As I was walking my new puppy, I was struck by an apt analogy for this month’s opinion.RCL Foods, 77% owned by Remgro, has been a shocking investment over the past few years. Founded as Rainbow Chicken in the 1960s, the business today is a hodgepodge of food and soft commodity assets. Operations encompass the Rainbow poultry assets, grocery business Foodcorp, logistics, milling and baking, pet foods and Remgro’s old sugar interests TSB (now Selati).RCL’s results for the year to end-June were awful. Structural problems in chicken and sugar affected earnings. Imports plucked profits at the chicken division, while 20-year low world sugar prices and the domestic sugar tax smacked Selati. RCL had R25.9bn in revenue in 2019 — a mere 1.3% better than 2018 — with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation falling 25% to R1.5bn. Further hampering results was a R762m impairment on the sugar division, on top of a 40% drop in profits. Chicken has been melded into the consumer ...

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