Ricegrowers Limited - Value in This Agricultural "Co-op?"

I'm dropping by the old blog today to provide a quick look at an interesting situation in Australia. In early April, Ricegrowers Limited chose to list its stock on the Australian Stock Exchange for the first time. Ticker: SGLLV. Previously, class B shares traded on the National Stock Exchange of Australia, a somewhat obscure and inaccessible exchange with limited trading volume.

Ricegrowers Limited is the corporate parent of SunRice, a nearly 70 year old producer of many varieties of rice. The company has growing, packaging, and distribution facilities around the world. Historically, Ricegrowers functioned much like an agricultural co-op. Its shares were owned exclusively by rice producers and their affiliates and the company was run primarily to maximize the return to these grower-owners. While technically a corporation and not a cooperative or a mutual, the practical difference was small. With the ASX listing, Ricegrowers has chosen to allow non-affiliates to purchase its shares for the first time. The firm will now function as a truly public corporation and will

Ricegrowers' financial results show a fundamentally decent business at work. Return on equity has average almost 12% over the last five years. (Averages are critical for agricultural producer like Ricegrowers. The results of any particular year are highly unpredictable due to growing conditions and global market demand and supply.) Ricegrowers does employ a decent amount of leverage, but most of its debt is cheap, seasonal debt used to smooth out the cash flow cycle associated with the annual harvest.

The reasons Ricegrowers intrigues me are two-fold. First, the company trades at a discount to book value despite adequate profitability. At a price of AUD 6.50 per B share, Ricegrowers has a market capitalization of AUD 381 million versus book value attributable to shareholders of AUD 416 million. Nearly all of this book value is tangible. Companies earning their cost of capital and still trading below book value are something of a rarity in today's markets. Second, Ricegrowers is a company with plans! In conjunction with its ASX listing and removal of ownership restrictions, the company published a guide to its ambitious growth strategy. The company intends to double revenue by 2022, while maintaining a double digit return on capital. The full document is available here, but be warned, it's quite the tome.

For the first time, investors can access one of Australia's premiere agricultural companies. They are able to buy the company at a discount to book value at a time when the company expects to achieve significant growth while maintaining profitability.

Alluvial Capital Management, LLC does not hold shares of Ricegrowers Limited. Alluvial Capital Management, LLC may hold any securities mentioned on this blog and may buy or sell these securities at any time. For a full accounting of Alluvial’s and Alluvial personnel’s holdings in any securities mentioned, contact Alluvial Capital Management, LLC at info@alluvialcapital.com.

Alluvial Capital Management, LLC manages a value investing partnership, Alluvial Fund, LP. If you are a qualified investor and would like more information, please contact us at info@alluvialcapital.com or visit alluvial.capital.