What’s really up at Seprod?

Revenues are down to $3.6 billion for the March quarter for Seprod, who manufactures and processes oils, fats, cornmeal, soaps, milk, sugar and run a cattle farm. In the 2012 period, the group recorded revenues of $3.7 billion. Profit followed in the path of revenues slipping to after tax profit of $231 million compared to $292 million in the 2012 first quarter. While sales declined, cost of sales moved up, resulting in just over $100 million less gross profit. Costs in other areas were kept well within the amounts for the previous year. Had it not been for a significant foreign exchange gains, the decline in profits would have been far worse than reported.

It was the cash generated from operations that is eye catching with nearly $500 million generated in the first quarter this year. Those figures translate to $2 billion per annum. However, these numbers include income from the sugar operations and for the rest of the year this operation will provide no sales for fresh inflows. The company also benefited from $95 million in FX gains which is unlikely to recur this year. Hence, the cash inflows will be much less and more likely to be just over a billion dollars for the full year. Loan payment of $330 million has to be made in the next 12 months and could reduce the net cash inflows along with the payment of dividends which would use up more than $400 million.

Seprodlogo150x150Seprod has $3.7 billion in cash and investments plus $253 million to be collected from short term receivable in the next 12 months from March. The big question is, what are the funds being piled up for?

Sugar operations | Long term loans increased by $977 million in the quarter primarily for use in the sugar operations. The target for sugar production is based on processing 300,000 tonnes of cane that should work out to around 25,000 tonnes of sugar and that all depends on the sucrose contents of the canes. Added to that, St Thomas, where the operations are, has heavy rainfall close to the beginning and the end of the crop each year. The timing to reap is critical in maximizing the quantity of sugar that is extracted from the canes.

Management indicates that the expanded cane farms are already planted and the increased production should be coming in the 2014 crop. The group acquired Bowden Estates with 3,000 acres and another property in the area plus lands that were in bananas are now planted out in cane. For the current year’s crop 18,000 tonnes of sugar were produced at about a break even level. If the important things go well and they make close to next year’s target, the operations should end with a profit.

SeprodCaneFactory150x150Management states that the sugar company is critical to them as a foreign exchange earner for the group. The sugar factory can be pushed up to grind 400,000 of cane but no decision has been taken on that. It would require major capital injection to get to that level of production. The cost of energy for the group is an important area of focus and thought has been given to increase the generation of power at the sugar factory and wheel it to others in the group. The estimate for such a project would be in the order of US$15 million, which would allow for the installation of new broilers to power the factory using bagasse, the byproduct of cane milling, to generate heat and steam for electricity thus cutting the overall energy cost for the group.

The company indicates that they are always on the lookout for acquisition. The funds being built up are to allow for acquisitions when suitable ones arise as well as for capital spend. But the main focus is to fully turn around the Duckenfield sugar operations. That objective is important since Seprod profits have been stagnated subsequent to their investment in sugar production. It has proven much more difficult than most of the directors first thought possible. At the first annual general meeting, one shareholder warned them of the challenges they were going to meet. Three to four years later and after more capital injection than originally contemplated, management has had enough time and experience to appreciate the unsolicited advice.

Notwithstanding the challenges faced, the group is in a very healthy financial state with $9 billion in equity and a relatively small amount of debt. Working capital is also in good nick as well.

Stock outlook | The company’s stock last traded at $15 and seems fully valued based on current market conditions. Investors will need to bear in mind the softening in the price of sugar on the world market and commodity prices in general which could push up the breakeven level and continue to have a drag on profits as well as eat up more capital. These risk factors need to be factored in when considering the investment in this stock.

Yes and no to dividends

It has come as no surprise that Pan Jamaican Investment Trust has decided to forgo the payment of a dividend, a decision made at the board meeting held on the 16th of May. The group has been making payments of 50 cents per quarter but upped it to $1.10 in March. The directors stated “having paid $1.10 in March 2013, the Directors agreed that it would not be prudent to pay another dividend at this time and will consider another dividend in the third quarter”. The increased amount was apparently due to a decision by government to increase withholding tax from 5 percent to 15 percent.

SVL to pay 8 cents | The Board of Directors of Supreme Ventures Limited declared a dividend of $0.08 per share payable on June 17, 2013 to shareholders on record as at June 3, 2013. The ex-dividend date is May 30, 2013.

JMMB to acquire 100% of IBL

Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited (JMMB) has advised of its intention to acquire 100% of the shareholdings in Intercommercial Banking Group Limited (IBL Group). JMMB currently owns 50% of the shares of IBL Group which comprises Intercommercial Bank Limited and Intercommercial Trust and Merchant Bank Limited. The IBL Group is based in Trinidad and Tobago.

jmmb150x150Last year JMMB acquired all the shares of Capital & Credit Financial Group which increased the assets and profits of JMMB. The full acquisition of IBL was slated from as far back as 2012, when the selling shareholder indicated their desire to sell. This acquisition is in line with JMMB’s plans to be a dominant player in a number of the Caribbean countries. The group has acquired entities in the Dominican Republic and could well make further inroads there in the future. It is felt that there are many opportunities in that country for expansion by acquisition for the group.

JMMB is expected to report full year’s profit by the end of this month. At the end of December 2012, JMMB made a net profit of J$3.19 billion and earnings per share of J$1.95 for the nine month period ended 31 December 2012. The results include a one-off gain of J$1.61 billion from acquisition of Capital & Credit Financial Group. JMMB will likely be hit with a big charge for the debt swap of government bonds thus negating the gains made from the CCFG acquisition.

D&G will pay 10¢ dividend

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Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) will be paying the second interim dividend relating to this fiscal year which ends in June of $0.10 per share payable on June 25, 2013 to shareholders on record as at June 7, 2013. The ex-dividend date is June 5, 2013.

D&G just reported a rise in profits to 37 cents per shares for the 9 months to March after taking a hit for staff separation of $152 million in the March quarter. The proposed payment brings the total dividend for the year to 30 cents. Demand for the shares has increased since the announcement was made of a likely second dividend and the release of the quarterly results. The stocks traded as high as $5 from around $4.15 that it has been trading at for months.

Both Scotia Group and Scotia Investments are expected to announce dividends on the 24th of May. Based on past practices, the former should be paying 40 cents per share and the latter 45 cents per share. The payments will most likely take place at the early part of June.

Growth slows for Dolphin

Dolphin Cove seems to have reached a stage of relative maturity in the Jamaican Market as evidenced by a moderate revenues increase of 9 percent in the March quarter this year compared to the prior year. Management indicates that the level of increase experienced is due largely to their marketing and selling efforts.

This increase in revenue primarily contributed to a 7 percent increase in net profits when compared to Q1 of 2012. In the quarter, profits of $117.5 million was made while the 2012 figure was $110 million. The company delivered total revenues of $395 million in the quarter and in 2012 $363 million.

Expenses increased at a higher rate than the increase in revenues, particularly at the Hanover Park due to the allocation of more of the central administrative and marketing costs to that operation than in the prior period. Overall, team member costs increased by 10 percent as of May 2012 which affected Q1 2013 and not Q1 in 2012. The other parks recorded an increase in profits of 67 percent as the Half Moon Hotel’s new management has delivered better attendance, the company stated in a release with the results.

dolphin150X150Management expects that the reopening of several hotels which have been closed for renovation or expansion and the change of hotel brands such as Breezes Runaway Bay and Hedonism 3 to Jewel and also Ritz Carlton to Playa, (operators of the Secrets and Barcelo brands) should have a very positive effect on park attendance . The planned reopening of the Starfish Hotel in Trelawny and the expansion of RIU in Montego Bay to open later this year should give a further boost.

Financial Finances are in a very healthy state even after funding expansion from internal sources. Cash funds held at $150 million, current assets exceed current liabilities 2 to 1, which means they are in a great position to fund short commitments. Equity is $1.2 billion and debt capital is around $120 million.

Expansion overseas | The company has acquired land overseas for another park, which is where most of the future growth will come from.

The stock is currently priced in the $8 region, a bit pricey based on other stocks in the market but time will allow the valuation of others to catch up with Dolphin.

FX rate change hits Kingston Profits

Kingston Properties is reporting lower profits in the March quarter this year compared to last year. Not only are profits lower, there was a significant hit from financing costs, caused by foreign exchange losses on loans denominated in US dollars due to slippage of the Jamaican dollar during the quarter. The company reported a loss of $10.8 million before foreign exchange loss and after a tax credit, the loss was down to $7.2 million. In the similar quarter last year the company reported a profit of $3.2 million before tax and $2.45 million after tax.  Other Comprehensive amounting to $22.5 million resulting from translation gain on the operations resulted in a positive picture at the end of the day ,with Comprehensive Income being $15.44 million. In 2012, the company reported Comprehensive Income of $6.2 million.

Income | Rental revenue for the quarter was $21.86 million, a 14 percent move from $19.1 million in 2012 but operating expenses climbed by 44 percent, much faster than income to $14.8 million. Management states that indirect property expenses accounted for approximately $2.9 million of the $4.5 million increase in overall operating expenses, with the major contributors being repairs and maintenance, home owners’ association fees and property taxes.

Group finance costs were $19.6 million for the quarter compared with $7.4 Million for the similar period in 2012.These amounts include unrealized losses of $14.3 million and $2.5 million respectively, due to foreign currency translation losses resulting from the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.

KingstonProperitesREIT_logo130X140At the end of the quarter, Investment Properties were $850 million, an increase of $641.4 million over the 2012 first quarter. Fair value gains of $166.3 million on the Red Hills Road property and positive currency impact of $30.3 million on the Miami residential condominiums, accounted for the increase in property values. 

Cash and equivalent amounted to $200 million of which $168.1 million is restricted amounts.

Assets & Loans Concerns | Group liabilities were $350.3 million at the end of March, including current and long term loans payable of $325 million of which $186 million in payable within twelve months. Although the company has enough cash to meet this year’s pay out, the real concern is that the amounts to be paid over the life of all the loans is, in the short run, not being supported by cash flow. The quarterly report did not address this issue.

Funding options | In its annual report to shareholders, the company stated that they have a number of options to raise funds, these include:

  • Convertible bond, with incentives for holders to convert to equity
  • Secured bond with first claim on the property
  • Equity capital; preferred, common
  • Other types of instruments based on investor preferences and objectives

Property holdings | Kingston Properties holds a portfolio of 89,957 square feet of property consisting of a fully tenanted office/warehouse building of approximately 26,000 square feet located on Hagley Park Road in Kingston, Jamaica and 19 condominium apartments in downtown Miami.

The company discloses that it has been evaluating doing transactions in the affordable segment of the local residential market with the goal of  providing a housing solution for the large group of buyers with steady income who are looking for units priced below $7 million. Finished homes will be in the range of 800 square feet at a minimum, allowing most home buyers a comfortable unit size without the immediate desire for expansion.

Cargo Handlers profits up 38%

Cargo Handlers enjoyed a boost in revenues and a 38 percent increase in profit for the six months to March this year. The business is an uncomplicated business, it deals in one main area providing stevedoring services on the wharf in Montego Bay. The company has plant and equipment of with a book value of $11.5 million, an indication of its size. Current assets on books at March this year was $134.6 million and current liabilities $36.2 million. Included in current assets is cash of $102 million. There is no interest bearing debt, another indicator of simplicity.

What the company may lack in sophistication is more than made up in its ability to earn positive and quite robust profits. For the March quarter, the company bettered the earnings of 2012 by netting $18.9 million this year compared to $15.98 million in the 2012 first quarter from revenues of $40.6 million and in the 2012 March quarter $27.7 million. For the six months to March, revenues are up 35 percent to $82.3 million. Earnings per share for the quarter came out at 45 cents and 98 cents for the six months.

The results were achieved despite a $10 million increase in operating expenses compared to what was incurred in 2012 when $9.7 million was incurred in this area. On a year to date basis, $37.7 million was incurred for this cost item versus $28 million in 2012.

The stock is an income play with a high pay out rate. In the last twelve months it paid dividends of $70 million.

Big jump in H&L profits but small sum

Hardware & Lumber enjoyed moderate increase is sales for the March quarter of this year. Revenue amounted to $1,547.8 million, a mere 2.4% more than the $1,511.8 million reported in the same quarter in 2012. At the same time, net result for the quarter was a profit after tax of $9.9 million compared to a loss of $5.2 million in 2012. This translated to earnings per stock unit of $0.12.

Gross profit increased by 6.2% to $408.3 million, achieving an average margin of 26.4%, a full one percentage points higher than the comparative quarter.  Management attributes the improved performance to increased sales, greater focus on margin management and the integration of the wholesale segment into the Rapid True Value operations. Effective January 1, 2013, the company re-organised its operations into two operating divisions, down from the previous three, which saw the wholesale segment subsumed into the retail segment.

HardwareLumber_Bldg150x150While there was improvement in gross margin, operating expenses increased at a much faster pace than sales by increasing 8.5 percent to $394.3 million. Gains made from operational cost-saving initiatives and ongoing control of discretionary spending were not enough to offset the significant increase in the charges associated with the company’s pension scheme and other retirement benefits. In a release to shareholders, management stated that the revision of the accounting rules governing such benefits, which became effective January 2013 triggered a restatement of the expense recorded in 2012 and a significant increase in the carrying value of the liability in the Statement of Financial Position as at December 2012.

Working capital management continued to receive management’s focus. At March, inventory balances were $1,158.4 million or 13.9% lower than the balance at March 2012. Over the same period, improved credit management resulted in a 4.9% reduction in trade and other receivables balance to $459.9 million. At the end of the period, the amount owed to trade and other creditors was $913.2 million, being 3.1% lower than the balance at March 2012. Total cash generated from operating activities was $209 million with $57 million used to service loan commitments and pay dividends, leaving cash balance of $357.8 million at the end of the period.

Stock outlook | Earnings should pick up as the year progresses and IC Insider.com expects to see much higher earnings for the full year than in 2012.

Caribbean Cream trading on Friday

Caribbean Cream will commence trading of Friday under the ticker symbol Kremi. This confirms IC Insider report last week that the listing was set for this week. The company is the latest to be listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

Stock outlook | The company which went to the market in April to raise $75.7 million was just oversubscribed on May 1, well ahead of the closing date of May 10. Not much is expected in terms of price movements when trading starts since there was not the usual demand and heavy subscription for the shares as has been the norm for majority of the junior listing stocks.

Honey Bun not so sweet in Q1

Junior market listing Honey Bun reported revenue growth of 18 percent in the first quarter of this year but that is slower growth than the near 25 percent growth for the first six months of its financial year. The company generated 189.6 million in sales in the quarter, up from $160 million in 2012 and for the six months $381.5 million versus $305.8 in the prior year. Growth in revenues lagged the increased direct costs in the quarter. Management attributed the shrinking margin in the quarter to rising prices for flour and other inputs which could not be passed on to consumers at the same pace as the cost hikes.

Profit for the quarter was $23.2 million which was marginally lower than the $23.8 million garnered in 2012, and for the six months $38.4 million was generated versus $33.64 million to June 2012, or 14 percent.

A major part of the flat results in the quarter is a one third jump in administrative and other expenses to $41.6 million, up from $31.3 million a year ago. The increase is in line with the costs in this area for the December quarter.

Healthy finances | The company remains in a healthy financial state with working capital at a ratio of 3 to 1 inclusive of cash amounting to $70 million. This cash is up from $24 million at the end of September last year.

Receivables grew at the end of the quarter to $85 million compared to $57 million in 2012. However, with Easter coming towards the end of March, this would have resulted in most sales taking place towards month end, thus leading to a buildup in this item.

Management indicated that the receivables increase is due to the growth by over $10 million in monthly sales when compared to the prior year and also due to $16 million prepayments made on equipment and property. Payables also increased mainly as a result of the general increase in purchases to meet higher sales and the higher cost of goods year over year. Management went on the further state that sales improvement was as a result of increased sales to new markets and exports, which increased by over 150 percent, year over year for the 3 months.

Equity was $294 million and loan borrowing at a low of $14 million. The stock last traded at $4 each. This year’s earnings could end up at between 50-60 cents. The September’s quarter’s results are difficult to predict as that is the worse quarter of the year for them.