Posts Tagged ‘Redrow’
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Abbey plc) While the macro outlook is challenging, it is interesting to see that two UK focused housebuilders have been the subject of takeover approaches from management in recent weeks. An investment vehicle controlled by Abbey’s Executive Chairman now owns nearly 62% of the company’s shares, with its offer remaining open for acceptances until 1pm (Dublin time) on 7 September 2012. Elsewhere, the Chairman of Redrow has also made a preliminary approach to buy out the firm using a consortium comprising his own investment vehicle and two funds. When management teams, who presumably (!) have access to better information than the likes of you and me, are making such moves, this suggests to me that there is decent value still to be had in the sector.
Staying with UK stocks, I sold out of Marston’s this morning. My reasons for doing so were twofold. Firstly, the three catalysts that had been identified for the stock (The Queen’s Jubilee, Euro 2012 and The Olympics) are all over and I am guessing that the regular newsflow from the many quoted UK pub groups means that the impact of these have all been priced in. Secondly, the shares have increased by over 25% (in euro terms) since I added it to the portfolio earlier this year. You can read about why I was originally attracted to Marston’s here. In terms of where the proceeds are being recycled into (Harvey Nash plc), I will upload a blog later today outlining my rationale for the inclusion of ‘an old friend’ back in the portfolio.
In other food & beverage sector news, tropical produce importer Fyffes today raised its full-year adjusted EBITA guidance to a range of €28-33m versus the previous €25-30m. This improved outlook is based on decent organic growth and FX effects in H1 2012. Extrapolating from the adjusted EBITA of €23.3m Fyffes achieved in the first half of the year and adjusted diluted EPS of 6.48c in the same period, this points to full-year earnings of at least 8.5c, putting the stock on less than 6x earnings, so clearly cheap. Its sister company, Total Produce, which I hold, reports its interim results tomorrow.
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Smurfit Kappa plc) There was a bit of news out of Smurfit Kappa Group since my last update. This morning it announced the launch of a senior secured notes offering, which will raise €200m and $250m, maturing in 2018. The proceeds will be used to repay all of the existing 7.75% senior subordinated notes due in 2015. Given the relatively low rates on offer for similar rated debt at this time, this should, I estimate, shave at least €7m from SKG’s annual interest bill, as well as extending the weighted average maturity of its debt, which reduces the perceived riskiness around the group. In all, a win-win move for Smurfit Kappa. Elsewhere, the group is to invest €28m in a new bag-in-box facility in Spain, which is a further sign of how Smurfit Kappa’s improved financial position is giving it enhanced flexibility on both the M&A and capex fronts.
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Independent News & Media plc) It was confirmed that total Irish newspaper advertising declined 10% in the first 6 months of 2012. Annualising it, and putting in a little bit of a kicker for Christmas related spending, means that it’s still a circa €180m market, so not to be sniffed at despite the confident predictions of certain ‘new media’ devotees who assure me that ‘old media’ is completely toast. While I don’t for one moment dispute that old media is in long-term structural decline, my central thesis on the sector remains that it will not disappear for many years to come, with larger newspaper groups (such as INM) being able to mitigate against the effects of a shrinking market by gaining share as weaker competitors exit the industry. Of course, the extent to which equity investors can benefit from this depends on how successfully INM can prevail over its liabilities, and in this regard I was pleased to read reports of a third bidder entering the fray for INM’s South African unit. The more the merrier, clearly, as this should mean a satisfactory sale price for the business.
In the blogosphere, I was pleased to see the launch of two new blogs by Paul Curtis and Mark Murnane. I’ll be updating the blogroll later today – if there are any other investment and/or economics sites you think I should be following, please suggest them in the comments section below.
The next couple of weeks are likely to be very quiet on the blog as I face into the main body of exams on the MBA. Sadly, the volume of newsflow is proving to be anything but quiet!
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Irish Life & Permanent plc) It was confirmed today that IL&P’s permanent tsb unit will have an independent future, following months of uncertainty. The bank will submit a restructuring plan to the European Commission before the end of June, with the group splitting into three – CHL (UK loans), which has a loan book of €7.1bn, permanent tsb (the ‘good bank’, with the healthier loans), which has a loan book of €14.2bn, and AMU (Asset Management Unit, the ‘bad bank’), which has a loan book of €12.5bn. I suspect that the sale process for the UK loan book will be re-started once the Commission approves the restructuring, while for the rest of the loan book there are some significant questions outstanding on both capital and funding. In all, I think it’s too early to take a view on whether or not IL&P is worth buying at these levels.
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Abbey plc) Switching to the construction sector, I’ve recently noted improving newsflow from the UK housebuilders, which bodes well for Irish listed (but chiefly south-east England focused) Abbey plc. One of its peers, Redrow, announced that it is launching a placing and open offer to raise £80m to help fund an expansion of its housebuilding operations. ‘So what?’, you might well ask. Well, what makes this noteworthy is that the placing is being done at an 11% premium to where the shares closed at the day before the announcement was made, with the placing fully underwritten by the Chairman. If he wasn’t bulled up on the prospects for the UK housing market, he wouldn’t be comfortable to underwrite a placing at a premium to the market price. Another UK housebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, earlier today said: “UK housing market conditions remain stable and the Group is trading at the upper end of our expectations“. In all, the newsflow from this sector continues to get better.
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in CRH plc) Elsewhere, I was pleased to read confirmation that Semapa will pay CRH €574m for its 49% stake in Secil. This will cut the group’s net debt / EBITDA ratio to 1.5x or so by end-2012, which underlines CRH’s capacity for a step-up in M&A activity.
(Disclaimer: I am a shareholder in Independent News & Media plc and Trinity Mirror plc) In the TMT sector, regional newspaper group Johnston Press published its 2011 results yesterday. These revealed continued difficult conditions in Ireland, with advertising revenues dropping 19.1% in 2011, which was the same rate of decline as in 2010. In terms of the read-through for INM, this comes as little surprise (INM referred to “very challenging trading conditions” in Ireland in its 2011 results on March 22), but I do suspect (emphasis) that the parts of the country where Johnston Press’ portfolio of Irish assets are located are doing worse (from an economic perspective) than where INM’s portfolio of Irish regional assets is located. From the perspective of Trinity Mirror, I note comments from Johnston Press that it is moving a number of daily publications to weekly editions, which fits with my narrative of the UK newspaper sector becoming right-sized. Elsewhere, I was pleased to see share purchases in Independent News & Media by both the new chairman and the new CEO.
Elsewhere, regular blog readers will know that Playtech has been a constant thorn in my side in the 18 months or so since I bought into it. I was delighted to take the opportunity to sell out of it on Tuesday afternoon at 381p/share, clearing all of 1p/share profit (in constant currency terms) relative to my entry level. I’m mulling over what to do with the proceeds and some other cash reserves – I have 20 live positions in the portfolio which is just about as many as I can safely manage given the other pressures on my time. What I would like to buy is more exposure to sterling denominated assets (given the near-term political uncertainty in Euroland) so I’m considering raising my existing shareholding in one or more of Trinity Mirror, RBS and BP.
Pharma group Elan posted “solid” Q1 results earlier today, with management saying that it’s on track to achieve its full-year financial guidance.
The Cove Energy takeover story took another twist as Royal Dutch Shell made a recommended cash offer for the company. As noted before, the sale of Cove will mean a nice windfall for a lot of Irish private investors.