Business Page – July 1st, 2002


Ansa McAl - Top Regional Conglomerate 

Introduction

Trinidad & Tobago based Ansa McAl Limited was the star performer among Caricom conglomerates in 2001. This is according to a recent publication of Ernst & Young Caribbean (E&Y) ‘Performance 2002’ which presents an analysis of the 2001 published financial results of the public companies traded on the Securities Exchange of Barbados, the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange and where audited financial statements were available, on the Jamaican Stock Exchange as well. While acknowledging that performance is shaped by financial as well as non-financial metrics, the analysis is based entirely on objective indicators that are publicly available, without any attempt to interview company officials to gather additional information. The criteria adopted are used to assess all the companies and the publication presents the results both by country and regionally. Guyana is not included since it does not have a Stock Exchange and no reliable share price is available.

The scoring system ranks each company under each of nine Performance criteria namely: Shareholders Funds; Turnover; Profitability; Earnings Per Share; Dividend Yield; Dividend Cover; Return on Capital Employed; Return on Common Equity and Average Share Price. Helpfully, the publication includes an overview of the economies and the highlights of the operations of the Stock Exchanges in the three countries as well as a  glossary of terms to facilitate a better understanding of the concepts and terms used in the study. 

The companies featured in the analysis were categorised according to their industry classifications on the respective stock exchanges. The five industries that were featured in the analysis were:

-         Communication and Utilities

-         Conglomerates

-         Financial and Non Banking Financial Institutions

-         Manufacturing

-         Retail & Distribution

This selection basis rewards companies that performed best in 2001 relative to their industry peers, using specific Performance Measures. The methodology for selection was based on ranking industry participants’ absolute results in 2001, in each of the nine Performance criteria. The company with the highest overall score emerged as the top performer in the specific industry.

Economic performance

The Barbados economy experienced a contraction in 2001. Real output declined by 2.8%, in contrast to an expansion of 3% in 2000, reflecting contractions in both the traded and non-traded sectors. Activity in the traded sectors fell by approximately 6.8% as all sub-sectors registered significant decreases.

Trinidad and Tobago’s economy performed favorably in 2001. Gross Domestic Product was up 3.5% from 2000 and the rate of inflation increased to a level of 5.5%. The Jamaican economy recorded its second consecutive year of real growth with a growth rate of 1.7% while inflation was recorded at a rate of 8.7%, marking the fifth consecutive year of single digit inflation.

Stock Market      

Trading activity on the Barbados Stock Exchange was challenging with the Index falling by 4.0% during the year. Eleven companies registered price declines during the year; nine experienced increases; two remained firm and three new companies were listed.

There was much uncertainty on the TTSE with increasing political challenges facing that country. The All Trinidad and Tobago Index showed virtually no change for the year beginning at 492.5652 and ending at 492.0424 while the Composite Index declined from 441.5042 at the beginning of the year to 434.1912 at the end of the year, a decline of 1.66%.

On the other hand, the Jamaica Stock Exchange Index increased by 17.1% for the year. Other performance indicators which registered growth were the volume of stocks traded which increased by 19.2% to 714.7 million; the total value of stock traded was up 6.3% to reach $3.4 billion; market capitalisation increased by 38.9% to $222.0 billion and the number of transactions increased by 594 to 20,853.

The Winners

The companies showing the best performance in 2001 within the industries analysed across the region are as follows:

INDUSTRY

COMPANY

COUNTRY

Communications & Utilities

Cable & Wireless BARTEL

Barbados

Conglomerates

Ansa McAl

Trinidad

Financial and Non Banking

Financial Institutions

CIBC

Barbados

Manufacturing

Carreras

Jamaica

Retail & Distribution

Agostini

Trinidad

Communications & Utilities

The Cable and Wireless Companies dominated the analysis winning the first three rating positions. The Utilities companies due to the sheer size outranked the smaller communications companies. In the communications section Trinidad Publishing outperformed the other companies, coming in 5th overall after Utilities. Cable & Wireless BARTEL outperformed its peers to win the overall prize.

Conglomerates

The variance in performance between the three top companies was very narrow with Ansa McAl just marginally outperforming Neal & Massy Holdings Limited. In this category, the top two positions went to T&T companies followed by Barbados and then Jamaica.

The Manufacturing Sector

Interestingly, the manufacturing sector had the largest number (18) of publicly traded companies in the three countries. Carreras Group Limited of Jamaica, a subsidiary of Rothmans the cigarette people, emerged the winner in this industry with Lever and West Indian Tobacco Company Limited from Trinidad in second and third place respectively.

Financial and Non-Banking Financial Institutions

Owing to the small number of companies involved and the similarity in the nature of their activities, these two categories were merged for purposes of the analysis. CIBC West Indian Limited came out on top ahead of Royal bank of Trinidad & Tobago with Bank of Nova Scotia and Republic Bank Limited tied for the next slot. CIBC has announced that it would be combining its resources with Barclays Bank plc in the region which will result in a more than doubling of its current asset base.

Retail, Trading and Distribution

A.S.Bryden & Sons (Barbados) Limited, with sales of US$49Mn. which doubled its Net Income and Earnings Per Share (EPS) came out top of this group ahead of Courts Barbados and Prestige Holdings of T&T followed by Courts Jamaica.

Conclusion

This study offers a useful benchmarking tool for our domestic public companies which can benefit from some careful self-examination against the operations of their counterparts from the region. Our entrepreneurs are still too inward-looking and seem not to understand their role and the expectations of shareholders. None of the Annual Reports reviewed in Business Page has bothered to address value which is the primary concern of shareholders.

Electronic copies of  the study are available for purchase.

Three cheers for DDL

Whether you are a drinker or not please salute DDL which has rescheduled its Annual General Meeting from June 28 to Friday July 19, as a result of its late circulation of the Annual Report which was to be presented to its shareholders at the meeting. 

 

Next week Business Page will review the report.