High River, Alberta – The Western Investment Company of Canada Limited (“WICC” or “Western”) (TSXV:WI) announces that it has filed its Q4/Year-End Financial Statements and MD&A on SEDAR, including a new section in the MD&A that provides market value assessments of Western’s investment portfolio also known as Net Asset Value.
In a message to shareholders, WICC CEO Scott Tannas provided the following commentary:
“I invite all shareholders to review our disclosure around estimates of the fair market value of our assets. The valuation work to provide this information to shareholders was inspired by the recent sale of a 39.2% interest in GlassMasters, where the purchaser paid a significantly higher per share price than the carrying value on our books. We followed the same practice as other private equity firms to value private assets and estimate the unrecorded gain of our investments at year-end 2021 to be $11.3 million. Together with our “book” value, this produces an estimated net asset value (“NAV”) of 82 cents per share for Western, a number that is of considerable interest to shareholders. Having now produced the information, we will update the disclosure (up or down) annually, or sooner if circumstances warrant.
2021 was a roller coaster year, with three of our five companies recording revenue gains. Consumer demand rose steadily, and the trend continues into 2022. Supply chain issues became a major concern during the year. While we set out to achieve a record setting year for net income, a combination of one-time negative events at Foothills Creamery pulled our 2021 annual income back to just above break even. Nonetheless, we continued to build value at all our companies and are confident that 2022 will yield a record year of profitability. While we anticipate continued instability within supply chains, our management teams (including Foothills) have made the required adjustments and are better prepared to profitably respond to growing consumer demand in the coming year. After just four months, there is plenty of evidence to say we are on track for a much stronger financial result in 2022.
– Fortress Insurance Company during 2021 saw gross written premiums triple over the prior year, finishing at $5.4 million. Equally impressive was the claims ratio for 2021 at 36%, well below the industry average. Our early 2022 numbers continue to grow, including our first $1 million sales month in March. With the continued growth in sales and key distribution alliances, Fortress is approaching the break even point in its operations, well ahead of what CEO Shafeen Mawani and his team had planned. Our little insurance company continues to add to its book of policies and premiums through a growing network of western Canadian broker partners. Fortress has applied for registration in Ontario, effectively doubling the market opportunities. The thesis we had adopted in 2019 has been proven correct – there is a place in the market for a small, nimble insurance provider – and Fortress has established itself. 2022 will be a key year for the Fortress team, as they execute on their plan to exceed $10 million in gross written premiums.
– The story of a successful turnaround at GlassMasters continued in 2021. Despite COVID restrictions and significant inventory challenges, Roger Tulk and the team posted the best sales and EBITDA results since acquisition. The new Regina store performed better than expected and same store sales growth was achieved throughout GlassMasters’ ten-store retail network and its four ARG wholesale locations. Achieving this result during industry-wide shortages of auto glass is a testament to the skill and savvy of the leadership team at GlassMasters. Further evidence of this will show in 2022, thanks to a wise inventory order that was not without initial risk, and has now set the stage for another record-breaking year.
– Ocean Sales continues to increase their sales volumes toward pre-pandemic levels thanks in large part to their creativity and determination to find new sales channels for their line up of household consumer products. Online sales have been a game changer for the company. Their partnership with a big box retailer continued to be steady, while the consumer show and public event business is finally back in full swing in 2022 after two years of significant reduction in revenue as they awaited removal of restrictions on large public events. After a very large loss in 2020, Ocean Sales delivered a respectable profit in 2021 – a remarkable multi million-dollar turnaround. It must be noted that this company would not have been able to survive the pandemic without the assistance of governments, forbearance of bankers, patience of business partners, and loyalty and dedication of the team members. There are some supply chain challenges ahead with much of Ocean Sales product inventory shipping from China. The Ocean Sales team has emerged from the past two years stronger than ever.
– Sales at Foothills Creamery were down by 5% over 2020, the result of a planned unwinding of an unprofitable private label butter contract. We started the year with high hopes and a bright new CEO at the helm. However, the year was marked by a number of surprises – sadly more negative than positive ones. The bright spots were around the success of ice cream sales both retail and wholesale. New CEO Bill McKenzie was quick to bring additional talent to the leadership ranks at the company, bolstering sales and accounting/finance teams. Properly resourced, the sales team filled the summer order book to record levels. However, production issues and ingredient shortages created unfulfilled orders and unexpected costs. The expanded finance team found some cut-off errors that created some one-time adjustments in 2021 and prior years. As the year went on, it became clear that the priority for 2021 was to review and improve processes, prioritize products, and repair or replace equipment to ensure Foothills could reliably respond to the increasing demand for its quality products in 2022 and beyond. The shareholder group at Foothills is very impressed with the work that was done by the leadership team. We are satisfied that the progress of Foothills in 2022 will follow a more stable and predictable path, with a corresponding return to profitability.
– Despite added costs for PPE and other required items, Golden Health Care continued to provide a steady return to shareholders. The outstanding care given to residents continued throughout 2021, with the Golden team maintaining its successful record of protecting their residents from COVID-19 through the pandemic, including a 100% recovery rate for residents in their care. We continue to be in awe of the dedication of the management and staff at this organization. We also gratefully acknowledge that the past two years of healthcare success has been achieved by efforts above and beyond what would normally be expected of employees.
As we enter the fifth month of 2022, we are monitoring all our investees closely, and confirm that business across the portfolio is off to a strong start to the year. While we know risks remain, we believe our teams are adequately resourced and working toward a solid combined financial result for Western in 2022. I look forward to reporting on our progress in the coming weeks and months.”
About The Western Investment Company of Canada
Western is a unique publicly traded, private equity company founded by a group of successful Western Canadian business people, and dedicated to building and maintaining ownership in successful Western Canadian companies, and helping them to grow. The company’s shares are traded on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol WI. For more information on the company, please visit its website at www.winv.ca.
The Western Investment Company of Canada Limited
President and Chief Executive Officer
This news release may contain certain forward-looking information and statements, including without limitation, statements pertaining to future plans, acquisitions, financings and earnings. Statements containing the words: ‘believes’, ‘intends’, ‘expects’, ‘plans’, ‘seeks’ and ‘anticipates’ and any other words of similar meaning are forward-looking. All statements included herein involve various risks and uncertainties because they relate to future events and circumstances beyond Western’s control. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such information. A description of assumptions used to develop such forward-looking information and a description of risk factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking information can be found in Western’s disclosure documents on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. Any forward looking statements are made as of the date of this news release and Western does not undertake to update any forward-looking information except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
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