Balmer lawrie is a decent size holding for me and hence I make it a point to review the annual performance in detail. The annual report for the company was published recently and I have been looking at it. Following are my thoughts on the performance of the company –
I have written about the company here earlier. The company has been doing fairly well and the management has been moving the company in the right direction. The changes are not obvious from the overall results, but if one analyses the individual businesses of the company, the picture turns out to be much better.
Let me list some statistics (for last 6 years) of each of the SBU of the company and then give my thoughts on it
Industrial packaging (steel drums/ barrels etc) – Revenue growth per annum: 14%, Profit growth: 29%, Average ROCE: 18%+
Greases and lubes – Revenue growth per annum: 19%, Profit growth: 26%, Average ROCE: 15%+
Logistics (the largest division in terms of bottom line) – Revenue growth per annum: 8%, Profit growth: 19%, Average ROCE: 150%+
Tours and travels – Revenue growth per annum: 11%, Profit growth: 14%, Average ROCE: 30%+
Others (tea, leather chemicals etc) – Revenue growth per annum: -5%, Profit growth: negative, Average ROCE: negative
Overall company – Revenue growth per annum: 11%, Profit growth: 30%+, ROCE: 25%+
A few key points stand out
- The management is moving the company out of the unprofitable lines and investing into profitable businesses. They could move faster, but I still appreciate the performance as they are operating in a PSU environment with unionized labor.
- The management has improved the Return on capital for the good businesses too in the last 5-6 years. For example – logistics, travel etc have seen improvement in capital returns
- The management has paid off all the debt and has surplus cash of almost 300 crs on the balance sheet
- The management has raised dividend rapidly in the last 5 years and the current dividend is almost 4% of the CMP.
I personally think that the management has done a fairly good job of delivering good performance in tough business segments.
A few more points -
- The company has a few JVs (joint ventures) also. One of the JV (TSL) had a fraud and misreported the results for the last few years . As a result Balmer lawrie has prudently written off the investment in the JV. This has depressed the company’s profit for the year.
- The company is investing in the logistics business by opening new CFS. In addition the company has exited most of its unprofitable tea business in UK and hopefully will do so in india too.
The company should be able to make a net profit in the range of 130-140 crores for the year (including JVs). I think a conservative estimate of fair value for the company is around 1300 Rs/ share.
Perception driven investing
There is a lot of perception driven investing in the market. A lot of investors, including me, make decisions based on certain pre-conceived notions. A few of these notions are true, but some are just assumptions which have never been validated.
- PSUs do not make good investments: The assumption is that the PSU label means a poorly run government company which is always losing money. This is however always not true . There are several profitable and well run PSU such as Concor, BHEL etc.
- MNC are attractive investment: The assumption is that the MNC subsidiaries are run by well educated and professional managers. Hence they are good investments. The reality is that these companies are fairly well run, but not for the benefit of the minority shareholders. There have been a lot of instances where the top management has stiffed the minority shareholder to benefit the parent company
- Small and mid caps are risky: All stocks are risky if you don’t know what you are doing. Even walking in the house is risky, if you close your eyes when doing so.
- Rohit is smart, handsome and good looking: This is not a perception, but absolute truth :) even if no one including my wife refuse to agree with it.
Balmer lawrie has suffered from a PSU discount and has always sold below fair value. At the same time it has given 35%+ returns per annum (including dividends) to shareholders who have been diligent enough to evaluate the company beyond the labels and patient to hold on to it for the long term.
I think it is important to check one’s assumptions and perceptions before making a decision. You may be surprised by what you find – that is other than the last point about me, which I can assure you is not a perception but absolute reality :)