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Metcash (MTS) 1H24 result analysis

Rising rates dent earnings

06 December 2023

Metcash reported a soft 1H24 result with sales up 1.3% and EBIT down 3.4%. The drop in EBIT was concentrated in the Hardware division and further margin pressure is likely given soft demand and rising operating costs. The Food segment has once again confounded sceptics by growing sales (ex tobacco) close to market growth and liquor is performing well. Metcash’s significant capex and acquisition outlays along with rising rates will lift finance costs over the next 18 months.

Harvey Norman (HVN) trading update Sept 2023 quarter

A deeper downturn in earnings

31 October 2023

Harvey Norman provided a trading update informing the market that sales are in decline, profit is down almost 50% so far and it will consider buying back shares. Harvey Norman is undergoing a rapid reset of earnings post COVID-19. The concern on our mind is the loss of market share in Australia and NZ over the past four years. The unknown is how much of its weaker sales and earnings is a function of excess inventory. Earnings are likely to trough this year, but the recovery may underwhelm, particularly as its retail property is revalued lower.

Harvey Norman Holdings (HVN) - FY23 result analysis

Decline not over yet

05 September 2023

Harvey Norman reported a large drop in 2H23 earnings with EBITDA down 29%. The fall reflected lower sales and significant operating leverage.  An increase in its licence fees for offshore masked a larger fall in Franchise segment margins. Given declining sales likely in 1H24e, we expect EBITDA to drop further. With a declining sales and earnings backdrop, combined with devaluations of its property book, we remain cautious.

Harvey Norman (HVN) trading update FY23

Margin rebase or inventory overhang?

29 June 2023

Harvey Norman provided an earnings guidance range for FY23e with the mid-point at $670 million profit before tax (pre revaluations and AASB-16). The guidance suggests 2H23e earnings have halved, which doesn’t bode well for FY24e. Harvey Norman’s earnings drop is likely to be more severe than rivals given its elevated inventory and franchising model. The company has also lost market share. We expect a trough in margins in FY24e with a partial recovery in FY25e.

Australian Supermarkets - Kicking the cigarette habit

The impact on supermarkets of falling tobacco sales

23 June 2023

Tobacco may be somewhat inconspicuous in supermarkets but it has a meaningful impact on sales and margin outcomes given demand has dropped significantly in the past year. Metcash faces the biggest headwind given tobacco could account for 15% of group sales. The drop in tobacco is partly driven by the rise of illicit tobacco and vaping.

Domino's Pizza (DMP) June 2023 trading update

Trading update shows further deterioration

16 June 2023

Domino’s trading update revealed the company is yet to find a way to raise prices without damaging volumes. EBIT is on track for a 21% fall to about $92 million in 2H23e. We estimate FY23e EBIT at $206 million rising to $223 million in FY24e given announced cost savings. The balance sheet position is particularly tight at the end of calendar 2023, but we see a lower dividend payout as most likely to avoid a capital raising. The earnings trough is in sight. However, the PE ratio is still high and the company will need to demonstrate franchisee profitability can improve in order for the share price to rise from here.

City Chic (CCX) December AGM trading update

City Chic’s costly inventory clear out - reveals margin pain

20 December 2022

City Chic has provided another trading update showing slowing sales in Australia. We think it is best to describe the company’s sales position as normalising. We doubt there is a rebound in FY24e. With a reversion in sales, the company’s inventory position is far too high and hence profitability will be largely wiped out in FY23e. The real question is to what level do profit margins recover? We forecast long-term EBITDA margins of 10% and a return to net cash by the end of FY23e. While it is a difficult 12 months and there are many risks, we reiterate our Buy rating with a target price of $0.85 per share (prev $1.25).

Sales trends deteriorate

City Chic’s sales trends have slowed in the past four weeks. At its AGM for the first 20 weeks, sales were down 2% FYTD, now for the first 24 weeks, sales are down 7%. Some of the weakness can be explained by the normalisation of sales in Australia given the reopening last year boosted November 2021. Sales are likely to be down 7% for 1H23e and we estimate a drop of 10% in 2H23e given less of a currency tailwind. Our FY23e sales estimate is $337 million, which, on our forecasts, means that Avenue dropped back towards its acquisition level and there is only modest growth in EMEA. Such a reset reframes its growth. While sales growth should resume, it will be costly to continue to acquire customers. We expect sales growth of 5%-12% going forward.

Gross margins down given excess inventory

City Chic has flagged an EBITDA loss for 1H23e. We forecast -$1.1 million with +$7.7 million in 2H23e. Our 2H rebound reflects a likely reduction in marketing costs and smaller headwind from fulfillment costs vs the pcp. We highlight two things about near-term earnings. Firstly, management has an incentive to make a small positive EBITDA across FY23e. A cash realisation above 1.5x will trigger short-term incentives. Secondly, management has an incentive to drop inventory. An inventory level of $125 million leads to full payment of this short-term incentive.

Can it get to net cash and where do margins settle?

With the share price as low as it is, the market is clearly sceptical about its ability to lower inventory and return to a net cash position. Given financial incentives for management, we expect inventory reduction is a major motivation. We forecast a net cash position of $10 million in 1H23e, rising to $42 million by FY23e. The company has historically targeted 15% EBITDA margins. We assume 10% on the basis that the company will have higher marketing, advertising and fulfillment costs in order to grow sales.

Earnings revisions

We lower our sales forecasts by 3%-5% over the next three years. We reduce our EBITDA (pre AASB-16) for City Chic to $7 million for FY23e from $19 million previously. A small loss across the full-year is possible. The swing factors for us are the level of discounting in 2H23e and the willingness to lower marketing costs.

Our view

City Chic’s sales performance suggests to us that the boom in sales over the past two years is in a large part a function of lockdowns. As a result, the company has far too much inventory and a financially painful 12 months to clear the product. However, fundamentally the company has a good market position in the plus-size market and its balance sheet should have a net cash position. We reiterate our Buy rating with a 12-month target price of $0.85 per share.


Inghams Group (ING) Assessing the feed cost headwind

Wheat and soybean meal prices spike

09 November 2022

Ingham’s earnings recovery is dependent on the path of feed costs and its ability to raise prices. There is a high degree of uncertainty on both parts but enough upside potential for us. We reduce our EBITDA forecasts by 4%-5% over the next two years given higher feed costs. However, price rises look like they are flowing through and any normalisation in commodity prices would lead to a meaningful profit margin rebound for the company.

Woolworths 1Q23 result insights

It gets better from here

05 November 2022

Woolworths reported 1Q23 sales growth of 1.8%. This low rate of growth simply reflects a high hurdle from lockdowns over the past two years. We expect sales growth to recover to 5%-6% from here and the growth gap to Coles will narrow. The market remains orderly around price inflation, which will support earnings growth. Moreover, the headwinds in NZ should ease soon and margins are likely to recover in calendar 2023.

Harvey Norman (HVN) FY22 result insights

Precipice may be on the horizon

01 September 2022

Harvey Norman reported a 7% drop in FY22 EBITDA. However, 2H22 EBITDA rose 4% given better sales trends across most divisions. The stronger sales trends are likely to help 1H23e earnings as well. However, the sales environment is likely to be more difficult across calendar 2023 and we forecast earnings to fall. We are also more cautious given Harvey Norman may continue to hold elevated inventory levels.

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