The Distell company secretary had a busy May, selling over R6 million worth of stock. A lead followed by other directors who offloaded large this month. Yet with the recent weakness of the rand, the largest liquor corporate in SA must be coining it. So are the directors selling too soon?
Sales to Asia are flying with a big deal in the east about to be revealed. Nederburg surfs a MasterChef tsunami, Two Oceans floods into Canada and Amarula nimbly sidesteps a tax furore in which the largest SA wine impresario appears in court for the Receiver of Revenue. Interesting times, interesting alliances with Quoin Rock worth a Carte Blanche program or three.
Yet the biggest boost for Distell is about to become a reality – a turnaround in the spirit world. Lex, best column in the Weekend Financial Times by the proverbial country mile, predicts Cognac sales will increase 17% over the next decade, making it the top performing global spirit. Which makes Distell’s purchase of Bisquit at the bottom of the market, look inspired. For if Dominique Hebrard can sell his Samalens Armagnac “like pancakes” to Chinese drinkers, as he boasted at VinExpo Asia last month, how much more successful will dynamic Marius Fouché be in the same market with a more fashionable brand?
Diageo plans to spend £1 billion expanding Scotch production over the next five years. They’ve obviously read the same Goldman Sachs report as the FT, predicting that whisky sales will rise 13% in the next decade, down somewhat from the 50% rise over the last five years.
As the FT explains “much of the industry’s optimism is based on the logic that over the next 20 years, 2bn new consumers will become wealthy enough to want to drink something that shows how far they have risen in the world. Scotch, especially single malt whisky, has the heritage image that makes it an aspirational product. Emerging markets already make up 40 per cent of global premium spirit sales by value, twice as much as a decade ago.”
Well Distell have already invested big in their Three Ships distillery in Wellington a couple of years ago and results are spectacular: Three Ships Premium Select 5 year old, a blend of Scotch and local whiskies, was voted World’s Best Blended Whisky at the annual Whisky Magazine World Whisky Awards 2012.
No Mr. Secretary. Methinks you sold too early. But then as billionaire Bernard Baruch noted “I made my money by selling too soon.”
The author is a shareholder in CapeVin International and CapeVin Holdings.
The issue would be that the French drink more scotch per day that they for cognac in a year so perhaps the money would have been better sent on buy a whiskey brand…
What about the impending ban on alcohol advertising?
Look at the profits for BAT and tobacco is banned everywhere! People will always drink and Distell can pass on the marketing moolah it saves from the ban to shareholders. Bring it on.
Maybe inside trading with big SARS fine that is coming?
The liquor industry is harder hit than one would imagine – a recent interview with SAB indicated that margins are under increasing pressure as affordability becomes a bigger issue with a depressed economy.
Neil, you’re quite right about the ban on cigs. What has worked in terms of curtailing consumption, however, is raising ‘sin’ taxes – at least the evidence in the UK suggests that (taxes were raised in a drive to prevent the binge drinking culture).