JAMIE CARR: The high-end consumer is back to consuming with reckless abandon
This week’s Diamonds & Dogs column is free to read. Richemont is purring along nicely while Trans Hex is hoping for hidden gems
A jewel of a performance
It is tempting to award the gong to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old heir apparent to the Saudi throne and poster boy for the delights of absolute monarchy.
The young thruster sent in the goon squad and arrested about 500 potentates he is accusing of embezzling around US$100bn from the state money pot. He’s frozen their assets and bunged them all into the Ritz-Carlton, where we can only hope they are ordering room service and movies rather than plotting insurrection and the resumption of the status quo.
Despite a plethora of SA candidates who are begging for a stint without the option in the Boksburg Formula 1, this robust and effective choice is not available under our constitution, so we shall have to wait for the wheels of justice to turn in their own good time.
While the dream’s on hold, there’s nothing like the performance of Richemont to lift the spirits, signalling that the high-end consumer is back to consuming with what we could once term gay abandon.
The company reported banging results for the six months, and particularly strong performance in the jewellery and watches segment as well as in mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea and the UK. The core business is purring along nicely, and Richemont is looking to future-proof it by taking a nibble at Dufry, the world’s largest duty-free retailer.
Johann Rupert is reported to be envisaging a future where artificial intelligence and robots are doing the heavy lifting, freeing up the affluent to travel and buy luxury goods wherever they go.
Hoping for hidden gems
The timing of the Christmas shopping has become ever more complex since the Internet allowed retailers almost infinite ability to tweak their offering.
It means that the consumer can avoid the traditional horror of the Christmas Eve dash to the V&A Waterfront to pick up anything left by the plague of locusts.
But the latest trauma is the pre-Christmas sale, which means that if you get a little ahead of the game you risk seeing all your purchases available for half price before Santa’s even started packing the sleigh.
This may be approximately how Christo Wiese is feeling about his stake in Trans Hex. He was reported as seeing good value in the company when he announced his 47% stake in August 2016.
The stake was accumulated at prices of up to 394c/share, which was what the consortium of Wiese’s interests and asset management firm RECM offered to minorities in a bid to take the company private. The minorities clearly reckoned that if Wiese was in, there must be something more valuable than giant barbel lurking at the bottom of the Orange River, and said: "Thanks, but no thanks."
So now they’re all looking at a share price of 200c and wondering where to go to from there. The company lost nigh on its market cap in the past six months, never a state to fill the investor with festive cheer, in a market of softening prices that it is hoping will pick up in 2018.
It is banking on significantly increased production on the West coast and in Angola to turn the situation around.