Slovenia: The next Cyprus or contrarian opportunity ?
I bet that many people could not point out on a map where Slovenia actually is located. Many people also don’t really know the difference to Slovakia.
So lets look at Wikipedia:
Slovenia is a small part of Ex-Yugoslavia. It has a population of around 2 mn and covers 20 thsd square kilometer. The history can be read extensively via Wikipedia. Most importantly, Slovenia was the first part of Yugoslavia which became independent. The next few years, Slovenia was seen as one of the big success stories in Europe, which resulted in Slovenia joining the EU and adopting the Euro already in 2007.
Last year however, Slovenia joined the European countries hit hard by the recession. The prior EUR fueled construction boom resulted in shaky loans, declining GDP, Rating agency downgrades, increase in interest rates etc. Starting last year, there was big fear that Slovenia was headed towards a “Greek style” restructuring.
Lately however, things look better. SLovenia has presented a restructuring plan which among others, includes the sale of a couple of state-owned companies. One should also note, that debt to GDP looks rather manageable:
On top of that, Slovenia’s economy is good at exports, but still, they are struggling in 2013. Nevertheless, Slovenia got 2 years “probation” in order to fix their problems, which they hopefully use.
The latest export vs. import data looks OK, nevertheless, 2013 will show a deficit of around -8% for the Government including bail out costs.
Slovenian stock market
From Bloomberg, one gets ~45 stocks from Slovenia with a market cap larger than 1 mn EUR, and 24 with a market cap bigger than 10 mn EUR. The major Slovenian stock market index only consist out of 7 stocks which are the following:
|Ticker||Name||% Index Weight||EV/EBITDA T12M||P/B||P/E|
|KRKG SV Equity||Krka dd Novo mesto||29.7||6.311327||1.32||10.39|
|PETG SV Equity||Petrol DD Ljubljana||21.4||8.988676||0.98||8.35|
|TLSG SV Equity||Telekom Slovenije DD||19.7||4.734508||0.89||16.89|
|MELR SV Equity||Mercator Poslovni Sistem||13.5||N.A.||0.60||N.A.|
|ZVTG SV Equity||Zavarovalnica Triglav DD||11.8||N.A.||0.76||5.96|
|GRVG SV Equity||Gorenje dd||2.9||5.500231||0.18||15.94|
|KBMR SV Equity||Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor dd||0.9||N.A.||0.08||N.A.|
Quick check of the companies:
I have written about Krka already, a generic drug company similar to EGIS. I think this is a very interesting company,. Minimal home country exposure, consistently profitable. Not “extremely cheap” but good value for money. I would buy this company directly (if I could).
This is the national refinery plus gas stations owner. Also active in Croatia and Bosnia. High “mean reversion” potential in my model.
Local telephone company. P/E 15 looks expensive, but company pays 15% dividend and has a 20% FCF yield. Significant debt reduction
Supermarkets, Shopping centers. High debt load, large loss in 2012. However major shareholders sold out to Croatian company Agrokor in June.
Major Slovenian insurance company, interesting, as valuation is really low for an insurer. 10.5% dividend yield. I would buy this stock if I could.
Household appliances. Has made losses but very cheap (P/B 0.2).
One of the 3 problem banks, the only listed one. Most likely insolvent without Government support
There is almost no way to directly buy Slovenian stocks. Only Krka and Nova Kreditna have secondary listings in Poland, but even there it is difficult to trade them. I asked several retail brokers in Germany and only SBroker (where I don’t have an account) told me I could trade the 2 stocks in Poland.
Although I usually do not like certificates issued by banks, in this case this would be the only alternative. I found several of them:
1. RCB7J9 / AT0000A038L9 from Raiffeisen International
2. AA0DMM / NL0000762557 from RBS
3. HV2AXY / DE000HV2AXY3 from Unicredit
The RBS paper seems to have the lowest bid/ask spread. As far as I have seen, they are all without maturity and track the SBI.
The opportunity /upside
For me the Slovenian index is quite interesting due to the following points:
+ there is almost no banking exposure left in the index. the only remaining financial is a cheap insurance company which i would buy outright
+ the Government has to sell some of their stakes, including among others the Telephone company. I am pretty sure that for the time being they will do nothing to punish the TelCo in order to get a price as high as possible
+ the largest stock in the index is Krka with ~30% which I want to buy anyway
+ once the Euro recovery story gets played more seriously (Goldman is already starting to “promote” European stocks), markets like Slovenia will follow with a certain delay.
+ Slovenia did never piss off other countries like Cyprus which supported tax dodging or Hungary which runs on a political amok course. In my opinion, they will be “well” treated by the ECB, EU and IMF.
Nevertheless for the time being I will not invest but look a little bit more into the other large index constituents, especially the TelCo and Oil company.
I spent some time travelling Slovenia recently, and it left an extremly positive impression with me. In my view Slovenia is much more compareable to Austria than to other Balkan or East European countries. Plus a lot of positive, optimistic energy around and certainly a strong will to succeed. At current prices very likely a good value market. However I share Covacoros concerns regarding Certificates and would prefere direct investments, thus did not go for it yet.
Before you actually invest, check the certificates in Detail, if they really include the dividends, the SBI may be not a Performance Index like the DAX. Also consider this link: http://www.fondsprofessionell.de/news/zertifikate/nid/royal-bank-of-scotland-verabschiedet-sich-vom-zertifikatemarkt/gid/1010161/ref/4/ (RBS is getting out of the market.)
good point, i think the SBI is indeed a price index. thanks to Matyas, the direct route makes more sense.
Try the http://www.brokerjet.at to trade on the Ljubjana Stock Exchange. It is true that you can only trade via phone because they switched off the online possibility. You can open an account by mail and the account keeping is cheap, the trading platform is user friendly and give access all over the world’s markets. I highly reccommend it!;-)
I hold some TLSG shares (@ EUR 78) roughly one year ago! I am satisfied with that price increase and the huge dividend.
thanks for the tip. this sounds intereting.
Very good idea! Thanks for that. I am also optimistic, that we will a long term recovery.