Marshall Motor is the seventh largest UK motor retailer, operating 101 franchises spread across 22 brands at 89 locations. It is one of six UK dealership groups that represent each of the top five volume and premium brands. It has a strong presence in eastern and southern England.
In contrast to some of its immediate peers, Marshall Motor Holdings (MMH) continues to deliver robust performances in even more challenging UK car markets. Increased revenues and gross profit, with gross margins maintained at 11.4%, limited the fall in H119 PBT to just £0.8m or 5% compared to H118, allowing for the restatement for adoption of IFRS 16. We maintain our underlying PBT estimates for FY19, which are reduced by the non-cash impact from the implementation to IFRS 16 by around 3.6%. We feel recent price weakness was due to company-specific issues at peers. While MMH may be facing a plateau in profitability as UK car markets await clearer economic signals, we feel the yield is supportive while investors await any improvement in fundamentals for the automotive retail sector overall.
Market dynamics favour larger motor dealership groups against smaller independent groups, which still command c 60% of the franchise market. Global manufacturing overcapacity still points to OEM support, although market and buyer confidence is undermined by Brexit concerns and negative sentiment on diesel with ongoing new car supply disruption due to the new WLTP emissions testing regime. The large rating discount to the FTSE All-Share General Retailers Index fails to recognise defensive qualities across a sector where used vehicle and aftersales activities account for the majority of profits.