I could recently be found singing the praises of Cineworld and explaining why it’s an income share that I’ll be happy to hold for years. And Hollywood Bowl Group (LSE: BOWL) is another big player in the UK leisure sector, which I am seriously considering adding to my own Stocks and Shares ISA on account of its impressive dividend record.
The business of ten pin bowling on these shores is enjoying one heck of a resurgence, and this is reflected in some eye-popping financials at Hollywood Bowl and its share price taking off. Indeed, the small cap has a healthy gain of 16% in value since the turn of January and just struck record peaks of 270p per share.
Hollywood Bowl has been particularly popular with investors over the past few trading sessions, reflecting a combination of market-wide relief following the Conservatives’ general election success but also some truly brilliant trading numbers.
In the fiscal year to September 2019 revenues soared 7.8% year on year, a reflection of its efforts to supercharge the size of its alley estate (it now has 60 centres spanning the length and breadth of the UK). But for this Fool it was the rate at which like-for-like sales rose which was truly impressive – up 5.5% in the 12 months and improving from 1.8% in the previous financial year.
The results paid tribute to Hollywood Bowl’s ambitious expansion programme and site refurbishment scheme, a drive which saw the UK’s largest bowling complex opened in more than a decade, at Kent’s Lakeside shopping centre in March. No wonder, then, that the business intends to keep broadening its footprint (it has one site earmarked for opening in fiscal 2020 and a packed pipeline of six more sites in the following three years).
Special dividends keep on coming
In the run-up to those financials I tipped Hollywood Bowl to return some serious cash to its shareholders and I’m delighted to say that it didn’t disappoint.
With pre-tax profits sailing 15.3% higher it hiked the total ordinary dividend 18.7% year on year, to 7.43p per share. This was not the only reason to celebrate, however, as not only did the leisure company pay a special dividend for a third successive year but it raised it to 4.5p from 4.33p last time out.
It’s not surprising to learn that City analysts expect the ordinary payment to rise again in the new year, to 7.66p per share. Those bullish brokers are no doubt buoyed still further by news that Hollywood Bowl has made “a solid start to the new financial year”. News that adjusted operating cash flow rose 1.2% to a mighty £25.1m, and net debt sank 15.7% to £2.1m, in the last financial period has boosted the likelihood of more supplementary dividends coming down the line, too.
At current prices Hollywood Bowl trades on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 18.2 times, a bargain, given the rate at which profits have grown of late, not to mention the probability of the 1% earnings forecast for fiscal 2020 being significantly upgraded as the year progresses. It’s a cast-iron buy in my book.
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Royston Wild owns shares of Cineworld Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hollywood Bowl. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Motley Fool UK 2019