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Bapcor (BAP) - 2024 May trading update

Worse, not better

07 May 2024

Bapcor provided a trading update with detail on the sales growth for the nine months to 31 March 2024 and guided to FY24e proforma NPAT of $93-97 million. Sales trends for the nine months were mostly lower than the 1H24 sales trends. The fundamental debate remains the outlook for the cost saving program (Better Than Before). Management instability makes it difficult to see the cost savings being delivered anytime soon and the net benefits may be far smaller than the gross $100 million savings.

Inghams (ING) 1H24 trading update

Getting back on track

03 November 2023

Inghams provided a trading update for 1H24 suggesting EBITDA pre AASB-16 is on track to rise 67% for the half. The company has seen improved volumes and some cost pressures have eased. Given prices are trending up 10% for its poultry, Inghams is seeing meaningful margin recovery. The company is on track to return to 8%+ EBITDA margins this year, which is just below pre COVID-19 levels of 8.5%. We lift our EBITDA forecasts by 23% in FY24e and 10% in FY25e. The unknown is where margins peak. Past investments have been made to improve operational efficiency, but the magnitude of price rises may mean EBITDA dollars are much higher than pre COVID-19 but percentage margins less so.

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.

Bapcor Ltd (BAP) trading update

Earnings may not be better than before just yet

19 October 2023

Bapcor’s AGM trading update revealed weaker sales trends and margin pressure early in FY24e. There are some macro headwinds, but not the only factor in our view. We also expect softer sales trends to persist as price inflation eases and new car sales recover. Bapcor is raising prices and cutting costs, which should improve the earnings run-rate for the remainder of FY24e. Even so, there will be a heavy reliance on cost savings to ensure a flat NPAT outcome.

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.

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.

Treasury Wine (TWE) May 2023 Trading Update

Reset in low end wine

30 May 2023

Treasury’s guidance suggests group revenue will fall about 7% in 2H23e. We estimate Treasury Americas revenue could be down 23% in USD terms. This is a large drop from three factors – reduced 19 Crimes sales, lower Sterling brand sales and the Californian fires impacting Vintage 2020 luxury wine released. While the luxury sales should rebound, we are more cautious on 19 Crimes and Sterling, which may have to reset lower as smaller brands. Given the deteriorating 2H23e, growth in FY24e will be impacted. We forecast FY24e revenue of $2,437 million, growth of 1%.

Super retail (SUL) April 2023 trading update

Starting to see sales shift

05 May 2023

Super Retail Group’s trading update to the end of April 2023 reveals good sales trends are persisting but margin pressure is starting to show through. Gross margins are falling and operating costs are rising. In our view, sales trends are propped up by inflation which we expect to dissipate in 1H24e. Moreover, operating cost pressure will continue in FY24e, making that the year of earnings normalisation. Super Retail’s upcoming strategy day should send some positive messages about growth opportunities, but capex could be higher and defer any major capital management.

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.


Domino's Pizza November AGM trading update

Faith required for second-half

04 November 2022

Domino’s AGM update gave some positive signs about sales trends improving, but also solidified concerns about the challenge in raising prices to cover higher costs. The company is planning for a much better 2H23e, which looks difficult to achieve in our view, particularly given franchisee profitability is falling.

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