In this briefing:
- ZOZO: The Kingmaker Abandons His King
- OUE C-REIT – Beware of the CPPU Timebomb
- UG Healthcare: Weak 2Q19 Driven by One-Off Issue, If 10% NPM Achieved in FY20 Trades at 4x FY20 P/E
- GMO.internet FY2018 Results – The Shareholder’s [Re]Turn
- Recruit Holdings Reports Strong 3Q Results; Remains Expensive
United Arrows’ (7606 JP) decision to cancel its e-commerce services contract with ZOZO Inc (3092 JP) was not a surprise at all but could not have come at a worse time. While a move to direct operation of its online store was expected, United Arrows did not have to choose a moment when Zozo’s stock was collapsing. That it did shows how much cooler relations are between the two firms, a critical development given United Arrows was the principal reason for Zozo’s emergence as the leading fashion mall in the early 2000s.
United Arrows will still be selling through Zozotown and its president last week praised Zozotown’s capacity to bring new and younger customers to its brand. The bigger problem is that United Arrows relies less and less on sales from Zozotown each year and more from its own online store – direct e-commerce sales have increased from 20% of all e-commerce sales in FY2016 to 27% in 9M2018.
At Baycrews, another leading merchant on Zozotown, 50% of e-commerce sales are from its own online store, up 12 percentage points in two years.
A further problem is that other merchants are leaving. We reported before that Onward’s departure, while significant, is less of a threat than it might first appear given that Onward already garners 70-75% of sales from its own store so it did not cost much to leave Zozo.
However, another big retailer, Right On, also quit Zozo last month despite the fact that more than 50% of its online sales come from Zozo and it has intermittently been one of the top 20 merchants on Zozo. Right On has struggled in recent years, so leaving Zozo cannot have been an easy decision, suggesting just how seriously upset it was.
Other merchants are likely to view these departures with some concern. Six months ago, the idea of quitting Zozo was not even a remote thought in Japan’s fashion industry but it is now a lively subject of discussion. While most merchants will stay, the recent high profile departures will make a threat to leave look much more real, giving merchants more leverage to negotiate, particularly on Zozo’s take rates.
Whilst OUE C-REIT’s DPU yield and Price-to-NAV appears to be attractive vis-à-vis its peers, investors should take note of the implications of the S$375 mil Convertible Perpetual Preferred Units (“CPPU”) and its impact on OUE C-REIT’s DPU going forward.
Assuming that all S$375 mil CPPUs are converted, a total of 524.2 mil new OUE C-REIT will be issued to OUE Ltd, and the total unit base of OUE C-REIT will expand by 18% to 3,385.8 mil units.
For minority investors of OUE C-REIT, they face the risk of having their DPU yield diluted from a projected 7.1% (before conversion) to 6.2% after conversion.
A Rights Issue to fund CPPU Redemption will be more dilutive than the conversion scenario. Assuming a Rights Issue at 20% discount, DPU yield of OUE C-REIT will drop from a projected 7.1% (before conversion) to 5.8% after Rights Issue.
Minority investors are likely to be at the losing end of this CPPU issue and suffer from yield dilution. Investors should avoid OUE C-REIT for now as the uncertainty over the CPPU conversion remains.
For investors who are still keen to take a position in OUE C-REIT, a fair post-conversion diluted DPU yield would be 6.6%, translating to a recommended entry price of S$0.465 per unit.
3. UG Healthcare: Weak 2Q19 Driven by One-Off Issue, If 10% NPM Achieved in FY20 Trades at 4x FY20 P/E
UG Healthcare (UGHC SP) showed good topline growth (+15%) but very weak bottom-line performance (-73%) in the second quarter of FY19 (financial year ending June). Weak bottom-line results were caused by delays and cost overruns in opening its latest factory expansion.
While the latest results are a setback I remain a believer in the UG Healthcare story. The eventual goal of reaching 100M SGD in revenues and getting a 10% NPM remains unchanged by the end of FY2020. Should the target be achieved the company trades at 4x 2020 P/E. Competitors in Malaysia trade at mid-teens multiples (or higher) so UG should deserve a significant re-rating the coming two years. Fundamentally, nothing has changed to alter my bear case (0.24 SGD), base case (0.39 SGD) or blue-sky scenario (0.62 SGD) analysis. Liquidity remains an issue at less than 25K SGD/day.
GMO internet (9449 JP) released 2018 full-year results in 12th February. 2018 was a turbulent year for the company as it ‘surfed’ the cryptocurrency wave. The subsequent downfall was swift and brutal. However, the company deserves some plaudits for cutting its (substantial) losses and attempting to move on (albeit somewhat half-heartedly). Unfortunately, GMO-i has ‘form’ in writing off large losses as shown above. The positive consequence of this saga is a renewed commitment to return value to shareholders with a stated aim of returning 50% of profits. Two-third of that goal is to be met by quarterly dividends, with the balance allocated to share repurchases in the following year.
Having royally ‘screwed up’ with ‘cryptocurrencies’, and trying the patience of remaining shareholders yet again, this policy is to be commended, particularly if more attention is paid to generating the wherewithal to meet the 50% without raiding the listed subsidiaries’ ‘piggy bank’. Apart from the excitement that this move has generated and the year-long support this buying programme will provide to the share price, our two valuation models, find little in the way of further upside potential.
We remain sceptical of investing in GMO-i over the long-term and prefer GMO Payment Gateway (3769 JP) – the best business in the GMO-i ‘stable’ – but consider GMO-PG’s stock overvalued at 57x EV/OP.
Recruit Holdings (6098 JP) reported its 3Q FY03/19 financial results on Wednesday (13th February). Recruit’s revenue and EBITDA were up 6.0% YoY and 11.1% YoY respectively in 3Q FY03/19. This was mostly due to 1) consolidation of the results of Glassdoor Inc. (the company which operates the employment information website glassdoor.com), 2) steady growth in Japanese staffing operations and 3) growth in beauty and real estate app users during the quarter, partially offset by slowdown in global recruitment activity.
Despite its strong 3Q results and steady topline and bottom line growth over the forecast period, at a FY2 EV/EBITDA multiple of 16.0x, Recruit doesn’t look particularly attractive to us. Recruit’s internet advertising business and employment business peers, Yahoo Japan (4689 JP) and Persol Holdings (2181 JP) are trading at FY2 EV/EBITDAs of 6.8x and 7.5x respectively.
Consolidated Revenue (JPYbn)
YoY Growth %
Consolidated EBITDA (JPYbn)
EBITDA Margin %