Tuesday, 21 April 2015

It is about value, not price

Monday, April 20, 2015

QAF Limited: $1.14 a share is cheaper than 93c a share?

One year ago, when QAF Limited's stock was trading at 93c a share, I observed that the PE ratio was 16.6x and I said that to buy in at that price would be making an assumption that earnings could improve dramatically in the future. There were pertinent concerns such as rising costs of doing business as well as the weak Australian Dollar and how these could continue to weigh down performance.

Well, for the full year 2014, QAF Limited has exceeded expectations as earnings per share (EPS) improved 46.4% from 5.6c to 8.2c, year on year. With the Australian Dollar having weakened further against the Singapore Dollar, how did this happen?

There was a one off contribution by Oxdale Dairy through the sale of its dairy business. Group operating profit, thus, received a boost of $1.6m. This will not be repeated, of course. However, considering the fact that Group profit improved some $15.7m (before tax), not having this one off contribution in the current year would still mean that QAF Limited would do very well, everything else remaining equal.

All business segments did well but the lion share of the improvement came from Rivalea, an Australian business segment. Operating profits improved threefold although revenue stayed flat because of higher selling prices, better product mix, productivity gains and lower raw material costs.

Lower finance costs also helped QAF Limited to do better in 2014 as borrowings were pared down. Interest expense decreased $0.9m from $4.1m to $3.2m last year.

Today, QAF Limited's stock closed at $1.14 a share and based on an EPS of 8.2c, we are looking at a PE ratio of some 14x. Even if we remove the one off divestment gain by Oxdale Dairy, we would be looking at a PE ratio of 14.5x, thereabouts.

So, although QAF Limited's stock is priced higher now, compared to buying at 93c a share a year ago, it is actually cheaper at $1.14 a share. This is what I meant when I said that a stock could actually be cheaper although its price could be higher. It is about value, not price.

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1.  Price is different from value.  At price of 93 c a share, its PE was 16.6x.  At $1.14 a share, its PE was 14x.  Thus, though the price per share is higher, you are actually paying a lower multiple for its earnings.

2.  For the same reason, a $25 per share company maybe a cheaper buy than a 25 c per share company.  Compare their PEs.

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