Sunday, May 24, 2009

Whats on Rod Duke's shopping list?




So Rod Duke and his Briscoe Group [BGR.NZ] have again expressed an interest in buying retailers in New Zealand.

I wrote a few months back about Duke's great pile of cash and it seems he has ideas burning a whole in his wallet as well.

He has been buying up a bigger share of Pumpkin Patch for his personal portfolio over the last year or so as the share price got cheaper but just what the hell has he got his eyes on?

He has NZ$62 million cash to play with.

Let me have a bit of a stab in the dark and tell you why.

Please keep in mind that I own shares in a large number of listed New Zealand retailers!


My Shopping List

Briscoe Group [BGR.NZ] The stock price is low, the company doing well and has no debt. Why wouldn't you buy back shares in your own company while they are low. Pumpkin Patch has been doing just that.

Pumpkin Patch Ltd [PPL.NZ] Duke already has a 10% stake in this company and so does a potential competitor of his for retail buys, Jan Cameron. Nevertheless he has built up his personal stake over time and it would be a coup to be able to manage this prestigious international brand.

Postie Plus Group [PPG.NZ] Struggling a bit in the past, they are doing allot better over recent times with higher sales and better margins. Their very low share price makes them a target for takeover and at less than NZ$15 million market cap Duke could swallow this company whole without batting an eyelid. They have a retail brand in Baby City that would be quite attractive to any retailer. The only major stumbling block is that Jan Cameron, the wiz retailer, who loves to buy distressed retailers owns 15% of the company.

Tasman Pacific Food Group The owner operator of Burger King in New Zealand and Australia, it has been struggling for years under competition from McDonald's and recently sold off its Hell Pizza brand for a loss. Vulnerable to a decent bid.

Burger Fuel WorldWide [BFW.NZ] A gourmet burger maker with 30 or so outlets, its NZ$16 million odd market cap makes it vulnerable. It has never made money and will continue to struggle to do so. Sales are suffering in the current recession. It will need additional capital to continue and a cornerstone shareholder such as Duke would be perfect.

Hallenstein Glasson Group [HLG.NZ] Like any retailer Hallenstein Glasson is suffering lower sales and lower margins. It is doing better than most clothing retailers but is vulnerable over the slow winter sales period.

Michael Hill International [MHI.NZ] This well run jewelry chain with over 200 outlets in 4 different markets is suffering a downturn from shoppers shunning discretionary sales and its share price is vulnerably low. There are many other Jewelry chains of various sizes in New Zealand that are similarly good targets for Duke's cash pot.

The electronics sector is going to consolidate during this year or next. Every retailer in that sector is suffering extremely badly and various chains are going to go to the wall in the next year or two.

Bad retailers who have high debt, high stock levels, poor locations and high operating costs are going to come under pressure the most. Even good retailers will be vulnerable if the retail slowdown continues for any great length.

Duke's advantage now comes because he and his Briscoe Group first had no debt and then reacted to the recession about a year ago by running down inventories and cutting those aforementioned and all important operating costs- it also helps that his stores are not inside Westfield Malls, they charge very high rents!

This gives him a big advantage over retailers like MHI, HLG, The Warehouse Group [WHS.NZ] and many other retailers Duke might have his eyes on because it is a major cost for any retailer and is often the difference between retail life and death.

I cant wait to see what will be in his shopping trolley.


Disc I own BGR, WHS, PPG, PPL, HLG and MHI shares



Briscoe Group @ Share Investor

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