If ever there was a cyclical share it is Marshalls MSLH which is like a bell weather for the housing and construction industries. Whilst it could easily slump as building recessions loomed, there were times when it looked as if it would never reap the benefits of the building booms. 2015 however was so good that it enabled Marshall’s to follow the lead of the house builders and impose price increases ahead of cost inflation.
Last years interim results and Decembers trading update gave strong indications that 2015 was turning out to be a good year and so it has proved. A strong last quarter and a robust order intake enabled the Board to revise its expectations upwards and it has lived up to that with a 57% rise in profit before tax on revenue up by 8% and basic earnings per share rising by 41% for the year to the end of December.
Shareholders get their rewards with the final dividend being increased by 19% plus a supplementary dividend of 2p also being recommended. With a 13% increase in the interim dividend, total dividends for 2015 have risen by 50% from 6p to 9p., a tidy jump which is a bit more rewarding than stashing your money away in some stodgy Swiss bank.
Over the last five years, despite swings and roundabouts and one two hairy moments, shareholders have done well. Starting at 80p in mid 2012 they had risen to 257p by March last year and 370p by September before collapsing just as quickly and perhaps surprisingy, back down to 265p exactly a month ago. That fall was quickly reversed and at close of business yesterday they had broken through 300p and have now moved up a further 10p this morning.
So all in all, a a rise from 80p to 310p in under four years is a fairly acceptable return.