Caribbean Assurance Brokers up 73%

The Jamaica Stock Exchange Main and Junior Markets recorded mild declines for the year to the end of May, at the same time the Top 10 performing stocks all posted double digit gains with Caribbean Assurance Brokers landing a 73 percent increase to be the best performing stock in both markets.
Three of the top performing Main Market stocks migrated from the Junior Market, two this year and one at the end of May last year. Lasco Distributors ended as the best performing stock in the Main Market with a 44 percent gain, followed by Wigton Windfarms with 35 percent, with demand coming in to buy based on the removal of ownership restriction and General Accident another former Junior Market stock that migrated last year, up 34 percent, with profit reported in the 2023 audited accounts beating expectations and followed by 30 percent rise in the 2024 first quarter profit before taxation. First Rock gained 32 percent and Lasco Manufacturing with improved full year results over 2023 posted gains of 27 percent.
In the Main Market, Radio Jamaica is down 39 percent and Palace Amusement with a decline of 29 percent were the worst performers, the former reporting a loss for the nine months to December last year and Palace that came under selling pressure. Pulse Investment lost 19 percent and the Sagicor Group 15 percent.
In the Junior Market, Dolphin Cove is the second best performing stock with a gain of 37 percent based on improved profit and increased dividend payment and Blue Power is up 30 percent, ending as the number three winner, following improving profit. Honey Bun with improved full year and first half year results gained 23 percent followed by Derrimon Trading up 19 percent. Edufocal fell 48 percent to be the worst performing Junior Market stock followed by MFS Partners with a fall of 47 percent and CAC 2000 down 31 percent, following continued poor results. Also declining are Fontana down 22 percent and Limners and Bards had a fall of 21 percent
Helping the performance is a big jump in the volume and value of stocks traded in the Main Market with the Junior Market suffering from reduced trading compared with last year.

Profit continues higher at Scotia Group

Scotia Group had another financially successful quarter ending April this year, with profit climbing a solid 31 percent to $5.4 billion and earnings per share (EPS) of $1.74, up from $4.1 billion in 2023, with EPS of $1.32. For the six months to April, profit rose 14 percent to $8.54 billion with earnings per share (EPS) of $2.74, from a profit of $7.49 billion in 2023 and EPS of $2.41.

Scotia Group head quarters in Kingston.

Total comprehensive income climbed to $6.65 billion in the quarter from $4.79 billion in 2023. For the half year, it fell to $2.76 billion from $3.6 billion in 2023 as other comprehensive income suffered a loss of $5.78 billion in the 2024 period and $3.86 billion in 2023 as a result of an $11 billion increase in defined benefit obligations in 2024 and $9.3 billion in 2023.
Total revenues rose 20 percent for the quarter, to $16.9 billion from $14.1 billion and climbed a solid 18 percent for the year to date, to $33.3 billion from $28.3 billion in 2023. Interest income rose 18 percent in the April quarter to $11.7 billion from $9.9 billion in 2023 and 20.4 percent for the six months to $23.3 billion from $19.4 billion.
The critical and the single most important area of the group’s operation of lending helped to deliver a 17.6 percent increase in a net interest income of $11.24 billion in the second quarter of this year, from $9.56 billion in the prior year and, it rose 18.4 percent to $22.35 billion in the six months from $18.87 billion in the 2023 half year.
According to the group directors, “Our loan portfolio increased by $35.5 billion or 14.4 percent compared to April 2023, with loans net of allowances for credit losses increasing to $282.3 billion. Our core loan book continues to perform well with mortgages increasing year over year by 24 percent, consumer loans by 13 percent, credit cards by 15 percent and commercial loans by 8 percent.” Loans grew 2.2 percent in the January quarter over October, with the pace picking up to 2.25 percent in the April quarter over January, this year, for an annualized growth rate of 10 percent.
Deposits by the public increased by 6 percent or $27 billion to $464 billion. Investment securities increased marginally to $156.5 billion from $151.6 billion last year.
Net income from foreign currency trading, fees, commission and other income went up 22 percent from $3.6 billion to $4.4 billion in the April quarter and rose 14 percent from $7.7 billion in the half year in 2023 to $8.4 billion in the current year.
Insurance activities delivered profits of $530 million for the latest quarter, up from $493 million in the previous year. For the half year, it moved to $1.05 billion, from $1.03 billion in the comparative period in 2023. Foreign currency trading gains amount to $2.23 billion in the latest quarter compared with $1.94 billion in 2023 and for the year to date, $4.56 billion in the six months to April versus $4 billion in 2023.
Credit impairment losses jumped sharply to $1 billion in the April quarter from $665 million last year to $2 billion in the half year, compared with $1.75 billion in 2023.
Segment results show Retail Banking with revenues of $11.06 billion compared with $10.1 billion in 2023 and delivered segment profit of $1.6 billion versus $2.1 billion in 2023. Corporate and Commercial banking had a 13 percent growth in third party revenues to $7.9 billion and net segment results of $7.2 billion compared with revenues of $6.9 billion in 2023 as net results surged sharply over the $5.2 billion in 2023. Treasury generated revenues of $7.7 billion up from $5.8 billion with a net position of $1.13 billion in 2024 compared with $1.03 billion in the prior year.
Investment Management Services generated revenues of $1.5 billion and a net result of $780 million in 2024, with revenues of $1.56 billion in 2023 and a net outturn of $806 million in 2023. Insurance services had a mild increase in revenues to $2.08 billion in 2024 as net results slipped to $2.05 billion, compared with revenues of $2.45 billion in 2023 and net segment results of $2.15 billion.
Salaries and staff benefits rose 12.8 percent to $2.96 billion from $2.63 billion in 2023 and for the half year, it rose by 13 percent from $5.23 billion to $5.9 billion

Scotia Group traded at a $58 on Friday.

Other operating expenses fell marginally from $3.28 billion to $3.23 billion in the quarter and increased slightly in the nine months to $6.7 billion from $6.55 billion in the previous year. Overall, total operating expenses moved from $6.57 billion in the second quarter last year to $6.78 billion. For the six months to April, it moved by 7 percent to $15.46 billion from $14.4 billion in 2023.
Taxation on profit amounted to $2.38 billion in the April quarter up from $1.89 billion in 2023 and it rose 15 percent to $4.47 billion in the half year from $3.89 billion in 2023.
Shareholders’ equity ended the period at $127 billion, up from $108 billion at the end of March 2023.
IC Insider.com computation projects earnings of $6.50 to $7 per share for the fiscal year ending October 2024, with a PE of 6.5 times the current year’s earnings based on the price of $44.41 the stock traded on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Net asset value ended the period at $4.78 with the stock selling at xxx book value.
The company declared a dividend of 40 cents which in line with payment in  April versus 35 cents in July 2023.

428% dividend hike jolts stock price

Caribbean Assurance Brokers announced a 428 percent jump in dividends to 14.11 cents from just 2.67 cents paid last year. This year’s dividend is payable on September 16, with an ex-dividend date of August 15 and the announcement pushed the stock up 22 percent in a day and 73 percent for the year to date.
The dividend yields 4.8 percent based on Thursday’s closing price of $3.15 and four percent based on Friday’s closing of $3.83, almost twice the junior Market average of 2 percent.
The increase follows a jump in profits for 2023 to $123 million or 47 cents per share after a charge of $17 million or 6.5 cents per share for doubtful debt which was reversed in the first quarter to March this year with a profit of just $3 million after the credit impairment loss was revered and compares with a profit of $17 million in 2023.  Net profit for 2022 was $78 million or 30 cents per share.
Also announcing dividend payment is Salada Foods with an interim dividend of 6.4 cents per stock unit, payable on July 4, 2024, with an ex-dividend date is June 14.

Dolphin Cove the dividend king

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The dividend yield on the Junior market listed Dolphin Cove is 10 percent based on Wednesday’s early traded price of $24 and dividends of $2.40 payable since October last year.

Dolphin Cove price paying 60 cents dividend in June.

Dolphin’s shareholders have much more than the high yield to cheer about, with the stock gaining 68 percent in value over the past twelve months in a market that has delivered no increase during the same period. The company reported profit declining from US$1.57 million for the first quarter last year to $1.38 million in the March 2024 quarter with revenues of US$4.9 million up from US$4.85 million with operational expenses jumping by US$300,000. For the year to December 2024, the company reported sales of US$17 million from $15 million in 2023. It generated a profit of US$4.2 million before booking a cost of US$1.13 million in penalties and interest on GCT relating to an earlier period compared with $2.97 million in 2022
The returns for Dolphin are far ahead of a 7 percent yield for Mailpac but in line with Carreras at 10 percent yield and Transjamaican Highway at 6 percent. Scotia Group another high dividend payer is currently 4 percent but that is expected to rise as the year progresses and dividends are increased with rising profit and a return to the traditional pay out ratio of more than 40 percent of profit.
The real virtue of Dolphin over Carreras is that the former continues to record growth while the latter has has little or no growth for years.

The aroma of rising profit

The wonderful aroma of increased profit brewed by Salada Foods ended with an impressive 43 percent jump in earnings in the March quarter, to $68 million from $48 million in 2023. For the six months to March, profit rose by a more sedate but still impressive 31 percent to $99 million from $75 million in 2023.
The latest results follow a moderate rise in profits in 2022 and 2023 and a 42 percent jump in 2021.
Contributing to the gains in profits was an 8 percent rise in sales revenues for the quarter, to $427 million from $394 million and a 6 percent pop for the year to date, to $727 million from $688 million in 2024.
Gross profit margin slipped to 68 percent from 69 percent in both the second quarter and for the half year, effectively, pushing operating profit 13 percent in the quarter to $138 million from $122 million and 6 percent for the year to date to $229 million from $216 million in 2023.
Increased revenues were not the sole contributor to the solid rise in profits. Administrative expenses fell 11 percent to $36 million in the quarter and slipped two percent in the six months to $74 million. Marketing and sales expenses dropped by a sizeable 29 percent to $17 million for the second quarter and declined by 28 percent for the six months to $32 million. Finance cost jumped to $6 million in the quarter, from $1.4 million in 2023 and from $3.5 million to $7.6 million for the six months.
The operations generated gross cash flows of $189 million after working capital spend and ended with $95 million after paying $62 million in dividends.

Current assets ended the period at $1.2 billion inclusive of trade and other receivables of $305 million, cash, investments and bank balances of $492 million, inventories climbed to $417 million from $374 million at the end of September last year. Current liabilities ended the period at $291 million. Net current assets closed the period at $923 million.
At the end of March, this year, shareholders’ equity amounted to $1.13 billion, with no outstanding loans.
Earnings per share for the quarter was 7 cents and 10 cents for the year to date. IC Insider.com computation projects earnings of 22 cents per share for the fiscal year ending September 2024, with a PE of 16 times the current year’s earnings based on the price of $3.76 the stock traded at on the Jamaica Stock Exchange Main Market. The PE ratio compares with an average of the market of 12.9. Net asset value ended the period at $1.09 with the stock selling at 3.44 times book value.

Lumber Depot buys 35% of Atlantic Hardware

Lumber Depot announced the acquisition of a 35  percent in Atlantic Hardware & Plumbing Company Limited, a 30 year old Jamaican company, engaged in the wholesaling and distribution of hardware, building materials, plumbing, electrical, tools, and supplies to hardware stores, contractors, and developers across Jamaica.

Lumber Depot acquisition announcement.

The business located on “Ashenheim Road in Kingston is led by Managing Director, Deanall Barnes, an experienced business leader in the trading and distribution of building materials”, the release from Lumber Depot states.
There will be no change to the business strategy of Atlantic. Accordingly, it will continue to operate as a dedicated hardware wholesaler and distributor. The acquisition’s purchase price is $210 million and was funded with internal funds.
The investment will account for from May 1, 2024 by Lumber Depot. The majority shareholder of Atlantic is Construct Group, a private investment company.
Lumber Depot did not disclose either revenues nor profitability of the company in which the shares were acquired. ICInsider.com projects the company to get a boost in profits as a result of the investment, that should exceed the returns they were getting on the liquid funds they held. The Lumber Depot netted a 25 percent per annum return on equity up to the February quarter as such, it is unlikely that they did not pay much more than 4 time earnings for the 35 percent acquired and that would boost profit for Lumber Depot around $70 million and earnings per share in the region of 36 cents for the current fiscal year. There are also prospects for economies of scale, particularly in the purchase and importation of goods for resale that could result in cost savings, in the future.

Profit surged 89% at NCB Group

Profit surged 89 percent at NCB Financial for the six months to March from a combination of higher revenues and reduced costs in some areas, driving profit 74 percent higher in the March quarter to $5.6 billion compared with the same period in 2023, with $3.2 billion and surged for the half year to March with $8.7 billion, from $4.6 billion in 2023.
Net interest income rose to $9.4 billion in the second quarter of this year, from $8.2 billion in the prior year’s second quarter and for the six months, jumped 15.6 percent to $18.85 billion from $16.3 in the 2023 half previous half year. Net fee and Commission income went from $5.3 billion in the $6 billion in March 2024 quarter and from $11 billion in the half year in 2023 to 12.5 billion in the current year.
Credit impairment losses jumped sharply to $1.9 billion in the March quarter from $1.2 billion last year to $2.77 billion in the half year, compared with $2.4 billion in 2023. Dividend income amounted to just $171 million in the March 2024 quarter, down from $488 million in the previous year. The half year is essentially flat, at $1.26 million. Insurance activities delivered profits of $11 billion for the latest quarter, up from $9.3 billion in the previous year. For the half year it surged to $25.2 billion from $16.7 billion in the comparative period in 2023.
Operating expenses slipped to $21.76 billion in the March 2023 quarter from $22.8 billion the previous year and for the half year rose to $47.9 billion from $45.8 billion in 2023. The major contributing factor to cost savings is staff costs, which fell from $14.3 billion in the 2023 March quarter to $13 billion this year and dropped to $26.6 billion for the six months, from $27.5 billion in 2023.
A loss of $3.4 billion is reflected in other comprehensive income in the March 2024 quarter compared with a surplus of $5.7 billion, with the six month period ending up with a loss of $1.2 billion compared to a surplus of $28.3 billion in 2023, effective reducing the quarterly overall profit to $1.4 billion compared to $5.2 billion in 2023 and for six months $7.7 billion versus $20.9 billion in the previous year that is attributable to the NCB Group shareholders.
While most eyes are on the profit statements, the results shown by the various segments are of critical import as they show details of revenues and profit for each segment, enabling investors to have greater insight into the overall results.
Results for the six months show the Consumer and Small Business Enterprise segment generating revenues from outsiders of $21.5 billion, up 17.5 percent from $18.3 billion in 2023 and net segment income of $7 billion in 2024, up 23 percent versus $5.7 billion in 2023. Payment Services delivered a solid 85 percent rise in revenues to $17.2 billion in 2024 with a net position of $4.5 billion in the 2024 half year up from $9.3 billion in revenues in 2023, with net results of $3.4 billion, before internally allocated costs.
Corporate and Commercial banking had a 7 percent growth in revenues to $8 billion and net segment results of $4 billion compared with revenues of $7.5 billion in 2023 as net results surged sharply over $1.18 billion in 2023. Treasury and Correspondent banking generated revenues of $11.77 billion up from $10.58 billion with a net position of $6.9 billion in 2024 compared with $5 billion. Wealth, Asset Management and Investment Banking generated a 38 percent growth in revenues of $14.85 billion and a net position of just $1.17 billion in 2024, with revenues of $10.7 billion in 2023 and net results of $3.5 billion. Life and Health Insurance and Pension Fund management produced a 32 percent increase in revenues to $58.58 billion in 2024 as net results surged to $15.5 billion compared with revenues of $44.4 billion in 2023 with net segment results of $5.76 billion while General Insurance accounted for revenues of $37.7 billion, up 27 percent over 2023 and net results of $3 billion compared with 2023, with revenues of $29.7 billion and profit of $4.3 billion.

NCB declared a dividend of 50 cents to be paid in June.

Loans grew moderately by 6 percent from $595 billion in March 2023 to $633 billion in 2024 while investment securities moved by 9 percent from $763 billion to $833 billion this year. Customer deposits grew 6 percent to $755 billion. Shareholders’ equity ended the period at 160 billion, up from $138 billion at the end of March 2023. Earnings per share for NCB Financial grew from $1.39 to $2.36 for the quarter and from $1.99 in the 2023 half year to $3.68. ICInsider.com projects earnings for the full year to September at $8.50 with a PE of 7.5 well below the market average of 12.6 at the last traded price of $64 on Friday. NCB is selling at a premium to Scotia Group with a lower PE of 6 times 2024 earnings and pays a dividend that provides a much better yield of 4 percent versus 3 percent for NCB. With NCB relative overvaluation compared with its nearest competitor, the current APO is going to provide added supply of shares on the market that is likely pressure the stock price for some time.
Shareholders on record on May 27 are set to receive a dividend of 50 cents per share payable on June 10.

Berger surges into healthy Q1 profit

There is a huge about-turn in profit at Berger Paints with $48 million generated in the first quarter of March 2024 compared with a loss of $35 million in the first quarter of 2023, following a 7.6 percent climb in sales to $772 million from $718 million in 2023.
Cost control and reduction in some cases played a major role in the turnaround in the operations, with the company reporting a small loss for the fiscal year 2022 and a much bigger $218 million loss in 2023 after a tax credit of $37 million.
The most major development is a sharp fall in the cost of material used in the production to facilitate sales with a drop to 43 percent from 57 percent with costs of $330 million in the latest quarter down from $407 million in 2023, a fall of 19 percent while other manufacturing costs coming in 12 percent lower to $14 million.
Staff cost rose 12 percent to $154 million from $138 million in 2023 while Other operating expenses jumped 17 percent to $212 million from $180 million in 2023. Depreciation rose 16 percent to $22 million from $19 million in 2023, with fixed assets net of depreciation jumping to $480 million from $289 million at the end of March 2023.
The operations generated Gross cash flow brought in $80 million, netting out at $69 million after working capital and capital spending.

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Current assets ended the period at $1.7 billion inclusive of trade and other receivables of $595 million, cash and bank balances of $224 million. Inventories were reduced by $200 million to $800 over the twelve months to March this year and receivables by $170 million over the same period to $600 million.
Current liabilities ended the period at $1.17 billion. Net current assets ended at $500 million.
At the end of March, shareholders’ equity amounts to $1.1 billion with little borrowings.
Earnings per share for the quarter was 23 cents. IC Insider.com computation projects earnings of $1.60 per share for the fiscal year ending December 2023, with a PE of 3.4 times the current year’s earnings based on the price of $5.50 the stock traded at on the Jamaica Stock Exchange Main Market. Net asset value ended the period at $5.12 with the stock selling at a mere 7 percent over book value.

NCB Financial stock offer a long term investment

NCB Financial will be offering 78.5 million Ordinary Shares to the public to purchase at $65 per each of which 785,000 are Reserved Shares for staff at $58.

NCB Financial

The issue opens on May 6 at 9 AM and is slated to close on May 27, 2024 subject to the right of the Company to close it at any time after the opening date once the Invitation is fully subscribed.
The issue may be upsized to a maximum of 117.75 million shares. The issue is expected to raise between $5 billion if only the initial offer is subscribed to and up to $7.6 billion if the issue is upsized to the maximum.
The number of shares being initially offered will raise the issued share capital from 2.545 billion units to 2.624 billion and if the amount is upsized fully, to 2.663 billion.
The financial group states that they “intend to use the net proceeds from this Invitation to support a part of our deliberate plan to reallocate capital with a focus on reducing debt and bolstering the capital in the NCB Financial Group. This APO is one of multiple strategies that the NCB.”
Equity attributable to stockholders of the parent totalled $159.7 billion, an increase of $27.1 billion or 20 percent over the prior year. The growth in equity was mainly attributable to increased retained earnings and a reduction in unrealised fair value losses.
An APO brings an additional supply of shares to the market and will satisfy the demand for a large pool of investors for several months if not years, as such the issue is likely to keep the price of the stock subdued for some time unless there is a big jump in profitability to make them more attractive as an investment and thus encourage increased buying to move the stock price up appreciably.
Recent issues of APO, except for those issued by Barita Investments send a cautionary note for investors looking for early capital gains. While the APO is priced at $65, the stock is trading closer to $63 on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
NCBFG and its subsidiaries operate in 21 territories across the Caribbean, with the main operating territories being Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Dutch Antilles, and Bermuda. The Group’s business, results of operations and financial condition are materially affected by the economic, social and political conditions of these countries.

Caribbean Cement blockbuster Q1 profits

Caribbean Cement reported blockbuster profits in the first quarter to March this year from an increase of nearly 12 percent in revenues of $7.6 billion versus $6.8 billion in 2023 with profits jumping by 546 percent to $1.9 billion compared to just $289 million in last year first quarter.
Helping with the surge in profits was a sharp drop in the cost of sales from $5.5 billion to just $4 billion in the current quarter as the cost of raw materials fell sharply in the first quarter from $1.3 billion to $505 million.
Total operating expenses remained fairly stable at $673 million in 2024 versus $670 million last year with other operating expenses coming out at $311 million compared with $319 million in the previous year. Taxation jumped to $701 million versus a tax credit of $133 million last year.
Earnings per share ended at $2.27 for the quarter, up sharply from just 34 cents in the 2023 first quarter with full year’s earnings likely to exceed $8 per share.
The company generated $2.2 billion in cash inflows, bringing first quarter balance to $6.3 billion.
Shareholders’ equity climbed to $26 billion from $20 billion at the end of March 2023 and there is just a small amount of long term debt on the books.
Caribbean Cement stock is trading currently around $58 at a PE of just over 7 times this year’s earnings compared with an average of 13 for the Main Market. The company reported that the 30 percent expansion is expected to be completed in 2025. That will allowed for increased sales on the local and the overseas markets and making the stock an attractive investment for the immediate future and longer term.

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