By Stella Goh – As published in Inve$t Malaysia 15 May 2020 issue
Power Root Berhad (PWROOT), formerly known as Natural Bio Resources Berhad was founded in 1999 in Johor Bahru. PWROOT is one of Malaysia’s leading beverage manufacturers and is a specialist distributor coffee, tea, chocolate malt drinks and herbal energy drinks.
PWROOT was listed in Bursa’s ACE Market in 2007 and successfully transferred to the Main Market in 2010. The company exports its products regionally to countries in the Middle East, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, China, HongKong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand.
PWROOT develops and promotes herbal energy drinks fortified with two main rainforest herbs called Eurycoma Longifolia or commonly known as “Tongkat Ali” and Labisia Pumila and Pathoina or “Kacip Fathimah”. These herbs, indigenous to Malaysia, have properties which are beneficial in strengthening the body’s immunity, combating fatigue and helps in healing of wounds due to its anti-bacterial properties.
PWROOT’s leading functional (Tin) and premixed (Instant) products are mainly marketed under the brand names of “Alicafe” and “Per’l” while its instant white coffee is sold under the brand of “Ah Huat”. Other than instant premixed coffee the company also sells ready-to-drink (RTD) canned energy drinks and tea under the brand names of “Power Root Extra” and “Alitea” respectively. The company also sells chocolate malt drinks which are marketed under the brand names of “Oligo”, “Per’l Choco” and “Ah Huat Choco”.
PWROOT paid a higher annual total dividend per share of 8sen in FY2019 compared to 7.92sen in FY2018 but was lower than the 9.58sen it paid in FY2017.
Despite the total dividend per share paid in FY2019 being not the highest in 3 years, PWROOT has been able to pay out a favourable dividend consistently over a 10-year period. The company’s dividend payout ratio for FY2019 stood at 112.4% or RM31.5million and has maintained an average dividend payout ratio of 176.8% over the past 3 financial years indicating that the company is paying out more dividend to shareholders than its earnings. And by paying out more than 100% of its annual net profit as dividends, it has exceeded its own dividend policy practice of paying out at least 50% of its net profit per year as dividends. (refer to Prospects & Challenges and Insight at the end of this article)
PWROOT’s quality of earnings had increased from 1.013 times in FY2017 to 1.787 times in FY2018 but decreased in FY2019 to 1.464 times as compared to FY2018. Inspite of this PWROOT was still able to maintain its quality of earnings at more than 1 over the past 3 years indicating that the company’s operating cash flow generated from the business is more than the net income suggesting that the business has strong cash flow and is financially sound.
Based on the computation of liquidity ratio, PWROOT has achieved a current ratio of 2.218 times in FY2019 as compared to 1.847 times in FY2018. Even though the current ratio in FY2019 is not the highest among 3 financial years, it still indicates that the company does not face any liquidity issue as it is capable of paying back its current liabilities (RM112.946 million) if any unforeseeable circumstances occur. PWROOT is able to do so by using the current assets such as inventories, trade and other receivables, current tax assets, cash and cash equivalents amounting to RM250.473 million.
PWROOT has a marginally lower gross profit margin of 35.41% in FY2019 as compared to 35.92% in previous year. The gross profit margin is the lowest in FY2019 mainly due to a decline in export sales to Saudi Arabia from RM204.6 million to RM173.5 million as expatriates there left the country due to a Government scheme of imposing a higher levy on expatriates and their dependents. This had reduced PWROOT’s customer base in the region. However, the company has restructured its distributorships and is also leveraging its strong brand image in the Middle East and North Africa to continue to expand its market share.
PWROOT’s Return on Equity (ROE) has increased to 12.83% in FY2019 from 4.66% in FY2018 but was still lower than the 18.75% in FY2017.
Even though the gross profit margin has slightly decreased in FY2019, the increase in Return on Equity (ROE) indicates that more sales was produced by the company relative to its assets as the higher the profit gained, the higher the ROE it earns since it has an asset turnover ratio of 101.76%. The management of the company is seen effective and capable in deploying the resources in the company as well.
PWROOT has a lower Total Debt to Equity ratio of 0.515 times in FY2019 as compared to 0.704 times in FY2018 indicating that the company is able to pay off its debt obligations as the Total Debt to Equity ratio in FY2019 is almost less than half of its liabilities compared to its equity. This may also indicate PWROOT has a lower risk, since creditors have less claim on the company’s assets.
Cash Flow Statement
The net cash from operating activities has provided a positive cash flow of RM41.626 million in FY2019 as compared to RM16.860 million in FY2018 indicating that the company is healthy and has enough cash used for business expansion.
The net cash from investing activities (-RM2.149 million) in FY2019 was mainly due to the acquisition of Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE) amounting to RM8.620 million indicating that the firm is continuing invest in its business for growth.
The net cash from financing activities in FY2019 (-RM34.062 million) was mainly due to dividends paid to shareholders (RM23.099 million), net repayment of banker’s acceptances (RM12.795 million), interest paid (RM625,419), repayment of finance lease liabilities (RM412,443), repurchase of treasury shares (RM315,415) and repayment of term loans (RM237,360).
Prospect and Challenges
PWROOT’s export sales is expected to recover after the lifting of Movement Control Order (MCO) as well as easing of lockdowns that were implemented in the company’s export markets such as China, Singapore, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The company also experienced some minor disruptions to its supply chain with its distributors in the initial stages of MCO but the issues have since been resolved.
In China, PWROOT’s sales are driven by the Alicafe and Ah Huat brands, where the products are consumed across the country but with a concentration in urban centres. In order to boost growth, the company has restructured its online business by setting up a dedicated and experienced online sales team which now accounts for about 75% of PWROOT’s sales in China being done online. PWROOT has also revamped its inventory management system as well as added new equipment to reduce wastages and optimise productivity.
In the upcoming year, the company will focus on strengthening its distribution network while maintaining its commitment to improve on its operational efficiencies and cost management activities. On the export front, PWROOT will continue to pursue market growth, particularly in the MENA region by developing its distribution network and launching high-quality new products in order to attract new customers and meet their changing tastes.
Return on Equity (ROE) = Average
Revenue [CAGR] = Poor
Net Earnings [CAGR] = Poor
Dividend Yield = Good
Interest Coverage = Excellent
Quality of Earnings = Excellent
Power Root Berhad Share Price Over 3 Years
Based on the calculation of Gordon Growth Model, PWROOT has an intrinsic value of RM2.537. The current share price of PWROOT is RM2.27 which makes it in the range of fair value (as at 14 May 2020). PWROOT has a beta of 0.922 (500 days) indicating that the share price is less volatile than the current market. Based on computation of Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), PWROOT has an expected market return of 0.94%.
In conclusion, PWROOT may look attractive to investors due to its consistently strong dividend payout. Besides, PWROOT also looks impressive to investors who find a company’s debt reason for concern as the company has a net cash of RM56.845 million in FY2019 as well as more liquid assets (RM250.473 million) compared to its current liabilities (RM112.946 million). However investors still need to consider a host of other factors apart from dividend when analysing a company in view of the weak global economic outlook and Covid-19 pandemic still in play.
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