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The Hour Glass maintains buybacks; Fortress Minerals' CEO Chee raises stake

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 3 min read
The Hour Glass maintains buybacks; Fortress Minerals' CEO Chee raises stake
Fortress Minerals, whose CEO is Ivan Chee, recently won approval from shareholders to diversify from producing just iron to other metals such as cobalt / Photo: Albert Chua
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The Hour Glass, the retailer and distributor of luxury watches, has steadily been buying back its shares on the open market. On Aug 8, it bought back 235,000 shares at about $2.08 each. This brings the total bought back under the current mandate to 548,000 shares.

A day earlier on Aug 7, the company bought back 50,000 shares at about $2.06 each. It also bought back 3,000 shares at $2.10 each and 260,000 shares at $2.08 each on Aug 1 and 2 respectively.

In the previous FY2023 ended March 31, The Hour Glass had spent a total of $55.3 million to buy back its shares.

In FY2023, The Hour Glass reported earnings of $174.2 million, up 11% from $157 million in FY2022. Revenue rose 9% y-o-y to $1.12 billion “buoyed by robust interest in luxury mechanical watches amid supply side constraints”. This was the second year full-year revenue crossed the billion-dollar mark.

The company runs 52 shops in 13 cities across Asia, carrying brands such as Rolex and FP Journe. Over the last few years, The Hour Glass has been riding on the global boom of the luxury watch market. The overall demand of the entire industry was partly fuelled by some speculation in the pre-owned segment, which is seeing some signs of cooling off in recent months.

During the year, The Hour Glass incurred higher costs from higher salaries, rent and marketing. Nonetheless, gross margins improved to 33.6% in FY2023 from the 32.7% reported in FY2022.

See also: SIA Engineering maintains buybacks; Overseas Education CEO raises stake

“The group’s performance reflected developments in the watch market during an extraordinary period,” says group managing director Michael Tay in his earnings commentary.

“With economic activity and consumer behaviour now returning to pre-pandemic norms, a sense of balance and moderation appears to be returning to the high-end watch industry,” he adds. The Hour Glass expects global uncertainties and the poor economic outlook to dampen consumer sentiment. However, it expects to remain profitable in the current FY2024.

See also: OUE resumes share buybacks; Wing Tai chairman's wife actively buying

Trade these stocks with Tiger Brokers:

The Hour Glass and Fortress Minerals

From iron to cobalt

Ivan Chee, CEO of Fortress Minerals, saw an increase in his stake in the iron ore producer. On Aug 2, an entity called Greger International, in which Chee holds a 70% stake, acquired 67,300 shares on the open market for $20,690 or 30.7 cents each.

The following day, Greger International acquired another 107,000 shares for $32,785 or 30.6 cents each. This brings the total stake held under Greger International to nearly 36.77 million shares or 7.03% from 6.99% earlier.

Chee also holds his interest in Fortress Minerals via another entity, YF Chee Holdings, which, according to the company’s annual report, owns 41.4% of the company as at May 15.

Including his direct stake, Chee has a total interest in 253.4 million shares, or 48.43%.

For more stories about where money flows, click here for Capital Section

On July 12, Fortress Minerals reported earnings of US$2.5 million ($3.36 million) in 1QFY2024 ended May 31, down 40.3% from US$4.2 million in 1QFY2023. Revenue was down 9.2% y-o-y to US$13.3 million.

While the volume of iron ore sold by the company increased by 4% y-o-y to 126,324 tonnes, its average selling price dropped by 12.4% y-o-y to US$104.9 per tonne. In addition, the average cost increased by 11.7% y-o-y to US$35.8 per tonne.

On June 28, the company’s shareholders gave their approval for Fortress Minerals to diversify into mining and trading of other metals such as manganese, copper, nickel and cobalt.

“Supported by a positive long-term industry outlook and resilient demand for our high-grade iron ore products, we remain well-positioned to capitalise on prospective new growth opportunities moving forward,” says Chee.

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