On its way out?

2011-01-13 00:00

JSE-LISTED property developer Calgro M3 Holdings could be on its way out after failing to attract sufficient interest on the exchange. But if it departs at current levels then shareholders will be kicking themselves. When financial director Wikus Lategan spoke to in 2008, he described the company as the “bargain of the century” with the share trading at around 55c. That was well off the R3,30 it was trading at in 2007. At the time Lategan said the prospect of delisting had come up but there was a lot of credibility in being a listed entity.

Fast-forward to year-end 2010, when the share was still trading near 55c, with Lategan and CEO Ben Malherbe buying shares, notably from other directors. That’s been a trend Finweek has observed since its annual general meeting held in June last year.

One asset manager says Calgro was also approached with a tentative external offer that was quickly rebuffed by management for being too low. But that offer might have spurred management into action and with no immediate need for capital a delisting could be on the cards.

Trading at 55c and with negative 3,6c in headline earnings for the half year, Calgro doesn’t look too exciting. However, a closer look at its balance sheet may be warranted. The company has a net asset value of around 120c and tangible NAV of around 90c, representing a significant premium to where the share trades.

Calgro has three major developments that should come online between late 2011 and 2013 – namely, Jabulani, Fleurhof and Pennyville. Fleurhof – south-west of Johannesburg – is expected to comprise 6 000 residential units by 2013 and these could rise to as many as 9 000 by 2015. They are valued at between R300 000 and R600 000. The Jabulani Village is near the high-growth region near the Jabulani Mall in Soweto and will comprise around 4 000 units.

The Pennyville project was completed in 2008 but required an additional capital injection last year to rectify some building faults. However, demand has again picked up for these low-cost housing initiatives and that’s translating into real operating cash flow for Calgro.

Much like a private equity firm, a property developer such as Calgro will typically have quite “lumpy” earnings cycles. It will need capital upfront to fund its developments and if it’s done its sums correctly and can market its developments it should be able to realise significant value and cash flow from those portfolios.

Management has already indicated operating cash flow was improving for the first six months of the financial year.