Interactive Investor

ii view: Halma optimistic despite pandemic upheaval

This FTSE 100 maker of medical devices including blood pressure monitors has an enviable dividend track record. We assess prospects.

21st September 2023 15:44

by Keith Bowman from interactive investor

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First-half trading update to 30 September

ii round-up:

Health and safety product maker Halma (LSE:HLMA) today maintained its full-year expectations, with first-half order intake running ahead of last year despite varying market conditions.

Revenues stripped of acquisitions for the full year to March 2024 are expected to show good growth, with in-line demand at both its Safety and Environmental businesses year-to-date set against slower sales for its Healthcare division, following some customer destocking in the wake of the pandemic. 

Shares in the FTSE 100 company fell marginally in UK trading having come into this latest announcement up by 5% year-to-date. That’s marginally ahead of a 3% gain for the FTSE 100 index itself during 2023. 

Halma’s safety technologies protect and save lives, allowing the safe movement of people in public areas and protecting both assets and infrastructure in the workplace. Its medical devices enhance lives while the environmental business helps improve food, water, and air quality.

Geographically, strong organic revenue growth year-to-date for its US and mainland Europe regions countered a negative performance in Asia Pacific given reduced China demand.  

Three bolt-on acquisitions year-to-date have totalled £80 million and follow seven acquisitions over its last financial year for an annual record of £397 million.  

First-half results are scheduled for 16 November. 

ii view:

Trading on the UK stock market for over 50 years, Halma today employs around 7,000 people across more than 20 countries. Safety products generate its biggest slug of sales at around two-fifths, with the balance split relatively evenly between medical devices and environmental and analysis related products. Its customers include healthcare providers, utility companies, commercial and public buildings, and energy and resource corporations. 

For investors, Asia Pacific sales, accounting for around 15% of total sales during its last financial year remain pressured, given the later blow through of the pandemic in China. The global economic backdrop remains challenging. Costs for businesses generally are now elevated, while the impact which currency movements can have should not be forgotten.  

On the upside, diversity of both product and geographical region is enjoyed. Ongoing bolt-on acquisitions continue to add to growth, while a dividend track record of more than 25 years of annual consecutive payment increases is highly enviable, despite leaving the shares on a modest historical yield of around 1%. 

On balance, and while some caution appears sensible, Halma’s general defensive qualities continue to justify its place in an already diversified long-term focused portfolio. 

Positives: 

  • Diversity in both products and geographical sales 
  • Ongoing bolt-on acquisitions

Negatives:

  • Economic and geopolitical outlook uncertainty
  • Currency movements can hinder performance

The average rating of stock market analysts:

Hold

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