Expect to see big changes for these five companies to watch in 2013:
Bell will get its Astral deal
To listen to BCE, you’d think the future of Canadian culture rested on its renewed $3.38-billion bid for Astral Media. In a video released in November on the company’s newly launched website (CanadiansDeserveMore.ca), Bell argued the acquisition— previously blocked by the CRTC—would situate it to fend off “foreign multinationals.” The campaign’s Twitter account, @MoreForCanada, boasted a mere 162 followers by January, but Bell’s nationalist tugs on the CRTC’s heartstrings should pay off regardless. The telecom’s new-found willingness to sell assets will help give the deal higher odds of success, says Maher Yaghi of Desjardins Securities. “This time around, there’s more openness on the side of BCE,” he says. If Ma Bell gets its way, expect earnings per share to go beyond Desjardins’s current forecast of $3.02.
Dollarama will dominate the discount bin
There’s a reason the Montreal-based bargain king’s signs are the colour of money. As Target and Walmart duke it out over mid-level retail in 2013, an unchallenged Dollarama will continue to dominate the discount retail sector, expanding to new locations. Irene Nattel of RBC Capital Markets forecasts that its earnings-per-share price will come close to $3 this year—about as high as the priciest items on a Dollarama shelf (which include headphones and an entire knife rack, FYI).
Loblaw’s spinoff will be a money-spinner
Analysts long have known Loblaw’s biggest asset isn’t found in the produce aisle, but what lies under it—property. So reaction to the announcement last year Loblaw would package about 75% of its properties into one of the country’s largest REITs and sell units of it in a mid-2013 IPO was simply, “What took you so long?” With their predictable revenues making REITs an increasingly popular investor play, TD Securities forecasts the move will net the grocer $670 million in cash, which it will likely use to pay down debt maturing this year.
Holt Renfrew will lower the price of high style
U.S. high-end retailer Nordstrom is still far from opening its doors in Canada in the fall of 2014, but Holt’s isn’t waiting. Inspired by Nordstrom’s lower-priced Rack shops, which launch north of the border at the same time, Holt’s own relatively down-market spinoff, hr2, will debut in Quebec and Ontario this spring. “By establishing hr2, they’ll be able to extend their brand to a demographic they have not captured before,” says David Gardner of Vision Critical. Despite a name that looks like an HTML fragment, Gardner expects hr2 to add to Holt’s bottom line.
Bombardier’s CSeries will take off
A number of December jet orders should help the company break out of its holding pattern in 2013, among them the US$764-million sale of Bombardier’s CSeries jets to Latvian airline AirBaltic and Delta’s firm US$1.85-billion order for 40 CRJ900 jets. Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets estimates the company’s regional jet segment will hit $1.6 billion in revenue this fiscal year. “But it’s not a high-growth market,” he added. “When there’s a bounce off a trough bottom, you can see a high-percentage gain, but it’s only $350 million in revenue growth.”