Regus appears to be on to something with its flexible business model and markets have caught on, the Financial Times´s Lex column said.
Its stock was trading near its 2016 high on a price-to-earnings multiple of close to 25.
The real estate firm not only owns its properties, it also equips and leases office space around the globe, adjusting its offering to the diverse needs of its clients.
All in keeping with the millenial mindset, the firm encourages clients to book offices via its apps, lowering its own sales costs in the process.
Such thinking allowed it to cut its first-half overheads by 9% versus the previous year, despite increasing the number of its facilities.
Given the cheap financing now available, the temptation is to keep adding assets, whose profitability has tended to increase sharply as time goes by even if at the cost of burning cash in the short-term.
Properties added in 2011 now return 21% in terms of their cash flow return on invested capital, while the 2015 vintage is running at -9.0%.
Nevertheless, increasing assets in a retail business only makes sense when the productivity of each asset is rising and in the US - from which it derives over 40% of its sales - "there are signs this is not happening".
Like its clients, so too Regus must retain flexibility, investing only when demand is strongest, Lex concluded.
The reaction in shares
of Legal&General and Standard Life following their most recent set of figures may signal that the latter are set to start outperforming, the Financial Times´s Lex column said.
After the release of its latest financials stock in the former dropped, while Standard Life´s gained, yet they both unveiled double-digit increases in operating profits and increased dividends.
So what´s going on? Tuesday´s disparate reaction was because Legal & General cut its full-year free cash flow estimates, after having decided to hold more cash in the run-up to Brexit, Lex explained.
That, however, may mean imperil its dividend.
A lower growth trajectory for the British economy may also hit annuity business, which accounts for nearly half its profits, for example.
Standard Life, on the other hand, is more like an asset manager than your typical traditional insurer, Lex said.
More than 90% of its revenues orginate from (recurring) management fees, which should make its dividend safer.
Standard Life´s share have underperformed those of its rival by 26% over the past three years, which seems "excessive", the tipster said.
"If it can boost inflows, it should outperform its rival in the year ahead."