Full Year 2022 Galliford Try Holdings PLC Earnings Call Sep 24, 2022 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Galliford Try Holdings PLC earnings conference call or presentation Friday, September 23, 2022 at 1:30:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * Andrew Duxbury Galliford Try Holdings PLC - Finance Director, Member of Executive Board & Executive Director ================================================================================ Presentation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Galliford Try Holdings PLC Full Year Results Investor Presentation. (Operator Instructions) The company may not be in a position to answer every question it receives during the meeting itself. However, all questions submitted today will be reviewed with responses published on the Investor Meet Company platform, where it is appropriate to do so. Before we begin, I would like to submit the following poll. And if you could give out your kind attention. I'm sure the company would be most grateful. I'd now like to hand you over to Chief Financial Officer, Andrew Duxbury. Good afternoon, sir. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew Duxbury, Galliford Try Holdings PLC - Finance Director, Member of Executive Board & Executive Director  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good afternoon. Thank you. Pleasure to be with you. Again, welcome, everybody. So just before I begin, just to remind everybody, Galliford Try, we are a national contractor building U.K.'s economic and social infrastructure, so whether that be schools or health care facilities, roads and water infrastructure as well. So we operate across the U.K. from Scotland right down to the Southwest of England. So today, we'll talk through an overview of the results for the year ended 30th of June 2022. Let me touch in a bit more detail on the strategy and the outlook for the business as we go forward. So on the screen is highlights from the year just finished. And you can see it's been an excellent year. And first of all, of course, my thanks go to all of our people, our clients, our supply chain who are the people who make this happen. And you can see on the right-hand side of the screen, all of our key metrics in the year have improved; revenue, operating margin, profit before tax and, of course, importantly, for our shareholders dividend per share. We've got the right foundations across the business to be able to continue this improvement. The business is operating in markets with very strong outlook, and we continue to expect to improve our performance as we go forward through the new financial year, and as we progress towards our targets, which we set to 2026, I'll come on to that and how we're going to do that a little bit more later on in the presentation. But putting it together, the excellent performance last year and the confident and resilient outlook for 2023 and through to 2026 has enabled us to improve our dividend. You can see the full year dividend is up 70% compared to last year. And we've also been able to announce an additional capital returns program of GBP 15 million. So I'll come on to that in a little bit more detail again later in the presentation. But let's start by going into the results in some detail. As you can see on the slide, revenue is up 10% in the year, and that includes the contribution from nmcn Water, which we acquired in October 2021. But more importantly for me, you can see that operating profit before amortization is up 83%. So real focus on bottom line quality of earnings starting to come through in our operating profit figures. And that's driven by the divisional margin out in the business, which you can see has increased 40 basis points from 2.0% to 2.4%, making really good progress towards our 3% divisional margin target for 2026. The driver of that margin improvement really is the quality of the contracts coming through from the order book and then by our investment in additional contract delivery capabilities, efficient contract delivery, and that's digital investment. It's investment in our people and our taking on the right projects and with the right supply chain. You can see in the footnote underneath the table that we incurred GBP 13.7 million of exceptional costs in the year just finished. Really importantly, for me, none of those exceptional costs are related to contract performance. They are absolutely exceptional. So it's partly related to the acquisition of nmcn and partly related to investment in cloud-based IT systems, which were no longer allowed to capitalize under some new accounting rules. Importantly, you can see that pre-exceptional profit before tax was up 68%, and that translated similarly into earnings per share of 68% to 16p per share. So we're really pleased that that's a very, very strong performance in the year just finished. Of course, we delivered that performance against the backdrop of more inflation than we've seen for a number of years. And that inflationary environment we've been able to mitigate by doing what we said we do. So this is a slide that we have put on the screen previously about how we manage inflation within the business and it's quite clear from the results that we've been able to successfully mitigate the impact of inflation in our results. Key to managing inflation is to take the right contracts on the right terms with the right pricing, the right level of inflation allowance. So we spend a lot of time making sure that all of our contracts and new contracts have got those inflation protection clauses and are priced appropriately in the current market. Secondly, really important for us is to then back-to-back any inflation risk with our supply chain by procuring early, so making sure that if we procure early then that fixes our price from our supply chain at the same time that we're fixing our price up to our clients. So that locks in prices and that helps us guarantee availability of materials when we need them in order to deliver on our projects. And just as importantly for me, the way we manage inflation is supported by culture in the business. So all of our people understanding the importance of focusing on this, understanding our risk appetite day-to-day, making sure they can manage that in a way which aligns with the risk on the disciplines that we set and the culture of our business. So we've been able to successfully manage inflation without any material impact on either the results or indeed on our forecasts. Importantly, our balance sheet remains very, very strong and very resilient. For the year to end of June, we had average month-end cash of GBP 174 million, and we had PPP assets, you can see at GBP 47.5 million. So taken together, GBP 220 odd million of assets, liquid assets on the balance sheet. To remind you, we've got no debts and we've got no pension funds liabilities to fund either. So the balance sheet is very, very strong. And increasingly, we see that as a differentiator when we go to market for our clients. This gives our clients confidence that we'll be able to deliver that project in the terms that we've agreed. And it's also a differentiator with the supply chain because it enables us to pay the supply chain properly, and we now pay our supply chain in average on 25 days, which is very good and allows our supply chain to also plan and kind of produce profitable businesses themselves. So our balance sheet remains a core differentiator for us in our markets. And you can see on this slide that we've been cash generative again through the year to June 2022. So our year-end cash rose from GBP 216 million to GBP 219 million. But within that, we paid GBP 6 million of dividends to shareholders, and we invested GBP 14 million in the acquisition of nmcn and our investment in digital technologies. So the operating business has been very cash generative again, and that gives the business real confidence both to maintain the bidding disciplines I've talked about to help us mitigate inflation and also to help us, as we look to return money to shareholders in a sustainable and predictable way. You can see on the slide that every single day through the last financial year, our cash balance remained above GBP 100 million. The company's capital allocation policy is unchanged since we reported our half year in March and indeed since last year. Our focus is absolutely on prioritizing that strong balance sheet. That's a real differentiator for us in the marketplace. Secondly, we're going to look to invest in the business, support the operational requirements of the business, help the business to grow in line with the strategy, which I'll come on to in a moment, that includes investing in what we call our adjacent markets and also keeping agile and alert to any bolt-on acquisition opportunities that may arise that allow us to accelerate delivery against our strategy. The strong balance sheet also helps us to mitigate the risk of any market downturns. We don't see a market downturn in our sectors at the moment with the balance sheet, and that gives the business resilience if such an adverse conditions were to arise. Balance sheet gives us confidence to continue to pay a sustainable, recurring, predictable dividend to our shareholders and also to return additional capital to shareholders at the right time. So for the year to June 2022, that enabled us to increase our dividend by 70% to a full year dividend of 8p per share, and that's twice covered by pre-exceptional earnings. So in other words, we paid 50% of our pre-exceptional earnings to our shareholders as a dividend. We are also able to announce our first additional capital return, GBP 15 million share buyback program. And this is because we've seen the balance sheet, we can see how the balance sheet needs to develop as we look to grow the business over the next 3, 4, 5 years. And we can see that we have additional capital that was free to return to shareholders. And so we said in March that we would look to do that at the right time. And this September, we've announced our first buyback program. So that's a bit about the results for the year just finished. I now want to talk about how we will continue to improve the business and really why usually invest in Galliford Try at this stage. So firstly, it's about having the right foundation, the right engine for future sustainable growth. And we -- in our view, we see that construction companies should operate in the virtuous circle, which is on the screen, which I'll talk you through now. So we start with a culture of discipline of risk management or risk awareness across the business. This is about taking on profitable work with good, high-quality clients. And the key here is the selectivity in the business to make sure that we only take on the right jobs and jobs that we can deliver with the right risk awareness and the right risk framework. That allows us to have a really high quality order book. I'll come on to a little bit later on with good embedded margins in the order book and good cash flow in those contracts. That in turn gives us really good visibility in the future. It takes the pressure off all of our teams who are bidding for work because nobody needs to bet for work in a rush. We've got a high-quality order book. We can continue to look for the right opportunities as we go forward. And those opportunities in turn drive successful cash delivery, cash flow into the business, and they reinforce the strength of our balance sheet. And having that strong balance sheet in turn, provides support right forward in the business to maintain the discipline and the culture of risk management and risk awareness that we've established. And so wheel turns again. And this is the real foundation on which we can continue to grow the business in a sustainable and a profitable way. I mentioned risk a number of times, and our risk management framework is embedded throughout the business. And you can see on the slide here, some of the features that we have both in terms of contract selection and commercial control of contracts once they're underway. Importantly, within the tender process, this again comes back to culture and making sure that all of our people across the business know the type of work, the risk appetite of the business and only look to sign up the contracts, which align with that risk appetite. And importantly, this isn't just about size of contracts. This is about other features as well. So you can see in the middle box on the top row there, any contract that we're looking to tender for, which has any risk factors which are unusual, whether that be geography or the type of clients or it's some technical risks, for example, those contracts will come to the Executive Board for review and for approval irrespective of size. And what that means is it allows the Executive Board to ensure that all contracts that we're taking on meet the appropriate risk criteria of the business. But again, first and foremost, that is the part of culture of the business and the people in our business, understanding the type of contracts that the company wants to take on and the type of contracts that the company doesn't want to take on. So against that backdrop, this is a simple diagram of our strategy. And you can see our aspiration there is very straightforward, is to deliver high-quality buildings and infrastructure in a socially responsible way and in a way which will provide a sustainable return for our shareholders. And just to take you through the 4 quadrants, if you like, of the strategy. So the first is about our people and focusing on being a people-orientated progressive business. That's about making sure that everybody in the business goes home safely at the end of every day, and our accident frequency rate for the year just finished of 0.06 was an excellent performance, but our objective is 0 harm across all of our projects every day. So that's something a journey that we continue to work very hard on. And investing in our people and retaining people and developing people and attracting new people to the business continues because that really is the lifeblood of the future of the business. Secondly, we look to focus on socially responsible delivery. So for a number of our clients, this is about low carbon delivery, but decarbonization, whether that be in operational use of buildings or whether that be around embodied carbon. And it's also about social value that we deliver through our local communities by employing local workforces and local supply chain, for example. On the top right, you can see our focus on quality and innovation. This is about digital investment in tools that help make sure that our projects are delivered efficiently and to high quality. It's by working with repeat clients on making sure that we're continuing to stay close to the needs of our clients and it's by working and engaging with our supply chain. And 60% of our supply chain is on our program called Advantage Through Alignment, which means that we're very close to those suppliers. We give them access to our pipeline so they can plan their businesses. And of course, we pay all of our supply chain properly and promptly. So you put those 3 core areas of focus together. And that one is what will enable us to deliver the bottom right, that is sustainable financial returns to our shareholders. So how will we look to grow the business and what will the business look like as we go forward to that strategy? Well, we set the strategy out in September of 2021. The target of the strategy is to grow the business to turn over of GBP 1.6 billion at an operating margin of 3%. And the plan is for sensible, disciplined controlled revenue growth. So we're looking to grow that towards GBP 1.6 billion, but we're not chasing revenue growth; if the market is not there to support it, then we would revisit those targets. What's more important is to grow the bottom line, the quality of earnings as we grow that margin to 3%. We do at the moment see that markets are there to support this growth. So through our existing markets, our sectors, including education, health, defense, where we do a lot of correlation for Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice, so prisons, for example, and in the water sector and highway sector. And on top of that, we have 3 adjacent markets that we're looking to invest in. The first of these is the private rented sector. So we're already build and construct private rented sector apartment blocks for our clients. And what we're looking to do is to come earlier in that development cycle so we can get some of the take those schemes through planning, get the statutory consent, and we can take the developer margin as well as the construction margin. So we've got our first one of those schemes is almost reaching financial close, and we have another 2 of those schemes that are working through the process at the moment. So we're looking to move into that private rented sector or expand our interest in that private rented sector. The second adjacent market is what we call green retrofit. So this is taking existing buildings and making them more operationally carbon efficient in use, so reducing the carbon footprint that might be by putting PV panels on the roof, might be changing lighting, might be changing other features such as the glazing in the building as well. So looking to interventions in existing buildings to make them more carbon efficient. And we see that as a real increasing market opportunity, particularly now with any price rises that we've seen over the last year. And the third adjacent market that we're looking through into is in Water to move away from just doing design, build and commissioning of a water assets, but also into the maintenance, the capital maintenance of those assets. As the water companies, as you all know, are looking to face into the challenges that spells leaks or droughts of combined [surge] overflows. It's important that we help those water companies. And one way to do that is by that capital maintenance and asset optimization strategy. So we see good opportunity in all of these markets to help us grow the business to GBP 1.6 billion turnover. And as you can see on this slide, the market is indeed resilient and is there to support that growth. There's a huge wave of opportunities at the moment. So we don't operate in particularly cyclical sectors. And in fact, this is sectors which typically when the U.K. goes into a recession, these are sectors that see increased investment from government and 90% of our work is with the government or regulated sectors. So you can see on the slide there, we have national coverage across the U.K. That helps us deliver social infrastructure across the U.K. in support of the government's leveling up agenda. You can see we're focused on public sector, which is where we see continued strong investment coming through from government. You can see decarbonization continues to be a driver for all of our clients, whether that be reducing carbon in use. So, whether that be reducing embodied and whole life carbon in the built environment. And so we continue to see these funding streams coming through, whether it be defense or state optimization or the road investment strategy or the Department for Education, rebuilding program, there's huge opportunity and pipeline of opportunity for the business as we go forward. And what that leads to is an exceptionally high quality order book. So you can see at the end of June, our order book was GBP 3.4 billion. If you [write us a couple of years' worth of work], but what that gives us is 90% visibility for the new financial year FY '23's revenue and about 65% for the year after and then the tail beyond that. And you can see on the middle chart, 91% of that order book was in the public and regulated sectors, sectors that we see are very resilient as the U.K. goes potentially into a broader recession. And really importantly for me on the right-hand side there, 94% today is with repeat clients. So clients that we know and understand, they know and understand us. So we've got very good working relationships. And across our building business that medium contract size is less than GBP 20 million. So again, you can see the quality of that order book and the risk focus of that order book means that that's really well placed to help us deliver the margin improvement targets that we're looking to deliver through to 2026. So in summary, the year to June 2022 is a really good performance across the business, across all parts of the business. I'm really pleased with how everybody in the business really stunts the challenges and the different challenges that came through during the year to 2022. We've got a really robust and confident outlook for the new financial year to June 2023, and our strategy to 2026 is on track, (inaudible) our margin improvement is probably slightly ahead of target through 2026. And of course, if we achieve the targets that you can see on the bottom of the slide there, our PBT in the year in 2026 will be just about double where our profits are at the moment. And the dividend, of course, will grow to much high in line with our 2x cover up policy. So overall, business is in great shape, great foundations, great culture. That is a really confident position as we look forward to the new financial year. And with that, I'd like to hand back to Jake and then we'll take some questions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew, that's great. And thank you very much indeed for your presentation this afternoon. (Operator Instructions). And just while Andrew takes a few moments to review those questions that were submitted already, I'd like to remind you that a recording of this presentation, along with a copy of the slides and the published Q&A can be accessed via your investor dashboard. Andrew, as you can see, we have received a number of questions throughout today's presentation. So thank you to all of those on the call for taking the time to submit their questions. And Andrew, if I could just ask you to run through the Q&A tab and respond to those where it's appropriate to do so. And then I'll pick up from you at the end. ================================================================================ Questions and Answers -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew Duxbury, Galliford Try Holdings PLC - Finance Director, Member of Executive Board & Executive Director  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Very good. Thank you, Jake. So I'll take the questions in the order that I see them on the screen. So the first one from Mark is kind of comment on the timing of potential settlement of an outstanding claim, which we disclosed in our year-end results presentation. If you're able to settle for a smaller amount in the next few months, is this situation -- is that a situation that's nonnegotiable? So the situation, Mark, is as we set out in the result statement, so it's very difficult for me to add much more to what we've written. And what I'll remind you is that this is a claim for a job that we've been offsite for about 4 years, and the claim is progressing through the adjudication process -- sorry the arbitration process, which is a slow legal process. We're very, very confident in our position and we continue to pursue that through the process. And that process may take another 18 months or more from here. But of course, there's no reason why it has to necessarily take that long, but we continue to be very confident in our position. Question from Simon. I say that we'll target further growth in adjacent markets. Can I explain what those markets might look like? Yes. So I think I covered some of this in the presentation. So the 3 real adjacent markets we're focused on are the private rental sector, and in particular, the development aspects rather than just the construction phase; the green retrofit of existing buildings, which we see as an increasing opportunity across the public sector. So for example, a school, which has a 50-year useful life left, actually, the payback period for a green retrofit on that school may be very, very attractive to the local authority; and then I'd say the capital maintenance, asset optimization piece of the water sector to help those water companies infrastructure work more effectively and more cost effectively going forward. And I think all of those markets are there, and we call them adjacent markets because they are all markets that we know and understand. So we understand the risk profile, we understand how they operate there, just like the next natural step beyond what we're already doing. So these are kind of shooting for the clear blue sky in hope (inaudible) markets that we know and understand, we know the risk profile, we know the type of clients we'll be working with. So that's why we call them adjacent market. It's just growing our capabilities. And all of those adjacent markets, I should say, are higher margins, that are margin accretive to the business. The next question from Mike is, so we view cash on the balance sheet as a key differentiator. Is own number that we target, circa GBP 160 million, has a reasonable assumption? So that's right, Mike. So we do see it as a differentiator for say, with both clients and with the supply chain. So that's very important. And what we said is actually we've taken in aggregate. So our average month-end cash last year, GBP 174 million and PFI assets of GBP 47.5 million. So in aggregate, they were GBP 221 million. And what we said is as we grow the business through to 2026, we expect the aggregate to take together of those 2 asset classes to stay in the range GBP 175 million to GBP 250 million. So last year, there were 220 million odd with us, that's relatively early in the strategy period, we would expect to be cash generative as we go through the strategy period and that's what's given us the confidence to do our initial share buyback. But that's the way that we size the balance sheet. So in aggregate, the cash and the PFI assets together being above GBP 175 million. A question from Simon. With the current share price, do you think a share buyback program would add more value than increasing the dividend? So Simon, what we're looking to do, of course, is to do both. So we've increased the dividend significantly. We stuck with the existing policy of 2x cover. And because we're growing the business, growing the top line, we're growing the operating margin that we get faster earnings growth. That does lead to a good increase in ordinary dividend for our shareholders. And then as I said, when you look at then the excess capital and we determined that there is an opportunity to return some excess capital, I think, given where the share price is, as you say in your question, a share buyback feels the appropriate way to facilitate that additional capital return program. And of course, we keep under review as we go forward. But I think the current share price certainly supports the share buyback program. So a question from Michael. So other than risk appetite, what do you look for in selecting what contracts to go for? And what does the pipeline of opportunities look like? It is a really good question, Michael. So I'll start with the second part. The pipeline of opportunities is really strong at the moment. So I talked about our GBP 3.4 billion order book, which is the contracts in the business already. And beyond that is the pipeline of work of the tenders that we're currently looking at. And the number of tenders coming across the desk at the moment is huge. There's a huge pipeline of opportunity, and we are very selective to make sure that we only take on the right contracts, which is the first part of your question. But across all parts of our business, building, environment, highways, there is a really, really strong pipeline at the moment, which is really encouraging for the business as a whole. So of course, when we're looking at contract selectivity and which contracts we turned down, those are which don't have the right profile. Risk appetite and profile is obviously very important. And what we do, we have a what we call our contract heatmap which for the whole series, probably a couple of dozen areas of risk or potential risks that we would look at that might include the nature of the clients. It might include the terms of conditions of the contract, it might include the technical challenges on the job, it might include the geography of where the project is. It might include people's capacity, how busy is the business unit already and so there's a whole raft of risk measures or indicators that we look at. And any or all of those risk measures, which is kind of red, would cause us to really have pause for thought. And it may be that sometimes you could mitigate the risk and sometimes you can work around the risk and sometimes you maybe can't work around the risk. So we look really as holistically as we can at the projects because what we're absolutely keen to make sure is that every single project that comes into our order book is the kind of project that we are pretty sure is going to deliver us a good cash flow and a good operating margin. It's really important that we continue to take on the type of work that we know we can deliver safely, profitably, predictably. And so that's why we're so focused on making sure we get the right contracts at the front end of the business. A question for Mike. So historically, margins appear higher in infrastructure projects. Is that focus a part of the strategy to boost group margins and what margin are you targeting? So I think that probably is right, Mike. Historically, you probably -- in building, you probably had more upfront cash and slightly lower margins and in infrastructure, perhaps a bit less cash and slightly higher margins. I think probably that's equalized a little bit over the last few years in terms of the cash profiles and the margin expectations. So we're looking to get 3% margins across both our building and infrastructure parts of the business. What we do see as we move up towards that 2026 target of GBP 1.6 billion, we see more growth in infrastructure than in building. So building will probably move up towards GBP 1 billion, infrastructure towards the GBP 600 million. So rather than be kind of 2/3, 1/3, the business growth will slightly rebalance to maybe 60-40, if you like. So a slightly faster growth in infrastructure over the next few years, but we see the margin opportunity and the importance of generating good, sustainable, predictable margins equally important in both parts of the business. And then Mark asks, are there any further acquisitions to be made, anything substantial possible or mainly bolt-on deals? So -- and just to remind you, we've done 2 acquisitions over the course of the last 12 months. So nmcn Water, which we bought for GBP 1 million, brought with it around 900 people and that is a really good geographic footprint in the water sector across the whole of the U.K. now and whereas previously, we were quite regionalized and also brought some additional capabilities, which will help us support that capital maintenance aspect of the water sector. And then in July 2022, so not featuring in the results for the year just finished, we bought a company called MCS Control Systems Ltd, [bought that for a pound]. And again, that's very similar in terms of the sector. It works largely in the water sector, again, in off-site manufacturing, capital maintenance. And both of those acquisitions have really accelerated our capabilities and accelerated the growth opportunity in our environment business. So as we look forward, the strategy and the growth strategy to 2026 does not rely on, does not contemplate further acquisitions. But we are alive to the opportunity that there are further potential bolt-on acquisitions, particularly which will bring additional capability into the business, which will help us to accelerate against our strategy. So we're very alive to that as an opportunity, but our strategic targets are absolutely not required or dependent on us making additional acquisitions. So I suppose a little bit watch the space mark, but there may well be some opportunity to do additional bolt-ons but absolutely no need for us to do those if the right opportunities are not available to us. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew, if I may just jump back in there because that's all the questions that have been submitted today. So thank you very much indeed for being so generous of your time there in addressing all of those questions that came in from investors this afternoon. Of course, if there are any further questions that are submitted today, we'll make these available to you immediately after the presentation has ended for you to review and then add any additional responses where it's appropriate to do so. I will shortly redirect those on the call to provide you their feedback, which I know is particularly important to you and the company, Andrew, but perhaps before doing so, if I may, just ask you for a few closing comments to wrap up with. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew Duxbury, Galliford Try Holdings PLC - Finance Director, Member of Executive Board & Executive Director  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, of course, Jake, so I guess I'd reiterate where we are as a business. So we just reported some really fantastic results for the year to June 2022. We're very confident in the outlook through to June 2023. We think the pipeline is very strong. We're very well set about 90% of revenue secured for this financial year already, and we see the business continuing to grow and to develop in line with our targets through to 2026. I guess the last thing I would say is where I started that this is all thanks to the work and the hard work of our supply chain and particularly the people we've got up and down in the country working on our sites and in our offices day in and day out. So business is in really good shape and really well set for the future. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Andrew, that's great. And thank you once again for updating investors today. Could I please ask investors not to close this session as you'll now be automatically redirected for the opportunity to provide your feedback in order that the management team can better understand your views and expectations. It's going to take a few moments to complete, but I'm sure it will be greatly valued by the company. On behalf of the management team of Galliford Try Holdings plc, we would like to thank you for attending today's presentation. That now concludes today's session. So good afternoon to you all.