Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reporting season a true indicator of company value

The New Zealand reporting season kicks off this month and regardless of the sub prime fallout and all its associated negative connotations, financial results and future indication of direction are still the main indication of company health and its possible day to day market value.

http://www.mainfreight.com.au/Portals/2/sydney%20branch.gif
Mainfreight will face margin pressures in New Zealand
but is likely to get increased business from their global
divisions.



The subprime fallout was expected to vary widely on Kiwi companies. Of our top 30 stocks reporting, 10 were indicative of their respective fields: Auckland International Airport(AIA), Briscoes(BGR), Telecom(TEL), Freightways(FRE), Fletcher Building(FBU), Goodman Fielder(GFF), Contact Energy(CEN), Tourism Holdings(THL), PGG Wrightson(PGG) and The Warehouse(WHS).

Many of the above will be conservative in their indications for profit in the coming year.

Many companies have already indicated profit warnings, Hallensteins Glassons(HLG) and Postie Plus(PPG) have come to the table, while many companies have indicated flat earnings, The Warehouse, Telecom, Contact Energy, Sky City Entertainment(SKC), Pumpkin Patch(PPL) and Freightways have all indicated pressure on margins over the past year.

The pressure has come mainly from government intervention. Increased labour costs through a higher minimum wage, 1 week extra holiday and paid maternity leave have all pressured businesses and margins. Clearly those companies with very high staff numbers will be affected by this, retailers especially.

In addition to the above, more Government associated paperwork for administration staff has lead to lower productivity.

More Government pressure from reckless spending has led to higher interest rates, for consumers and lending for business, and the increases in energy costs, due to Government dictated taxes on petrol and electricity have made 2007 a bad year and are due to get considerably worse in 2008.

There maybe some surprises on the upside during the current reporting season.

Mainfrieght(MFT) looks like a good bet to increase profit and Restaurant Brands(RBD), the often talked about whipping boy here should show an increase from a very low comparison this time last year.

Fletcher Building’s half-year after-tax result was forecast by ABN to increase 13.5% from $NZ193m last year to $219m this year and their order book for future work is still going to be over NZ$ 1 billion.

This reporting season seems like a turning point for investors to me.

They must make up their minds whether they want to hold their investments during a coming hard year or run crying for the hills with their share proceeds in their hands.

Fortune will favour those who hang on to good companies and if you are buying shares for the first time or adding to your portfolio, look for good management first before anything else, for it is good managers with a track record that will be able to ride out the inevitable tough times.

I'm ready to face the coming months, good or bad, and reporting season is definitely an exciting time for this investor.


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Disclosure: I own SKC, MFT, AIA, GFF,PLL,PPG,FRE,FBU and WHS shares

C Share Investor 2008