Administer acquired financial and HR administration services specialist Econia, taking a clear leap towards its 2024 net sales target of EUR 84m.
Acquired Econia and adjusted 2022 guidance
Administer announced the acquisition of Econia Ltd. Econia is a company specialised in financial and HR administration and international services operating in 13 locations in Finland and in Fuengirola, Spain. Econia’s pro forma net sales and EBITDA in 2021 were EUR 19.1m and EUR 1.7m, with corresponding predicted 2022 figures at around EUR 25m and EUR 3m. Growth has been aided by acquisitions, but organic growth has to our understanding been solid. The debt-free purchase price of the acquisition is EUR 20m, of which EUR 18m is paid in cash at the time of closing, with an additional purchase price of max. EUR 4m to be paid by June 30th, 2025. The acquisition is funded by IPO proceeds and long-term debt of EUR 13m.
Back on track to achieve growth targets
In conjunction with the acquisition Administer adjusted its 2022 guidance for net sales to EUR 50-52m (prev. 47-49m) and the EBITDA-margin to 5.5-7.5% (5.0-7.0%). The adjustment is purely related to the completed acquisition and according to management no notable deviations in the underlying business have been seen from what was communicated in the H1 earnings release. The acquisition puts Administer well back on track to achieve its 2024 net sales target of EUR 84m, also providing an additional avenue for growth internationally. Econia will also aid near-term profitability and we expect Administer to move to double-digit EBITDA-margins in 2023. Reaching the 2024 target of 24%, however, still requires significant internal actions to improve efficiency.
BUY with a target price of EUR 3.6
Current valuation levels (0.6x 2023e EV/sales) continue to suggest essentially no expectations of improvement potential. We see continued support for margins picking up through acquisition synergies and improved efficiency, although we still find the 24% EBITDA-margin target challenging.
Administer reported better H1 results than we had expected. With on-going uncertainties and challenges we have somewhat dimmed our coming year expectations and lower our TP to EUR 3.6 (4.0), BUY-rating intact.
H1 results better than anticipated
Administer reported better H1 results than we had anticipated. Net sales in H1 amounted to EUR 23.9m (EUR 21.9m in H1/21) (Evli EUR 21.9m) and grew 20.5% y/y driven by acquisitions. Net sales were burdened by the impacts of general economic uncertainty on customer activity as well as by the customer losses in Adner in 2021. EBITDA amounted to EUR 1.0m (Evli EUR 0.5m), at a margin of 4.2%. Profitability was burdened by higher than anticipated overlapping costs for the old and new system stemming from Administer’s subsidiary Adner’s system reform.
Somewhat dimmed expectations for coming years
Administer remained on track on its inorganic growth strategy, with five acquisitions announced/completed YTD (2022 target 5-10). Investments are being made into technology and strengthening the organization as part of the strategy. Administer lowered its guidance on August 12th, expecting net sales of EUR 47-49m and an EBITDA-margin of 5-7%. Our estimates remain at the midpoint of the guidance ranges. We have somewhat lowered our 2023 expectations, still expecting rapid, largely inorganic growth. We expect profitability to improve because of a lower impact of Adner’s system reform and small overall improvements. With the current uncertainties we expect a more normalized run-rate level of profitability in 2023, while further profitability improvements through Administer’s strategy and acquisition synergies appears more distant.
BUY-rating with a target price of EUR 3.6 (4.0)
Administer currently trades clearly below peers. We have and continue to see a clear discount as warranted given recent year challenges and rather low profitability. Current valuation levels (0.6x 2022e EV/sales), however, suggest little to no improvement potential. With somewhat lowered expectations for coming years, we adjust our TP to EUR 3.6 (4.0), BUY-rating intact.
Administer’s H1 figures were better than expected. Revenue amounted to EUR 23.9m (Evli EUR 21.9m), growing 20.5% mainly due to completed acquisitions. EBITA amounted to EUR 0.6m (Evli EUR 0.1m), adversely affected by Administer’s subsidiary Adner’s system reform but still better than anticipated.
Administer lowered its guidance for net sales and profitability in 2022. The mid-term potential remains but with the near-term uncertainty we lower our TP to EUR 4.0 (4.7), BUY-rating intact.
Net sales and profitability seen to be weaker than expected
Administer issued a profit warning on Friday, Aug 12th. The company now expects 2022 net sales of EUR 47-49m (prev. >EUR 51m) and an EBITDA-margin of 5-7% (prev. >8%). The lowering of the guidance is based upon the general economic uncertainty and the impact on customer activity. Higher than anticipated overlapping costs for the old and new system stemming from Administer’s subsidiary Adner’s system reform have also impacted profitability negatively during the current year. In addition, net sales from system consulting and expert services in connection with EmCe’s client projects have been slightly lower than the company had expected.
Organic growth and transactional volumes a concern
We have for now adjusted our estimates towards the mid-range of the new guidance and our 2022 EBITDA estimate is as such down by near 40%. In our view the lower customer activity due to the general economy is of more concern, as costs relating to the system reform should ease at some point and we hypothesize that the lower project-based revenue may at least partially be due to higher sick-leaves that have been seen in Finland during H1 due to the pandemic. Administer reports its H1/2022 results on August 31st. Inorganic growth plans have progressed according to communicated plans, with four acquisitions so far during 2022, and our interest in the results will be primarily oriented towards the noted factors affecting growth and the development of organic growth ambitions.
BUY-rating with a target price of EUR 4.0 (4.7)
Administer’s 2022 financials were known to be sub-par in 2022 due to previous challenges but the guidance downgrade brings an unfortunate dent in the growth and profitability trajectory. The company’s mid-term potential remains, but with the noted challenges we lower our TP to EUR 4.0 (4.7), BUY-rating intact.
Administer reported H2 results and a gave a guidance that were well in line with our expectations and we as such see no need to revise our estimates or views. We retain our TP of EUR 4.7 and BUY-rating.
H2 well in line with expectations
Administer reported H2 results well in line with expectations. Revenue grew 3.2% y/y to EUR 22.0m (Evli EUR 22.1m) driven by the acquisition of EmCe. EBITDA and EBIT amounted to EUR 1.7m and EUR 0.3m respectively (Evli EUR 1.6m/0.4m). Profitability was affected by the company’s investments into growth and technological development. With the net result affected by IPO related expenses and as such being clearly negative, the BoD proposed that no dividends be paid for FY 2021 (Evli EUR 0.00).
Seeking to clearly pick up growth
Administer reiterated the earlier communicated outlook for 2022, expecting revenue to grow to over EUR 51m and to achieve and EBITDA-margin of at least 8%. With the H2 results and the guidance corresponding to our expectations, along with no significant changes to our views on Administer’s potential, we make no notable changes to our estimates. We expect 2022 revenue of EUR 52.1m and an EBITDA-margin of 9.2%. Current estimate uncertainty mainly stems from growth expected to be driven by acquisitions, with Administer seeing 5-10 acquisitions being made during 2022. Near-term profitability improvements should mainly arise from a lesser impact of challenges faced during 2021, with expectations of measures to improve operational efficiency and synergies from acquisitions to start to show from 2023 onwards.
BUY-rating with a target price of EUR 4.7
With our views and estimates essentially intact we retain our BUY-rating and target price of EUR 4.7. On our estimates current valuation implies a 2022e EV/sales of 0.7x, which in our view does not account for the improvement potential, albeit we acknowledge that Administer has yet to prove its worth.
Administer’s H2 figures were well in line with our expectations, with revenue of EUR 22.0m (Evli EUR 22.1m) and EBITA of EUR 1.3m (Evli EUR 1.3m). Administer expects revenue in 2022 to grow to at least EUR 51m and an EBITDA-margin of at least 8%. The BoD proposes that no dividend be paid for FY 2021 (Evli EUR 0.00).
Administer is one of the leading providers of financial management by revenue and HR & payroll services by number of pay slips in Finland seeking rapid growth and clear profitability improvements supported by M&A activity.
Seeking rapid and profitable M&A supported growth
Administer is one of the leading providers of financial management and HR & payroll services in Finland. Founded in 1985, the company has grown rapidly in recent years through acquisitions and today employs around 600 employees. Administer is in its strategy seeking to continue growth inorganically as well as boosting organic sales growth through investments into its sales organization and looking to clearly improve its profitability through growth, synergies from acquired companies and through enhancing the efficiency of own operations. The company targets revenue of EUR 84m and an EBITDA-margin of at least 24% in 2024.
Set to return to rapid growth in 2022
Administer’s recent financial performance has been affected by the pandemic, a loss of several larger customers in its subsidiary Adner and growth investments and reported figures have so far during 2021 declined y/y. A clear pick-up in growth is seen in 2022, aided by the acquisition of financial administration SaaS solutions provider EmCe, with profitability also set to recover with a reduction in the impact of previously noted challenges. The company’s growth and profitability potential is in our view considerable but the potential realization is still a long way away.
Initiate coverage with buy-rating and TP of EUR 4.7
We initiate coverage of Administer with a target price of EUR 4.7 and BUY-rating. In deriving our target price for Administer we rely mainly on peer multiples and further compile a scenario analysis to illustrate the impact the company’s financial targets, should they materialize, could have on the value. Our target price values Administer at 1.2x 2022e EV/sales and 16.6x 2022e EV/EBITA, near the lower end of peer multiples, which we currently consider fair as Administer’s financial performance is still quite clearly sub-par.
|Shareholders||Date||% of shares||% of votes|
These research reports have been prepared by Evli Research Partners Plc (“ERP” or “Evli Research”). ERP is a subsidiary of Evli Plc.
None of the analysts contributing to this report, persons under their guardianship or corporations under their control have a position in the shares of the company or related securities. The date and time for any price of financial instruments mentioned in the recommendation refer to the previous trading day’s closing price(s) unless otherwise stated in the report. Each analyst responsible for the content of this report assures that the expressed views accurately reflect the personal views of each analyst on the covered companies and securities. Each analyst assures that (s)he has not been, nor are or will be, receiving direct or indirect compensation related to the specific recommendations or views contained in this report.
Companies in the Evli Group, affiliates or staff of companies in the Evli Group, may perform services for, solicit business from, hold long or short positions in, or otherwise be interested in the investments (including derivatives) of any company mentioned in the publication or report. Neither ERP nor any company within the Evli Group have managed or co-managed a public offering of the company’s securities during the last 12 months prior to, received compensation for investment banking services from the company during the last 12 months prior to the publication of the research report.
ERP has signed an agreement with the issuer of the financial instruments mentioned in the recommendation, which includes production of research reports. This assignment has a limited economic and financial impact on ERP and/or Evli. Under the assignment ERP performs services including, but not limited to, arranging investor meetings or –events, investor relations communication advisory and production of research material. ERP or another company within the Evli Group does not have an agreement with the company to perform market making or liquidity providing services. For the prevention and avoidance of conflicts of interests with respect to this report, there is an information barrier (Chinese wall) between Investment Research and Corporate Finance units concerning unpublished investment banking services to the company. The remuneration of the analyst(s) is not tied directly or indirectly to investment banking transactions or other services performed by Evli Plc or any company within Evli Group.
This report is provided and intended for informational purposes only and may not be used or considered under any circumstances as an offer to sell or buy any securities or as advice to trade any securities.
This report is based on sources ERP considers to be correct and reliable. The sources include information providers Reuters and Bloomberg, stock-exchange releases from the companies and other company news, Statistics Finland and articles in newspapers and magazines. However, ERP does not guarantee the materialization, correctness, accuracy or completeness of the information, opinions, estimates or forecasts expressed or implied in the report. In addition, circumstantial changes may have an influence on opinions and estimates presented in this report. The opinions and estimates presented are valid at the moment of their publication and they can be changed without a separate announcement. Neither ERP nor any company within the Evli Group are responsible for amending, correcting or updating any information, opinions or estimates contained in this report. Neither ERP nor any company within the Evli Group will compensate any direct or consequential loss caused by or derived from the use of the information represented in this publication.
All information published in this report is for the original recipient’s private and internal use only. ERP reserves all rights to the report. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of ERP.
This report or its copy may not be published or distributed in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore or South Africa. The publication or distribution of this report in certain other jurisdictions may also be restricted by law. Persons into whose possession this report comes are required to inform themselves about and to observe any such restrictions.
Evli Plc is not registered as a broker-dealer with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and it and its analysts are not subject to SEC rules on securities analysts’ certification as to the currency of their views reflected in the research report. Evli is not a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”). It and its securities analysts are not subject to FINRA’s rules on Communications with the Public and Research Analysts and Research Reports and the attendant requirements for fairness, balance and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. This research report is only being offered in U.S. by Auerbach Grayson & Company, LLC (Auerbach Grayson) to Major U.S. Institutional Investors and is not available to, and should not be used by, any U.S. person or entity that is not a Major U.S. Institutional Investor. Auerbach Grayson is a broker-dealer registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and is a member of the FINRA. U.S. entities seeking more information about any of the issuers or securities discussed in this report should contact Auerbach Grayson. The securities of non-U.S. issuers may not be registered with or subject to SEC reporting and other requirements.
ERP is not a supervised entity but its parent company Evli Plc is supervised by the Finnish Financial Supervision Authority.
For professional investors wishing to discuss the case, please book a complimentary analyst call