Author Topic: SAP.TO - Saputo  (Read 3445 times)

Viking

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SAP.TO - Saputo
« on: September 02, 2020, 02:46:19 PM »
I was not able to find a specific thread for Saputo... surprising, given it is a top 10 dairy company (world).

SAP.TO, BCE.TO, SU.TO

I know you brought up SAP.TO (Saputo) and it looks interesting, as it is currently valued at a discount to its longer term metrics (EV/EBITDA, EV/ SALES). Looks like a GAARP stock which are hard to find nowadays.

Is there any catalyst you can see near term? Looks like the shares have been hit hard by COVID-19 although the business seems to chug along quite well.

SAP is going to struggle in the short term (earnings). They do a pretty large business with restaurants in Canada and the US and they will suffer along with this segment. However, looking out a couple of years Saputo should do very well. One short term catalyst would be if they make a large aquisition at a good price (They are aggressively looking). Bottom line, i think current earnings are like a coiled spring... but it may take 18-36 months for the company to realize its earnings potential.

What i do not like:
1.) they have been paying higher multiples for acquisitions in recent years. Saputo used to make acquisitions like Buffett (spend $0.50 and get $1).
2.) debt/leverage has been growing in recent years. Saputo used to be very disciplined about paying down debt / reducing leverage after each large acquisition.
3.) the new software spend (to manage supply chain) has been a disaster the past couple of years. Cost much more than forecast; implementation has been much more disruptive than expected. I think they have put further implementation (to new geographies) on hold.

What i do like:
1.) current profitability is understated, and it could be significant. Despite making a number of very large acquisitions the past 3-4 years total earnings have been flat; this is due to a number of reasons. Covid has further muddied short term earnings. My guess is looking out a couple of years Saputo will find a way to get total company profitability closer to historic levels.
2.) they will be making more acquisitions. My hope is they are able to do so at better prices.
3.) track record of being pretty shareholder friendly - earning have been used to make acquisitions and pay down debt, buy back stock and pay a small dividend
4.) company is run for the long term. They are just like Buffett in this regard. This may also explain their paying up in recent years to get established/dominant in Australia and established in the UK.

Watchout:
1.) is Saputo becoming too large - are they becoming another big stodgy global food company - unable to grow, no longer nimble, with stagnant profitability.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2020, 06:04:55 PM by Parsad »


maxthetrade

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Re: SAP.TO
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2020, 03:27:20 PM »
I knew SAP.DE and I have a Saputo stone in my pizza oven ;-) But this company is new to me, thanks for bringing it up.

Viking

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2020, 03:42:16 PM »
Saputo released results on Nov 5 that were largely in line with expectations. Here is an update with a little more information than my previous post above. I view Saputo to be a Stalwart type investment (to borrow from Peter Lynch): buy when they are cheap and poised to outperform and sell when they get expensive. Then roll the proceeds into another stalwart that is cheap and and the timing is right. A benefit of owning stalwarts is they provide pretty good downside protection during recessions. (One watch-out for Saputo is if they are transitioning to a Slow Grower which would not be good... but my read is not yet!).

My view is Saputo profitability is materially understated today due to covid (impacting US operations) and normal integration delays (normally takes 2-3 years to digest large acquisitions and get margins to acceptable Saputo levels). Another large acquisition (at a reasonable price) would be a near term catalyst. Otherwise, covid will continue as a headwind and Saputo will post ok results and slowly de-lever their balance sheet. Post covid, profitability will jump and shares will re-rate higher. Shares could be 50% higher in the next 18-24 months.

Shares are cheap. Solid growth prospects. Managed for the long term. Good management team with solid long term track record.

Company Overview: http://www.saputo.com/-/media/ecosystem/divisions/corporate-services/sites/saputo-com/saputo-com-documents/investors/saputo_factsheet_q2fy2021_final.ashx?revision=a95dbec4-5395-4cd8-9698-bb055c41b350&la=en

Shares traded Friday at CDN $32.60 right around the level they were trading at 5 years ago. The good news is much has changed at Saputo over the past 5 years and for the better (in terms of size and scale). They have made numerous acquisitions, becoming the largest dairy processor in Australia and the largest branded cheese manufacturer in UK. These two platforms nicely complement their platforms in Canada (largest dairy processor) and the US (top 3 cheese manufacturer).

The bull case for Saputo centres around growth and valuation. The dairy business is still very fractured globally. And Saputo is an acquisition machine (having made 44 acquisitions in the past 20 years). It is in their DNA. And they are on the hunt again.

Earnings per share have been stuck in the $1.60-$1.80 range for the last 5 years. However, revenues have increased from $11 to $14.6 billion (+33%). As covid subsides, US integration proceeds, acquisitions are more fully digested and new information systems are implemented into all geographies profitability will move meaningfully higher. Earnings per share could be north of $2.40-$2.50/share in 2022 post covid (including results from future acquisitions).

Saputo management is aligned with shareholders. The Saputo family owns 32% of Saputo. As Saputo stock grows in value so does the family fortune. Lino Saputo Sr is estimated to be the 8th richest Canadian with a net worth of US $5.2 billion.

Saputo is very shareholder friendly. Earnings are used for three things:
1.) dividends (2% yield currently)
2.) buybacks
3.) acquisitions

Saputo did issue more shares in 2019 at about $40 to delever their balance sheet given the 2 large aquisitions made in 2018 and 2019. But over time the share count has remained relatively stable which is impressive given the number and size of the acquisitions they have made. While debt levels did get elevated in 2019 they have done their usual solid job of bringing debt levels down (equity raise and free cash flow). Saputo has been very predictable over the years regarding capital management.

Saputo will likely be making more acquisitions in the coming year. The timing is uncertain. While mildly disappointing, they have had to pay up for acquisitions in recent years. The timing of the last big acquisition (Dairy Quest UK) in 2019 was ideal (largest branded cheese manufacturer in the UK has seen very strong sales as a result of covid). It also takes a couple of years for Saputo to digest large acquisitions so there is usually a lag between purchase and growth in earnings.

Covid has been a severe problem for Saputo with 48% of US and 36% of Canadian revenue coming from the foodservice channel. Surprisingly, in Canada Saputo has been able to pivot quickly to retail and their total sales and profitability is actually growing. Quite the accomplishment. Canada is a very profitable market for Saputo with just a couple of very large players in dairy (Saputo, Parmalat and Agropur).

Saputo’s ‘problem’ today is its US business. With 49% of sales going to foodservice channel covid has been a major drag on sales and margins. Unlike Canada, Saputo has not been able to pivot a chunk of its business from foodservice to retail. So sales and profitability has taken a big hit. Saputo recently announced they will be merging their 2 divisions in the US (cheese and dairy). They are also trying to pivot more to retail (given the near term realities of covid). Bottom line, i expect results from the US to be messy for the next year or so. But it appears they are using covid as the impetus to get a better structure in place and that will make the US operation more efficient, focussed and will ultimately benefit shareholders in future years. Saputo has a track record of ultimately being successful at integrations like this (despite some setbacks along the way).

The Australian business appears to be doing well. And even though Saputo is the largest dairy processor, and there are size concerns, it appears they are bidding for Lion Dairy and Drinks. With few large players, processor dairy margins in Australia could be headed higher in the coming years.
- https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/why-the-decision-to-reject-chinas-bid-for-lion-dairy-matters/

Europe: the UK cheese business is performing well. As stated above, covid has been a boon for retail brands and Saputo owns the number 1 retail cheese brand, Cathedral City. They are expanding this brand to 6,000 retailers in Canada and the US this fall; something to watch. The UK business also now gives Saputo an important beachhead in the massive European dairy market.

International: they also have the second largest dairy operation in Argentina which is a large exporter of dairy products.

A couple of notes from last earnings report:
- in the past 6 months net debt has fallen from $4.166 to $3.770 billion.
- net debt to adjusted EBITDA has fallen from 2.84 from 2.60 (The Company targets a long-term leverage of approximately 2.25 times net debt to adjusted EBITDA).
- paying 2.24% on newly issued debt (On June 16, 2020, the Company issued Series 7 medium term notes for an aggregate principal amount of $700.0 million due June 16, 2027, bearing interest at 2.24%.)

Saputo results for the second quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended on September 30, 2020.
http://www.saputo.com/-/media/ecosystem/divisions/corporate-services/sites/saputo-com/saputo-com-documents/shareholder-reports/2021/sap_q2_2021_mda_ang.ashx?la=en&revision=899047a3-1c5b-4d65-bd5e-98df00510f20

Saputo fiscal year runs April 1 - March 31. They are currently already in their 2021 fiscal year.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 04:35:49 PM by Viking »

Spekulatius

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2020, 04:21:40 PM »
Isn’t dairy a shrinking business. I don’t think milk and cheese are going customer wallet share.
Viking, thanks for the writeup, I put this recently on my watchlist. Those compounders that are have temporary issues can be great investments, especially when bought at infliction points.
Life is too short for cheap beer and wine.

Viking

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2020, 08:57:44 PM »
Spek, great question. As a bit of background years ago i worked in the dairy industry in Canada; hired out of university and worked my way up the ranks to Director level. Everything i write below is dated but i think it is still generally accurate. If others see mistakes (there will be some) please provide corrections :-)

Selling dairy products can be very lucrative. You just have to pick the right products(fluid/cream, culture, cheese, butter, powder), the right geographic markets (country/region) and the right channels (retail, foodservice and industrial). And relentlessly drive costs out.

Today lets look at one segment: fluid milk. This is a huge segment. Trying to sell fluid milk in the US has been a disaster for companies like Dean Foods. Fluid milk in Canada has actually been a pretty good and profitable business for Saputo. How?

Here is the short answer: Saputo has close to a monopoly position on fluid milk sales today in BC (80% share?) because it has a distribution network build up over decades that is virtually impossible for a new competitor to match (too expensive, low return).

Manufacturers: There are only 3 dominant players in dairy in Canada: Saputo, Parmalat and Agropur. All three produce the full range of products (milk to culture to cheese to butter to powder).

Competitive set for fluid milk: In Canada each of the big three have a dominant position in one region. But there is some overlap in every region (just enough to keep everyone honest... no destructive competition).
1.) Saputo: BC, Prairies - Dairyland
2.) Parmalat: Prairies, Ontario - Beatrice
3.) Agropur: Quebec - Natrel

Retail food in Canada is dominated by a handful of large national players like Loblaws, Sobeys, Walmart, Costco and large regional players like Save-On (BC), Federated (Prairies), Metro (Quebec) etc. Each wants to deal with as few manufacturers as possible especially dairy (refrigerated, lots of categories, lots of sku’s in each category, short shelf life, important staple item). They do not want to buy 4L milk from 10 different dairies across Canada. What an logistical nightmare. Ideally they want to buy from 1, maybe 2. Now this is where it gets really interesting. When they put their fluid milk business out to tender it will include one region like the West (includes the provinces of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). Other tenders might each cover Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Lets look at one region (West) and one retailer (Walmart). Walmart will need every store it has in Western Canada to be serviced perhaps 3 or 4 times per week. Lets drill down a little further and look at the province of BC. Walmart has about 35 stores in BC. The store in Terrace, BC is located 1,350km from Vancouver. They also have a location in Nelson which is located 700km from Vancouver and 1,500km from Terrace (big distances).

Short code life. Fluid milk is has about a 16 day shelf life (if memory serves me correctly). So from production at plant to retailer to consumers fridge to being consumed there is about a 16 day window. Very tight.

Guess how much it costs to put a refrigerated dairy truck on the road? And then send it to a store 1,600 km away? In the middle of winter? Where you have to hit a very high service level (or pay a large fine)? With a product that has a very short shelf life? That is a staple shopping item for consumers (if the retailer is out of stock the consumer has to go to a competitor). Multiply that amount many times over.

I think you get the picture. Selling fluid milk in each region in Canada is all about distribution and logistics. This reality has allowed each of the dairies in Canada to earn very solid returns for their owners/shareholders.

The cheese category in Canada is very different. However, the result is the same. The 3 major players are able to earn solid returns.

Saputo has also been relentless in lowering costs over time. Pretty much every year it closes one more manufacturing facility in Canada (Trenton, Ontario this year and Saint John, NB in 2021) and the US driving more volume through a shrinking number of plants.

Saputo Started in Canada. Saputo used these profits to fund its aggressive move into the US, where their focus has been cheese/specialty cheese/non-dairy creamers (and not milk). And they then used the profits from Canada and the US to fund their move into Australia (all categories) and, most recently, the UK (retail cheese).

I wonder if their Australian business will not, over time, resemble what they have built in Canada (in terms of domestic dairy). The competitive set in Australia looks limited like Canada (where there are only 3 large players). Australia also has a big export business (Canada does not due to supply management).  Saputo plays the long game and will be careful to not to be too aggressive too fast. Slow and methodical is their model. ‘A little better every day’ is their motto.
- https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/industry-statistics/milk-processing-overview#.X6euqy_9ehA

Another strength of Saputo is they are very strategic. They want to be a player in all the major milk baskets in the world (access to the milk to be able to manufacture and sell dairy products all over the world). Specifically those countries that allow export of dairy products (unlike Canada). Like Argentina. Australia is another. New Zealand is on the shopping list but those dairy companies are among the best managed in the world (i think) so the price would be prohibitive. Saputo prefers to buy like a value investor. But they will pay up if it is the right long term fit (which is why i believe they paid up for their last 2 big acquisitions).

PS: Saputo is also looking to expand into plant based dairy alternatives. It is getting mentioned on their conference calls. Another strength of Saputo is they are very entrepreneurial. They want employees to think like owners and run their businesses accordingly.

- https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/6627263/saputo-invests-in-plant-based-drinks-as-dairy-falls/

“Plant-based for us is not that different from the dairy infrastructure we use to process milk and we can leverage the expertise we have, including manufacturing expertise."

Saputo was not planning to exit dairy.

"Dairy is not dead. There is still great life in dairy," Mr Saputo said.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 01:52:26 AM by Viking »

wabuffo

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2020, 05:33:05 AM »
As a bit of background years ago i worked in the dairy industry in Canada;

Viking - given your expertise, I had a few questions:

1) Doesn't the thesis depend on continued protection from imports?  How long will Canada sustain an import ban on dairy products?  Why can beef products cross the US/Canada border but not products from cows?
2) Why does the Canadian industry still depend on small dairy farms mostly in Quebec/Eastern Ontario?  Why doesn't the Canadian market look like the US where the most productive dairy farms have moved westward over time - CA, ID, TX etc (due to abundant land and cheap water access) and the dairy farms in NY, WI have lost share over the last 3-4 decades.   I would expect that milk (and therefore cheese) is cheaper to produce in Alberta than it is in Quebec.

I'd love to hear your insights.

wabuffo


Cigarbutt

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2020, 09:00:44 AM »
^i'm not Viking and have no expertise.
The two points can be taken together. Supply management is there to stay although it may 'improve' over time. Saputo is an intermediate manufacturer and processor so there are impacts related to limitations in commercial activities but it's a two-way street that Saputo can use to its advantage if regulations change. Saputo can also adapt to the origin of the ingredients (local, domestic, protein-based, plant-based or even straight from the lab). The 'story' with Saputo has been to become a low-cost competitor, whatever the developing circumstances and it has done quite well.
After reading Viking's comments, i will re-evaluate and contribute here if applicable. (i think milk shelf-life is now more like 18 to 22 days)

Disclosure: The first 18 months of my life have been spent on a dairy farm and there is a family member involved in a field related to points 1) and 2) that wabuffo is raising. i'm quite familiar with the milk industry, have watched SAP for a very long time, never bought it because it never felt cheap enough and, at this point, even if relative valuation has improved, it's a mature company evolving in a mature industry which narrows the outcomes to a significant degree.

wabuffo

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2020, 09:49:42 AM »
Supply management is there to stay although it may 'improve' over time.

I think its getting worse and is becoming indefensible, IMO. 

CANADA - ONTARIO
https://www.dairyinfo.gc.ca/eng/dairy-statistics-and-market-information/dairy-prices-and-expenditures/?id=1502466409703
Avg retail fluid milk price in 2019 for Ontario = $1.45 CAD/L.   

USA - DETROIT, MI:
https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/RetailMilkPrices2019.pdf
Avg. retail price of whole milk across the border (in Detroit) in 2019 was $2.78 USD/gallon for conventional whole milk.  Convert that to litres and $CAD = ($2.78 USD)*(1.3054 CAD/USD)*(0.2642 L/gal) = $0.96 CAD/L.

Using the same data, BC is 24% more expensive than Seattle, WA.   Quebec is 74% (!!) more expensive than Boston, MA (even though Boston probably gets its milk from upstate NY and Quebec has dairy farms in its own backyard).

It's really hard to justify paying 25-75% more for a commodity that is locally available (if not for a border and tariff/supply limits). 

My belief is that if we lifted import restrictions on dairy over time, there would still be dairy farms in Quebec and Ontario (fewer, larger), but milk production would mostly move to Western Canada - thus Canada would lose little milk production/cheese manufacturing.  The manufacturers/processers would adjust locations too and restructure their manufacturing facilities - but consumers would be the big winners as yet another "Canadian tax" is removed.

Just my (probably uninformed) 2-cents.  I know I would not want to invest in an industry propped up by restrictions that could be removed with a change in the political winds.

wabuffo
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 09:56:25 AM by wabuffo »

Cigarbutt

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2020, 10:11:46 AM »
^You are moving this thread dangerously close to the political nest.  :)
IMO also (FWIW), on a net basis, both the consumers and the producers (after a period of uncertainty and potentially some losses) would probably be better off without supply management. But our opinions don't really matter for the following two reasons:
1-Saputo would likely, on a net and long term basis, benefit from more 'liberal' commerce. There is significant potential to export from Canada. The point is that Saputo is positioned to have the opportunity to adapt versus to be a potential victim from change in the political winds.
2-In an ideal world, free circulation of goods is great but we don't live in such world and there are many developing forces suggesting that previous free trade winds are also changing. Specifically for the dairy industry, the pricing mechanisms and various supports in the US are, from a more global perspective, even more of a head-scratcher. Whether you agree or not with public support of the industry, there have been powerful forces behind present arrangements, forces that will continue to resist change. From a population point of view, it seems that there is some kind of support for this even if people, in general, are far from having a detailed understanding of the price differentials.
If you are interested, there's somebody (no direct link to me or family) who is an excellent food industry analyst and who has produced a guideline to exit supply management. The report contains also a description of the forces resisting this movement.
https://www.dal.ca/sites/agri-food/research/supply-management-2-0.html

Viking

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Re: SAP.TO - Saputo
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2020, 10:23:03 AM »
Yes, Canada has Supply Management for dairy, poultry and eggs. It provides higher, stable prices for farmers and (likely) higher prices for consumers. For processors, like Saputo, it is more grey. Saputo has been critical of aspects of supply management in the past. My view is it is highly unlikely supply management in Canada will change any time soon; the interest groups that benefit are way too powerful politically (lots of dairy farmers in voter rich Ontario and especially Quebec). So in terms of the Saputo thesis my view is supply management is a constant. 

PS: cigar, i agree, lets not start debating the merits of Supply Management as that is a political discussion. Let’s keep the discussion focussed on how supply management impacts the investment thesis in Saputo. My view is in the near term (the next 5 years at least) it does not.

How Canada's supply management system works
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-supply-management-explainer-1.4708341
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Canadian dairy Saputo criticizes supply management system, siding with U.S. in ongoing dispute
https://globalnews.ca/news/4281520/canadian-dairy-saputo-inc-pricing-system-us/

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Canada opened its dairy market. But by how much?
https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/02/politics/usmca-canada-dairy/index.html

Under the new deal, which will be called USMCA, Canada will set new quotas for dairy imports from the United States. It will still put tariffs on dairy products that exceed the quotas, ranging from 200% to 300%.

The new quotas are expected to give American dairy farmers access to up to 3.6% of Canada's market. Estimates suggest this will increase exports to Canada by $70 million, or 0.0003% of US GDP, a BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report said.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 10:28:48 AM by Viking »