Lasco shares sell & buy FX or hold

Lasco cambioOn June 9, a reader wrote in with the question, “I respect your learned opinion and analysis in financial matters. In this regard, kindly advise if possible as to your views on Lasco Financial, Distributors and Manufacture. Do you believe that these stocks are likely to perform well in the short, medium and/or long-term. The prices have declined compared to when I bought them and I am concerned about the potential for further decline as the dollar continues to devalue. Should I just cut my losses and sell and convert to FX.”
Our response back then, thanks for your enquiry. As you will see our BUY RATED list contains these three stocks. Here are our views. First off the local stock market tends to go down around May until last June or July. This is not cast in stone, just a tendency. One reason for it is that investors get the full information as to what companies did last fiscal year and a glimpse for the new-year. In the case of the three Lasco companies they have just reported their full year results. The distributorship earning is the most encouraging of the three and looks like it will probably do better than the other three in the short to medium term. It will also benefit from the Salada Foods distribution which started this year, as well as from increased production to come from the expanded Lasco Manufacturing Company’s operation. The information suggest that the next set of results should possibly show growth over that of 2013.
Lasco Financial seems poised for good things but big marketing spend last fiscal year kept profits down as they went for more market share. It does look as if they will be spending on the world cup promotions which could build business, but may also keep profits pressured somewhat for a while.
Lasco Manufacturing seems cheap at $1 bearing in mind the impact that the factory expansion is likely to have on both sales and profits ultimately. Short term they will have to pick up interest cost and depreciation on the completed factory but will enjoy cost savings and ultimately increased profits.
US$ 100At this stage one need to be careful of converting to foreign exchange , as the big move in the FX trade could be over. You may have to hold the stocks for a while but I would think that the investment will pay off in the medium term, more so in the case of financial and distributorship, during 2014. I would want to see he Q1 results for Manufacturing before jumping.
It is my view that the market overall, is undervalued but investors will need to be patient and the payoff is likely to huge for those who wait, the gains to be reaped elsewhere is not likely to be all that great, to cause one to jump and possibly miss the gains in the local market that is ahead.

Why Dividend matters

Investing in stocks is not only for those big capital gains that create excitement for many investors. Dividends are an important part of the investment returns, but are often underestimated. They carry additional message, than the pure pay out of profits to shareholders. Dividends provide cash flow while one waits on a stock to increase in value. Stock prices move up and down over time.
Div cert 2014-09-23 001Because of such movements and that sometimes, good companies have bad patches, when profits fail to grow much and can hold the stock price down for long periods, investor can just collect dividends while waiting on the return to stock price growth. Look at the example quoted below, while the stock price gained nearly 700 percent, since the end of 1993, the dividends have grown by over 2,000 percent in the same period. The exciting thing is that investors got paid every year since 1993. The amount accumulated over that time is large, amounting to $23.58 cents per share or more than the increase in the stock price.
Best Signal| The level of payment or future payments, may well be the best signal that investors will get from within a company that the stock price is set for upward movement. Dividend yields on stocks usually fall well below the interest paid on government paper. History dictates that yields usually return to their norm over time. We can use the level of present or future dividends as a predictor of stock prices. At the heights of the stock market in Jamaica, dividends yields fell to round two percent on average. Yields currently are 7% for many stocks, in the case of Carreras well over 10 percent, suggesting huge gains ahead for stocks, not taking the sharp fall in interest rates, locally into consideration from high teens.
High priced stocks| New investors should not be afraid of what some persons will regard as expensive or high priced stocks, if they have the qualities to rise in value above lower priced stocks. The absolute price of a stock is not determinant, if an investment in it is warranted or not.
History confirms that a good dividend policy will provide an attractive rate of return on original investment over time. A very good example is bank of Scotia Group. In 1993 they paid out $220 million or fifteen cents per share but paid out $4.98 billion or $1.60 as dividends, this fiscal year. The stock price at the end of 1993 was just over $3 and is at $20 now and yet the stock is undervalued presently. Those returns happened during one of the most turbulent periods, in the local capital market.
AFS graph of EPS 9-14Useful indicators| Some useful indicators to follow are, financial results, one wants to see a nicely rising trajectory of earnings. Take the chart of Access earnings and revenues this is a excellent example of the picture an investor ought to be looking for. It is not surprising that the stock price of Access has done so well since it was listed.
Information such as major expansion, could mean increased sales and with that profits ahead. Developments within the economy, lower interest rates are major factors that influence the movement of stock prices. An increased dividend payment is another good indicator that things will be better going forward, as companies are unlikely to increase dividends, if profits are not growing.

Are Jamaican stocks on the verge of a breakout?

J-stks1Stock markets can be like tsunamis, the change in the current is not seen as it moves out of site until it’s time for all to see what’s been happening. That is one reason investors are often advised to invest in stocks that enjoy good profit performances, as there is no certainty when markets will move in one direction or another.
Profit drives stock prices, one only has to wait on the pay day, which will surely come. What does this have to do with the local stock market? Many investors wrote off any chance that the local market would have any recovery after the spring decline coming against the strong demand for foreign exchange, not aware of the market’s history.
A critical point, investors in local stocks should note, is that the best times to start buying stocks is during the summer months. The Jamaican stock market bottoms and starts to move upwards in more summers than at any other time in its history, this goes back to the start of the creation of the market index, back in the early 1970s. For 2014, prices on the Jamaica stock market declined a bit from its earlier 2014 high, with several stocks hitting 52 weeks’ lows into the early summer months, with the Main market hitting a low on June 23 and the junior market on August 4.
Recent developments| The average person may look to changes in the market indices to guide them in what is happening in the market. And yet others will wait until the news headline say stocks are rising. The problem with this approach is that indices movements cloud what may be important shifts in values and prices and when the main news highlights what is happening in the market much of the gains are gone. From the end of August to September 19th this year, the all Jamaica index rose by 1 percent while for August it remained flat. The junior market index rose 3 percent in September so far, but was flat for August. But something else is happening that bode well for continuation of an upward move of the market. More importantly, upward move for some stock prices. In September up the 19th on 53 percent of trading days, the all Jamaica index rose while for the junior market it is 60 percent and with the month not ended the ratio could improve. In August the ratios are 42 percent and 48 percent respectively. The advance decline ratio tells a far better story than the indices movements. The main market had only 7 days when the advance decline ratio was negative and so far for September that number is just 4 with 7 trading days to go before the month ends.
Interest Rates| Rising interest rates drive money out of stocks into other investments, the reverse is also true falling rates drive money into stocks to position for better returns in the stock market. Interest rates on government Treasury bills have been declining since May and flows in the forex market are buoyant with the local dollar remaining stable. Technically, the main market is seeing the short term moving average on the verge of crossing the medium term moving average, a bullish sign. Importantly, many listed companies have been posted some attractive results for 2014 that is supportive of an upward push in their stock price. These are positives that will help the market.

Scared of investing in stocks you need not

Many persons are scared about investing in stocks but they need not be that afraid even as markets have gone through major changes since 2007. It is not only the stock market that felt the impact. The real estate market that many swear by, suffered declines as well as demand for real estate worldwide fell.
JSE index mvmntThe Jamaican stock market has languished at a low level, since 2008 when it fell to 60,952.64 on April 28, 2009 from an all-time high of 138,917.59 points on January 24, 2005. Since then, the market regained a fair amount of what it lost by moving to 118,353 points on February 2008 but fell sharply in the second half as a result of the year, in response to the world economic crisis and Jamaica’s response to it. The market has moved up from the low, but has struggled ever since as Jamaica underwent changes in government, several major economic policy shifts and long periods of uncertainty.
Knowledge matters|Like anything else, having knowledge will be a big help. For starters new investors can take simple steps. Follow some simple rules. Never get emotional about an investment. Don’t follow hypes and fads. Keep it simple. The best way is to start the investing small amounts that one can allow to stay invested for a long time if needed. Invest in good quality companies with long term prospects, with time and more knowledge, the time frame can be shortened if the investor is comfortable.
Profit drives stock prices| A good place to start, is the financial statement of listed companies. Most carry a ten year table of historical results. The simple approach is find companies that have regular increases in profits over time. Keep this most important investment adage in mind at all times, increased profit is the major driver of stock prices. If profits keep on rising stocks prices will eventually respond. Quarterly profit performance is also important. If an investors can find a good investors who knows the market, then they can get advice from them but having more than one opinion is always useful. Keep a journal, indicating what advice is received and by whom and why you are investing or not. That will help you to know who ca be relied on as well as let you understand what causes stock prices to move. All in all to become successful at investing practice becomes perfect.

The best time to buy & sell stocks

J-stks1The best times to sell stocks, is generally, in late April to mid-May and the best times to start buying is during the summer months. The Jamaican stock market bottoms and starts to move upwards in more summers than at any other time in its history and this goes back to the start of the creation of the market index, back in the early 1970s.
The above two periods have been very visible when the market movements are analyzed from the start of the local stock market. No wonder the simple adage, “sell in May and go away” has been bandied around as what appears a casual investment comment, there is more than just talk as the facts support it. History suggests that it really should read, sell in May rest awhile but start your buying in July. For 2014 prices on the Jamaica stock market declined a bit from its earlier 2014 high, with several stocks hitting 52 weeks’ lows into the early summer months. The decline was taking place against the back ground of an increase in interest rates and slippage in the value of the Jamaican dollar, encouraging some investors to exist the local stock market for US dollar based investments. At a glance to the casual observer it may appear that this is a negative trend that would take the market much lower, it did not do happen. The history of the market as well as technical assessment of it suggest, otherwise. The local bear market has gone on for as long as any other and much more than what has been a 4-6 cycle of decline before a bull market sets in. When markets go through long periods of hibernation, investors lose interest, as they don’t see the market turning anytime soon, but that usually is the genesis of a new bull run. Demand declines but so is supply. If companies report improving results then the smart investors quietly picks up stocks cheaply waiting for the inevitable up turn.

Calculating Treasury Bill interest income

GOJ TbillNew issues of Treasury Bills are offered on a regular basis by governments all over the world, to fund their short term financial obligations, but not everyone knows how the income payable on them are computed. Unlike regular bonds where the rate of interest to be paid is stated on the face of the instrument, that is not the case with treasury bills. .
The bills are usually of 30 days, 90 days, 182 days and 365-days duration but may vary by a day or two in each case. The rate of interest paid on these instruments is determined by an auction system. At these auctions investors predetermine what rate of interest they want and made an offer in writing ahead of the closing time prior to the bids being opened. The lowest rates are satisfied first. If the amount offered for sale by the government is oversubscribed, then those with rates that are higher than the rates on those amounts that equate to the amount offered, are rejected.
These bills are sold at a discount below the face value that the holder receives at maturity and requires the buyers to quote their bids lower than the maturing amount. For example one may bid at a price of $97 per $100 of 91 days Treasury Bills giving a discount of 3 percent. The discount rate is the difference between the lower price paid for a security and the security’s face value, adjusted for the maturity of the issue. It is calculated as follows:
((face value-purchase price)/face value) x (365/term) x 100 = discount rate. Using this example the discount rate for an instrument of 91 days will be computed as follows:
((100-97)/100) x (365/91) x 100 = 12.03%. ((face value-purchase price)/purchase price) x (365/term) x 100 = yield. The annualized yield, or the actual rate of return per year, is calculated as follows:
((100-97)/97) x (365/91) x 100 = 12.41%.
The amount of treasury bills offered, are published by the central banks who act on behalf of the governments and may be purchased either directly by investors or through brokers. There are usually set dates each month for these issues. Information published for each tender are those relating to the dates of issue, maturity, the closing and settlement.

Is the real estate price right?

In the heady days when Olint, the forex trading company was around, and many clients of that entity were reaping 10 percent per month, persons were paying almost as much for used residential units as new ones.

Apartment complex at East Oakridge in Kingston 8

Apartment complex at East Oakridge in Kingston 8

The question arises how to know when the value of a property is right or not. Some persons rely on the valuation of a real estate valuator. The problem with this approach is that they use the prices paid for similar units, although other approaches are used. In times when buyers are paying over the top, the valuation is likely to be highly influenced by recent sales. Currently, there appear to be no excesses in the Jamaican market.
Interior of Model unit at East Oakridge Partment

Interior of Model unit at East Oakridge Partment

How can an investor get a good idea if the price is about right? Be like a valuator, do comparison pricing. A good place to start getting information on selling price per square foot are ads selling properties, especially new ones. Houses are of different sizes and make up, but by and large they have one thing in common, that is square footage. If the square footage is known, the value per square foot should be computed for all units, then prices can compared, because there is a common measuring rod. Without reducing values to a common measure, it becomes difficult to determine if one property is appropriately priced or not.
IMG_20140406_171658Some advertisements and a news item in the newspapers, provide some useful information as to where values are in the local market currently. Location of course is an important element of pricing, this is not factored in here. The information gleaned have values per square foot, ranging form a low of $10,000 for lower income units to a high of $25,000 per square foot for a Montego Bay waterfront property. The typical upper income units seem to be price around $22,000 per square foot for units of 600-700 square feet to $16,000 to $20,000 on the upper end for larger units. Older units would normally be valued based on be discount from the current selling prices of new units for their age, at around 2 percent per annum.
According to a Sunday Gleaner publication on July 20, 2014 Real-estate developer Matalon Homes is investing in a residential project called Welwyn. Construction of the luxury townhouses and apartments at Millsborough in St Andrew is to last a year. The units are priced at US$210,000 for the apartments of 1,100 square feet and US$420,000 for the townhouses comprising 2,100 square feet or approximately $23.6 million and $47.3 million respectively. The selling price works at $21,570 and $22,250 per square foot respectively.
In East Oakridge, Kingston 8 area, there are 1 and 2 bedroom apartments of 986 and 1,486 square foot, priced at $19 to 24 million or $19,250 and $16,150 per square foot respectively.
Apartment unit at Montego Freeport priced at $25,000 per sq. Ft.

Apartment unit at Montego Freeport priced at $25,000 per sq. Ft.

Over in Montego Bay, The Landings at the Spring Gardens, have studios of 872 square foot going for US$131,000 to US$137,000 or J$17,000 per square foot and 2 bedrooms of 1,575 square foot, going at US$219,000 t0 $229,000 or $15,700 per square foot. There is the requirement for 35 percent deposit in two tranches. Over at Montego Freeport there are also units selling at $25,000 per square foot.
While, properties in the main cities are going at the above prices for new units, out in rural Jamaica, smaller units of 800 square feet are priced around $10,000 per square foot. Many of these tend to be built on cheaper lands than say in Kingston, they are also benefit from the fact that the developers are building hundreds of them in one community thus enjoying economies of scale.

PE ratios computation & their usefulllness

PEratio+definition_280x150The use of standards is vital in the assessment of stock values as investors constantly compare one investment with another. The price earnings ratio is the most popular measure investors use to compare and determine stocks values.
It is computed by dividing the price of a stock by the earnings per share. It allows investors to compare the value of one company with others in order to decide which ones are to be bought sold or held on to. Pass developments also inform seasoned investors as markets tend to have familiar recurring patterns over time. When the market moves markedly away from the norm it is usually time for investors to move. Nowhere is this truer than PE ratios. Investors should therefore keep track of historical price earnings ratios and compare them with the current ones. Ratios that have been high in the past and are now low, may indicate a potential increase in value for the stock or vice versa.
Use of the PEs| There is a tendency to look at the earnings per share of companies and apply a price earnings ratio to them to arrive at the value of a stock. This is one approach, but we should go further, with companies having hidden values the purist approach will miss the underlying value that could surface at any time. Astute investors will take into account the difference in treatment of accounting policies could have on earnings in assessing company value. It usually takes a longer time for such concepts to gain investor acceptance, but once widely accepted, the patient investor is usually rewarded.
In looking at good buying opportunities the crude measure is to buy those stocks with low PEs compared to the market or to stocks in the same sector.

20/20 Hindsight: Access Financial IPO

Your decision to invest in a company should be based on a full assessment of  all the facts. Case in point, the Access Financial Services IPO offer. Below is the full text of my response to an article published in the Jamaica Observer in October, 2009 that I felt was flawed in its valuation of the IPO offer. Rather than the stock being overvalued, the facts indicated that the stock had an above average growth potential that could “far exceed any other stock on the market.” Needless to say, my BUY recommendation was not greeted favuorably by readers.


Many Jamaicans remain poor because they never take the time to find out the facts. The same seems true of an unfortunate assessment of the value of the shares of Access Financial Services in its current IPO carried in the Friday business section of your paper.

Share valuation is not about looking back at pass earnings but at likely future earnings. The article, deals well with many of the attributes of the company, but fails to indicate clearly, a full assessment of the true worth of the shares. In so doing, there seems to no focus on the impact of the removal of the tax on profits and the growth in earnings this year so far that will sharply boost earnings, as well as making the earnings for last year on a performa basis, better than reported.  To attempt to cast aspersions at Mayberry’s integrity in the offer price, is far too unfortunate as there is no evidence to suggest that the broker is trying to milk funds from the proceeds. In fact Mayberry is not selling any of their holdings in the offer and indicates that they have no plans to do so in the future. The gains from their initial investment, is purely on paper at this time.

Critical facts: What are some critical facts? First off the shares are not overvalued. An honest comparison with other listed companies will show that there are none that have the potential to grow as fast. The writer makes some unfortunate comparisons with JMMB and Scotia Group. The former has no chance of growing anywhere close to Access while Scotia Group’s possible growth is around 15-20% per annum. Those who fully understand share valuation know that the higher the growth rate, the higher the valuation.

The market targeted provides very high profit margin not even credit cards offer these margins. The history shows that the company has had very little bad debt even while lending to the riskier clientele. The market here is huge.

Big profit jump: Most importantly, Access earnings for last year, which came in at $69 million, was earned after writing off amounts incurred as loss of funds due to theft of $17m. When the earnings are adjusted for such losses and the tax free profits are factored in, then the earnings last year is around $3 per share. At $18 per share, the PE is 6, a little higher than the market average. But look what is happening in 2009. For the 6 month period from January to June 2009 the Company recorded total revenue of $151 million, an increase of 47% over 2008. Pre-tax net income for the period was $37 million, a 205% increase over the previous year. These 2009 figures clearly indicate that earnings for the full year should jump sharply, all things being equal. By my recognizing earnings for the full year could exceed $100 million or $4 to $5 per share. At just over $18 per share that a PE of 3 or 4, the shares are far from overvalued.

Stock to perform: Investors need also to be aware of the small number of shares that will be in the public’s hands that will exert upward pressure on the price once the company delivers.

If management continues to keep bad loans at bay the way they have done so far, the sky is the limit. Investors in the stock will be extremely happy as the return on their investment will far exceed any other stock on the market.

Investors who refrain from buying the stock are making a grave error if they really think it is vastly overvalued as the article suggests.

  || End  ||


10/18/2009 8:47 AM

I profoundly disagree with John’s assessment of Access.
John has sought to suggest that the stock is fairly valued, but his assessment is based on future value of existing stock.
I cannot see how one could be willing to be $18.43 per share today, which is what the stock should probably be valued 4-5 years from now.
One never knows what the future hold especially in the financial market hence should never pay so much upfront especially for an IPO.
John has failed to look at the fact the growth rate of this company is most likely to fall once it has gone public, due to a different type of corporate structure and reporting requirement required for a public vs a private company.
The “new” company is likely to be more conservative in risk taking position thus likely to slow down its growth rate.
Based on the above I see the growth rate slowing down, making those who purchased this stock at this inflated rate, likely to lose at least 60% of its valuation weeks are listing.
If Access intends to sustain a pretty good growth rate, it means plowing back the profits into the company, which virtually assures that the investor has no dividend to receive at least in the first 2-3 yrs depending on management plans.
If access intends to pay dividends, this alone means less retained profits to be used in the expansionary mode, this slowing its growth.
Regardless of what John thinks, asking investors to pay so much upfront for a future value which may be justified in the next 4yrs, means investors are in for a raw deal.
I will look to buy when the stock reaches a value lower than its net current assets, which lowers my downside losses.
Persons who bought this stock at 4.35 its net current assets, have zero protection on the downside losses, and are likely to suffer very serious losses once trading begins.

Overvalued IPO
10/18/2009 9:10 AM

This stock is priced at 4.35 its book value per share, meaning it is 4.35 times its net current assets or put another way 4.35 its valuation.
Scotia Group on the other hand @ $17.96 is valued at 1.21 price to book. Scotia group earns close to a billion dollars in profit each month and pays close to a $1.00 per share in dividend each year.
Now access is being offered at a price of $18 per share, a price which is not only greater than a well run and profitable company as Scotia current price of $17.96, but at a value is almost 4 times higher than Scotia, amazing.
Price is what you pay, value is what you get and I fail to see one getting value out of paying $18.43 per share for such a small company as Access.
Personally I would not buy this stock for more than a price to book of 0.75 , which works out to just about $4.60 per share.

10/18/2009 9:12 AM

I looked over their prospectus the very day it was released and came to the very same conclusion that this price is pie in the sky!! I have a degree in Finance and I invest in companies on the JSE including Mayberry and I think this is a sad day in IPO valuation. They had the opportunity to set the standard for the Jr. JSE and they are muggin it up.
The conclusion I draw from their pricing is that they take the Jamaican investor for idiots, like so many companies in Jamaica. And they are playing on peoples greed. I would love to invest in this company and if it hits the market I will wait for the price to realign to it’s proper valuation before buying.
Mayberry’s behaviour is nothing new as mentioned in the article beyond CCFG look what they did to Salada over the from 2007-08 even though they had no hope whatsover of taking over the company because the majority share holder refused to sell they kept on putting news out into the market about them taking it over. This drove up the price on Salada shares to on speakable heights for a company barely eeking out a profit and not paying any dividend. Salada had to enact a split to create liquidity and something of a normal valuation. Mayberry is a hype machine and this is coming from an investor.

10/18/2009 12:01 PM

John, I hope you are not doing a favor to yout friends at Access and Mayberry. What you have written about Access share price is pure nonsense. The price is grossly overpriced.

10/18/2009 5:46 PM

John shame on you, this is the worse crap I have heard since CASH MINUS and OFLINT. How can you look at yourself in the mirror? Bro you and your organization are worst than the THREE CARD man.
Now where the hell is the FSC dont they see the fraud that is been perpetuated on the nation. This is corporate malpractice. SHAME ON YOU ALL

10/18/2009 7:26 PM

Access financial may have great growth potential, but not great valuation just yet. This is a IPO for the balance sheet valuation somewhere else as an Associated Company. The Lead Broker could have done a better job with this IPO in more ways than one. There is no long term benefit from this IPO and all the initial investors in this IPO will lose money. The stocks will be bought back from the market when the price of the shares hit rock bottom. That is a strategy.

10/18/2009 7:49 PM

No value. I will repeat, NO VALUE

10/18/2009 9:17 PM

Mayberry is reporting that this IPO has been oversubscribed!!

10/18/2009 10:50 PM

Mr. Jackson everyone has a right to his or her opinion, you Sir should have done your homework. I am not a stock broker, but I was interested in the offer and did my research, after reading the Prospectus I decided not to take up the offer.
Look at likely future earnings, the future of Access Financial looks BAD. WHAT IS THEIR BUSINESS?????? SUB-PRIME LOANS. In the USA a company such as this would be called a predatory Lender.
The business model looked okay 3 to 4 years ago, but now it just looks dismal. Most of the clients the foward looking statement alludes to are people who live paycheck to paycheck. With all the talk of layoffs and cutback in the Jamaican economy, how does the principal of Access expect their business to grow?
One point made in the prospectus is that Government does not regulate this particular company, and therefore they can keep their interest rate on their products higher. Look at the percentage of bad loans recorded for 2008, and then compare that to the 9.09% projected non-performing loans in the prospectus. Come now Mr Jackson, does this sound right to you?
How is the market huge when this company’s business model caters to small and micro business sector? Take an informal survey on how many micro business have pulled down their shutter since the year started.
If i did not have access to information I might have called you for guidance as a stockbroker.,what a disappointment that would have been.

10/19/2009 8:17 AM

Does anyone still have the Mayberry IPO. Well it is the same way before they go public two years before they have a MASSIVE growth. I read the ACCESS IPO and and decided that i would wait or investigate the financial details. I am in a WAITING mood

Chris Berry
10/19/2009 9:46 AM

Your recollection of what happened with Salada is not correct. The current owners made an offer to purchase the outstanding shares of the company, we made an offer which was substantially higher than the current owners offer. At the time many said our offer was too high yet the price passed our offer and remains substantially higher to this day. We sought to purchase an undervalued asset and we were unsuccessful in acquiring it.

10/19/2009 11:15 AM

John – A couple of quick questions for you and possibly the Observer. Who is responsible for regulating financial analyst commentary on securities in Jamaica? Are there any rules around disclosure either for the publisher or the analyst? Don’t you think regulation in this area would be welcome? Comments from the BOJ, FSC, FDIC or the JSE would be welcome.