Cyber security is all the rage these days and for good reason. From interference in elections to siphoning bank accounts and selling credit card data, thieves are finding the internet an increasingly lucrative and effective playground.
That's where £400m market cap GB Group (LSE: GBG) comes in. The firm provides best-in-class identity verification tools to blue-chip clients that help detect fraud, validate data and perform record checks on prospective customers and employees alike.
Business has been booming for the company as it has won over new clients, upsold existing ones as it adds new services, and regularly acquired complementary firms. Since 2012, turnover has doubled to £73.4m and profits have been growing at an even faster clip due to four straight years of double-digits earnings growth.
And this growth looks set to continue into 2017 and beyond. The company's final trading update for the year to March disclosed operating profits were 27% ahead of the year prior, while revenue grew 19% year-on-year, with 12% of this due to organic growth.
So 2017 will make it five straight years of double-digits profit growth, but what about the years ahead? There's good news on this front as the company announced this morning that it was acquiring competitor PCA Predict for £73m. Considering PCA provides complementary services, GB management reckons this deal will increase cross-selling opportunities with current clients, add new ones and be earnings-enhancing in the first full year.
This purchase is to be funded through a £58m rights issue that will increase the number of shares by around 12%. While this will be dilutive for current shareholders, the company does have a very good record of successfully integrating acquisitions and should keep its balance sheet in rude health.
GB Group's shares are pricey at 35 times forward earnings but with industry tailwinds and acquisitions providing great growth, I reckon the company is one to watch in the coming years.
Don't sleep on this growth stock
Another company benefitting from secular growth in its industry is student accommodation provider Watkin Jones (LSE: WJG). 2016, the company's maiden year as a public company, saw revenue rise 9.3% year-on-year as the company increased the number of beds under management by 50% to 12,337 at year-end.
Future growth prospects look fairly solid as well as it has a further 11,098 beds in its development pipeline as of the end of March and is contracted to manage a further 4,000 beds once the academic year begins in the autumn.
However, I'm leery about investing in the student accommodation sector at this point in time. Sky-high rents being charged have triggered a backlash from students and their unions, which could lead politicians to score easy points and crack down on rather exorbitant fees. There is also the added wrinkle of the current government's desire to reduce net migration levels, which could significantly impact the number of wealthy overseas students willing to pay top dollar for accommodation.
While Watkin Jones is growing nicely and its shares are sanely priced at around 13 times forward earnings, the possibility of government regulation negatively impacting the industry will stop me from investing in the sector.
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Ian Pierce has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.