Iomart Group (IOM)


Will Cinven up bid for iomart?

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Will Cinven up bid for iomart?
Cloud computing provider iomart (IOM) has admitted receiving two approaches from an IT firm owned by Cinven, but rejected both. Understandably, the City also thinks the business is worth much more, but a retreat in the share price from early highs suggests they’re not entirely confident of a better offer from the private equity house.

An initial approach from Host Europe Holdings on 13 June priced iomart at 275p, but was quickly increased to 285p, valuing iomart at over £300 million. "The independent directors concluded that both offers undervalued iomart and accordingly, both were rejected," the company said in a brief statement Thursday.

It's obvious why. Iomart shares were trading at 285p as recently as February and had been as high as 322p only last September. It makes money, too. Strip out amortisation of acquired intangible assets (amassed following recent acquisitions) and pre-tax profit surged by 37% last year to £14.6 million on revenue up 29% to £55.6 million.

"With the high level of revenue visibility we enjoy, we have begun the 2015 financial year in a strong position. I look forward to another exciting year of growth and look ahead with considerable confidence," said chairman Ian Ritchie in May.

Arden Partners is clearly a big fan. "We believe Iomart is likely to continue to make earnings enhancing acquisitions and believe that this, combined with organic growth, can help drive the share price to 600p within two years," it said after the results. "We maintain our buy rating and 415p price target. We believe now is a good time for investors to revisit the stock."

And there's certainly evidence that iomart is worth more. Cinven paid 11.3 times adjusted earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation for host Europe last year, yet its current offer values iomart at just 10.5 times SP Angel's forecasts for the current financial year.

"iomart is exposed to structural growth drivers - businesses increasingly utilise part, or all, of their IT via the cloud to take advantage of the cloud's scaleability and operating (rather than capital) cost based structure," says SP Angel. "A recent report from Parallels (an IT virtualisation and automation provider) estimates that the UK Small/Medium Business (SMB) cloud market will grow from £1.4 billion in 2013 to £2.5 billion in 2016."

It expects adjusted earnings per share to grow 23% this year to 13.1p and by 16% to 15.2p in 2016. That's a premium to the sector, but full deserved given that strong organic growth. Cinven knows that and has the money to raise its cash offer. Under the City's Takeover Code rules, it must do so by 5pm on 21 August.

For the record, SP Angel thinks iomart shares are worth 300p, and both finnCap and Peel Hunt said 325p post-results.

This article is for information and discussion purposes only and does not form a recommendation to invest or otherwise. The value of an investment may fall. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.