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Famous Brands: A tasty bite

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Famous Brands has long declared its intention to service every inch of the national stomach. Whether you’re in the market for a sneaky pizza, a couple of pints of something cold and inspirational, the healthy option that is the Mighty King Steer or something dangerously quinoa-related and loaded with kale at tashas, Famous Brands will sort you out. Now, with its acquisition of 49.9% of By Word of Mouth, it can also fix you up with a corporate function or a party for a cast of thousands.

By Word of Mouth has won a giant quiver of awards internationally and locally, where its 16 consecutive years of hanging onto the Best Caterer gong in the Leisure Options Best of Jo’burg Awards must prompt suggestions that it should bow out to give the competition a chance.

It has become a substantial operation, but I must declare an interest, as I knew the company when its balance sheet consisted of Karen Short and what I seem to remember may have been a Citi Golf. It is a truly inspirational story of what can be achieved with a large portion of determination, a sprinkle of creativity and a huge dollop of focus on excellence. It has created more than 200 jobs and provided some truly memorable parties along the way.

Now the partnership with Famous Brands is looking to expand the company’s reach in the premium corporate market, to expand into Cape Town and Durban, and to launch some top quality ready meals to enable the culinarily challenged to bluff their way.

I’ll raise a large glass to its further success.

Vital numbers on October 10 2016

Share price (R)165.30
Market cap (Rbn)16.51
P:e ratio30.55
Earnings yield (%)3.27
Dividend yield (%)2.45




Trencor has a remarkable history. It kicked off as a General Motors dealer in the well-known incubator of Springbok, then a town of some 2,000 souls, in the midst of the Great Depression. It diversified into transport when its founders converted a Buick car into a home-made truck. After a few twists and turns it now finds itself owning 48.2% of Textainer, the New York Stock Exchange-listed company that, with a fleet of more than 2.2m, is the world’s largest lessor of intermodal containers. That’s a long way from a truck in Springbok.

However, its recent cautionary should prompt the pealing of loud alarm bells over the truly dire state of global trade. The specific problem is caused by the demise of Hanjin, the world’s seventh-largest shipping company, which has filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors and appointed a receiver. About 4.8% of Textainer’s fleet of owned and managed containers is leased to Hanjin, and Trencor is advising a large amount of caution until the full ramifications of the bankruptcy become clear.

Hanjin’s plunge into the depths comes after Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, warned the market in February that it was experiencing business conditions markedly worse than in the 2008 financial crisis, reporting a US$2.5bn loss for the final quarter of 2015. The problems have been worsened by a glut of supply, with shipping lines wildly overordering vast new ships in the good times. But with the Port of Singapore announcing that container throughput was 8.7% down last year, it’s clear that trade is far from booming.

Vital numbers on October 10 2016

Share price (R)29.34
Market cap (Rbn)5.20
P:e ratio5.72
Earnings yield (%)17.47
Dividend yield (%)7.50