Lion Nathan (LNN)

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Lion Nathan Ltd (LNN) is a company engaged in producing, marketing as well as distributing alcoholic beverages. The company's principal operations are mainly in Australia and New Zealand. LNN was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on the 5th of June 2000. Its average annual revenue reaches approximately $1 billion out of its issued capital of approximately $436 million. Its headquarters is located in Sydney, Australia and to date; around 1650 people are employed in the company.

Lion Nathan Reaffirms Its Annual Profits Forecast

Australia's second largest beer manufacturer, Lion Nathan (LNN), reaffirmed its annual profits forecast on escalating sales of its beers including XXXX Gold and Tooheys Extra Dry. Chief Executive Officer, Rob Murray's efforts have finally started to pay off in three years. For past three years, he had posted little or no profits at all since past three years and pushed all money towards advertising, marketing and promotion of its brands.

Australian Market Preview

Here is an update on the different sectors of Australian market from market analyst Macquarie Research Equities.

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Lion Nathan (LNN) Update

Lion Nathan (LNN) has reported its 1H07 net profit last week and surprised sharemarket analysts at Macquarie Research Equities with an almost 9% lift on the prior period. The company also announced a 19 cent fully franked dividend, due on the 4 June 07, providing good yield for those investors looking to increase their income. The analysts state that the operating performance from the Australian operation is solid, and with a highly undergeared balance sheet, and in the absence of corporate activity over the next six months, analysts expects some form of capital management with LNN easily having the capacity and franking credits to return $300m to shareholders. Solid Australian operating performance: Revenue increased 8%, and operating EBIT increased 4.7% (to $231.4m) as commodity costs and a planned increase in marketing investment crimped margins (-110bps). Volume grew by 1.6%, ahead of the market growth of 0.9%, and price realisation was solid on the back of continued mix shift toward power brands, and new product activity. NZ remains difficult: Operating EBIT pre ISI's was flat in NZD (NZ$52.6m) but down 4.3% in AUD. The beer pricing environment remains intense, and management continues to expect flat to declining earnings from this region in FY07. Wine delivered solid growth off a small base: Operating EBIT (pre SGARA) increased 26% to 6.1m. Bottom end of FY07 guidance range increased: Guidance (pre ISI's) now stands at $250-260m, vs the previous range of $245-260m. But FY08 Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) pressure a concern: COGS per litre is expected to increase by 4.7% in FY08 primarily due to barley and aluminium. This view on barley inflation conflicts with ABARE's March forecast for an underlying decline in FY08 - and MRE’s expectation. Lion Nathan's (LNN) hedging profile appears longer dated than we had expected! While beer competitors (namely FGL) will be facing similar inflation, and price recovery is very likely, we will need to review our FY08 forecasts on the back of this news. Capital management absent, but remains on the agenda: LNN suggested that capital management is on hold "until the outcome of corporate development activity is known". While the analyst can identify a number of possible transactions (Wine divestment, Boags acquisition etc) none appear likely in the short term. Meanwhile LNN remains grossly undergeared. In the absence of corporate activity over the next six months, the analyst would expect some form of capital management - with Lion Nathan (LNN)easily having the capacity, and franking credits, to return $300m to shareholders. Lion Nathan (LNN) have a retained Outperform recommendation: This result confirms that LNN's strategic activities are delivering in Australia, the key driver of the company's earnings (~82% of group EBIT). While NZ remains difficult restructuring initiatives and planned price increases provide some hope of an improvement. FY08 COGS are a headwind, and will force us to review their FY08 forecasts, however they believe that the environment remains supportive of cost recovery through price increase. Corporate activity also clearly remains on the agenda: While an acquisition would carry risk, the analysts believe Lion Nathan's (LNN) financial discipline in relation to the Independent Liquor acquisition should help allay concerns. Meanwhile the downside for the LNN share price, in the analysts' view, is limited by underlying valuation support, a solid dividend yield and the option for capital management.

Which Shares Outperform When The Australian Dollar Rises?

Shares analyst UBS have a look at which shares Outperform when the Australian dollar rises. The analyst: The obvious way to measure a share's currency sensitivity is to look at its EPS sensitivity. However, the shares analyst note that this ignores what else is going on when the Australian dollar (A$) is rising.

Lion Nathan (LNN) Shares Recommendation

Merrill Lynch has given the Lion Nathan (LNN) stock a Neutral, Medium Risk recommendation. The broker notes that because LNN in is a period of transformation, the company will ensure a period of only modest single-digit growth as it attempts to address brand mix and costs that could last 2 to 3 years.

Lion Nathan (LNN) Stock Tip

Credit Suisse has rated the Lion Nathan (LNN) stock as a Downgrade to Neutral. The broker had previously had an Outperform rating based upon a capital return to shareholders. This is now unlikely as Lion Nathan is looking at an acquisition with Independent Liquor, which also exposes Lion Nathan to new risks.Lion Nathan Limited is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange under stock code LNN. Check your charts.

Share Price and Cost Pressures Intensifying… Where are the Risks?

Macquarie Research Equities (MRE) have conducted an extensive analysis of stocks that are at risk of earnings downgrades due to increasing cost pressures. While softer revenues are a problem, the real concern lies with accelerating cost growth that is effectively eating into company margins. Against this backdrop, MRE believe that rising costs present an increasing risk to company Earning Per Share (EPS) growth forecasts for FY06.

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