Wednesday June 24, 2009
John Master’s ‘retirement’ an eye-opener
Comment by Jagdev Singh Sidhu
THE circumstances in which a company proposes to sell its assets, distribute all the cash to shareholders and eventually remove itself from the stock exchange are usually done when conditions are dire.
It’s either that the company is financially haemorrhaging or affected by some cataclysmic event that has destroyed its balance sheet.
Rarely would that scenario be pictured of a still healthy albeit marginally profitable listed company that has basically decided to call it a day on the stock exchange.
When John Master Industries Bhd (JMI) said it wanted to “retire” as a listed company, the motive itself was a little perplexing. In its latest annual report, John Master did not sound like it was preparing to throw in the towel. Nor did it indicate such a desire in its latest quarterly announcement.
Yes, low trading volumes are an indication of investor interest and JMI said its average trading volume of just 7,300 shares a day over the past 12 months shows how illiquid and thinly traded its stock is.
Meagre volumes might be a reflection of investor interest but is that sufficient reason to exit the exchange? Based on yesterday’s trading on Bursa Malaysia, there were 317 companies on the stock exchange with fewer shares traded.
Financially, JMI has hinted that it was treading on water. It says its financial future is uncertain and the prospects for the industry it operates in are tough.
Competition in this business is fierce and there will always be places where it’s cheaper to produce a piece of garment than Malaysia. Economics and profitability will rule and the directors might feel that the company is fighting a losing battle on that front.
It argues those conditions make any future dividend payments doubtful. Even though business conditions are tough and outlook uncertain, there is an offer to bid for the assets of JMI from three directors of the company related to the founder of the company who retired in May last year.
Nobody knows whether shareholders would get full value of the company’s net tangible assets which was RM1.07. The company’s last traded share price was 49 sen a share.
The company is relatively debt free with only RM5.5mil in short-term borrowings. It has RM43mil in cash, or a cash backing of 35 sen a share.
Most of its assets are in the form of inventories (RM67mil) and receivables (RM39.7mil). Plant and machinery carries a value of RM2.8mil on the balance sheet and land for development is another RM2.4mil.
The company, however, has promised that its assets would be sold via an open tender and under the watchful eye of Ferrier Hodgson MH Sdn Bhd.
Cashing out of JMI would give shareholders of the company the financial flexibility to decide on what to do with their money. It’s also an avenue for shareholders to maybe realise the value of their current investment in a thinly traded counter with over 122 million shares.
The entire exercise might be a quasi privatisation process of JMI but whatever it is, the entire exercise would be a test case for other companies on Bursa.
It’s for the directors, who act as custodians of a company, to advice and recommend the best course of action to be taken by a company. And in this case, they have decided that the latest proposal is in the best interest of the listed company.
Ultimately it will be a decision for the company’s shareholders to make.
JMI : [Stock Watch] [News]
Ref: Asset valuation approach in liquidation
Company Name: JOHN MASTER INDUSTRIES BERHAD
Stock Name: JMI
Date Announced: 29/05/2009
Financial Year End: 31/03/2009
Announce - 0309(Ann).xls
Announce - 0309 (Ann).doc
When valuing a business for liquidation, most assets are marked down and the liabilities treated at face value.
- Cash and securities are taken at face value.
- Receivables require a small discount (perhaps 15 percent to 25 percent off).
- Inventory a larger discount (perhaps 50 percent to 75 percent off).
- Fixed assets at least as much as inventory.
- Any goodwill should probably be ignored.
- Most intangible assets and prepaid expenses should be ignored.
Applying the following to the latest balance sheet of JMI:
- a 50% discount to fixed assets and inventories,
- 25% discount to receivables, and
- all liabilities are at face value,
I deduced a liquidation NTA value of $ 0.70 per share (equivalent to net worth for the whole company of $ 110.5 m).
This contrast with the reported NTA of $ 1.0754 per share in its latest quarterly report.
Today, the market price per share of JMI is $ 0.60 giving a market capitalization of $ 73.70 m. Therefore there is little potential upside here.