Esker — Growth momentum maintained in Q223

Esker (PAR: ALESK)

Last close As at 21/06/2024

EUR181.70

3.20 (1.79%)

Market capitalisation

EUR1,101m

More on this equity

Research: TMT

Esker — Growth momentum maintained in Q223

Esker continued to make good progress in Q223, with constant currency (cc) year-on-year revenue growth of 15% (the same as in Q123). Order intake on an annual recurring revenue (ARR) basis was 14% higher cc for Q223 and 18% higher for H123. The company narrowed its organic cc revenue growth guidance for FY23 to the upper end of the previous range (now 14–15%) and maintained its operating margin expectations. We maintain our revenue and EPS forecasts and raise our dividend forecasts.

Katherine Thompson

Written by

Katherine Thompson

Director

Esker_resized

TMT

Esker

Growth momentum maintained in Q223

Q223 revenue update

Software and comp services

20 July 2023

Price

€148.5

Market cap

€874m

US$1.12/€

Net cash (€m) at end H123

32.5

Shares in issue

5.9m

Free float

78%

Code

ALESK

Primary exchange

Euronext Growth Paris

Secondary exchange

OTCQX

Share price performance

%

1m

3m

12m

Abs

1.0

8.4

11.7

Rel (local)

0.7

11.5

(4.1)

52-week high/low

€168.1

€108.6

Business description

Esker provides end-to-end SaaS-based document automation solutions supporting order-to-cash and procure-to-pay processes. In FY22, the business generated 52% of revenues from Europe, 42% from the United States and the remainder from Asia and Australia.

Next events

H123 results

13 September 2023

Analyst

Katherine Thompson

+44 (0)20 3077 5700

Esker is a research client of Edison Investment Research Limited

Esker continued to make good progress in Q223, with constant currency (cc) year-on-year revenue growth of 15% (the same as in Q123). Order intake on an annual recurring revenue (ARR) basis was 14% higher cc for Q223 and 18% higher for H123. The company narrowed its organic cc revenue growth guidance for FY23 to the upper end of the previous range (now 14–15%) and maintained its operating margin expectations. We maintain our revenue and EPS forecasts and raise our dividend forecasts.

Year

end

Revenue
(€m)

PBT*
(€m)

EPS*
(€)

DPS
(€)

P/E
(x)

Yield
(%)

12/21

133.6

18.0

2.37

0.60

62.7

0.4

12/22

159.0

23.4

3.03

0.75

49.0

0.5

12/23e

180.1

24.2

3.01

0.80

49.3

0.5

12/24e

205.4

28.7

3.52

0.85

42.2

0.6

Note: *PBT and EPS are normalised and fully diluted, excluding amortisation of acquired intangibles, exceptional items and share-based payments.

Another record revenue quarter

Esker reported Q223 revenue of €45.1m, up by 13% y-o-y or 15% cc. H123 revenue of €87.9m was up by 16% y-o-y cc. SaaS was the main driver of growth, making up 82% of revenue and growing by 20% y-o-y cc in Q223 and H123. Transaction volumes remained resilient during H123 after a weaker period in H222. Implementation revenue growth was lower (Q2 +12% cc, H1 +10% cc) due to the increasing proportion of projects being implemented by partners. Order intake was strong during the quarter (ARR +14% cc y-o-y); the company signed several contracts via OEM relationships and widened the payment options available in the US to include virtual cards (vCards). Esker has positioned itself to support customers adopting the new e-invoicing requirements in France and we believe this could lead to stronger order intake in France from H223.

Tightening the guidance range for FY23

After strong underlying revenue and bookings growth in H123, management has tightened its cc revenue growth guidance for FY23 to the upper end of the previous range (from 13–15% to 14–15%) and maintained its operating margin guidance. We maintain our revenue and EPS forecasts for FY23 and FY24 (a small increase in cc revenue is offset by the effect of the stronger euro versus the US dollar) and have increased our dividend forecasts after a higher-than-expected dividend for FY22 was announced in June.

Valuation: Reflects profitable growth strategy

Based on EV/sales and P/E ratios, the stock continues to trade at a premium to French software peers (CY P/E c 36x), we believe due to its high level of recurring revenue, history of and potential for double-digit profitable growth and strong balance sheet, and at a discount to US SaaS peers (CY P/E c 77x). With net cash of €32.5m at the end of H123, the company is well-funded to take advantage of opportunities to make bolt-on acquisitions, which in the current environment may become more affordable.

Q2 revenue update

In Exhibit 1, we summarise the revenue performance for Q223 and H123. SaaS revenue continued to grow strongly, at 20% on an organic cc basis for both Q223 and H123. Esker noted that transaction volumes have been resilient so far this year after a weaker period in H222. Implementation services revenue was 12% higher y-o-y (cc) for Q223 and 10% higher for H123; as we have written before, growth lags SaaS revenue due to the increasing percentage of projects implemented by partners (the company estimates a two-thirds/one-third split for Esker/partners). Legacy products declined by more than half in Q223 and now make up less than 2% of group revenue.

Exhibit 1: Quarterly and half-yearly revenue and bookings

€m

Q223

Q222

y-o-y reported

y-o-y organic cc

H123

H122

y-o-y reported

y-o-y organic cc

Revenue

SaaS

37.2

31.5

18%

20%

72.5

60.8

19%

20%

Implementation services

7.0

6.4

11%

12%

13.4

12.2

10%

10%

Legacy products

0.9

1.9

-53%

-53%

2.0

3.3

-39%

-39%

Total revenue

45.1

39.8

13%

15%

87.9

76.3

15%

16%

Bookings

ARR

4.6

4.0

15%

14%

9.0

7.8

15%

18%

Source: Esker

Revenue growth was 15% for Europe and 16% for the US in Q223. Esker noted that revenue growth in Asia-Pacific was lower at 8% y-o-y cc (Q2 and H223) but that demand improved in May and June and should be stronger for the remainder of the year.

Bookings on an ARR basis were 14% higher y-o-y cc in Q223 and 18% higher for H123. Orders for source-to-pay solutions made up more than half of the intake followed by accounts receivable. At the end of H123, the company had a potential sales pipeline of €184m, up by 25% y-o-y, with roughly half for source-to-pay solutions and the remainder split equally between customer service and accounts receivable solutions.

While bookings intake in France remained weak compared to other geographies, it improved compared to Q123, up by 6% q-o-q. Customers in France continue to consider the best way to implement the upcoming e-invoicing requirements, which will come into force on 1 July 2024. Esker has applied for a plateforme de dématérialisation partenaire (PDP) and pilot programme registration with the General Directorate of Public Finances in France (DGFiP); the DGFiP will decide this by the end of 2023. A PDP will be responsible for receiving and transmitting invoices, checking them, extracting data and ensuring e-reporting of VAT data. Esker has also set up a group of volunteer companies to take part in a pilot programme organised by the DGFiP, which will start at the beginning of 2024 and will carry out the first exchanges with the government’s public invoicing platform.

At the end of H123, the company had net cash of €32.5m (gross cash €45.2m, debt €12.7m).

Business update

During H123, the company continued to be recognised by market analysts and was named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated Invoice-to-Cash Applications, a Market Leader in Ardent Partners’ 2023 ePayables Technology Advisor and as a Technology Leader in the SPARK Matrix: Accounts Receivable Applications 2023.

From a technology perspective, the company has enhanced its customer service solution suite with ChatGPT and was awarded a US patent for machine learning data extraction.

Notable contracts signed during the quarter include:

Two deals signed through a US OEM, Commerce Bank.

An OEM deal signed with Forterro, a French enterprise resource planning software supplier focused on industrial companies. Esker will supply the e-invoicing component of the software.

Five deals signed that use the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations connector.

First accounts receivable deal signed supporting vCard payment (virtual credit cards) via Boost, a B2B payments solution provider.

In May, the company announced changes to its corporate governance. It expanded the executive committee with two new members, Nicolas Mougin, director of international support and Consulting Services, and Ari Widlansky, director of global strategic alliances. It promoted Claire Valencony to deputy director of global operations in collaboration with Emmanuel Olivier, current COO. The company has also created an associate executive committee to develop future management.

Outlook and changes to forecasts

The company narrowed its organic growth revenue forecast, from 13–15% to 14–15% (mid-point raised by 0.5pp), and maintained its operating margin guidance of 12–14% for FY23. We have revised up our underlying revenue forecasts slightly (from 14% to 15%), although, on a reported basis, this has been offset by a slight strengthening of the euro versus the US dollar. Overall, we maintain our revenue and EPS forecasts. At the end of June, the company announced a €0.75 dividend for FY22, significantly higher than our €0.65 estimate. It also continues to pay a 10% higher dividend to shareholders who have held the shares for at least two years. We have raised our dividend forecasts for FY23 and FY24.

Exhibit 2: Changes to forecasts

€m

FY23e old

FY23e new

change

y-o-y

FY24e old

FY24e new

change

y-o-y

Revenues

180.1

180.1

0.0%

13.3%

205.4

205.4

0.0%

14.0%

EBITDA

33.9

33.9

0.0%

6.7%

39.7

39.7

(0.0%)

17.0%

EBITDA margin

18.8%

18.8%

(0.0%)

(1.2%)

19.3%

19.3%

(0.0%)

0.5%

Normalised EBIT

22.5

22.5

0.0%

3.8%

27.0

27.0

(0.0%)

19.9%

Normalised EBIT margin

12.5%

12.5%

(0.0%)

(1.1%)

13.1%

13.1%

(0.0%)

0.6%

Reported EBIT

22.2

22.2

0.0%

3.8%

26.7

26.7

(0.0%)

20.1%

Reported EBIT margin

12.3%

12.3%

(0.0%)

(1.1%)

13.0%

13.0%

(0.0%)

0.7%

Normalised PBT

24.2

24.2

0.0%

3.1%

28.7

28.7

(0.0%)

18.7%

Normalised net income

18.4

18.4

0.0%

0.4%

21.8

21.8

(0.0%)

18.7%

Reported net income

18.2

18.2

0.0%

1.7%

21.6

21.6

(0.0%)

18.9%

Normalised diluted EPS (€)

3.01

3.01

0.0%

(0.6%)

3.52

3.52

(0.0%)

16.8%

Reported basic EPS (€)

3.08

3.08

0.0%

1.7%

3.60

3.60

(0.0%)

16.9%

Reported diluted EPS (€)

2.98

2.98

0.0%

0.7%

3.49

3.49

(0.0%)

17.0%

Net cash

41.6

40.9

(1.5%)

25.4%

51.5

50.3

(2.4%)

22.8%

DPS (€)

0.70

0.80

14.3%

6.7%

0.75

0.85

13.3%

6.3%

Source: Edison Investment Research

Exhibit 3: Financial summary

€'000s

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023e

2024e

Year end 31 December

French GAAP

French GAAP

French GAAP

French GAAP

French GAAP

French GAAP

French GAAP

PROFIT & LOSS

Revenue

 

 

86,871

104,188

112,274

133,580

158,987

180,145

205,429

EBITDA

 

 

18,279

20,054

21,927

25,653

31,802

33,933

39,700

Operating Profit (before amort and except)

 

 

11,955

12,843

14,037

16,844

21,672

22,496

26,963

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

(344)

(425)

(425)

(263)

(263)

(263)

(263)

Exceptionals and other income

(88)

(62)

0

0

0

0

0

Other income

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Operating Profit

11,523

12,356

13,612

16,581

21,409

22,233

26,700

Net Interest

(57)

268

(67)

202

272

125

125

Profit Before Tax (norm)

 

 

12,215

13,634

14,462

18,048

23,441

24,171

28,688

Profit Before Tax (FRS 3)

 

 

11,783

13,147

14,528

18,188

22,879

23,908

28,425

Tax

(2,940)

(3,402)

(2,966)

(3,907)

(5,015)

(5,738)

(6,822)

Profit After Tax (norm)

9,168

10,106

11,509

14,171

18,303

18,370

21,803

Profit After Tax (FRS 3)

8,843

9,745

11,562

14,281

17,864

18,170

21,603

Ave. Number of Shares Outstanding (m)

5.4

5.4

5.7

5.8

5.9

5.9

6.0

EPS - normalised (c)

 

 

170

186

203

242

310

312

364

EPS - normalised fully diluted (c)

 

 

165

179

199

237

303

301

352

EPS - (GAAP) (c)

 

 

164

180

204

244

303

308

360

Dividend per share (c)

41

33

50

60

75

80

85

Gross margin (%)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

EBITDA Margin (%)

21.0

19.2

19.5

19.2

20.0

18.8

19.3

Operating Margin (before GW and except) (%)

13.8

12.3

12.5

12.6

13.6

12.5

13.1

BALANCE SHEET

Fixed Assets

 

 

39,635

47,201

48,987

57,229

71,650

75,600

79,200

Intangible Assets

28,096

29,323

30,787

33,644

47,651

50,151

52,151

Tangible Assets

7,050

10,434

10,036

9,896

8,986

8,886

8,886

Other

4,489

7,444

8,164

13,689

15,013

16,563

18,163

Current Assets

 

 

49,016

52,022

72,918

71,534

90,671

103,138

119,555

Stocks

147

185

257

341

512

512

512

Debtors

25,551

30,015

31,440

35,548

46,158

50,342

57,408

Cash

22,794

21,357

40,421

34,978

42,887

51,170

60,522

Other

524

465

800

667

1,114

1,114

1,114

Current Liabilities

 

 

(30,072)

(34,300)

(50,150)

(45,872)

(45,533)

(48,382)

(51,787)

Creditors

(30,072)

(34,300)

(38,650)

(44,703)

(45,533)

(48,382)

(51,787)

Short term borrowings

0

0

(11,500)

(1,169)

0

0

0

Long Term Liabilities

 

 

(10,810)

(8,276)

(6,342)

(2,497)

(18,148)

(18,148)

(18,148)

Long term borrowings

(9,318)

(6,516)

(3,644)

0

(15,034)

(15,034)

(15,034)

Other long term liabilities

(1,492)

(1,760)

(2,698)

(2,497)

(3,114)

(3,114)

(3,114)

Net Assets

 

 

47,769

56,647

65,413

80,394

98,640

112,208

128,820

CASH FLOW

Operating Cash Flow

 

 

18,366

20,290

24,389

28,844

22,410

32,598

36,039

Net Interest

63

352

(30)

253

866

125

125

Tax

(2,795)

(3,329)

(884)

(3,420)

(5,074)

(5,738)

(6,822)

Capex

(7,789)

(10,995)

(10,167)

(11,140)

(12,492)

(14,100)

(15,000)

Acquisitions/disposals

(225)

(486)

(492)

(5,491)

(8,902)

0

0

Financing

785

1,449

48

2,769

792

0

0

Dividends

(1,756)

(2,237)

(1,896)

(2,897)

(3,555)

(4,602)

(4,990)

Net Cash Flow

6,649

5,044

10,968

8,918

(5,955)

8,284

9,352

Opening net debt/(cash)

 

 

(10,016)

(16,576)

(21,018)

(30,285)

(38,609)

(32,653)

(40,936)

HP finance leases initiated

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Other

(90)

(602)

(1,701)

(594)

(1)

0

0

Closing net debt/(cash)

 

 

(16,576)

(21,018)

(30,285)

(38,609)

(32,653)

(40,936)

(50,288)

Source: Esker, Edison Investment Research


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This report has been commissioned by Esker and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Esker. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

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General disclaimer and copyright

This report has been commissioned by Esker and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Esker. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Edison shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential losses, loss of profits, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained on this note.

No personalised advice: The information that we provide should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as, personalised advice. Also, the information provided by us should not be construed by any subscriber or prospective subscriber as Edison’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect, any transaction in a security. The securities described in the report may not be eligible for sale in all jurisdictions or to certain categories of investors.

Investment in securities mentioned: Edison has a restrictive policy relating to personal dealing and conflicts of interest. Edison Group does not conduct any investment business and, accordingly, does not itself hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this report. However, the respective directors, officers, employees and contractors of Edison may have a position in any or related securities mentioned in this report, subject to Edison's policies on personal dealing and conflicts of interest.

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London │ New York │ Frankfurt

20 Red Lion Street

London, WC1R 4PS

United Kingdom

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Nano Dimension — Tender offer for Stratasys extended again

Nano Dimension has raised its tender offer for Stratasys again, increasing its cash offer from $24 to $25 per share and extending the closing date to 31 July. If successful, it plans to explore options for further consolidation of the industry. If unsuccessful, it will review its Stratasys investment and may sell its stake on the open market.

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