By nature of its cheap to produce but highly addictive product and the strong brand names owned by global industry leaders, such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco , tobacco is an industry that consists of capital efficient companies (as discussed in Journal #24).
We are adopting a top-down approach in our research. The 4 tobacco stocks in our research universe, for now, are:
|Indonesia||Jakarta Stock Exchange||Philip Morris Indonesia |
|Kenya||Nairobi Stock Exchange||British America Tobacco Kenya||BAT.KE|
|Jamaica||Jamaica Stock Exchange||Carreras Ltd (subsidiary of |
British American Tobacco)
|Czech Republic||Prague Stock Exchange||Philip Morris (Czech Division)||TABAK.PR|
We use a country’s foreign exchange rates as a proxy for assessing the country’s macro environment. There is little logic in collecting dividends only for us to see those yields diminished by a depreciating currency in which we hold our investments. For the tobacco stocks we are looking at, we pulled out A 10-year history of the foreign exchange rate (relative to the USD) for the Indonesian Rupiah (‘IDR’), Kenya Shilling (‘KES’), Jamaica Dollar (‘JMD’) and the Czech Republic Koruna (‘CZK’). These are reproduced below.
With the exception of Jamaica, the charts for Kenya, Indonesia and the Czech Republic (for the past 5 years or so) all have little volatility for us to be concerned about should we invest in these markets. The spike (devaluation) in March 2020 of the Indonesian Rupiah was a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has since appreciated back to its long-term (5-year) range of 13,000 to 14,500 to the US dollar.
There are NO currency red flags in Indonesia, Kenya or the Czech Republic prohibiting us from investing in these countries.
In contrast, the Jamaican Dollar is a volatile currency. It had a 17% swing from March 2019 (USD/JMD 125.1) to August 2020 (USD/JMD 150.2). Coupled with the volatility is the worrisome trend that the Jamaican Dollar is DEPRECIATING against the greenback (USD). It is near its all-time 10 year low.
What’s causing the devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar? The Gleaner (Jamaica’s daily newspaper founded in 1834) published a news article on 19 November 2019 which provides an insight:
In short, Jamaicans have lost trust in their currency as a store of value and there is a parallel currency market in US dollars.
Our supervisory analyst/editor, Eunice, raises a good question – why don’t we buy the stock in USD? After all, we get both the dividends, a capital efficient company (subject to our analysis in part 3 and 4 of this journal series) as well as the strong tail-winds of strengthening USD relative to the Jamaican Dollar. Unfortunately, although the Jamaican stock exchange quotes Jamaican stocks in USD, Carreras Ltd is NOT one of their offerings listed in USD (please refer here).
The Jamaican Dollar’s volatility and significant long-term loss of purchasing power means we would NOT recommend investing in Jamaica.
Carreras Ltd, by virtue of its base currency being Jamaican Dollars, is therefore NOT a recommendation we can make. We will, however, in the next two journals continue to refer to Carreras Ltd in our comparisons to the other three tobacco stocks. This is for comparison purposes only as these journals, amongst other things, aim to provide you with a sample of our research selection processes.
Our next journal evaluates the 5th question of our research – “Do the dividend yields of these companies make them attractive investments?”
Until my next journal, good investing.