Geordie Kidston, Head of Research
52 week high-low£5.32 - £3.82
Hist / pros per22.5 - 20.3
Equity market cap£3,390m
Howden is a well run cyclical company benefiting from a strong UK building market. Earnings have been growing well in excess of 10% for a number of successive quarters. 2014 was the best year for Howden’s business in a decade and on the back of this management has promised to return a significant portion of capital via special dividends. Howden operates a decentralised business model that has proven consistently cash generative and helped to differentiate it. Management plan to open 20-30 new depots annually, thereby further consolidating Howden as the UK market leader. The company is increasing capital expenditure to introduce 13 new kitchen lines, including a granite offering. It is also adding design staff given the strong take-up experienced here. The Group has promised to deliver a £70m share buy-back scheme split over 2015-16 which should be supportive. With the shares currently trading off their peak multiples, we would look for trading confirmation of UK market conditions, after the slow patch seen at Travis Perkins this autumn. Howden could be attractive as operational momentum continues to improve, but particularly if there is any weakness caused by a concerted hiatus in UK consumer spending.