Profit jumps 58% at Proven

Investors in shares of PROVEN Investments pushed the price to a year’s low of 12 US cents last month but data now available suggest that they made a big mistake, as the stock now trades back at 20 US cents and profit that suffered from foreign exchange losses in the second half of 2018 fiscal year is now back up.
The investment bank just released first quarter results to June showing profit attributable to shareholders jumping 58.43 percent to US$1.79 million from the US$1.13 million in the same period last year. Annualized return on average equity translate to 8.56 percent and is consistent with Proven target set when they went public. The sharp jump in earnings resulted from net revenue for the quarter rising a 17.4 percent to US$8.5 million compared to US$7.25 million earned in the June 2017 quarter. According to the CEO Christopher Williams, “this was mainly due to a more efficient carry trade strategy and significant improvement in foreign exchange gains.”
Earnings per share for the quarter amounted to 0.29 US cent versus 0.20 US cents in 2017. An interim dividend of 0.25 US cent per share will be paid to shareholders on September 10.
According to the report released with the financials “spread income was the major contributor to revenue during the period, with a 16.97 percent improvement compared with the same period last year as net interest income totalled US$5.28 million. This increase reflects success in the carry trade strategy as the company was able to concurrently increase interest income while reducing interest expense by 18.30 percent.
Net foreign exchange gains totalled US$1.20 million, compared to just US$200,000 in the same period last year. While foreign exchange grew fees and commission income declined from $1.2 million to $894,000 due to change in reporting some fee income with some income now being booked over the period that they cover rather than at the time of billing, the impact for the full year should not reflect a major difference, IC was informed.
Proven invests in a number of privately held entities except for Access Finance. The investment strategy seems to be working with most entities delivering increased returns in the quarter.

Christopher Williams, Proven Investments CEO.

According to the release Proven Wealth net income totalled US$0.93 million for the quarter, representing more than a six -times increase compared to the same period last year. The firm continues its strategy to offer investment products to clients in reducing the previous reliance on repurchase agreements. Total Assets of the company as at June 2018 stood at US$120.5 million.
Proven Fund Managers continues to be one of the top players in the Asset and Pension Fund Management and Administration business. Profitability increased by almost 68 percent compared to the same period last year, with net profit of US$220,000 compared to US$130,000 million for 2017.
Access Financial Services appears to be maturing contributing nearly 21 percent increase in net profits attributable to PIL of US$790,000 or 44 percent of the group’s profit for the quarter. But according to Williams, profit at Access is growing around $10 million on a monthly basis and is expected to continue for the rest of the fiscal year barring unforeseen negative development. IC gathers that they may be more acquisition in the period ahead for this subsidiary in a new market. Access seems to have absorbed the acquisitions last year that led to a hike in doubtful loan provisioning being above normal in the 2018 fiscal year. The loan portfolio was US$24.4 million up 22 percent over the balance at June 2017.
BOSLIL Bank headquartered in St Lucia is Proven Investments’ most recent acquisition and currently 75 percent owned by the group. BOSLIL contribution to group profits was just below Access at US$610,000 million. Total Assets of the bank stood at US$271 million and seems set to increase as the group has signed an agreement to acquire yet another banking entity that will fall under the arm of Boslil.
PROVEN REIT is involved in residential real estate development with two new developments scheduled to commence construction and are expected to be completed and sold over the next twelve to eighteen months. But the current fiscal year is not likely to benefit from these is they are successfully executed.
Operating expenses increased by 11.5 percent to US$5.6 million compared to US$4.9 million in 2017 but the expenses include US$236,000 in preference dividends that will not repeat as the company retires the preference shares on which dividend was paid while there was just over $400,000 provision made relating to the impact of IFRS 9. Excluding these two items profit for the quarter would have been much greater than reported.

Access Financial contributed much to Proven profit in the quarter.

At the end of June total assets amounted to US$575 million down slightly from US$599 million at June 2017 and liabilities fell from US$509 million in 2017 to US$470 million. Shareholders’ Equity grew to US$82 million from US$71 million as at June 2017 mainly from increased in the share capital following the rights issue last year.
The group has not been able to put the new capital fully to work as they awaited regulatory approval for the plan acquisition of a brokerage company in Cayman Island which has now been granted with the acquisition said by Proven to close at the end of the month. That may not be the only acquisition for Proven this fiscal year as the group seek to grow its overseas business and take advantage of the many investment opportunities management sees within the region.
In going forward, investors need to pay attention to the impact of foreign exchange trading and movement in the rate of exchange and the impact on profits positively or negatively, so the strong gains enjoyed in the quarter may not repeat in the rest of the year. The preference dividend and the provision for IFRS provisioning should not repeat and are likely to reduce cost going forward. Access continues to grow profit on a quarterly basis as the company increase loans granted and securities trading can add or subtract from profits depending how well the investment portfolio is managed.
With the continued focus on acquisition, the future could be brighter for the group, in addition IC is forecasting a rise in the PE ratio from an average of 12.5 now to a higher level by year end.
The stock that was in the IC TOP 10 and slipped out this past week traded at 19 US cents on Thursday on the JSE US dollar market and sits just outside the Top list.

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