Tech and software solutions provider Citadel Group Ltd (ASX: CGL) has had a fantastic year. The company, which specialises in IT security and data management, generated record revenues for FY18 of $108.5 million. And net profit for the year was up 26% versus FY17 to $19.4 million.
The growth was driven by a record number of new and extended contracts in FY18 that together brought in $74 million.
Most contract wins were for its flagship Citadel-IX cloud-based enterprise information management platform. The platform allows clients to securely access or transfer proprietary and sensitive information remotely.
Citadel has over 24,000 clients for its Citadel-IX software, and key amongst them are several branches of Australian local, state and federal government, including the Department of Treasury and Finance, Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Victorian Public Sector Commission.
It also services private sector companies in highly regulated industries where data security is of primary concern, such as health, transport, and finance.
The strong results surprised the market. In the two weeks since releasing its results, Citadel’s shares have surged over 12% higher to $7.65.
Citadel currently trades at a multiple of a little under 24x earnings. This makes it quite cheap relative to other high performing tech stocks on the ASX. Current darling of the IT sector Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), which develops software used in the design and production of printed circuit boards, trades at about 98x earnings.
Logistics software company WiseTech Global Ltd (ASX: WTC), which has seen its share price jump 40% in the last two weeks, trades a multiple of a little under 160x earnings. And based on its first half FY18 results, data warehouse provider Nextdc Ltd (ASX: NXT) trades at a multiple of close to 200x earnings – though this could change significantly once its full year FY18 results are released to the market on Friday.
So far, Citadel hasn’t caught the attention of the market in the same way these other tech stocks have. However, the company is confident it can build on its success to deliver even more growth to shareholders in FY19.
It has a strong pipeline of opportunities, including collaborative projects with RAAF in New South Wales as well as several major universities, hospitals and healthcare centres.
Citadel is also pursuing strategic acquisitions as a way to augment its organic growth. In 2016 it acquired Kapish, a developer of record-keeping software, and late last year it snapped up Charm Health, which specialises in oncology information management.
Then in April of this year Citadel announced another e-health acquisition, purchasing Queensland-based billing and practice management software developer Anaesthetic Private Practice.
Citadel isn’t quite as developed as some of the other tech companies mentioned – Altium’s net profit was almost double Citadel’s for FY18. So that added financial uncertainty carries some extra risk, and makes it a slightly more speculative bet than some of its more established IT sector peers.
But that being said, Citadel has proven itself to be a profitable company and it has grown its revenues and net profit consistently over the last two years. It has also managed to fly under the radar and could offer good value for long term growth investors who aren’t afraid to take on a little extra risk.