Shares of YouGov (LSE: YOU) ticked down slightly to 73p during early London trading this morning, after the market research agency reported its adjusted profits before tax were up by 16% to £2.6m for the six-month period to January 2013.

YouGov, which has operations in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the USA, said adjusted earnings per share were up by 13% to 2p.

The company was also keen to stress to investors that its balance sheet remains strong, highlighting its net cash balance of £6.4m -- despite being down some £3.9m on the 2012 figure.

A maiden dividend payment of 0.5p per was also made to shareholders following the December 2012 AGM.

Stephan Shakespeare, YouGov's chief executive, said:

"YouGov has had a strong first half, delivering solid like-for-like growth and improved profits while continuing to develop our capacity to meet clients' changing requirements. We continued to grow our business internationally, especially in the US, the Middle East and most recently in France, and are pleased to report a significant improvement in profitability in Germany reflecting the successful turnaround there.

" ... Trading across the Group remains in line with our expectations and the Board remains confident of the full year outcome."

Looking to the second half of the year, Mr Shakespeare reckons that forthcoming enhancements to YouGov's BrandIndex product (a solution designed to measure the public perception of brands) are already positively impacting on sales. Global BrandIndex revenue for the group was reportedly up 26% for the six-month period.

Based on today's results, YouGov's £69.9m market cap means that it trades at around 15 times last year's earnings. Of course, only you can decide whether that valuation and this morning's figures both combine to make YouGov shares a 'buy' right now.

And keep in mind that, while YouGov certainly seem to be making progress, investors who bought back in 2008 are still sitting on around a 50% paper loss at this point.

However, if you're on the hunt for shares to buy right now, you may enjoy reading this exclusive in-depth report featuring The Motley Fool's top growth play for 2013.

Just click here to download the special report today - it's free.