When I wrote about the top-performing counters on the Zimbabwe stock exchange I said you were better off holding almost any counter on the ZSE than money, even US dollars in 2020 so far. Well, it’s time to put some meaning to that almost. Some counters have performed poorly in Zimbabwe and this case, we will define poorly as failing to beat inflation and/or exchange rate depreciation. So these are counters that have brought losses in US dollar terms or have failed to bring back a higher rate of return than inflation, whichever works for you.
Before we can get into our worst counters on the ZSE we must establish the measure being used here. As said before we are measuring the counters return against the parallel exchange rate, official exchange rate and CPI inflation basket movement year to date (so from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020). The parallel market exchange rate appreciated 296.48%, the CPI inflation moved up 333.23% while the official exchange rate moved 387.22%. Failure to beat any one of those qualifies a counter for this list.
Getbucks is a financial services and technology company that holds itself out as having the goal of furthering financial inclusion. The fintech company has not published financial statements since 2018 and has not traded for a very long time.
Zeco is an industrial company that works on industrial machining and rail wagon maintenance and repair. ZECO engineering last published financial statements in 2019 and also has not traded in a very long time.
Unifreight is a transport and logistics counter. It is infamous for rarely trading and there is a small celebration when it does. Understandably the industry Unifreight operates in has seen a lot of competition in recent years. Competition coming from small players and big players such as the rainbow Tourism Group.
Nampak provides packaging materials. They were unbundled from beverage giant Delta and manufacture largely for Delta. With sales volumes at Delta and AfDis dipping perhaps Nampak is showing the reduction in business activity.
Edgar’s troubles are well documented. The Zimbabwean arm of EdCon which is into clothing chains and brands that include Edgars and Jet. EdCon South Africa recently pulled out of the company. Their business has been impacted by competition from the informal sector. In addition to their operational problems, there has been a lot of shaking in the leadership. Their less than successful rights issue also casts a shadow over their future.
Perhaps the first surprise on this list but I promise it won’t be the last. When cassava was introduced to the ZSE its valuation by some measures was over US$1 billion. Many held it up as a unicorn but it’s performance over the last 12 months at least have left a lot to be desired as it has tumbled. Understandably Cassava is in many high-risk business markets but the recent moves that prejudice their cash cow Ecocash may take a further toll in the long term. Projects like Vaya, Ugesi and others are great projects for the future but they will take time to kick in.
LaFarge is building materials manufacturer known for cement of the same brand name. Lafarge has suffered after they were ordered to halt production due to pollution attributed to their plant. The decline was inevitable with no business coming. They have recently agreed to a deal for a new type of manufacturing process and we are starting to see a rebound in their fortunes though it may take some time to get back to its true potential.
As I said earlier Cassava would not be the last surprise on the list. It’s big sister Econet also makes the list but the reasons behind it are a little more puzzling. On an operational and business level things could never be better for the telecommunications provider but perhaps this is a market correction. Econet has been in decline for well over a year now.
Rio Zim is a mining and minerals company. They are active gold, diamonds and other base metals. Mining in Zimbabwe especially in gold and diamonds has been tricky, to say the least. They will reopen their Cam and Motor gold mine which had been closed on viability concerns so perhaps this rating is not long-lived.
BAT stock is not very liquid but this turn of events is quite surprising. The tobacco processor has not returned well in 2020 for investors. The business reasons behind this low valuation for BAT are not apparent and it may come down to simply not being traded much.
The sugar and consumer goods manufacturer was always likely to feel the hit of COVID-19 all up and down its supply chain. It is a great stock in the opinion of many but seems to have hit a ceiling that it cannot eclipse.
A supplier and manufacturer of building materials would likely feel the double hit of COVID-19 and the economic after-effects of the lockdown more than most other companies. It’s not far from a turn around based on our criteria but that depends on an overall economic turnaround.
The world of finance and stock markets is in a constant state of change and I wouldn’t be surprised to see LaFarge and Delta change the picture by the end of the year. We will do a year-end update of the ZSE and see how things shape up by then.