Shares in online and shop front travel agency Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) are nearly 3% higher in morning trade after the group announced the acquisition of a corporate travel agency based in The Netherlands.
Flight Centre did not disclose the amount paid for the agency named Business Travel Development, although it did state the acquisition had annual revenues of more than EUR 10.3 million in financial year 2015. Therefore the cost is likely to be small to minimal when you consider Flight Centre has around $430 million in cash on its balance sheet and minimal debt of around $21.2 million.
This kind of cash mountain being managed by an experienced founder (Graham Turner) with a long track record of success is what is one of the company’s primary attractions for growth focused investors.
The business has long been expanding overseas with established and market-leading operations in the giant UK travel market, alongside a company-owned presence in other large or fast-growing markets like the US, Canada, India and China.
Flight Centre has recently flagged that expansion into continental Europe is on the agenda by using its established UK operations as a springboard, while expansion into mainland China has also been flagged as another primary objective. Unsurprisingly either, with China’s fast-growing outbound travel market of flights and organised tours a potential cash mega-cow for a global operator like Flight Centre.
Others looking to harness the Chinese travel tailwinds include Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD), which has a joint venture with Chinese outbound travel company World99.
Flight Centre recently posted an impressive interim profit result with total transaction value of $9.2 billion for the half-year, up 12.8% over the prior corresponding period, with all 10 countries or operating regions posting record results.
Interim revenue and profit were also up by double-digit amounts, with the stock trading on around 19x estimated annualised earnings of $2.32 per share.
The full year fully franked yield is also likely to be in the region of 3.7%, with Flight Centre having a consistent track record of gradually increasing its dividend payouts.
The business recently guided that it expects to achieve full year underlying net profit between $380 million to $395 million, which would represent growth of 4%-8% over the prior full year.
Given the travel tailwinds, balance sheet strength, global operations and founder-led nature of this business it is likely to remain a sound long-term performer in my opinion.
One potential fly in the travel ointment is the gradual decline of the company’s red-fronted bricks and mortar stores. However, the company should have sufficient scale and management sufficient foresight to successfully navigate its transition into the digital future.