Kingston Wharves left for dead

Peculiarities of the local stock market can be seen in many areas with the performance of Kingston Wharves since 2019 highlighting the exuberance of many investors. They pushed the stock up to a high of $78 in 2019 with earnings per share of $1.82 from profits of $2.6 billion, up from a profit of $1.97 million in 2018, with earnings per share of $1.36, but the stock was selling at an enormous price earnings ratio in excess of 43 times 2019 earnings.

Kingston Wharves’ profit rose 8% in Q3.

Investors could not care less about a stock that was excessively overvalued, with the valuation well ahead of the market average at the time, around 22 times at the end of 2019. The company reported a profit of $3.25 billion in 2021 versus $2.28 billion in 2020 for earnings per share of $2.24 up from $1.57 in the previous year. Investors who were paying nearly $80 per share in 2019 are now scared to buy the stock around the $32 level even with improved earnings since 2019.
Admittedly, interest rates on Government of Jamaica Treasury bills at 1.6 percent in December 2019 were very attractive but it was at an unsustainable level and is now just over eight percent. This would result in a reduction in share valuation. But it does not explain why a stock that was priced at twice the rest of the market is no longer having a premium over the market.
For the current year to September, Kingston Wharves reported flat earnings of $2.1 billion compared to the previous year, but the third quarter reflects a 7.7 percent improvement in profits to $837 million in 2022 from $778 million in 2021.
Other operating revenues came in at $135.5 million in the September 2022 quarter, up from $53 million in 2021 and for the year to date, $155.8 billion down from $316 billion in 2021.
Cost of sales in the September quarter amounted to $1.267 billion versus $1.06 billion in 2021 and for the nine months $3.6 billion versus $3.1 billion, resulting in a gross profit of $1.18 billion for the September 2022 quarter, a slight improvement over the $1.16 billion in the previous year and for the nine months, $3.39 billion versus $3.1 billion. The gross profit margin slipped from 52 percent in the September 2021 quarter to 48 percent in 2022 with the year to date dipping from 50 percent in 2021 to 48 percent this year.
Administrative expenses amounted to $335 million in the September 2022 quarter, up 16 percent from $290 million in 2021 and for the nine months, rose 23 percent to $1.1 billion from $899 million in the previous year. Finance costs accounted for $25 million in the September 2022 quarter, up from $20.55 million last year and for the nine months, $32 million, down from $90 million in the previous year’s nine months. Taxation accounted for $117 million versus $127 million in the 2021 September quarter and $304 million for the nine months to September 2022, from $342 million in the previous year.
Shareholders’ equity ended the period at $36.66 billion. Total borrowed funds amounted to just $1.7 billion while it holds cash funds and investments of $9.5 billion. Current assets amount to $11 billion and current liabilities of $1.96 billion. Cash flows from operation generated inflows of $3.3 billion, after spending $1.5 billion on the purchase of property and $873 million on paying dividends and loan repayment of $500 million, the company used up all the inflows for the nine months.
Net book value per share amounts to $25.64, with the stock priced at $31.85 for a 24 percent premium. projects earnings for the current year at $2.25 and $3 for 2023. These earnings suggest a stock price in 2023 in the $40 to $50 region at a PE of around 16 and it could be higher as interest rates should start to moderate by the middle of 2023 if not before. Going forward growth in the local economy is expected to continue for some time, accordingly, the wharf should be enjoying increased through put and result in increased revenues and profits.

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