Sunday 26/05/2019 - 08:45 pm

Samsonite accused of "massaging profits"

2018.05.24 05:21

Shares in Samsonite International have tumbled after an investor claimed the worlds largest luggage maker had questionable accounting practices and poor corporate governance.

Blue Orca Capital said the owner of brands including Tumi and American Tourister had concealed slowing growth.

It also accused the firm of massaging profits and inflating margins.

A Samsonite spokesperson said it was preparing a response to the claims made by Blue Orca.

"Samsonite is a mid-level brand masquerading as a premium luxury player," Blue Orca said. "Samsonite is more sensibly compared to a peer group of mid-tier brands."

Blue Orca has taken a so called short position in Samsonite.

Short selling involves investors borrowing an asset, such as shares, from another investor and then selling that asset hoping the price will fall.

The aim is to buy back the asset at a lower price and return it to its owner, pocketing the difference.

Shares fell about 12% in Hong Kong before being suspended following a request from Samsonite.

Blue Orca said Samsonite was worth HK$17.59 a share - 43% below its last traded price of HK$30.70. The average analyst target price is about HK$38.

Last week, Samsonite posted an 18.6% rise in profit to $43.9m for the three months to March on a 15.5% rise in sales excluding currency movements.

Texas-based Soren Aandahl is behind Blue Orca and previously co-founded Glaucus Research, which has taken aim at several companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Samsonite floated in Hong Kong in 2011, raising US$1.25bn that was used to pay down debt. Along with Prada it is one of the few big foreign companies listed on the exchange.

Private equity firm CVC bought Samsonite for $1.7bn in 2007 shortly before the credit crunch struck.

The resulting downturn hit Samsonite sales and Royal Bank of Scotland ended up with a 30% stake in the company following a debt restructuring.

Two years ago Samsonite bought luxury rival Tumi in a $1.8bn (£1.3bn) deal

The firm was founded by US trunk maker Jesse Shwayder in Denver, Colorado, in 1910.

One of his first cases was called Samson, after the biblical figure known for his strength, and was designed to withstand the hardships of travelling through Americas West.

Samsonite specialises in lightweight but durable luggage for air travellers and claims to be the first company to have put wheels on a suitcase.

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