Burger Fuel Worldwide [BFW.NZ] had their profit for the year to 31 March 2009 out today and I expected a poor performance but on the surface it looks like things are getting better. It is difficult to compare this years result to last years as operations for 2008 are for less than 12 months of operations.
Lets have a look at the results in a bit more detail.
1. Revenue for the franchisor up 70% to just over NZ$ 8 million.
2. More than half of franchisor income derived from food & beverage sales of company owned stores.
3. Losses pegged back 67% to just over 700K.
4. Revenue for franchisee & company owned stores up by over 15% to nearly $26 million. (Food and Beverage sales)
5. 3 more stores added to take total to 28.
6. International agreements for 3 territories signed.
7. losses slowing in the last half year.
8. No "material" borrowings.
9. Cash on hand substantially lower from $3.5 million last year to just over $1.5 million.
There is good indication of improved sales and slowing losses at both the franchisor and at store level but it isn't clear as to how much of the slowing losses are due to the logical response of management to cut back on costs due to the global recession. These costs were higher in the last period and would have contributed to the higher losses.
Much of the excitement around the Burger Fuel IPO 2 years ago was in the growth for the company and spectacular growth was needed to achieve good profit for the franchisor. As this appears to have slowed in the last half, expectations would be that this growth and profit are going to be delayed somewhat until economic conditions make growth a good business proposition again. This is pointed out by an executive director of the company Josef Roberts, who has indicated that expansion has been slowed considerably in new territories in the Middle East and in Australia where consolidation and more branding will be done before any more expansion there.
High growth and profit is needed to justify the high capital value that is currently put on the company, in comparison to its profit and future prospects, and shareholders are unlikely to see any concrete sustained profit until economies of scale are reached and unfortunately that means more money being spent on building up the business.
A big worry is that more than half of company revenue is from food and beverage sales from company owned stores, the rest comes from royalties, licensing and franchise fees and advertising charges to franchisees, originally forecast to be the bulk of income for the company during pre-IPO publicity.
With just over $1.5 million of cash at hand, which is substantially lower than for the last comparable period , the company is going to have to either borrow money or go to shareholders when it wants to start expanding again.
Until then they are just marking time.
It must be noted that 2009 figures are difficult to accurately compare to last years because the 2008 period was only for 9.5 months and management haven't indicated whether adjustments have been made to reflect that in their own figures -it looks likely not to be the case so the large increases in sales and lower losses must reflect the two different reporting periods. In addition there are many accuracies in comparisons made because of less than two years in business and one off IPO costs other costs and other revenue included previously, making current year results look better than they should at first glance.
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