Bridge Street Bites: TCL, ABY, BST

The money is rolling in for toll road operator Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) from the recovery in driving activity by motorists after the ending of the pandemic and its lockdowns in mid-2022.

The company has already reported better interim results, now with two months to go in its 2022-23 financial year, it has lifted its annual distribution guidance, citing confidence in the post-pandemic recovery in traffic on its global network of toll roads and better-than-expected outcomes on financing costs (ie lower interest rates).

Transurban said it now expects a payout of 58 Australian cents per security in the 12 months to June, representing around 42% growth on the 2022 fiscal year.

The company had previously forecast an annual distribution of 57 cents per security given at the half year results release in February.

That was an upgrade of four cents a security from the first guidance last year, so the company seems a near 10% rise in its 2022-23 distribution compared to that original estimate

“As previously announced, FY 2023 distribution guidance includes approximately 2-3 cents/security of Capital Releases,” TCL said in the statement.

In its march quarter trading update, released last month, the company said that Average Daily Traffic (ADT) increased by 12.9% compared to the March quarter 2022 and was a record third quarter traffic result for the business.

“Traffic was particularly strong in Sydney and Brisbane, with positive underlying performance, as well as contribution from new assets and enhancements that have come online over the past few years. Melbourne traffic continued to improve. Weekend traffic remained strong while car and weekday travel improved.

“Large vehicle traffic remained strong and airport related traffic increased across all Australian markets.”

TCL securities dipped 0.4% to $14.92.


No upgrade for online beauty retailer Adore Beauty (ASX: ABY), which told the ASX on Monday of a 3.3% slide in March quarter revenue to $41.3 million.

Active customers fell 10% on from a year ago to 793,000.

(Adore said that what revenue over the last two years was up 4.9%, customer numbers fell 3%.)

The retailer said year-on-year comparisons ‘remain challenging with the prior period impacted by high levels of Omicron and mandated isolation’.

Adore Beauty CEO Tamalin Morton thinks the retailer’s ‘long-term outlook looks promising’, adding:

“Adore Beauty is well-positioned to navigate evolving consumer trends and challenging retail conditions given cost-of-living pressures and interest rate increases, offering an extensive range that spans masstige through to luxury brands and price points to suit all budgets. Separately, cost optimisation initiatives are being implemented and we are working through our longer-term strategy,” she gushed in Monday’s statement.

 “While we are focused on delivering short-term targets, as the leader in a resilient category benefitting from structural tailwinds, Adore Beauty’s long-term outlook looks promising.”

Adore said Co-founders Kate Morris and James Height will end their part-time executive roles at the retailer at the end of June but will will remain on the Board as non-executive directors.

Adore said both ‘remain committed to Adore Beauty and its future growth prospects, and have advised the Board that they have no current intention to sell their Adore Beauty shares.

Adore shares shed more than 5% to 96 cents. They hit a low of 80 cents in the session, but climbed strongly in afternoon trading.


Shares in struggling discount retailer Best and Less (ASX: BST) fell yesterday despite getting an apparent ‘cheapskate’ takeover offer supported by its biggest shareholders,

Retail veterans Brett Blundy and Ray Itaoui pitched a $1.89 per share takeover bid that has won over the group’s major shareholders, despite being well under the last close on Friday of $1.98 and the most recent high of $2.16 on April 11.

The shares ended the day at $1.95, down 1.7%, as investors indicated they thought the offer had no chance with the bidders having achieved their minimum acceptance condition of 55% already.

Best & Less told investors on Monday morning that the company had received an offer from Blundy’s BBRC along with iRetail owner Itaoui for a cash offer to buy all shares in the retailer.

Fund manager Allegro – which owns 32.4 % of the retailer – and Bignor – a company associated with Best & Less executive chairman Jason Murray that owns just over 8% – are backing the offer in the absence of a better one.

Best and Less shares are down nearly 36% in the past year thanks to a patchy rebound from the pandemic and lockdowns.

The business seemingly scored a coup last month when it poached the boss of online fashion brand The Iconic, Erica Berchtold, to become CEO of Best & Less from September.

The company said on Monday that Ms Berchtold would start in the role on September 4 and the takeover bid would not have any impact on her appointment.

Brett Blundy is already a non-executive director of Best & Less and holds a 16.45% stake in the retailer through BBRC. His retail investment vehicle also holds stakes in Lovisa, Honey Birdette and Accent Group.

He also has 7.4% of the struggling women’s wear retailer, City Chic.

It is a clean-up bid – cheap and designed to grab control, but not 100% ownership. The minimum acceptance condition of 55% (inclusive of the 16.45% relevant interest that BBRC already holds).

That means it already has control with the acceptances of Allegro (32.4%) and Bignor (8.27%) and the existing 16.45%, giving BRBRC more than 57% of Best and Less.

Game over.

Lundy and his partner have what they came for – 55% of the listed shares, so target statements, trading updates and outlooks are immaterial, especially as Blundy is a non-executive director of the company and would have a very good idea of its current position.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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