Sales & profit drop in Knutsford’s Q4

One of Knutsford Express buses.

Jamaica’s cross-country luxury bus operators, Knutsford Express, saw strong growth in revenues up to February this year coming to a screeching halt with a decline of 13 percent in the final fiscal quarter ending May.
For the nine months to February, revenues were up a strong 46 percent even with the February quarter showing a more moderate but healthy increase of 23 percent. Revenues fell from $349 million in the 2018 May quarter to end at $304 million, while revenues for the February quarter rose from $232 million to $286 million and for the full year it rose 24 percent from $926 million to $1.15 billion.
Profit rose just 6 percent from $178 million for the full year to $188 million or earnings per share of 38 cents. Resulting from the fall in revenues profit in the final quarter fell from $50 million in the 2018 May quarter, to $30 million in the same period this year. The company generated income of J$21 million and incurred a loss of J$25 million in the new Florida operation that commenced in the February quarter. Knutsford does not break out direct operational expenses, making it difficult to determine the gross

Knutsford’s New Kingston depot

profit generated by the company. In addition, the absence of that critical data makes it impossible for investors to measure the efficiency of the operations. Data extracted suggest it could be in the region of 40 percent. Overall expenses rose 28 percent to $963 million for the year with fuel rising 28 percent and labour cost 30 percent.
The company benefitted from the hub at Sangster Airport resulting in more foreign arrivals utilising the services, especially those journeying to and from Negril, the company reported.
Fixed assets grew to $733 million with additions of $406 million during the year, cash and short-term investments ended at $355 million with borrowings at $215 million and shareholders’ equity of $780 million.
Knutsford trades on the Junior Market and closed at $11.10 on Tuesday, with a PE of 29 based on historical earnings, the fall in profits in the last quarter creates uncertainty about what to expect in the current year at this time.

Pressure on Jetcon’s sales easing

Jetcon sales are bouncing back since June after a sharp fall between January and May.

The current year that ends December, is proving to be a tough one for used car dealer Jetcon Corporation with falling revenues and profit for the first half of the year.
In its recent report on second-quarter results, management reported another challenging period following a sharp fall in sales and profit for the first quarter. Revenues fell 26 percent and profits by 75 percent and for the half-year, revenues declined by 23 percent and profit by 70 percent.
The first half performance reverses three years of solid growth for the company. “We are pleased to report that we are now seeing positive developments since June, with sales up 10 percent ahead of 2018, in both June and July. Orders for August, suggest that we will enjoy a much better sales than in 2018. Sales in August last year were below the historical pattern. Our projection calls for higher sales than 2018 in the second half of the financial year,” the company’s management stated in the report accompanying the results.
Revenues fell to $221 million from $300 million in the June 2018 quarter with a fall in gross margin, from 18 percent to 16.5 percent and a decline in pretax profit, to $9 million versus $35 million in 2018. Earnings per share ended at 1.5 cents versus 6 cents in 2018.

Attentive shareholders at Jetcon’s AGM

Year to date, revenues declined to $467 million from $607 million in the similar period in 2018. Gross profit margin declined from 20 percent to 17 percent. Pretax profit decreased from $81 million to $24 million. Earnings per share ended the period at 4 cents versus 14 cents in 2018.
“We reduced prices in some areas to move inventories in the first half of the year and this negatively affected our gross margin. We expect that the discounting will ease as the year progresses,” the management report stated.
Jetcon shares traded on the Junior Market of the Stock Exchange at a 52 weeks’ low of $1.58 on Friday but bounced to $1.70 on Monday.
Persons connected with are also connected with the company.

NCB solid stock for the future

NCB Financial Group (NCB) produced net profit of $21.3 billion for the nine months to June 2019 with profit attributable to stockholders of $20.7 billion, a marginal increase of $87 million over 2018.
For the quarter to June, NCB reported $8.3 billion in profit attributable to shareholders inclusive of $2.3 billion resulting from the increased value of the near 30 percent interest NCB owned in Guardian (GHL) before acquiring majority shares, during the quarter. Results include the consolidation of two months of GHL’s income coupled with the gain from revaluing the shares that NCB held in GHL previously, as an associated company.
For the nine months ended June, net operating income rose 22 percent to $63 billion from $51.6 billion in the prior year while it increased 28 percent to $24.5 billion in the June quarter over 2018.
Banking and investment activities netted $55.8 billion, up 13 percent over the $49.4 billion for the comparative 2018 period and for the quarter the enlarged group produced $21 billion compared to $18 billion in 2018. A 14 percent growth in our loan portfolio helped in pushing net interest income to $32.4 billion or 27 percent over $25.4 million generated in 2018. For the quarter, net interest income grew to 30 percent to $12.4 billion.
Net fee and commission income rose from $4 billion in 2018 to $5 billion for the June quarter and from $11.7 billion to $13.4 billion for the nine months period. Gains on foreign exchange trading declined sharply from $11.4 billion to $8.7 billion for the nine months period and from $4.2 billion in 2018 to $2.8 billion for the June quarter.
The net result from insurance activities grew 218 percent over the prior year to $7.2 billion from $2.3 billion in the prior year nine months period. For the quarter, net income tripled the $1.15 billion in the 2018 June quarter to reach $3.4 billion in 2019. “One of our Jamaican life insurance subsidiaries benefitted from improved spread performance and changing mortality assumptions, resulting in a significant contribution to the net profit. The consolidation of GHL’s insurance activities contributed 45 percent of net insurance revenues reported for the third quarter,” the group directors reported in their commentary to shareholders.
Operating expenses including loan and securities losses accounted for $46 billion, an increase of $13 billion or 41 percent over the prior nine months in 2018. “The consolidation of GHL and an additional quarter of Clarien’s results in the current reporting period contributed to 43 percent of this increase,” the group reported.
Impairment losses on loans and securities increased by 166 percent to $3.65 billion from $2.46 in the nine months and from just $941 million in the June 2018 quarter to $1.7 billion in the 2019 period.
Total assets grew with the acquisition of majority shares in GHL to $1.6 trillion, an increase of $635 billion or 68 percent over the prior year. “The consolidation of GHL, net of adjustments, added $517 billion in assets to the Group’s portfolio. The Group’s loans and advances, net of provision for credit losses, stood at $412 billion, an increase of $50.5 billion or 14 percent over the prior year, attributable to strong growth in our Jamaican portfolio along with the consolidation of GHL’s $14.6 billion of loans and receivables” the NCB directors report stated.
Customer deposits reached $509 billion at the end of June, an increase of 10 percent or $45 billion over the prior year. Policyholders’ liabilities increased from $39 billion in June 2018 to $422 billion due to the consolidation of GHL. Investment Securities and Reverse Repurchase Agreements Investment securities, including pledged assets, and reverse repurchase agreements amounted to $780 billion. This portfolio grew by 106 percent or $400.6 billion over the prior year, primarily due to the consolidation of GHL’s portfolio valued at $369 billion. Stockholders’ equity amounted to $137 billion, a 10 percent or $12.8 billion increase over the prior year due primarily to an 18 percent increase in retained earnings.
Earnings per share for the quarter came in at $3.42 but that includes one-time income and expenses, ongoing earnings could be in the region of $3 per share or around $12 annually. For the nine months earnings per share reported was at $8.49. Going forward the growth in the loan portfolio is one of the most critical factors to look for in assessing prospects going forward, with the acquisition of the General Insurance portfolio this area is also very critical to growth in the future. There are areas of duplication in the operations of Guardian and NCB accordingly, investors can expect rationalization to come and with that reduced cost and likely more robust sourcing for new business. NCB stock that last traded on the Jamaica Stock Exchange at $220 is a good long term investment.
The Board of Directors declared an interim dividend of 90 cents per ordinary stock unit. The dividend is payable on August 27, to stockholders of record as on August 13.

SOS & tTech head IC MarketWatch

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SOS anticipates maximising profits from every business line in 2019.

Second-quarter results are coming out but still, a number of them are due out over the next few days. Results released today throws up a few strong numbers and the stocks of these companies are worth watching.
First, out the block today was tTech an IC TOP 10 BUY RATED selection with possible gains of 167 percent. The company reported a 20 percent increase in revenues in the second quarter of $91 million and a 62 percent rise in profit to $16 million and 15 cents per share with flat profit of $17 million or 16 cents per share for the half-year. The stock climbed to $6.50 at the close on Thursday and seems headed higher.
Stationery and Office Supplies reported a strong 195 percent rise in profit fro the second quarter to reach $34 million compared to just $12 million in 2018 from a 23 percent rise in sales to $295 million. for the half-year profit rose 63 percent to $92 million from $56 million from a 23 percent revenue increase to $639 million. The company is on target to meet IC’s forecast of 75 cents for the full year. Radio Jamaica is yet to release its first-quarter results but investors have sent to stock to a high of $1.90 on Thursday. Demand has built and supplies shrank sharply and that should help move the price higher.
Caribbean cement traded 3,770,741shares up to $85 and is worth watching with supply falling. Sagicor Select ETF Fund was listed on Thursday but demand resulted in the price exceeding the 30 percent limit permitted by the JSE with investors attempting to trade the stock as high as $1.90 but the stock closed with no trading and closed with bids amounting 12 million shares at $1.30 and 324,520 were the lowest offers at $1.85. Lasco Manufacturing could be moving higher in coming trading days as supply declines and demand rises.

JSE continues to lead the world

Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) performance continues to lead the global markets by a big margin according to data tracked by Bloomberg Business.
Last year, the JSE was rated as the best performing market in the world. The main market of the local stock exchange, grew 67.5 percent over the past twelve months the JSE index is up 38 percent for the first seven months of this year. The nearest rival is Argentina Merval TR Index, up 43 percent and 37 percent over the same periods. Brazil Ibovespa Brasil Sao Paulo Stock Exchange Index chips in at 33 percent for the last twelve months and 17 percent for 2019 to date.
The next best performance half a world away from the west, with New Zealand X20 Index coming in with 29 percent for the twelve months period and 25 percent for 2019 to date.
The data shows that the vast majority of markets are having a tough time with many of them suffering declines.

Carib Cement 2019 profit mixed

Carib Cement silos

Caribbean Cement revenues climbed 5.6 percent in the June quarter to $4.68 billion and 4 percent year to June, with $9.13 billion booked.
The company reported lower profit the June quarter than in 2018, due mainly to $485 million incurred as foreign currency losses and ended up with profit after tax at $368 million versus $674 million in 2018. Or the half-year profit after tax grew 48.6 percent to $15 billion. The company reported earnings per share of 43 cents versus 79 cents in the similar quarter in 2018 and $1.76 compared to $1.18 in the 2018 six months period.
Expenses excluding depreciation and finance grew 2.7 percent for the quarter to $2.94 billion and fell 21 percent for the half-year to $5.47 billion. The sharp reduction in cost results from the termination of an equipment lease agreement with the parent company and the purchase of those assets. The acquisition of the assets drove depreciation charge for the quarter to $405 million from $340 million in 2018 and $796 million from $467 million for the six months periods. Finance cost including foreign exchange losses rose to $688 million from $412 million for the quarter and $856 million versus $386 million for the half-year.
The results boosted shareholders’ equity to $7.9 billion from $6.4 billion at the end of December last year as the company wiped out accumulated losses of $994 million at the end of 2018 leaving a surplus of $493 million. Borrowing amounts to $9.8 billion while cash funds amount to $394 million and net current assets stood at negative $759 million.
The stock trades at $80 on the Jamaica Stock Exchange main market. IC projects earnings for the full year to December at $5 per share that would place the PE ratio at 16, just around the markets PE of 17. With the economy doing well and increased construction activities, investors should have their eyes focused on increased future earnings.

Market watch spotlight on Junior Market

The focus this week is the entire Junior Market that remains severely undervalued, notwithstanding that it made up much-lost grounds in the past week. The Lab is the first stock to watch from this sector.
NCB Financial third-quarter results were far from inspiring with operating profit being lower in the quarter than for the prior year’s results, at the close on Friday there was good selling on offer that seems likely to keep a lid on the price for a while.  NCB reported Operating profit of $6.46 billion in the June 2019 quarter, down from $8.14 billion in 2018. A $700 million net gain in associated company results eased the difference somewhat.
Barita Investments is back at the record high of $83 it closed at the close on Friday, up from $72 at the end of the previous week. Importantly, supply has mostly dried up except for a block of 1 million units offered by Barita at $98 per share. Shareholders passed the resolution at last week’s extraordinary general meeting for a rights issue that will see 106 million shares or around one for every 15 shares of shares owned offered to shareholders, at an expected price in the $40 region.

Barita eyeing acquisition.

Results for Caribbean Cement are out by but reports indicate that the company reported increased sales for the June quarter but lower profit than in 2018, due mainly to $485 million incurred as foreign currency losses. The company reported 43 cents per share versus 79 cents in the similar quarter in 2018. For the half-year, Carib Cement reported earnings of $1,79 compared to $1.18 in 2018. The company looks like earning $5 per share for the full year with increased second-half sales. Do not look for the price of the stock to move up any time soon, with these results
Jamaica Broilers and Jamaica Producers may not break out just now but there is very limited selling and good news could push them higher at any time. Investors who thought that the sky was the limit for Wigton Windfarm may be having second thoughts with the company posting their full-year results, with earnings excluding foreign exchange gains or losses working out at 5 cents per share going forward. The stock seems poised to remain under $1 for a long time. More selling came for Radio Jamaica in the past week but with first-quarter results due mid-August, the stage could be set for a break beyond the $1.40 price level.
Sygnus Credit Investments is coming into its own with a limited supply of the stock for sale, the price closed at a record high at the close of the past week and may and could move higher this week. investors should continue to watch it. Wisynco Group traded close to $30 in the past week pushing the PE up considerably. It could settle just below the $30 range for a while.

Drax Hall branch of Elite.

The Junior Market finally found its footing in moving solidly higher during the past week to within less than 100 points from the previous record high in 2018. With the entire market severely undervalued, just about all stocks are to be watched. Some are more attractive than others and should enjoy a greater focus.
Blue Power closed on Friday with strong buying interest that suggests higher price ahead arising from a proposed split-up of the company into two separate ones. Caribbean Flavours has a limited supply of stocks for sale and is worth watching. Fontana pulled out of the fall to $7.41, in the previous week as demand pushed the price over $8. The branch in Kingston could influence investors to add the stock to their portfolio. Elite Diagnostic with rising demand and slowing supplies could bounce, having traded at $5. The company’s new Drax Hall branch in St Ann is set to open in August and will add to revenues and profit at a later stage. Elite has more than 387,000 units on offer at $5 and that could constrain upward price movement for some time. Jamaican Teas reported nine months results of 32 cents per share compared with 20 cents last year. Investors reacted positively to the results pushing the stock up to $5, but supply on sale is limited and could encourage more price movement this week. Lasco Financial price bounces around $4.50. The stock is undervalued and should see increased buying interest, with release of June quarter results, due out shortly. In 2018, first-quarter results were released on the 17 of July. Lasco Manufacturing released first-quarter numbers on the 31 of July last year and Lasco Distributors released theirs on the 19. The results could move the price of the stocks higher. Limners and Bards climbed 30 cents to settle at a record high of $1.30 with just 100 shares changing hands on the first day of trading, the stock closed with the bid at $1.65 and looks poised to hit $2, the stock was on offer at $2.95 at the close on Friday. Medical Disposables looks poised to move higher and first-quarter numbers will play an important role in further gains and Stationery and Office Supplies hit a record of $12 during the past week and should move higher with little supply offered for sale.

FX losses cut Wigton 2019 profit

Wigton shares are still the most heavily traded on the JSE.

Profit before tax at Wigton Windfarms fell from $768 million in 2018 to $727 million in 2019 from sales revenue of $2.44 billion for 2019 compared to $2.36 in 2018.
The 2019 results include a net loss of foreign exchange of $177 million. The company retired loans that were denominated in US dollars and swapped them for loans in local currency at interest rates that were higher than the prior loans but removing the risk of exchange rate adjustments.
Costs are relatively stable as well as income. Depreciation accounts for $665 million of the total administrative and operating cost of $1.17 billion. The audited financial statement had finance expenses of $1.05 billion but that figure includes foreign exchange losses of $663 million, partially offset by foreign exchange gains of $486 million.
Taxation charge for the year came out at $173 million. It will be difficult for the company to earn much more for the current fiscal year to March 2019, than the 5 cents per share recorded in 2019.
Wigton ended the year with shareholders’ equity of $2.9 billion, borrowings of $6.3 billion and cash and equivalent of $1.38 billion. Current liabilities were relatively insignificant.
The stock has been trading around 90 cents on the main market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange with a PE ratio of 17 times earnings.

Pretax profit up 18% at the Lab

Limners and Bards (the Lab) reports pretax profit of $72 million half year to April, up 18 percent versus $61 million last year on revenues of $334.5 million compared to $261 million in 2018.
After-tax profit for the six months ends at $57 million, up 9 percent against $53 million in 2018. For the quarter to April revenues brought in $145 million and delivered pretax profit of $30 million against revenues of $136 million and pretax profit of $24.5 million.
The data suggest seasonality in earnings with full-year’s income of $483 million for the year to October last year and profit before tax of $76.5 million. The 2018 half year’s revenues amounted to 54 percent of income. Of significance is a sharp fall in operating expenses from $100 million in the second quarter of 2018 to $88 million in the 2019 period even as revenues rose resulting in gross profit rising from $36 million to $57 million. For the six-month period, gross profit moved from $100 million to $125 million. Partially offsetting the gross profit improvement is a $15 million in the second quarter is a rise in administrative expenses to $26 million in the quarter but was only up by $11 million for the half-year to $51 million.
The stock was listed on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange today at traded a small amount at $1.30 but closed with bids to buy at $1.65.

Over 21,500 apply for Sagicor Select

Investors plunked down $6 billion in more than twenty-one thousand five applications, to buy the 5 billion shares recently offered by Sagicor Select Funds in an initial Public Offer, information reaching IC confirmed.
The heavy subscription by retail investors strained the resources of Sagicor Investments in coming with the allocation within six business days specified by the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
In a release on the delay in the allocation, the broker for the issue advised that Sagicor Financial Select Fund are unable to submit the details and basis of allotment pursuant to its IPO that closed its subscription list on Tuesday, July 16th within the prescribed time. “The reason for the abovementioned delay is the unexpectedly high volume of applications received in the IPO which we estimate, as at the date of this letter, to be approximately twenty thousand.”
The broker advised that they continue to process applications and expects to be in a position to submit the details and basis of allotment by July 30, with refunds to applicants to be done by August 2.
At the same time investors in Limners and Bards share issue that closed on the same day of opening, last week had their account at the JCSD credited on Thursday, with the shares allocated to them.