Eppley declares $37 dividend
Financing company Eppley Limited declared yearend net profit of $51 million, a gain of 31 per cent that it intends to share through its most generous dividend distribution to date.
The company pays regular dividend of $9 per share on a quarterly basis, but for its fourth quarter, Eppley's board approved distributions of $37.19 per share on Tuesday for fourth quarter.
The payout set for March 17 will total $29.6 million. Comparatively, for the previous three quarters, the combined payouts would have amounted to $21.5 million.
In a letter to shareholders released alongside the fourth-quarter financials, Eppley Chairman Nigel Clarke and Managing Director Nicholas Scott said the company had "received a 17 per cent cash return on their $377 per share IPO investment in the last twelve months".
They also reported earnings per share of $64.19 in 2014 and the company's net asset value at $431 per share.
Eppley's earnings per share in 2013 totalled $71.66, but the higher outturn reflects a lower number of shares in issue prior to the stock's listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. When estimated at the current volume of listed shares, EPS in 2013 would have totalled $48.99.
Insurance premium financing
Eppley is in the business of insurance premium financing, loan financing and lease financing. Its assets totalled $1.457 billion at yearend December - pushed $814 million higher by receivables, which climbed 43 per cent year over year and cash, which almost tripled to $439.45 million.
Eppley, which has indicated that it lends to companies and selected individuals, increased loans from $648 million at year end 2013 to $933.36 million at December.
The company also increased its borrowings from $474.27 million at year end 2013 to $1.12 billion at year end 2014. Its liabilities include two issues of preference shares, the last of which raised $250 million in November 2014 and was used to expand the company's portfolio.
Eppley's leverage for the reporting period was 3.1 times capital at the end of the year, while its average cost of debt was 10 per cent. Its capital-at risk, defined as "the sum of loans and leases over 90 days and insurance premium finance contracts cancelled late, net of provisions" - was less than 0.1 per cent of capital.
Eppley Limited, formerly Orrett and Musson Investment, was listed on the junior stock market in July 2013 at $377 per share. It remains the most expensive stock on all of the JSE indices, with a current trading price of $380 per share. The top five shareholders are Musson Investments Limited,ATL Group Pension Fund Trustees Nominee Limited, Stony Hill Capital Limited, General Accident Insurance Company Jamaica
Limited, and Michael Subratie, who together own more than 90 per cent of Eppley.