end of the range of expectations. We have updated our forecasts accordingly and now look for FY’20 PBT and EPS of £28.1m / 13.3p respectively – a PBT upgrade of +53% on our previous estimate. Although the company has not formally reinstated full guidance, we are taking this opportunity to publish our estimates for FY’21. SThree has shown good resilience through this pandemic. The combination of STEM industry specialism and the inherently higher short term visibility of the contract focus has afforded SThree management a greater degree of flexibility when it came to aligning the necessary cost actions with the strategic ambitions of building market share in the key, global STEM markets. Costs and headcount have been cut, but they have been targeted and selective. The net result has been an increasingly positive tone in trading commentary, culminating in yesterday’s explicit upgrade. Has this been fully priced in by the market? To an extent yes, with the shares now standing +57% above the May 2020 lows and outperforming the peer group year to date. However, despite this outperformance (share price and operational) SThree still stands at a material valuation discount to its peers. We continue to find the extent of this valuation gap hard to justify.

  • 24 Nov 20
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