YouGov ‘cautiously optimistic’ about annual results

YouGov ‘cautiously optimistic’ full-year profits after strong half-year showing for British polling company

  • YouGov was co-founded by under-fire Conservative Party MP Nadhim Zahawi
  • The firm stated that it expects to hit top-line annual growth this financial year
  • First-half trading was buoyed by client spending on strategic market research

YouGov has said it remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ on its full-year prospects as the polling group revealed a robust first-half result.

The firm, which was co-founded by under-fire Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, told investors on Friday that it expects to hit top-line annual growth this financial year, in line with analyst forecasts.

Revenues expanded across most countries and divisions in the six months ending January 2023, primarily thanks to customers spending money on strategic market research.

Outlook: YouGov said the sales pipeline going into the second half of the year ‘remains healthy’ and is confident of additional margin growth even while making significant investments

Trading in the US was buoyed by significant demand from sectors like technology, while UK revenues were driven by a solid performance from commercial teams in the face of elevated recession threats.

YouGov said its sales pipeline going into the second half of the year ‘remains healthy’ and is confident of accomplishing additional margin growth, even while carrying out significant investments.

In recent years, the London-listed data provider has invested significant sums in developing its technology, expanding into new markets, and launching several new products, including the data marketplace platform YouGov Safe.

It has also bought technology business Rezonence, Australian consultancy Faster Horses, and Istanbul-based research agency Wizsight.

The takeovers form part of a long-term strategy that includes goals to double sales and adjusted operating profit margin, and achieve a compound annual growth rate exceeding 30 per cent in adjusted earnings per share up to this fiscal year.

‘As a result of this resilient performance in the first half, we remain cautiously optimistic on the group’s prospects for FY23 and aim to maintain momentum as we approach the final stretch of our current long-term strategic growth plan,’ the firm remarked.

The polling organisation also revealed that Stephan Shakespeare, one of its two founders, is set to become its chairman sometime from the beginning of August, replacing media and technology investor Roger Parry.

Shakespeare founded the company with Zahawi, whose political career hangs in the balance after he confessed to paying a settlement to HM Revenue and Customs over a shareholding in YouGov.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Education Secretary has faced scrutiny over a tranche of shares in the market research business that were allocated to Balshore Investments, a trust based in Gibraltar.

Zahawi has denied being a beneficiary of Balshore, which would otherwise have made him liable for an estimated £3.7million tax charge when the trust sold its stake in YouGov for about £27million in 2018.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Stratford-upon-Avon MP said that ‘neither [Zahawi] nor his direct family are beneficiaries of Balshore Investments or any trust associated with it.’

Having closed Thursday at exactly £10, YouGov shares were up 5p on Friday afternoon, although their value has fallen by around 23 per cent in the past year.