More acquisitions are being predicted at agency franchise group Belvoir.
It comes as the listed brand yesterday reported record group revenue of £29.6m for 2021, up 37% annually and a 25th year of uninterrupted profit growth.
Of the £29.6m revenue figure, 12% was attributed to acquired businesses.
Acquisitions during 2021 included the purchase of Nicholas Humphreys, a national network of 20 offices specialising in student lettings and the mortgage advisory arm of The Nottingham Building Society.
Belvoir also acquired personal agent network Mr and Mrs Clarke last month.
The annual report showed that despite spending £4.4m on corporate acquisitions last year, Belvoir’s net debt was reduced by 65% to £1.3m.
Analysts at investment research and consultancy firm Edison Group have seen this as a sign that more merger and acquisition activity (M&A) could be on its way.
Andy Murphy, director at Edison Group, says: “The outlook is relatively encouraging though higher inflationary pressures may yet have an effect on spending patterns overall.
“Belvoir has a track record of M&A and it seems likely that other deals are possible as the balance sheet debt has been reduced in the period. In terms of valuation, Belvoir trades on a price-to-earnings ratio of 13.6 which compares to 16.4 at Foxtons.
“The former has a more attractive yield than the latter at 3.2% versus 1.8%."
Belvoir’s annual results showed pre-tax profits for the year to 31 December 2021 rose by £2.6m to £9.3m.
The group now supports 363 franchised estate and lettings agencies operating through physical high street shops and 100 financial services businesses.
Management service fees (MSF), the key underlying return from franchisees, were up 18% for the year to £10.7m and revenue from corporate-owned offices was up 61% to £3.6m.
The exceptionally strong residential property sales market in 2021 temporarily shifted the lettings to sales ratio from its more traditional 80:20 split to 74:26, according to the results.
The number of house sales rose 54% annually to 12,320, Belvoir revealed.
Revenue from property sales, both MSF and corporate, increased by 49% to £3.7m, helped by the extension of the stamp duty holiday until September 2021, and thereafter returned to more normal transaction levels, the report said.
Due to the bumper year, Belvoir’s board has announced an 18% increase in its total dividend up to 8.5p per share. There will be a final dividend for 2021 of 4.5p per share payable on 30 May 2022.
Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive of Belvoir, says:: “We remain confident that we will continue to perform well relative to the market as a whole, and that our business model and growth strategy will continue to deliver enhanced value for all our stakeholders.”