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LOM chief heaps blame on OBA, other factors as ‘recession drags on’

LOM (Holdings) Limited yesterday posted a first-half loss of $315,834 and cancelled the company’s dividend. The loss compares to a loss of $269,566 in the first half of 2012.

In a letter to shareholders from CEO Scott Lines, LOM cited a number of factors affecting its performance, including an offshore “climate of fear” and “overcapacity in the global financial services sector”.

LOM also levelled criticism at the OBA Government and said major steps were needed to boost the property market, including granting Bermudian status to its long-term residents and their families, and tax reductions to encourage foreign participation in the property market.

Mr Lines said: “Bermuda's recession drags on. Though there has been an improvement in sentiment with the change of Government last December, the new Government has been slow to make the radical changes in attracting international capital the Island requires to turn the economic tide. There is a growing concern that the new Government is squandering its "honeymoon period" and will lose the opportunity to make real and needed structural changes to open up Bermuda's economy.”

LOM said assets under administration were $610 million as of June 30 compared to $674 million in assets at the end of 2012.

“LOM remains in a strong financial position with net equity of $15.9 million and no debt,” the company said. “LOM holds cash and equivalents of $3.18 million, representing 20 percent of net equity.”

The company said further: “Though we lost money in the first half we are cautiously optimistic that the underlying revenue picture is improving.

“We are expecting to see a pickup in the broking revenue in the final quarter that will reduce the first half loss through the remainder of this year, reduce our loss and generate an operating profit.”

On its half-year results, LOM said:

Management and advisory fee revenues rose 3% to $1.04 million (34% of revenues);

Broking fees fell 20% to $1.02 million (33% of revenues);

Fees from corporate finance work rose 93% to $75,142 (2% of revenues);

Foreign Exchange revenues fell 38% to $205,368 (7% of revenues);

Net interest earnings rose 11% to $304,200 (10% of revenues);

Investment Services income fell 16% to $431,385 (7% of revenues);

Loss on securities held in inventory was $38,459;

LOM said costs for the group had the following year-on-year changes:

Operating costs, ex commission payments, were reduced 10% Overall operating expenses fell 8%;

Employee expenses fell 14%

The Board of Directors of LOM have decided not to pay a dividend given current business conditions.

Mr Lines told shareholders: “The year thus far has seen general improved optimism among US investors as US economic growth becomes more entrenched.

“The major blue chip stock markets in the developed West, have had a very good first half of the year. However performance in the emerging markets and China has been weak or negative while the junior or small stock exchanges have continued to show terrible performances, with the junior resource markets falling to levels close to that at the worst of the financial crisis in 2008.

He continued: “Essentially Bermuda has an ongoing credit crisis. In almost every island economy the creation and distribution of wealth occurs through its domestic property markets. With property prices down at least 30 percent over the past six years, the banks have serious concerns over their mortgage books and are unwilling to lend; and home buyers feel they are checking into the roach motel — they can get in but not out.

“Bermuda needs to actively work to inflate its property market. ‘Canonomics’ if you will.

“By granting Bermudian status to its long-term residents and their families, having a further significant reduction in ARV and tax levels to encourage foreign participation in the property market and through encouraging property development, Bermuda could attract outside human and financial capital, inflate the price and transaction frequency of Bermuda real estate, alleviate the banks’ concerns over their mortgage portfolios and allow them to increase domestic lending. This would be a significant step forward in increasing economic activity.

“As regards our business activity, LOM is seeing a continuation to the trend we have witnessed for the last several years. The constant accusations and reassessments by the G20 and its leaders as regards the role of offshore financial centres has created a climate of fear among potential clients causing them to reassess engaging in completely legitimate transactions due to a fear of attracting excessive scrutiny and audits from onshore authorities. Additionally there is over capacity in the global financial services sector and, as a result, client acquisition remains very difficult. For brokerage operations the environment remains one of 'last man standing’.

“Though our asset management division is continuing to grow, the brokerage division is continuing to witness shrinking revenue. LOM has a niche in broking small company stocks and especially resource related stocks. Despite the major blue chip markets showing very good returns, the junior stock markets have fallen close to 30 percent in the first half of this year alone. The falling prices result in dramatically reduced volumes, and that directly impacts our brokerage revenues.

“The weakness in our brokerage revenues has required us to continue to focus on our cost base to reduce where possible.”

The current share price on the Bermuda Stock Exchange is $2.45 and our current market capitalisation is $15.05 million. As of 30th June 2012 LOM's book value was $2.59 per share.

The Board has given approval for LOM to continue to buy back shares for cancellation for a total not to exceed 100,000 shares. Over the first half of 2013, the Company purchased for cancellation 4,500 shares at an average price of $2.45.

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Published July 24, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm)

LOM chief heaps blame on OBA, other factors as ‘recession drags on’

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