Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unga AGM 2008

The company which was founded in December 1908 by Lord Delamere to mill his wheat harvest, is now a century old. It is celebrating its fourth straight years of profits on the back of improved sales Kshs. 9.5 billion (~$125 million) and profits of Kshs. 564 million (~$7.5 million). The Chairman commented on the improvement from the time a few years back when they used to record losses and had their financial accounts qualified by the auditors.

slow registration

Excerpts: missed a few minutes of the meeting as the registration was really slow - just two ladies, with no computer. They had to write every shareholder name down, and have them sign, but without verification of their legitimacy

Bonus: The company offering a (1) bonus share for each five (5) held to reward shareholders since the board had opted not to pay a cash dividend this year.

Company structure: The Seaboard Corporation is a management company and shareholder that contributed to the turnaround. However their presence is a sore point with some shareholders unhappy that while they have no divined, Seaboard gets paid a minimum of Kshs. 12 million a year that will escalate as the company gets more profitable. Their agreement has also been extended by the directors for another five years and there was also a question on the loans owed to the company that could be called in at any time - an unlikely scenario according to the board
- Shareholders also asked on the relationship between Nampak (a partner company) and Bulpack which was a joint venture between Nampak and Unga to make bags. The dividend paid that appears in the accounts was paid to Unga from Bulpak, and not by Unga.

(No) Dividend: Though this was the fourth year of profits, the board said it still needed to retain cash for plant & machinery replacement and to also strengthen the balance sheet.

No Maize in Kenya: Later the Unga MD Nicholas Hutchinson gave a talk on the current maize shortage and stated that the company (Unga) had ran out of maize (corn) stock floor eight days ago. He said there is not enough maize in the country, and the late decision by the Government to import maize, means it will trickle to the markets slowly – by mid December. The Cabinet may release more to millers, but the Government also wants to build up grain reserves and assist displaced people (flood, post-election violence victims)

The maize harvest this year was bad - Unga is offering Kshs. 2,500 per and 2,250 in Nairobi and Eldoret respectively but are still not able to get enough maize so they are operating about 35 – 40% which may show in the coming results

For consumers faced with a high retail price (just under Kshs. 100 for a 2kg pack, it’s a good time for farmers, but bad for consumers (dangerous?) - as prices may not drop significantly even after the supply. He said that the Government will be importing maize to Nairobi at Kshs. 2,500 if no duty is paid and that it must speculative ventures – which has affected supply of maize. Also, next year's maize harvest could be just as bad.

Receivables: are much higher than the year before. Management responded that its from their increased business. They had in fact reduced the number of customers i.e. 55 key wholesalers that they deal (down from 140) with and gave them incentives to pay cash or open bank guarantees.

Outlook: - Asked about market share, management said it was growing. They focus on urban markets and supermarkets, and don't emphasize rural sales as entrepreneurs can flour mill and sell it cheaper than Unga branded products.
- Other subsidiaries: are performing well like the Uganda one and animal feed division - Unga had anticipated a maize shortage so had started to substitute maize with wheat in their animal feed. Wheat subsidiary is good though the current good prices may fall next year

Shareholder gift

Goodies: Each shareholder present got a voucher for a bale of baking flour. Which retails at about Kshs. 1,500 ($20)


Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

Was thinking the profitability may have been more from high unga prices (food in general) and less from improved sales. But the fact that it has been sustained over the last four years must add weight to the latter. said...

Why is it happening at this time? just asking or is it due to waht happened in the Rift valley after the elections? no more maize farmers , well people have to change their diets

Anonymous said...

There was little going on before you came in.

- The Chairman insisted that no extraneous questions was asked until AFTER the AGM was completed. This was to forestall the questions regarding the current maize shortage.

- Some stupid & inconsiderate shareholders were TALKING on their phones while the AGM was going on. BTW, in vernacular and loud... bastards!

- Meeting started with few shareholders (60% of chairs were occupied but soon filled up)

bankelele said...

PKW: they explain the problems with access to the maize, but the prices in the supermarkets they supply were in the Kshs. 90’s – while the shelf price of 120 was only at high end supermarkets.

Whostalkingnow: partly the January violence, politics, NCPB, inconsistent rains, farming input prices

Anon: (You know who) thanks for the filler. It’s time more Board Chairmen stepped up and took a stand on mobile phones and inane questions. An AGM’s business can take then minutes to conclude if it wasn’t for some of the amateur hour questions [But when there’s no dividend you have to tread carefully]
- on venue with almost 8,000 shareholders, if even 1/8 of them showed up, they may not have fit the room

MainaT said...

I suspect more countersd will offer bonus shares instead of dividends.

Anonymous said...

great blog,,

Mberenis said...

Did you hear the good news? Obama is making it better for us already! Most people don't realize how much money there is out there. During economic times like this, there is more money to be had than ever. Because of the bailouts and economy, lenders are bending over backwards to bail you out too. Believe it or not, there is people getting tons of cheap money nowdays to start businesses, buy homes, pay off debt, and more. Bailout is for YOU


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