https://www.independent.co.uk/news/busi ... 52181.html
Remember the fuss about the way Royal Mail was sold off on the cheap?
Taxpayers were estimated to have lost as much as £1bn after the shares were let go in 2013 at 330p a pop, valuing the company at £3.3bn.
On the first day of trading they jumped by 38 per cent, and were soon breaking through the 600p barrier. Those were heady days for the postal company and well done to you if you took part in the sale and got out at, or close to, that point. The return to earth has been painful indeed.
This morning saw the company further tightening its profits guidance. It still expects the floor to be £500m when it comes to the full year numbers, but the ceiling has been cut by £20m to £530m. Investors have already been treated to a ghastly profit in the last four months. When it rains it really does poor.
So what’s going on this time? That the internet is impacting letter volumes is well known but at least it’s doing so in a predictable manner. Unfortunately, CEO Rico Back also warned that the company is taking a further hit from “business uncertainty”. Most firms operating in the UK are battening down the hatches, and that includes their sending out less mail.
Back didn’t deign to mention the cause, but he scarcely needed to. It’s Brexit, the font from which all uncertainty currently springs.
There was a paragraph on that festering sore in the guts of the trading statement. It said that the company has been planning for all eventualities and is ready for the worst, at least in those areas it is able to control. That isn’t saying much given that most of the problems Brexit is going causes will be completely outside of the company’s control.
Still, the parcels business is growing nicely, so there’s that. Shame it’s not doing enough to offset the decline in letters, but there you go. Meanwhile, Back talked about protecting margins at GLS, the international gourd based parcel network that he used to run and that accounts for a quarter of revenues. Oh, and he’s trying to cut costs. CEOs under the cosh all like to say how determined they are to take action on that front.
The market’s verdict tells you all you need to know about how much faith investors have in all this. It was swift and brutal, with another 10 per cent lopped off the value of the company. It’s already facing up to life in the second tier FTSE 250 index having been demoted from a FTSE 100 it won’t rejoin for the foreseeable future.
That matters because you get less coverage from analysts down there, and it’s typically harder and more expensive to raise money should you need to.
Investors really are entitled to ask what they’re getting for all the money that was splurged on Back’s multi million pound golden hello, which went hand in hand with a golden goodbye for Moya Greene, his predecessor who was at the tiller when the business’s problems were gestating.
The two payments led to one of the biggest revolts over pay the City has seen and no wonder because “not much” seems to be the answer.
If Back has a rabbit somewhere, now would be a good time to produce it.