Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Big trade in CPJ stock transfers one-tenth of the company

Published:Friday | June 16, 2017 | 6:00 AMSteven Jackson
David Lowe, CEO of Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited.

 

A large trade of Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) shares, valued at $333 million and amounting to one-tenth of the company, was executed this week, making it the second-largest trade ever recorded for the stock over two years.

CPJ Chief Executive Officer Dr David Lowe said Mayberry Investments Limited acted as the broker for the trade, but declined to speak to the specifics of the transaction, other than to label it a sign of confidence in the company's future direction.

The trade on Monday amounted to 111.5 million units, or 10 per cent of the issued shares, was executed mostly as a block transaction. Only the Hart or Berry family-related entities hold sufficient shares to conduct that size trade, according to the Top 10 list of CPJ shareholders.

Another large trade of CPJ stock, 190.8 million units, was last executed in November 2015.

"I am aware of the trade and it was facilitated by our lead broker, Mayberry. But I wouldn't be in a position to say ... . I cannot speak to the absolute way in which shareholders choose to hold their shares," Lowe said.

CPJ's major shareholders are Wave Trading, which holds 440 million units, or 40 per cent followed by Sportswear Producers Limited at 248 million units, or 22.5 per cent. Both entities are chaired by Mark Hart, who is also CPJ's executive chairman. Mayberry West Indies Limited, which is controlled by brothers Christopher Berry and Konrad Mark Berry, holds 225.6 million units, or 20.5 per cent, of CPJ stock.

Caribbean Producers recently sold off some non-core assets and has been restructuring its operation, while expanding its meat-processing operations overseas.

The Montego Bay-based company's third-quarter results recorded a 57 per cent rise in profit to US$930,000, off revenues of US$26.3 million. But the company's year-to-date performance continues to lag. Over nine months ending March, profit has fallen 17 per cent to US$1.9 million off revenue of US$72.3 million.

Lowe said that, in general, anyone taking a strong position in CPJ would not do so only on the past performance of the company, but also its future prospects.

He reasoned that investors should take a "long-term view" of the company, which shed non-core assets and increased efficiencies.

For 2017, the CPJ stock traded as high as $4.65 in February, but dipped gradually downward towards $3.54 as at Thursday.

"We are positioned well for the future," said Lowe, who is around 10 months into his tenure as Caribbean Producers' CEO. He added that CPJ's core food and wine business would seek to expand regionally each time its clients expand regionally.

"We are evolving and growing our regional footprint. It involves strengthening our client relationships [in Jamaica] so that our clients' expansion regionally will correlate with our increased business," he said.

Alongside its distribution and meat-processing operations, Caribbean Producers operates in the retail market as CPJ Markets.

For now, the only foreign market in which the company operates is St Lucia.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com