Monday, March 31, 2008

Blue Chip's Mark Bryers at top of shaky pyramid

http://media.apn.co.nz/regionals/nzbopt/pics/sport30j.jpg
Mark Bryers, architect of the Blue Chip pyramid
scheme, in better times.


Securities Commission - What we do
Commerce Commission - Fair Trading Act
Bryers has clear conscience - Stuff.co.nz


From the Blue Chip website (more)

At Blue Chip, everything we do is about helping our customers to build the future they want. Here are some of our clients’ stories which explain how Blue Chip has helped make a difference".


Gordon and Margaret Taylor

"At our stage in life we need our investments to be making money - not losing it!"


The column inches given over to discussing the Blue Chip fiasco would rival the length of a million toilet rolls stuck end to end and reaching to the moon and back.

Like alot of financial collapses though, investors or the public don't seem a hell of a lot wiser as a result of all the chatter.

In Blue Chip though, what is clear is that Mark Bryer's and his management built a pyramid scheme where he was at the top while his investors pumped cash into keeping him there.

Like every pyramid scheme of the past the only people who make money are those at the top and those that get in then get out first. Bryer's is still worth more than NZ$70 million according to the National Business Review.

These arrangements can go well when economic conditions are good but in this case, when the "asset", real estate, being invested in starts to lose its over inflated value, those at the bottom of the pyramid are going to lose.

Many have lost their life savings after either being greedy, trusting or naive. I recall going to an investment day at the Ellerslie Racecourse some 4 years ago, all the banks, share options people,brokers, finance companies, gold sellers etc were there.

So was Blue Chip.

While many of the above mentioned were quite "pushy" in their sales patter, I distinctly remember the Blue Chip people meet my quick gaze at their stand and from then on the push to buy was relentless, aggressive and quite slick-and their lawyers were there!

I felt decidedly uncomfortable with everything about their pitch but can understand why some caved into their charms.

But I digress.

The fact that property deals were arranged so that overly large deposits on overinflated unbuilt housing was paid directly into Blue Chip coffers and not into the normal trust situation and signed off by buyers after getting "advice" from Blue Chip's own lawyers, should at least raise the ire of the Securites Commission who have so far been deathly silent on this matter.

In my humble opinion, at the very least the Fair Trading Act has been breached and action needs to be taken. The Commerce Commission, who agonize over the likes of The Warehouse sale saga haven't made a public statement. The Fair Trading Act(1986) basically states that you cannot hide or be untruthful about what you are selling or be devious or sly in hiding the nature of what is being purchased; i.e. small print is not an out for the dodgy seller and it should have been crystal clear about what those Blue Chip real estate buyers were signing.

Like others have been saying though, I suspect we have only seen the tip of the pyramid uncovered, and just like an iceberg most of what lurks underneath is looking decidedly crooked.

I fear though, that Mark Bryer's and his merry bunch of tuggers at Blue Chip will get away with this errant behaviour and not even get a lick of a taste of the anguish that they so clearly deserve, and their former clients are now suffering from.

It is time for the talking to stop and action to start, lets not let another economic vampire go free.


Related Share Investor reading

New Zealand Financial Oversight bodies fail Blue Chip investors
Money Managers Saga-3 story wrap
Money Manager's First Step gives investors the middle finger

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c Share Investor 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sky City share volumes sets tongues wagging

Chart for Sky City Entertainment Group Li (SKC.NZ)

Related Quote

chart


All Detailed Quotes
Delayed 20 mins
Quote data provided by Reuters



Reuters story on SKC
- NZ's Sky City CEO sees year of consolidation, then expansion (March 25, 2008)


With volume of Sky City Entertainment[SKC.NZ] shares traded on the NZX at over 8 million today and around 5 million yesterday one would have to ask why the large volumes changing hands? The average trading volume is just over 1.2 million shares.

Answer, I don't know for sure, but I'm going to speculate again.

Clearly the number one stab in the dark would be a share price so low it would have to be about 6 years ago that it traded at the present level of NZ$3.48 and it has got out the bargain hunters and institutions.

Number two punt is a mystery buyer getting a controlling stake-although talk of anyone kicking the tyres of the company is long gone, for now.

Three, Unitab as it was around 3 years ago, now Tattersalls[TTX.AX], from Australia topping up their 0.5% shareholding that they already have in the company.

Fourthly, and probably most likely, Commonwealth Bank[CBA.AX], who dumped Tattersalls stock on March 7 (PDF disclosure) and who is also a biggish player in SKC.

Just to hedge my bets, a combo of all four is also part of my playbook!

The coming year is going to be a tough one for Sky City, But new CEO Nigel Morrison has restructured and redefined a number of casinos in this part of the world. The giant Crown Casino in Melbourne but one of them.


Disclosure: I own SKC shares


Related Share Investor reading

Sky City half year exceptional on cost cutting
NZX Press release: Sky City profit to HY end Dec 2007
Sky City Cinemas no Blockbuster
Sky City Entertainment share price drop
New Broom set to sweep
Sky City Management: Blind, deaf and numb
Sky City sale could be off
Opposition to takeover
Premium for control
Sky City receives takeover bid
Sky City Casino Full Year Profit to June 30 2007
Setting the record straight
Sky City CEO resigns

Sky City Casino: Underperforming
Sky City Casino 2007 HY Profit(analysis)
Sky City Casino 2007 HY Profit

c Share Investor 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hallenstein Glasson Australian expansion needs expert execution

Hallenstein Glasson [HLG.NZ] net profit for the 2008 half-year after tax fell 6.6 per cent from $9.9 million to $9.2 million, in line with the company's January market guidance.

The results are mirrored in an overall decline in sales of 2 per cent, with group sales for the six months ending February 1 falling from $100.7 million to $98.5 million.

The company has done spectacularly well for so long but in the last few years sales and profit have been stagnant.

It seemed reasonably clear that profit wouldn't continue to climb as rapidly as it has done in the past, because much of it came from focusing on cost reductions in the business and the company now runs a lean mean retailing machine, fixed costs like rising labour expenses and leases aside.

The expansion of women's clothing chain Glassons across Australia is a priority for new Hallenstein Glasson chief executive Shayne Quanchi, who is based in Melbourne herself.

The focus on expansion across the Tasman before stalled growth in New Zealand is seriously looked at, could be of some concern to shareholders.

Even though Quanchi is a 20 year veteran of retailing in Australia, doesn't mean she can make the Kiwi style Glassons chain a rocking and rolling OZ success.

Its competitors there are way more savvy, generally part of the big conglomerates like Coles/Wesfarmers, David Jones, and the like and the differences between similar targeted customers that Glassons has here and its competitors in Australia are vast in their sophistication, choice options and pricing.

Don't get me wrong, Hallensteins is a great company and has done well in New Zealand for generations but the road to Australia for many New Zealand companies and their expansion plans, is littered with the corpses of battered balance sheets and zombie like shareholders who have had their wallets picked.

Clearly Australia is an opportunity for the company in which they can continue to expand but the story so far there has been disappointing when compared with the operations of the New Zealand unit.

One good and important aspect of the result is that gross margins have been maintained and that is no mean feat in the present retailing environment.

Like other retailers, such as Briscoe [BRG.NZ] and The Warehouse Group[WHS.NZ], they are going to struggle this year, as consumers, especially in New Zealand, slow their spending because of increased taxes, petrol and mortgage costs.

Related Share Investor reading

Why did you buy that stock? [Hallenstein Glasson]
Retailers are having a Christmas sale

Discuss this Company @ Share Investor Forum


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c Share Investor 2008



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NOW Couriers look likely to deliver for Freightways

http://www.finda.co.nz/images/thumb/4j52xs/308x195/now-couriers.jpg

New acquisition NOW Couriers should help Freightways
continue to dominate the growing Auckland delivery market.



News yesterday that the New Zealand courier and document information management company Freightways [FRE] is to buy the small Auckland courier company Now Couriers for around NZ$11 million should be welcome news for shareholders.

Not only that, the faith Freightway's management have in the long-term future of their business with this purchase, during the current economic downturn and associated credit crunch is a positive move, when every other business in New Zealand seems to be talking gloom and doom.

Freightways as a whole, has managed to ride out the economic slowdown and increased business costs very well. It has still managed to grow revenue and profit slightly over the last year.

Their core courier business seems to be one of the most resilient divisions and Auckland especially seems reasonably bullish.

NOW has 40 contracted owner drivers servicing greater Auckland, and is at the budget end of the market, so it compliments Freightways other brands: Sub 60, Castle Parcels, New Zealand Couriers, Post Haste and several other brands.

Management want to keep the latest acquisition separate from the others as it wants to differentiate it from its other nationally focused brands.

I like the way management have had a partnership with NOW for several years, got to know the company well and then bought control. Too many companies rush into these sorts of acquisitions and that is where things can go horribly wrong. Freightway's management clearly have a good understanding of this business and that way the price they paid for it is more likely to be relevant to its earnings, prospects , and its long term future.

Their track record on "bolt-on" acquisitions is extremely good.

CEO Dean Bracewell has been a diligent head and the tough outlook for the New Zealand economy looks to be something he looks forward to with relish.

The future outlook by Bracewell is tempered by comments of influences from the local economy and that they are well positioned to grow when economic conditions are rosier.

He expects the core package delivery businesses to perform "soundly" and its fast growing documents division to be strong over the coming year.


Related Share Investor reading

Freightways packages up a good result
Freightways delivers

Disclosure: I own FRE shares


c Share Investor 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Marketing vs Content

During the last 7 months or so since contributing in a serious way to this blog, I have learnt a number of things.

1. Its bloody hard work
2. Don't ever underestimate how intense competition can get
3. Loyal readers are why I continue
4. Marketing can be more important than content (even though I hope I have
improved my content over the last 7 months)


The image “http://www.tvacres.com/images/marlboro_man.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Marketing such as this, helps push products that
have little real benefit for the consumer but sell
more because of the appeal of its advertised image
.


While the first point maybe obvious to those seasoned writers who have been doing this for years, and business leaders should know instinctively the second point. Point number three is more of a personal nature but it is the importance of marketing that I wish to principally discuss here.

When one thinks of the triumph of marketing over content, ones interest naturally leans to the granddaddy of all when it comes to marketing, Coca Cola.

The advertising of the sugar, water, caffeine and CO2 concoction has been filled with much mystique and hype since the product began and hasn't ceased in this way in the product's 100 plus years of existence.

The origins of Coke's marketing success comes from those traveling charlatans who used to go from town to town in the USA, boasting of the properties of the latest elixir that would "cure all".

In the case of Coke it started as one of these types of elixirs but it at least had a bit of a pick me up quality to it, from the sugar and caffeine, and other substances in its earlier guise.

The early backers seized on this traveling salesman mystique and it has been used and refined over the years to the point where Coke is the most recognised brand in the world, and has been for many years.

A huge amount of marketing dollars were used to push the fizzy water over the last 100 years and the ploys used to keep the drinks mystery and image have been many and varied.

During the company's boom years of the 1940s, American soldiers were supplied with the sweet brown stuff by Coca Cola wherever the war took them and the image that Coke was the epitome of fighting for the "American dream" was then cemented in the minds of not just Americans, but many other countries that fought side by side them.

Clever marketing on Coke's part.

The fact that this product, if consumed in large quantities, can, make you tubby, rot your teeth and has no benefit to the body in a nutritional way is largely forgotten because the consumer is constantly bombarded with images of attractive, athletic, young people enjoying the "Coke lifestyle".

A whole host of dangerous and worthless products from Cigarettes to most home cleaning products, are successful because of great and or constant marketing.

It is a masterstroke of marketing an image for a product that has no real benefit to its consumers.

I know, they say consumers these days can see past the hype and can tell quality but the coke test proves that millions just cant or chose to ignore the realities.


http://artfiles.art.com/images/-/Coca-Cola-Poster-C10054866.jpeg
The world's most successful brand, Coca Cola, achieved
its longevity not through its magnificent product but
from expert marketing and branding.


While I'm clearly not comparing my writing to Coke's success, I do wonder sometimes about lesser quality product succeeding over the hyped up marketing of the likes of my mate from the Tarawera empire, Phillip MacCallister, who's marketing budget must surely be bigger than my mortgage payments, which are quite considerable!

The Share Investor Blog isn't being advertised on Google, but I probably should. I don't spend any money on marketing but I do spend time trying to get it out there for free so people can read it.

I think it is relatively interesting, and its content of a sufficiently good quality. It is getting a steady increase in readership as the months go by, but I still think it deserves better numbers when I compare it to other websites of a similar nature with larger audiences.

My ignorance of the importance of marketing before I started the Share Investor Blog is clearly apparent to me now. Here was I thinking, in my best Kevin Costner impression, "if I write it they will come".

How hopelessly wrong I was.

The importance of marketing cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to a new business venture. While it is fine to have a wonderful product, that is not always enough. People actually have to know you have a great product.

Those people at Sony had a superior product in the Betamax Video player in the 1980s but the competition had more marketing muscle but an inferior product.

We all know what happened to Betamax.

My lesson learned!


**Footnote: Look for an exciting new permanent addition to the blog over the next 2 months. Legal reasons prevent me from telling you more.


Related Share Investor reading

Marketing Burger Fuel's Future
Pumpkin Patch vs Burger Fuel

c Share Investor 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rod Duke's Pumpkin Patch gets bigger

Further to my idle speculation about who it was who bought the 6 million shares in Pumpkin Patch Ltd [PPL.NZ] yesterday. I clearly got it wrong, Jan Cameron, ex Kathmandu and Carmel Fisher, from Fisher Funds were not buyers.

Who would have thought, Rod Duke, the owner of listed retailer Briscoe Group Ltd [BGR.NZ], picked up enough shares to take his total holding to 8.4 % of the company. He wont rule out buying more in the future.

He bought his shares as a personal holding not linked to Briscoes and sees the company one of the best in the game at what they do. I would have to agree of course.

It is good to see one of our leading retailers recognising quality and getting in behind this Kiwi icon with his big fat wallet.

As a matter of interest, there was some moving of the deck chairs at Fisher Funds. Their PPL holdings since 24.01.08 were transferred to other holders or nominees on and off market and they purchased 430,000 shares since that same date up until 21.o2.08. The share price at that time was substantially higher than the last weeks 1.50-1.62 range.

Clearly, given global market conditions, the share price has still got room to move.

Downwards.

Disclosure I own PPL in the Share Investor Portfolio.


Pumpkin Patch @ Share Investor

Share Investor Q & A: Briscoe Group CEO Rod Duke
Pumpkin Patch Ltd move downmarket
Long Term View: Pumpkin Patch Ltd
Pumpkin Patch's North American Downsizing a Prudent move
Digging at Pumpkin's Profit
Long vs Short: Pumpkin Patch Ltd
Pumpkin Patch Buyback shows Confidence in the Future
Pumpkin Patch takes a hit
Pumpkin Patch ripe for the picking
What is Jan Cameron up to?

I'm buying
Why did you buy that Stock? [Pumpkin Patch]
Rod Duke's Pumpkin Patch gets bigger
Buyer of large piece of Pumpkin Patch a mystery
Pumpkin Patch a screaming buy
Broker downgrades of PPL lack long term vision
Pumpkin's expansion comes at a cost
Pumpkin Patch vs Burger Fuel
Pumpkin Patch profits flatten
New Zealand Retailers ring up costs not tills

Discuss PPL @ Share Investor Forum

Download PPL Company Reports

Buy Pumpkin Patch Clothing

From Fishpond.co.nz

Bird on a Wire: The Inside Story from a Straight Talking CEO

Buy Bird on a Wire: The Inside Story from a Straight Talking CEO & more @ Fishpond.co.nz

Fishpond



c Share Investor 2008


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buyer of large piece Pumpkin Patch a mystery

http://www.lovable.com.au/www/211/files/pp_logo.jpg
A sizable chunk of Pumpkin Patch
was traded today, leading to speculation
as to who the purchaser might be and why.


Like other global markets New Zealand's NZX rallied today(19 March NZ time) by 1.4%.

Not as spectacular as the Dow's 400 plus points or Asian markets 3% plus rises but many of our stocks did well.

There are more months of bad news to come so don't forget what happened earlier this week please.

I must point out to readers of Share Investor that I noticed a stock that finally got bought in serious volumes today after being beaten down to its IPO price earlier this week.

Pumpkin Patch Ltd [PPL.NZ], the children's clothing retailer and manufacturer, hit $NZ1.5o yesterday and one or several sizable players got some serious action in the company to the tune of over 6.7 million shares. A very large daily amount for this company and the current thin liquidity of trading in NZX stocks in general at present.

Who the buyer was can only be speculation at present but there are several I'm willing have a stab at.

My first pick would be Carmel Fisher's Fisher Funds, who already have a sizable chunk north of 5% of the company and would clearly see the company as a steal considering the current price and the price they paid for the bulk of their chunk in the company.

A close second horse would be Jan Cameron, the former owner of the high fallootin outdoor lifestyle retailer Kathmandu and a recent large purchaser of shares in Postie Plus Group(PPG), another more "down market" New Zealand retailer.

Pumpkin Patch, like Kathmandu, is a strong, high margin, brand in its market/s and it would fit her investing profile for good companies bought at excellent prices.

Of course another outside guess would be an as yet unknown player getting a foothold in the company to launch some sort of bid for the retailer. I hope not.

3.6% of the company's shares were traded and the buyer got their stake at NZ$1.60.

The shares were up by 11c to $1.61.


Disclosure I own PPL shares in the Share Investor Portfolio.


Pumpkin Patch @ Share Investor

Pumpkin Patch Ltd move downmarket
Long Term View: Pumpkin Patch Ltd
Pumpkin Patch's North American Downsizing a Prudent move
Digging at Pumpkin's Profit
Long vs Short: Pumpkin Patch Ltd
Pumpkin Patch Buyback shows Confidence in the Future
Pumpkin Patch takes a hit
Pumpkin Patch ripe for the picking
What is Jan Cameron up to?

I'm buying
Why did you buy that Stock? [Pumpkin Patch]
Rod Duke's Pumpkin Patch gets bigger
Buyer of large piece of Pumpkin Patch a mystery
Pumpkin Patch a screaming buy
Broker downgrades of PPL lack long term vision
Pumpkin's expansion comes at a cost
Pumpkin Patch vs Burger Fuel
Pumpkin Patch profits flatten
New Zealand Retailers ring up costs not tills

Discuss PPL @ Share Investor Forum

Download PPL Company Reports

Buy Pumpkin Patch Clothing

From Fishpond.co.nz

Bird on a Wire: The Inside Story from a Straight Talking CEO

Buy Bird on a Wire: The Inside Story from a Straight Talking CEO & more @ Fishpond.co.nz

Fishpond


c Share Investor 2008

Time for OCR intervention by Dr Cullen

http://www.rightblueeye.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/a450ee0e-34cc-4191-bd03-9131f7b31fa0.jpg
The New Zealand Government is happy to intervene where its citizens don't want them
but when it comes to the precipitous economy in relation to lowering interest rates,
Michael Cullen gets blisters on his hands from sitting on them.



I'm not an interventionist by any stretch of the imagination but our monetary system, for better or worse, is, and so is the present regime that presides over the country's books, the New Zealand Labour party.

The interventionist approach in regard to the Reserve Bank and through the official cash rate(OCR) has led NZ INC, courtesy of drunken overspending and overtaxing by the aforementioned regime, to the highest interest rates in the "developed" world.

The Mike and Helen show has put the country in a very precarious position, given the uncertainty over the global economy and the "credit crunch"(2 days in a row, sorry) has slowed the wheels of commerce globally.

This dastardly duo seem quite pleased that an excuse like the global credit crunch has come around because they are now on a PR offensive to blame any current or future New Zealand downturn on it and not themselves, where the bony finger should be pointing.

The sensible among us know that high interest rate were here 3-4 years ago and then we though a credit crunch was a new chocolate bar bought on time payment.

Like Al Gore's science fiction movie "The Inconvenient Truth", we also know, like that movie, the M and K show lacks consistency and truth. When it comes to the economy we can all remember the Labour Party taking the accolades for the nearly 4% growth we had for a nano second, but they now blame the downturn and any possible downturns on other circumstances.

You cant have it both ways.

Now this government's profligate taxes and spending(they go hand in hand) has put its citizens in such debt that we even outrank those nasty Americans for our debt levels. This debt is primarily in real estate and servicing the high interest debt that bought it.

Higher house prices meant more borrowing on the increased equity, because taxes are so high we had to borrow to survive.

So guess what, now things are in reverse, because of that debt we are in potentially a worse condition than America.

They at least borrowed to buy other sorts of assets beside houses, while we sunk most of ours into houses and plasma TVs.

While we haven't had the extreme reckless lending like America's Sub Prime loans, we have got many thousands of kiwis who have borrowed more than they will be able to service when the shit hitith the fan.

Its hitting now.

NZ$40 billion of mortgages will be refinanced this year alone at close to 10% and others will be higher, the time for intervention is now.

The OCR should have been cut at least a year ago but now there is urgent need for it. An emergency cut to bring it into line with other nations suffering from the sub prime fallout would be a key move in the right direction.

There is no use sitting on your hands waiting "to see what happens" according to Alan Bollard, the Reserve Bank Governor. Decisive action needs to be taken because inflation is the least of his/our worries now.

Like I have said before the OCR is a poor way to maintain an economic system, it doesn't serve its purpose well, but it is all we have at present.

A progressive cut over this year, down to below 6%, starting with a .75 point basis cut will send a good message to the market and business, that lending rates will be somewhat dampened and business will be stimulated when it needs it.

Our socialist government are intervening in every other part of our lives, including the private business world but for the life of me , when we really do need intervention, Micheal Cullen just sits on his calloused hands and blames others for our countries current mis- fortunes.

Get off your arse and do something history boy.


Related Share Investor reading

Global credit squeeze: There is no free lunch
Current Credit crunch a blessing in disguise
Lenders must come clean over losses to restore faith in credit markets


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c Share Investor 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

STUFF.co.nz: Sky City under review

http://www.discovernewzealand.com/adx/aspx/adxGetMedia.aspx?DocID=682,10,1,Documents&MediaID=1125&Filename=Sky-City-ext-large.jpg
Sky City Entertainment has been busy in the first few weeks
of Nigel Morrison's time at the top. Business units are all
under review.


By GARETH VAUGHAN - The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 18 March 2008

News out About Sky City today

SkyCity CEO sees cinema sale within 3 months - Stuff.co.nz
Sky City reviews Adelaide plan - Bloomberg


SkyCity Entertainment Group's(SKC) new boss wants to double to $3 billion the annual value of bets placed by high-rolling Asian gamblers as he strives to turn around the casino operator's recent disappointing performance.

Nigel Morrison, who took SkyCity's helm as chief executive on March 3, says this is the best way to combat the volatile impact on SkyCity's earnings from wealthy overseas gamblers.

The house did well against SkyCity's primarily Asian overseas customers in the December half-year, with $12.6 million in operating earnings from them. This helped push up group net profit, before the $60 million write-down in the carrying value of SkyCity Cinemas, by 36 per cent to $61.3 million.

However, a winning streak by high rollers in the first half of last year led to a $2.9 million loss, helping slash group net profit 23 per cent to $45 million.

Mr Morrison said high-roller volatility stemmed from the fact that the $1.5 billion worth of total annual bets placed by international gamblers at SkyCity's casinos was not enough. SkyCity expects to win about 1.3 per cent of the $1.5 billion.

The challenge for SkyCity, therefore, was to double at least the value of annual high-roller bets: "We need to think outside the square about how we might do that," he said.

Mr Morrison, a 48-year-old Australian, quit a role as chief financial officer of Hong Kong and Macau Casino group Galaxy Entertainment to move to Auckland. He replaced Evan Davies, SkyCity's founding chief executive, who departed abruptly after 11 years with a $2 million payout last June. SkyCity director Elmar Toime held the fort as executive director in the interim.

Including the write-down on SkyCity Cinemas, SkyCity last month posted interim net profit of just $1.3 million. Mr Morrison said SkyCity was talking with two potential buyers of the cinema business and he hoped to have the protracted sale wrapped up within three months. SkyCity Cinemas produced operating earnings of just $2 million in the six months to December.

SkyCity, which owns casinos in Auckland, Hamilton, Darwin, Adelaide, 41 per cent of Christchurch Casino and 55 per cent of one of Queenstown's two casinos, would then be free to focus on improving the performance of those businesses.

Mr Morrison said his mandate from shareholders for the next 18 months was to get SkyCity's casinos "buzzing". The recent $40 million refurbishment of the flagship Auckland Casino's main gaming floor was a step toward this.

Auckland produced $107.7 million of $161.4 million group operating earnings in the December half, but this rose just 0.4 per cent as margins contracted. SkyCity would work on getting the lighting, music, food and service right at Auckland, now that the hard work on the "physical asset" was completed.

"I would hope that in six months we would have made a big impact into all those things."


Disclosure: I own SKC shares


Related Share Investor reading

Sky City HY exceptional on cost cutting
NZX Press release: Sky City profit to HY end Dec 2007
Sky City Cinemas no Blockbuster
Sky City Entertainment share price drop
New Broom set to sweep
Sky City Management: Blind, deaf and numb
Sky City sale could be off
Opposition to takeover
Premium for control
Sky City receives takeover bid
Sky City Casino Full Year Profit to June 30 2007
Setting the record straight
Sky City CEO resigns

Sky City Casino: Underperforming
Sky City Casino 2007 HY Profit(analysis)
Sky City Casino 2007 HY Profit

c Links Share Investor 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Global Economy looks bad now? But wait there's more

JPMorgan scoops up troubled Bear 4:56am: The deal values Bear Stearns at just $2 a share. Regulators hope purchase will stave off wider chaos in financial markets. more

The Bear Stearns fire sale reveals the iceberg underneath the tip of current disclosed sub-prime losses.

Everyone is talking about it and I have written about it frequently for more than a year. The contagion from the reckless lending of the last 10 years still has time to play out its course.

Emergency rate cuts on Sunday(US time) in the United States and talk of another one on Monday 17, of perhaps 100 basis points, will do little to restore the faith in credit markets, housing, business, the stockmarket and every other sort of financial instrument that is traded, with the possible exceptions of some commodities and minerals.

In New Zealand a story out today shows the high exposure our banks have to our ever decreasing housing market and along with higher government spending promised by the Labour government and a whole host of other price increases, interest rates are clearly going to skyrocket.

Things are looking grim here but in the United States, where it all began, they are suffering worse than anyone else. High house foreclosures, defaults on loans and increasing unemployment are front page stories. One doesn't have to be Warren Buffett to figure out that America is already in recession. The official confirmation of two consecutive quarters of GDP stagnation will only be a matter of course when it is announced.

The real question is, how bad is it going to get in the US and how much is it going to affect us in New Zealand and other parts of the world?

I'm not an expert in global economics but do have a keen economic grounding and I think things in the US are going to get alot worse. We still haven't seen the full extent of losses that banks and other financial institutions have been hit with, and those losses will have to be accounted for somewhere in the US economy.

The selling of Bear Sterns to JP Morgan Chase for $2 a share is a good indicator of more financial institutions sitting on bigger than disclosed losses. The balance sheet of BS, who incidentally survived the Great Depression, must be grim indeed.

The impact on other countries is going to be felt more than it is now because these things take time to filter down. Of course immediate impacts on currency values, world sharemarkets etc are felt quickly but longer term impacts, like even higher interest rates oil prices and goods and services.

Some economists talk of a "disconnect" of Asian economies from the still dominant US beast but that really isn't probable to me because countries like China, India and Japan still rely on a strong United States to survive. Economic self sufficiency in Asia is still a decade or so away.

A key sign of a loss of faith in the global economy will be seen when the US stockmarket opens in a few hours time.

If another interest rate cut is announced by the Fed and it is a big one, one should expect a rise in the DOW. Having said that, the fact that such a large cut is being proposed will probably mean the market will rightly look at this scenario as a good reason to dump their shares.

The uncertainty will have investors hitting the sell button.

The feeling I have in this part of the world is that investors have already started to panic. The New Zealand market was down by 2% and Australia followed with a 2.5% drop. Asian markets, as usual in times of turmoil, were hit harder. Over a broad range of markets in Asia they were down around 4% on average.

Whatever happens to the global economy in the coming days, weeks, and months, you can be sure it will be volatile, fraught with emotional writing from people like me and bad for the back pocket.

It will however, be very interesting.


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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Warehouse set for a turbulent 2008

http://shopping.t5.co.nz/images/the-warehouse.jpg
The Warehouse Group Ltd
(WHS.NZ: Quote, Profile, Research)

NZX 2008 Interim Result - NZX
HY Profit up 7% - Reuters
Warehouse profit rises 7% on warranties - Bloomberg




The Court of Appeal will hear on April 29, the Commerce Commission case in seeking to overturn a High Court ruling allowing Woolworths Australia [WOW.ASX] and Foodstuffs supermarket companies to bid for The Warehouse Group [WHS.NZ]

In the wake of flat profits reported on Friday14 (NZ Time) the outcome of this case will come under closer scrutiny by investors in a New Zealand sharemarket racked with uncertainties.

Unfavourable global market conditions, a dismal forward look at the New Zealand economy, a drop in profit forecast by The Warehouse itself, and local and foreign investors disgruntled over recent Government intervention in Auckland International Airport [AIA.NZ] and their assault on private property rights, makes the case for a quick decision by the court even more compelling.

Investors have voted overwhelmingly to sell their shares in Auckland International Airport on Thursday last week and the same will be the case when and if the 3 parties to The Warehouse saga are given the go ahead to make a deal.

As mentioned before in this column I have every belief that the deal will happen, even if it has to go the way of the Supreme Court sometime at the end of 2008.

The only drawback to a Supreme Court ruling though is that the bench is stacked with politically appointed Labour Party Judges, so a verdict there could be in question.

The motivation for the buyers in this process to acquire, I think, will be higher than before the current credit squeeze. Clearly if credit gets horrendously expensive, the weaker player in terms of finance capabilities, Foodstuffs, may find it difficult to offer a competitive price for The Warehouse and therefore have to drop out.

Woolworths still have the upper hand in terms of available financing so the fortune favours the Aussies and the credit mess we are facing may in actual fact go in their favour . They have large cash reserves and future cash revenue to boot.

We await with keenness for a decision from the High Court, but uncertainty over the decision, given current political overtones and issues over perceived "kiwi assets falling to filthy foreign control", with a decision to also be made by the overseas investment office, may leave investors in The Warehouse disappointed, in an election year filled with emotional baggage left over from the distant 1980s and a Socialist government bent on Neo Muldonism.


Disclosure: I own WHS shares



The Warehouse Group @ Share Investor

Long vs Short: The Warehouse Group
Warehouse bidders ready to lay money down
The Warehouse set to cut lose "extra" impediment
The Warehouse sale could hinge on "Extra" decision
The case for The Warehouse without a buyer
Foodstuffs take their foot off the gas
Woolworths seek leave to appeal to Supreme Court
Warehouse appeal decision imminent
Warehouse decision a loser for all
Warehouse Court of appeal decision in Commerce Commission's favour
MARKETWATCH: The Warehouse
The Warehouse takeover saga continues
Why did you buy that stock? [The Warehouse]
History of Warehouse takeover players suggest a long winding road
Court of Appeal delays Warehouse bid
The Warehouse set for turbulent 2008
The Warehouse Court of Appeal case lay in "Extras" hands
WHS Court of Appeal case could be dismissed next week
Commerce Commission impacts on the Warehouse bottom line
The Warehouse in play
Outcomes of Commerce Commission decision
The fight for control begins soon

Share Investor Forum-Discuss this topic


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Friday, March 14, 2008

STUFF.co.nz: Auckland Airport all go for sale

http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20070906/capt.sge.rko57.060907032036.photo00.photo.default-512x344.jpg


LATEST: Shareholders have voted in favour of the $1.8 billion partial takeover of Auckland International Airport by a Canadian state pension fund.

By the close of the offer at 5pm yesterday, shareholders holding 79.7 percent of the company had voted on the bid, with 57.7 percent of those voting approving the offer, the airport said today.

A majority of shareholders voting needed to back the offer for it to go ahead.

Share acceptances had reached 62.4 per cent by 5pm yesterday when the bid closed. On Wednesday they had been at 37.8 per cent.

Six per cent shareholder Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund was among those accepting.

As shareholders swung in behind the bid, the focus has switched to whether the Government will approve the deal, after the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board's concession over its $3.60a-share offer for a 40 per cent stake in the airport company.

It is a swift turnaround for a bid that looked dead in the water only a week ago after the Government closed a tax loophole and tightened foreign investment rules.

A turning point came on Tuesday when 3.3 per cent shareholder and utilities investor Infratil, seen as a barometer of sentiment, said it would sell.

Shares in the airport, a top-10 company that controls 70 per cent of New Zealand's international air traffic, jumped 35 cents yesterday to end at $2.54.

In addition to gaining 40 per cent of shares, the Canadian fund needed to gain approval from a majority of voting shareholders.

The harshest blow to the bid came on March 4, when Auckland Airport shares plunged 20 per cent after the Government said it would tighten rules to prevent overseas investors gaining control of so-called sensitive assets.

That followed a February 26 move preventing companies from offering tax-deductible payments.

This had formed a key part of a capital restructuring proposal by the pension fund if its partial bid succeeds.

However, this week the Canadian pension fund said it would voluntarily restrict its voting rights to 24.9 per cent in a bid to calm Government worries about foreign ownership of key assets.

The Government's move was seen by many as politically motivated.

One analyst said: "The Government doesn't give a damn about the economic ramifications, this is all about getting votes."

The Overseas Investment Office said it would refer the bid to Land Information Minister David Parker and Associate Finance Minister Clayton Cosgrove.

- with REUTERS

Share Investor AIA merger coverage to date

Auckland Airport Update
Latest AIA developments
Cullen's move on Auckland Airport has far reaching effects
Cullen's move on AIA tax plan Anti-Business
AIA profit stays grounded
Softening opposition to CPPIB bid for AIA
Directors of AIA bribe brokers not to sell
What is Auckland Airport worth to you?
Second bite at AIA by CPPIB might just fly
AIA new directors must focus on shareholders
Auckland Airport merger deal nosedives
The Canadians have landed
AIA incentive scheme must fly out the window
Government market manipulation over AIA/DAE deal
DAE move on AIA: Will it fly?


Disclosure: I own AIA shares

c Share Investor 2008


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Auckland Airport merger update


The Battle for the Airport

The ongoing debate over ownership of Auckland
International Airport, the gateway to New Zealand. More


Auckland City Council vote against AIA sale - Sydney Morning Herald
Canadians near bid for AIA - Stuff.co.nz
Infratil: Morrison played no part in AIA share decision-NBR
Infratil says yes to Canadians - Stuff.co.nz
Fran O'Sullivan: Canadians losing their bite - NZ Herald


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3d/Auckland_Airport_Carparks_Main.jpg/800px-Auckland_Airport_Carparks_Main.jpg
The CPPIB will get the 40% of acceptances by 5.00pm Thursday(NZ time) But the
Labour government look set to stop the deal anyway.



There have been further developments in the Auckland International Airport(AIA) merger saga today.

Since the last report here though, Infratil, a 3% holder has decided to approve the merger and as of today, after market closing at 5.00pm, The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board has 38.7% acceptances and its a gnats whisker away from the required 39.53% needed by tomorrow.

Although largely immaterial, given the overwhelming acceptances already, Auckland City Council has voted just 30 mins ago(8.20pm NZ time) not to sell their 12.7% stake and vote against the merger going ahead.

Clearly the move last week by Micheal Cullen to retrospectively stop the deal by changing a law has backfired on him and CPPIB will pass the acceptance mark with flying colours.

Cullen will likely stop the deal anyway he can because he thinks there are votes to be had, so the positive outcome for the Canadians is going to end ultimately end in tears for them.

Share Investor AIA merger coverage to date

Latest AIA developments
Cullen's move on Auckland Airport has far reaching effects
Cullen's move on AIA tax plan Anti-Business
AIA profit stays grounded
Softening opposition to CPPIB bid for AIA
Directors of AIA bribe brokers not to sell
What is Auckland Airport worth to you?
Second bite at AIA by CPPIB might just fly
AIA new directors must focus on shareholders
Auckland Airport merger deal nosedives
The Canadians have landed
AIA incentive scheme must fly out the window
Government market manipulation over AIA/DAE deal
DAE move on AIA: Will it fly?

Disclosure: I own AIA shares

c Share Investor 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

McDonalds Playing Chicken with KFC

McDonald's is going to take on KFC at their own game and the head of Restaurant Brands Ltd [RBD.NZX] replies to the war cry of MD of McDonald's Mark Hawthorne:

Chief operating officer Rod de Vries said sales had increased 9 per cent in the past year - an outstanding result in a highly competitive market. "It is therefore no great surprise that our competitors will try for the same success in our market and challenge our menu offering.

"However, we are confident that KFC will continue to hold the recipe for success in our industry and that consumers will continue to love the secret blend of 11 herbs & spices that Colonel Sanders perfected in 1939.

Full NZ Herald Story


A very logical and understandable reply from the head of Restaurant Brands, in reply to news out today that McDonald's New Zealand is going head to head with KFC to try and knock the Colonel of his lonely perch.

http://gaming.unlv.edu/v_museum/neon_survey/surv_photos/McDonalds(37750)_4.jpg
KFC have to respond to the superior marketing and
service levels of McDonald's to keep their chicken market
share.


As Warren Buffett says, he looks for companies with a "moat", that is, a unique product or company that has high barriers to entry and therefore stable and sustainable cash flows. KFC is certainly that. Nobody else has ever managed to get the 11 secret herbs and spices down pat and nor are they likely to and that is the main advantage that KFC has.

The uniqueness of their taste is their secret to their 69 year old history.

Unfortunately for KFC in New Zealand we have heard this all before from Restaurant Brands, "we will take competition seriously" blah, blah. Witness the Pizza Hut meltdown after competition has decimated that brand. I still think RBD management underestimate their rivals and over rely on the strength of the KFC product when going head to head.

McDonald's Vs RBD, I will pick Maccas every time, because management there are smart and know all about service, imagine what they would do at KFC.

http://sunboar.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/kfc-logo-comparison.jpg

KFC's chicken dominance is going to be severely tested by the McDonald's
competition but KFC have a unique product that loyal customers love.



McDonald's are going for an all out assault on KFC's dominance and are going for quality and range in their chicken offerings. Breast meat and real chicken will be the order of the day. They will take market share off KFC, that is clear. How much market share is up to how RBD management react to the competition.

RBD have a great product but where Maccas will beat them is at service and marketing and that is half the battle.

In the USA and Australia this battle has been fought and lost by KFC and the Big Mac has intentions to be no1 here within 3 years, so history could be repeated here.

The McDonald's saturation advertising has already started. It will be interesting to see what the RBD response will be.

Keep up to date with this development at the Share Investor Blog .


Restaurant Brands @ Share Investor

RBD - 2011 Half Year Result
RBD - 2010 Quarter one sales
RBD - 2010 Quarter two sales


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Most Outstanding Stock of 2010: Restaurant Brands Ltd
Restaurant Brands Ltd: KFC has finally cracked it
Restaurant Brands: KFC Sales Figures Explained - Part 2
Finger Lick'n Good Management
Chart of the Week: Restaurant Brands Ltd
Long Term View: Restaurant Brands Ltd
Stock of Week: Restaurant Brands Ltd
Restaurant Brands: Buy or Sell ?
Pizza Hut sell-off provide opportunities all-round
Danny Diab & Restaurant Brands
2008-2009 KFC sales figures mislead investors
KFC Finally Flying
Starbuck's New Zealand Cup doesn't runneth over
RBD gives KFC a push
McDonald's playing chicken with KFC
Restaurant Brand's Pizza Hut faces increasing competition
RBD sales analysis
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The secret recipe is out
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Latest Auckland International Airport developments

There have been further developments today over the Auckland International Airport(AIA) sale to the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board(CPPIB).

CPPIB have decided to lower their voting rights on a merged board.

I have added my acceptance votes for a merger.

Full NZX release here

Related media on today's developments

Stuff.co.nz
NZ Herald

Herald's Auckland Airport merger coverage to date

The Battle for the Airport

Share Investor merger coverage to date

Cullen's move on Auckland Airport has far reaching effects
Cullen's move on AIA tax plan Anti-Business
AIA profit stays grounded
Softening opposition to CPPIB bid for AIA
Directors of AIA bribe brokers not to sell
What is Auckland Airport worth to you?
Second bite at AIA by CPPIB might just fly
AIA new directors must focus on shareholders
Auckland Airport merger deal nosedives
The Canadians have landed
AIA incentive scheme must fly out the window
Government market manipulation over AIA/DAE deal
DAE move on AIA: Will it fly?

Disclosure: I own AIA shares

Links c Share Investor 2008