Dividends to come

The Board of Directors of Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) has advised that they will meet on Thursday, May 16, 2013 to consider the payment of a second interim dividend for the year 2013. On the same date the Board of Directors of Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust will meet to consider the payment of a second interim dividend for the year.

If the dividend is approved, Desnoes & Geddes would be returning to the regular practice of paying two dividends per year, which was suspended when the operations was faced with challenges after the global economic crisis took full effect in Jamaica. The company paid 20 cents per share in December.

Pan Jamaican already made a payment of $1.10 cents in March and if the Board approves, it would be the second of four for the year and likely to be $0.50.

The Board of Directors of Dolphin Cove has declared a dividend of $0.10 per share payable on June 6, 2013 to shareholders on record as at May 20, 2013. The ex-dividend date is May 16, 2013. This payment is likely to be the second of three for the year having paid one in March already.

Grace looking up

Grace Kennedy posted increased profits in spite of a one-time charge of $216 million in the first quarter of this year. The charge relates to the write-off of premiums on investments that were swapped in the government debt exchange in February. The improved results flowed from revenues which were up to $16.5 billion in the quarter from $15.85 billion in 2012 and profit before tax $1.14 billion and $689.7 million after tax and minority interest, slightly more than the $652 million netted in 2012.

NDX plunged the banking and finance division into an operating loss of $7 million, down from $209 million in 2012. The trading operations more than doubled operating profit from $22 million to $55 in 2013. All other divisions contributed moderate increases to the groups operating results for the quarter.

Growth markets | Management stated that the food division performed well with improved profit. Jamaica, Canada, Belize and the USA were leading markets for them. Grace‘s international business benefited from marketing efforts with the main focus on consumer acceptance. The focus on newer markets is going well. The west coast of America expansion is on target whilst they have seen gains in shelf space in the UK top retail chains. Lower yields on government bonds have forced shifts within some of the group companies. Other segments within the group will benefit from lower cost of funds as interest rates on some instruments have declined since the NDX.

This year’s results are commendable. If the company can maintain or improve upon the first quarter numbers, earnings for the full year could beat last year’s and the year’s results could come in around $11 per share. The group has also increased the dividend payout to shareholders making the stock a bit more attractive with a 17 percent increase in the last one paid out in March.

Financial position | Grace’s finances are in good health. Assets amount to $104 billion including fixed assets of just $7 billion. Liabilities are $72 billion. Equity capital is $30.7 billion.

With economic growth in the local economy at low levels and likely to be that way for some years, Grace needs to look outside Jamaica for higher growth levels than they have been enjoying having been dominant in most areas that it operates in the local market.

The stock is cheap, selling at around 5 time earnings. Growth has not been great and may not be so for a while, but with the present price between $55-56 per share the stock has lots of room to grow. It is worth a serious look.

Who is running the stock exchange?

The last posting on the stock exchange website for D&G is the release of the December quarter’s results posted on February 8, 2013. The exchange’s web site, on which information should be posted, did not have the release that the company would consider the payment of a dividend at a meeting to be held on May 16. How come a brokerage house had the said information posted on their website on Thursday but the exchange did not until after 9 am on Friday? What is really going on at the JSE? And where is the Financial Service Commission (FSC) in seeing to the orderly running of the capital market?

More questions | Why does the JSE put information about the trading of Proven ordinary shares in the combined trading report but at the same time, leave out the value of trade and the quantity? It makes absolutely no sense. Why should investors have to add the trading data to determine the full extent of a day’s trade? Importantly, why is the combined trading sheet that has the US$ listing as well as the US dollar index, carry the total trade but when checked, the value of trading is not included and nowhere on the report is there a notation that it is not included?

The reality is the stock exchange needs all the positive publicity it can get to interest more persons in the market. But do they see the value in fully informing the public about the total level of trading on the market? Is anyone then surprised that many persons think our market is a joke and prefer to try their luck in shark infested waters?

For example, the trade sheet section with market indices carries a column that is headed “value” and next to it “volume”. One would naturally think the value relates to the dollar value of trades, but not so. It is in fact the the closing indices for the day. The Trinidad Stock Exchange shows the section as closing indices and that seems far more logical.

The problem with our exchange | The executives think they know it best and constantly refer to international best practice for some of what they do. That however, is selective as there are other occasions that they do things when it suits them that are not done elsewhere. What about the users of the information? Should they not get trading reports that meet international best practices?

It’s time they wake up to reality. The question is who will do it.

TTSE: Thursday, 9th May 2013

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Witco grabs $2.94 more

Trinidad Cement with a volume of 1,433,143 units valued at $1,395,545.50 while gaining 1 cent in price was the dominant traded stock but West Indian Tobacco stole the show with another record price up $2.94 to close the day at $110.01 on a mere 80 shares that traded for the stock. The stock closed without any on offer, the indication is that the price could go much higher in the days ahead. JMMB traded 157100 units at 50 cents around J$7.80. The stock is trading at $7 in the Jamaican Market. Guardian Holdings traded 47,204 units at $17.50 with a value of $826,070, without any price change, Neal & Massey traded 38,959 units at $59 valued at $2,298,581. Clico Investment fund traded 28.090 units at $21.08 the same price as yesterday with a value of $592,137.20.

TTSEMay9At the close, there were 6 stocks closed with bids that are higher than the closing price. These are Ansa Merchant Bank, Berger, Grace Kennedy, Prestige Holdings, Republic Bank and Scotia Investments. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund did not trade but had a bid of 102,650 shares at $3.40 each. The fund just released results to March 2013 showing a small profit of $164,533 versus $2.8 million in 2012 and a loss of $6.4 million for the year to September 2012. The book value of the fund is put at $5.43 but the entity looks illiquid with less than a $1 million in cash down from $2 million at the end of September last year.

A volume of 1,711,122 shares crossed the floor of the Exchange today valued at $5,054,669.42, as 11 securities traded with 4 advancing, 1 declining and 6 traded firm.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 28,090 shares. Clico Investment Fund remained at $21.08. Fortess Caribbean Property Fund remained at $5.00.

JSE: Thursday, 9th May 2013

Scotia Investments jumps $2.60

Scotia Investments jumped $2.80 to close at $26.15 and was the biggest mover on the day trading 8,805 units, all at $26 or above. Grace Kennedy had a bid of $56 closed which was higher than the last sale price and ended up with a gain of $0.55 to close at $55.55 having traded at a high of $56. Scotia Group closed at $22 up 79 cents on the day, Sagicor Life made amends for the fall yesterday by putting on 40 cents to close at $8. Lasco Financial Services gained 19 cents to close at $7.99, the stock traded at an all-time high today of $8. Carreras gained 50 cents to close at $57.

Advancing stocks continue to out-pace declining ones by more than 2 to 1 with 9 ordinary shares advancing to 4 falling.

JSEINdicesMay9J$34.1 million invested in 4,282,236 units of stocks traded on the Jamaican dollar segment of the market. US$947,000 was expended in the US dollar market in trading on Thursday.

Proven Investments accounted for 8,578,641 shares valued at US$947,939.83 in the US market. Just one trade took place in the stock, with Pan Caribbean Financial Services handling both sides of the trade. Data indicates that they did it on behalf of clients. The main market index and the All Jamaica Composite index recovered all the points lost yesterday, and more, in today’s trading.

Grace Kennedy traded 205,745 shares valued at $11.44 million between $55.55 and $56. Access Financial Services lost 10 cents in trading 1,363,200 shares valued at $9.54 million. Mayberry Investments crossed 1.316 million units which they bought for in-house purposes. Gleaner Company traded 2,073,109 units with a value of $2.49 million. The entire Gleaner trade was handled by NCB Capital markets on behalf of clients. NCB closed down 20 cents to $17.80 on 139,292 units valued $2.5 million. Sagicor Investment saw 104,521 units changing hands for $1.62 million, Proven’s 8% preference shares traded 470,377 worth $2.39 million, all traded at $5.09 up 6 cents on the day.

Bullish signs persists | There are still bullish signs being reflected in prices on the market with quite a few stocks still having bids that are higher than the last selling price.

Sagicor undervalued despite $B NDX hit

Sagicor Life group got hit with a billion dollar charge — the product of the Government of Jamaica’s debt swap in February. The Group exchanged $60.65 billion of GOJ securities for new securities with lower market values, lower coupon rates and extended tenors. The bond exchange resulted in “one-time” realized capital losses of $1.11 billion and lower interest will be earned on the new bonds going forward. To the end of March, the reduction in interest was $83.25 million. In addition, there was expense of $48.1 million for asset tax, which was introduced in June 2012 as stated by management in a release accompanying the first quarter numbers.

NDX effect | Despite the effects of the NDX debt exchange and increased taxes, Sagicor Group posted a net profit of $620.15 million for Q1 2013. In the first quarter of 2012, a net profit of $1.49 billion was earned. The Q1 2013 basic earnings per stock unit was $0.16 (2012: $0.40) and the annualized return on average Stockholders’ Equity was 8% (2012: 20%). Total Comprehensive Income including, net profit for the period and movements in reserves held in Equity, was $1.06 billion and the amount for 2012 was $2.04 billion. For the 2012 financial year the group reported audited profits due to Sagicor’s shareholders of $5.8 billion or $1.54 per share.

SagicorBuilding280x150The release went on further to state that the group’s insurance business performed relatively well but the banking arm faced challenges. Revenue would have been up about 9% but for the impact of the NDX. Net Premium Income, in aggregate, was 6% more than that for 2012. The Individual lines of business earned premiums up by 10% while Group Insurance and Annuity premiums were up by 3%. There was good new business across all lines in the first quarter contributing to strong growth in the in-force policies.

Investment income, before interest expense and capital gains was higher than in the prior year by 2%, including lower coupons in March on some GOJ bonds. Capital gains, for other than NDX security trades, and fair value adjustments were 28% lower than in 2012. Fees and Other Revenues were ahead of prior year by 59%, mainly influenced by higher current period unrealized foreign exchange gains from devaluation of the Jamaican dollar. The life insurance arm paid out 17 percent more on insurance claims due to higher mortality rate and growth on business.

Sagicor boasts total assets of $180 billion, with equity of $33 billion, making it one of Jamaica’s largest financial institutions. Total revenue for the quarter was $7 billion versus $7.5 billion in 2012 and for 2012 equity was $31.5 billion.

Maturity | The life company has reached or is close to maturity in the local market for insurance while the banking arm will need to fight hard to make any meaningful impact on Sagicor’s profits. Management is clearly seeing this, hence the decision to move into Costa Rica.

Stock outlook | The stock for the group is trading around $8 and is considered undervalued by IC Insider as earnings from ongoing operations should range between $1.60-2.00 based on existing business for this year when the one-off NDX charge is removed. Investors should note that historically the PE ratio of this stock has been much higher than for most in the market, which makes the stock a steal at current prices.

Carib Cement profit mired in concrete

Badly financially structured, the lone Jamaican producer of cement and gypsum, Caribbean Cement Company continues to be under concrete with huge losses weighing it down and in spite of recent price increases, the company is still reporting losses as shown by the 1st quarter 2013 results. Unfortunately, when analyzed, the interim results do not shed any light as to when its fortunes will not only change for the better but when will it start making returns to its owners.

Although local sales are up from 143,316 tonnes last year to 151,862 tonnes this year, export sales was down and revenues were up to $2.646 billion aided by recent price adjustments. In 2012, revenues came in at $2.3 billion. The improved revenues helped to turn around the profit, before depreciation interest and devaluation losses, to $184.25 million up from a loss of $377 million in 2012. Even without any foreign exchange loss the company needs another 10 percent increase in revenues, net of expenses, to be somewhat safe.

Price increases | In January the company increased cement prices by 16.5 percent on average and 3 percent in April as well. Interestingly, in spite of the January increase and a 9.2 percent increase in July last year and increased volume of local sales, revenue for cement is up only 15 percent over that of 2012, well below the price adjustments. Admittedly, the decline in exports would have impacted income growth.

caribcementlogo150X150As stated by management in a release, total sales volumes declined when comparing first quarter of 2013 with the first quarter of 2012. However, domestic sales volumes, which are essential to the company’s viability, increased by 6.7%. The improvement in domestic sales was entirely due to increased market share as the overall domestic market declined. This increase in domestic sales, along with increases in selling prices and further improvements in clinker production have resulted in a $561 million improvement in Earnings before Interest, Depreciation and Tax [EBITDA] over the corresponding period for 2012.

Management went on to further state, that the negative Group equity increased to $3.44 billion and with the significant build up in clinker inventory during this first quarter as production exceeded sales, the Group could not continue to operate without the financial support of the parent company, Trinidad Cement Ltd. Management is pursuing various strategies to improve both domestic and export sales and it is proposed that a significant portion of the debt due to the parent company be converted into equity during the second quarter.

Messed up | Caribbean Cement has messed up so many times in recent years that it will take a massive change in its financial fortunes to restore investors’ confidence. The first error is that the company totally mistimed the plant expansion by not anticipating the increased in demand in the mid-2000s. As a result, they missed most of the increased demand and the expanded plant only caught the tail end of it. Secondly, the company missed a glorious opportunity in 2004, when the stock price was sky high, to raise added capital in the local market to help fund the expansion. Finally, there is no evidence that they forged the right political connections or presented a viable plan to ensure continuity in cement supply, thus opening the market to unneeded imports which severely hurt them and from which they continue to reel.

Minority shareholder to be battered | The contemplation to convert debt to equity by the parent company, could negatively affect shareholders’ value if the conversion is to ordinary shares. If the conversion is to redeemable preference shares that would be a far different proposition, as preference are quasi debt and equity.

D&G or C&WJ: to buy or not?

Hi John: Should I buy more Lime stock or D&G? I already own some Lime shares. What was the last dividend paid by D&G? Thanks for your advice.

Response | That is a tough question. By the way there is no such company as Lime. Unfortunately the stock exchange has, in their wisdom, bastardized the system by trying to suggest that Cable & Wireless has had a name change but that is not so. There is no legal limited liability company such as Lime listed on the exchange.  Lime is purely a brand name and not the real company name. It seems to me that the exchange is totally confused. They have the name Lime for the company with the ordinary shares but they did not change the name of the preference shares which are still listed as Cable & Wireless. Drawing a line from what they have done, anyone not knowing the true situation would assume that there are two separate telecom companies listed, one called Lime and one called Cable & Wireless. Why JSE persists with this aberration is yet to be determined as there is no rationale for it, but then the stock exchange is doing many strange things these days. It makes one wonder if they are really serious about running a stock exchange at all.

D&G | Now to the question you asked. My investment company owns shares in both Cable & Wireless and D&G. First, the last dividend paid by D&G was 20 cents in December last year and another should be paid in June or July this year. They normally pay out 80% of profits each year so the next dividend could be around 40 cents since we project about 80-85 cents earnings per share for the current year to June.

DG_logo150X150D&G’s quarterly results are expected next week and they should  have enough momentum to surprise the market and push the stock price up. I really like it as they have cut a lot of costs out of the operation with the switch of production of Red Stripe to the USA. The local market seems to be holding up well based on the last set of results released. We see further demand in the next fiscal year that should continue to move the stock price higher.

C&WJ | We still like and have great hopes for Cable & Wireless. If fact, we love turnaround companies because if we get it right and time the entry into the stock, we will make above average returns. They have been cutting costs and revenues should start rising from the new pricing strategy adopted for cell calls last year. These moves allowed them to pull in more than 250,000 new users. The revenue from those phones should be earned for the full 12 months this fiscal year instead of only part year as was the case for the 2013 fiscal. The calculations we’ve made indicate strong profits this year from increased revenues and reduced costs, the latter based on cost cutting as well as improved margins resulting from re-pricing when the interconnection rate were lowered last year.

cable&wireless280x150Our main concern in the short term is the redundancy charge that we estimate to be around $3 billion that could cause the market to react negatively when the final 2013 numbers are released in a few weeks’ time. That doesn’t really bother us, as that reaction in our estimation, will be short-lived as investors start to see major improvement in the operating results starting in the June quarter. One may want to hedge one’s bet, by buying more now but leave room to pick up some at lower prices should the market react negatively to the impact of the redundancy cost that will depress the results but won’t repeat in the new year. Not only will it not repeat, there should be cost savings from the move that will help boost profits. Either way, it’s a bit of a gamble but the price is so low now and the upside potential so great in our estimation, that there is less risk in buying now than to await the results.

J$ slippage pumps up Mo-Bay Ice

Montego Bay Ice Company shed two major loss making operations last year and the move is paying off with a small operating profit in the first quarter to March. However, it was the slippage in the exchange rate for the Jamaican dollar that had a profound effect on profits. The Montego Bay based company, while reporting reduced income of $4.188 million compared to $7.7 million in 2012, recorded $3.8 million in profits before tax after picking up a nice $3.77 million in foreign exchange gains.

After taxation of $310,000, the company is reporting after tax profits of $3.49 million, well up on a loss of $372,000 in 2012. After accounting for profit that is due to minority interest in a subsidiary, the shareholders of Montego Bay Ice ended up with $2.4 million. The group principal activity is now the rental of properties and cold storage facilities as they discontinued the retailing of ice and the sale of bottled spring water in July and November 2012 respectively.

The group still has work to do to radically transform its profitability. Ignoring the gains from foreign exchange holdings, revenues were just able to cover expenses leaving less than $60,000 as surplus from what can be regarded to be normal ongoing profits.

The company has improved its cash position, now having $64.8 million in liquid funds amounting to around ten dollars per share. Hopefully, management will manage these funds well to help improve profits and not necessarily hold the bulk of it in US dollars hoping for a further Jamaica dollar slippage. Liabilities are not much, at less than $4 million and receivables are even less at $1 million.

Stock outlook | Montego Bay Ice needs to find the right business to move into to return to regular and predictable profitability so that investors can reap the benefit from their investment in the company.

The company’s shares have not traded since November 2011 and it traded $18.00 which is around book value. The real value may be twice this amount if the properties it owns were factored in at market value.

TT Cement huge turnaround but…

Trinidad Cement is reporting a huge turn around in its fortunes in a release to the stock exchange. Revenues jumped to T$482 million up from $365 million in the first quarter of last year. Profit before tax climbed to $16.657 million from a big $85 million loss in 2012. Profit after tax amounted to $14 million versus a loss of $74.9 million before minority interest. The group has been saddled with problems which led to financial restructuring that took quite a while. Last year the Trinidad operation was closed as workers went on strike. Cement was imported from Jamaica to help fill the gap. Jamaica with its loss remains a big drag on the parent company’s operation. Last year total losses amounted to $390 million. (All currency is the TT$)

The company stated in its quarterly report that revenue for the quarter, increased by $117 million compared with the prior year as a result of higher cement sales volumes (in Trinidad and Tobago by 52 percent, in Jamaica by 7 percent and in export markets by 29 percent) and higher selling prices in most markets. Concrete volumes have also exceeded the prior year period by 10 percent. As a result of the significant expenditure made in the latter part of last year, plant performance has been more reliable and efficient with clinker production exceeding prior year by 32 percent (partially due to the TCL strike in 2012) and cement production by 21 percent.

TCL equity remains strong with nearly TT$700 million, working capital is tight with it being a little more than one to one.

Management concluded their statement as follows: The Trinidad and Tobago market has recorded very strong demand and it is anticipated this will continue. While there was declining demand in Jamaica and Barbados, it is hoped that with a post IMF agreement in the former, and general elections in the latter, growth will return to these markets. In addition, growth being experienced in Guyana and Suriname and the initiatives by the Group in the pursuit of additional export markets, plant efficiency and cost containment are likely to contribute to the continuation of the good results for the coming months.

Stock outlook | The group is still loaded with debt with finance charges of $65 million in the quarter, an increase over the $51 million paid in 2012. With such cost and principal repayment there is little room to slip as debt servicing is a large part of income. The debt to equity ratio seems well out of line and the call ought to be for them to go to the stock market for fresh long term capital.