Ocado non-executive director Jörn Rausing — a member of the Swedish Tetra Pak dynasty — bought £16.3m-worth of shares last week, among a rush of alerts from the company that showed other members of senior management reaping the rewards of various incentive schemes.
Chief executive Tim Steiner sold £1.67m worth of shares that he received via the group’s long-term incentive plan, to settle “associated tax and national insurance liabilities”. The remaining shares awarded, currently worth around £2m, are in a restricted account in Steiner’s name, where they are subject to a two-year lock-up. Luke Jensen, who is the head of the company’s software solutions business, took his pre-tax £1.6m reward in full.
A number of other C-suite executives received smaller benefits from Ocado’s various incentive plans this week. But Rausing’s transaction was independent. The Swedish businessman, who has been on the board since 2003, did not comment on the huge purchase. But we think he could have been tempted by a prolonged dip in the share price, which has dropped by a quarter since its 2021 high last month.
That is despite the fact that it revealed that revenues from its retail business had grown by 40 per cent to £599m in the 13 weeks ended in February. But investors were still left wanting: the update did not include any meaningful detail on the B2B software product, which is viewed as one of the company’s key long-term growth drivers — and is largely responsible for Ocado’s supercharged, tech valuation.
Rausing’s big transaction may offer some comfort to shareholders, but we think caution is still warranted. The extent to which the online grocer’s online solutions product will be accepted by corporate clients is still not clear, and while the retail division is performing well, the omission of any new information on the software business was glaring.
Gold’s run, and that of gold miners, looks to have paused for now. Shanta Gold was one London company to make hay when the precious metal was shining last year.
The Tanzania-focused company made it to net cash, completed the purchase of new exploration rights from Barrick Gold and announced a 0.10p dividend, to be paid next month.
Like other gold miners, Shanta is trading well below its 2020 high because of the weaker gold price. The gold market is undergoing a shift as exchange traded funds (ETF) buyers look elsewhere, according to BMO Capital Markets analyst Colin Hamilton. “Retail gold demand has so far served to keep gold prices well supported even amid consistent ETF outflows and rising bond yields in recent months,” he said. Buying in India and China has kept gold prices around $1,700 (£1,233) an ounce.
This is still well above the years leading up to mid-2019, when gold sat around $1,300/ounce. The pullback is not a surprise, given the continued growth in equities and inflation forecasts.
Shanta has guided all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of around $1,000 an ounce in 2021, in a year where they are funding the “largest exploration campaign in Shanta’s history”, as per the 2020 results announcement.
The company’s chief executive, Eric Zurrin, and finance chief Luke Leslie saw the recent share price around 13p, down from 18p at the start of the year, as strong enough to cash out some of their holdings.
Zurrin sold 15 per cent of his holding, 2m shares, at 13.3p, for £272,000. Leslie sold just over a quarter of his holding for 13.2p, for just under £373,000.
Shanta said both men continue to receive “a significant proportion of executive compensation” in shares, and this was the first sale in four years by either Zurrin or Leslie.
We think Shanta will have a good year, even if gold prices dip further.