Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Industrial products and services conglomerate Torre, which trades at a sizeable discount to the value of its underlying operations, says it will explore all options in unlocking value for shareholders.

At an investor briefing following the release of interim results on Tuesday, Torre management fielded a question around whether the most value could be unlocked for shareholders by selling the business to a larger competitor.

Opportune Investments CEO Chris Logan noted that Torre had issued R1.3bn worth of scrip to fund acquisitions compared with a current market value of about R500m.

Torre also carries a net asset value of about 182c per share and tangible net asset value of 139c per share compared with a market price of 114c.

Torre deputy executive chairman Jon Hillary said management would look at all options to ensure value was unlocked for shareholders, including possible merger and acquisition activity. "But this is a fairly young business that we have positioned for sustainable long-term growth in the industrial sector. We need to be given time to build a long-term, sustainable business," he said.

Torre, which was restructured last year, performed satisfactorily in the six months to end-December, with revenue up 3% to R778m and gross profit up 8% to R298m.

Operating profit fell 2% to R40m after the company notched up a foreign-exchange loss of R7m, incurred an R8m share-based payment expense and assumed additional costs in setting up new branches for the parts and components division.

Headline earnings came in at 4.83c per share.

Hillary said the analytical services segment performed well, achieving good revenue growth that largely offset a decline in revenues in the capital equipment segment.

The divisional breakdown showed Torre’s parts and components division increased revenue 3% to R462m, due mainly to an increase in sales of Gabriel shock absorbers. Hillary said the division would benefit from new branches set up around SA in the interim period.

The analytical services segment lifted revenue 23% to R159m due to higher analysis volumes by subsidiary WearCheck. The capital equipment segment’s revenue dropped 10% to R156m due to lower tower crane sales after customers moved from outright purchase to rentals.

Hillary said trading conditions remained challenging, with the construction sector still under pressure, but Torre was beginning to see improved sentiment for the mining sector.

"We will continue to focus on our core strategy of creating a countercyclical, annuity-based business that is diversified both geographically and by product type, across multiple sectors."

hasenfussm@fm.co.za