BRITISH American Tobacco (BAT) has again scooped first prize as the best company on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in this year’s Zimbabwe Independent’s Quoted Companies Survey at a glittering dinner awards ceremony last night.
The cigarette manufacturer scored highly on profitability growth, achieving a 159% four-year annual compounded growth rate with a return on equity of 100% and a return of assets of 46%.
Padenga Holdings, an export-focused business which is insulated from declining aggregate demand issues in the local market, came second. The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of premium quality crocodile skins, accounting for nearly 85% of the supply of Nile crocodile skins to high-end luxury brands
The company enjoys very high margins which have also been growing in the past years. In FY14, Padenga’s pre-tax profit increased by 77% to US$87 million, with the profit after tax margin increasing to 23% from 15%.
The operating profit margin for the company grew from 12% to 32% and attributable profit margin surged from 12% to 21%.
However, the company’s share- price growth has not been commensurate with the company’s strong financial performance since its debut on the ZSE in November 2010.
National Foods Limited moved two steps up the ladder this year to third. It remains the only quintessential basic food processor to make it into the top five, at a time the manufacturing sector has severely declined.
From ninth last year African Distillers rose to fourth and continues to enjoy high sales volume growth benefiting from its recent recapitalisation. In the last two years, the company has been investing in widening its product range. Major capital expenditures include the recent commissioning of a ready-to-drink line and the localisation of cider production.
From outside the top 10, Astra Industries came fifth after the share price moved up by 4,6%, while the average share price return has been 2,7% since 2009.
Seed Co came sixth with margins improving to 50% from 38% last year due to minimal stock write downs and seed price review in the market.
Seventh was Delta Beverages with shareholders in 2014 suffering a negative return on their share price, although the compounded annual growth rate remained at 12% since 2009.
OK Zimbabwe, Powerspeed Electrical Limited and Fidelity Life Assurance completed the top 10 in that order.
OK nosedived from third last year due to shrinking customer spending at its outlets which reduced share price by 5%.