Why the Webjet share price is up 42% in 2019

The Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) share price may have drifted lower on Tuesday, but it remains one of the best performing shares on the ASX 200 in 2019.

Even after accounting for today’s 2% decline, the online travel agent’s shares are up a massive 42% since the start of the year.

Only a handful of shares such as Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) and Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) have performed better this year.

Why is the Webjet share price up 42% this year?

The key driver of Webjet’s share price gain in 2019 was the release of a better than expected half year result last month.

Expectations had been low for the company due to concerns over the weakness in the European and domestic markets, but Webjet proved the doubters wrong with another stellar half.

During the first half Webjet delivered a 29% increase in total transaction value (TTV) to $1.9 billion, a 33% lift in revenue to $175.3 million, and a 59% jump in net profit after tax to $31.8 million.

The strong result was driven largely by the WebBeds (B2B) segment. It reported a 50% increase in bookings, a 65% lift in TTV, and an incredible 136% jump in segment EBITDA to $30.1 million.

And while its Webjet OTA and Online Republic segments didn’t perform anywhere near as strong, they both made a positive contribution to the company’s EBITDA. The Webjet OTA business posted an 11% increase in EBITDA to $28.5 million and the Online Republic business achieved EBITDA growth of 14% to $6.9 million.

Is it too late to invest?

Webjet’s shares may have rallied strongly since the start of the year, but they still change hands at a reasonable 25x estimated forward earnings.

I don’t think this is overly expensive for a company that expects to deliver full year EBITDA of at least $120 million, excluding the recently acquired Destinations of the World business. This will be a 37% increase on FY 2018’s EBITDA of $87.4 million.

Furthermore, with management optimistic that its key WebBeds business still has a significant runway for growth, I believe the company could continue growing at a solid rate for a number of years to come. This could make it one of the best growth shares to buy on the ASX right now in my opinion.

As well as Webjet, I think these top growth shares could be worth snapping up this month.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO and Appen Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Webjet Ltd. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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