Trans Jamaican Highway IPO highly overvalued

After suffering a US$11.5 million loss in 2014, with more losses in 2015 and 2016, Trans Jamaican Highway (TJH) turned a profit in 2017 of US$1.75 million, with an increase to US$6.5 million in 2018. The company seemed on track for another profitable year, in 2019, before cost associated with restructuring debt financing, pushed profit off the road.
IC.Insider.com projects 2020 earnings to be around US$5 million or 6 Jamaican cents per share, from total revenues of US$57 million with a gross profit of $21 million. Finance cost is projected at $15 million, inclusive of preference share dividend with a high, 8 percent coupon rate.  The PE ratio is a rich 25 times 2020 earnings, but that should fall to 19 in 2021. The IPO price works out at 1.3 times book value. Shareholders’ equity amounts to $95 million, with borrowings at $245 million inclusive of nearly US$20 million in preference shares, putting the debt to equity ratio at a high 2.6.
National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), the selling party, currently owns all the existing 12.5 billion ordinary shares, is inviting investors to purchase up to 8 billion ordinary shares of TJH, at $1.41 each. The company reserves the right to upsize the offer by an additional 2 billion shares in the event of oversubscription on the terms and conditions set out in this Prospectus.  NROCC estimates that after the issue, new shareholders will own between 64 percent and 80 percent of the issued ordinary share, s offer is upsized or not.
Just under 80 percent of 8 billion shares offered for sale, is underwritten by NCB Capital Markets, Underwriting of a portion of the offer will ensure the listing of the shares will on the Main Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
A total of 5.36 billion shares are reserved for a select group of applicants and just under 2.64 billion are available for the general public.
Highway 2000 East-West was the first toll road built and operated in Jamaica and connects May Pen and Portmore to Kingston and is operated under a concession agreement.
The concession is for a period of 35 years, with 17 years remaining, with an option to renew for a further 35 years, subject to payment of a renewal concession fee to be determined. The company has the right of first refusal to secure a similar concession to maintain, operate or own, when complete, the leg of Highway 2000 that will extend from May Pen to Williamsfield that will extend the length of the Toll Road by approximately 50 percent.
The Portmore leg of the highway accounts for 56 percent of traffic and 51 percent of revenue in 2019 and Vineyards accounts for 19 percent of traffic and 36 percent of revenue, with Vineyards having higher tolls than any other toll plaza due to more class 2 and 3 vehicles using it.
Traffic on the highway is exceeding the forecasts since 2015 onwards, the prospectus states and is expected to grow at a steady pace, with 4.5 percent in 2020. In 2021, the growth rate rises to 5.6 percent and 6.3 percent in 2022. For the nine-months to September last year, the Company had revenue from ordinary operations of US$39.26 million, reflecting an increase of US$240,000, on the US$39 million generated for the same period in 2018. This miniscule rise was primarily due to an increase in the annual toll rates starting in July 2019 following the toll rate increases allowed under the Concession Agreement. Revenue was also affected by decreased traffic since March 2019, primarily at the Portmore leg, due to the near completion of construction works of the Nelson Mandela Highway. The reduced traffic at Portmore has, however, been offset by increased traffic at the Spanish Town toll plaza as more users divert to the Nelson Mandela Highway.
There are other opportunities for the company to take advantage of expansion locally and overseas. As such, the growth prospects could be very positive going forward.
The stock seems suited for investors with a long-term time horizon. The stock at the offering price is well ahead of the average of 16 for the market based on 2020 earnings. Investors in the IPO are taking on a considerable risk of a pullback in the value of the stock when things settle sometime after listing.

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