YouGov Share Price Plunge: Which Funds Are Exposed?

YouGov's share price has dropped drastically. But it is difficult to gauge investor reaction, and fund houses supposedly holding the company have gone quiet

Christopher Johnson 24 June, 2024 | 12:15AM
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UK City of London Nighttime

Shares in the polling and analytics company YouGov (YOU) have taken a battering after a profit warning spooked investors away from the company last week.

The London-based market research and data firm, which is well known for its political polling, has plunged over 44% to £4.47 over the last five days. Its market capitalisation is now around £507 million.

But how are the stock's backers reacting to the disappointing news?

It is actually difficult to tell. YouGov is something of an elephant in the room in the City, and fund houses with the biggest exposures to it seem reluctant to comment.

Nevertheless, some are talking. John Moore, senior investment manager at RBC Brewin Dolphin, said that, from now on, YouGov will have to focus on rebuilding trust around its longer-term growth plans.

"YouGov is a data business that should be a long-term beneficiary of artificial intelligence (AI) but in the short term it has been broadsided by declines in its fast-turnaround research services," he told Morningstar.

"This will come as a shock to shareholders, who were guided toward high levels of visibility in the previous statement, and wider observers who might think that, in such an election-heavy year, the business should be well placed.

"From here, rebuilding trust around the longer-term growth narrative and executing on areas like the Consumer Panel business in 2025 will be key to the share price recovering."

But according to Laurence Hulse, investment director at Dowgate Wealth, the fund sold out of the polling company months ago. The fund's performance has been a mixed bag, recording negative performance of -3.02% in 2023, although its year-to-date return has picked up to 9.06%.

The Athelney Trust (ATY) held a 2.4% exposure, as of March 31, 2024.

The trust, which invests solely in UK small cap companies, has seen its share price trail the Morningstar UK Small Cap Index, with both reporting -2.8% and 8.9% over one year, respectively.

London-based asset management firm Liontrust also has a significant stake in YouGov.

The polling company features in both Liontrust's Morningstar Bronze-Medal rated UK Smaller Companies Fund, as well as the Liontrust GF Special Situations Fund at 2.36% and 1.8%, respectively. Both funds have experienced outflows over the last year.

The Liontrust UK Smaller Companies fund has seen redemptions of more than £149 million, while Liontrust GF Special Situations witnessed outflows of more than £63 million.

However, the Liontrust GF Special Situations fund has seen a positive return rate of 5.68% and 5.57% for 2023 and year-to-date, respectively. Meanwhile, the Liontrust UK Smaller companies fund lost -0.81% in 2023, but has since returned 5.23% so far in 2024.

BlackRock's Throgmorton Trust (THRG) also has a stake in YouGov at 2.23% as of March 2023. The trust's total return sits at 3.4% for the period March 31 2023 to March 31 2024, underperforming the Morningstar UK Small Cap Index, which returned 7.66% over that same period. 

What Caused YouGov's Nose Dive?

YouGov's share price nosedive was triggered by its half-year results for the six months to January 31, which saw lower sales bookings than the market had anticipated. That said, the business still expects 2024 revenue to be between £324 million and £327 million, up from £258.3 million in 2023.

Because of the disappointing performance, the business believes its full-year group adjusted operating profit will be between £41 million to £44 million, a sharp dip from the £48.3 million it recorded last year.

Peel Hunt analyst Jessica Pok said this indicated downgrades to forecasts for 2024 of around 6% to revenue, and 38% to adjusted operating profit.

"This was a disappointing statement from YouGov, given the high visibility reported at the interims," she said.

Sales in YouGov’s Data Products division have remained slow although it is optimistic about its Consumer Panel Services business, which is performing in line with expectations.

In light of the situation, Liberum analyst Andrew Ripper has amended his assessment of YouGov from Buy to Hold. He says the company now has some explaining to do.

"YouGov’s trading update was high up on the Richter scale of profit warnings," he said.

"The combination of revenue miss, lower gross margin and higher costs warranted further explanation in the RNS and/or a conference call."

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar
Athelney Trust Ord185.00 GBX0.00Rating
BlackRock Throgmorton Trust Ord645.00 GBX0.16Rating
Liontrust GF Spec Sits C3 Instl Acc £25.41 GBP1.01Rating
Liontrust UK Smaller Companies I Acc1,971.26 GBP0.59Rating
SVS Dowgate Wealth UK Small Cap Gr F Acc1.00 GBP0.81
YouGov PLC437.00 GBX1.16

About Author

Christopher Johnson  is data journalist at Morningstar

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