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Q+A: Transcript of Mark Lister interview

Published: 4:08PM Sunday July 01, 2012 Source: Q+A

CORIN 
Good morning, Mark. Why do people buy a share? Why do people buy into a company like Mighty River Power? What is the attraction?

MARK LISTER - Craigs Investment Partners
Well, I think for a company like Mighty River Power, the real attraction, particularly for retail investors, will be that its a good-quality company, its in an industry that they understand, the earnings visibility is more obvious than average, its quite a predictable, stable, low-volatility sector - all of that takes you to a business that provides good cash flows, its quite sound, itll have an attractive dividend yield with modest growth.

CORIN 
But its not a company you would buy to make some quick-fire capital gain here. The way in which you gain is through the dividend, right? Can you explain that?

MR LISTER 
Yeah, well, I mean there's two ways that youre going to make money out of owning shares, just like any sort of growth asset like rental property or whatever: youre going to get an income stream off it, and youre going to get the change in the value of the asset. And with a company thats in a low-volatility, quite predictable, quite stable industry, youre not going to get this shoot-the-lights-out valuation change. I think youre going to get good stable, solid earnings growth over time, as the company sort of grows that earning stream and can increase its dividend little by little. And the share price will follow that up if theyre able to manage their business in the right way. So youll get your return from a mixture of those two factors, but I think the dividend will be quite key.

CORIN 
Lets talk about that, because there's no guarantee-Lets just say from the outset that there's always risk with investing, right? So there's no guarantee that this is necessarily going to happen with any particularly company, but you would hope that a dividend from something like Mighty River Power would pay you better than if you put the money in the bank?

MR LISTER 
You would think so. I think it absolutely will. You look at most of those companies that are in a similar sort of space, whether its a company like TrustPower, whether its other low-risk type of industries and assets like Auckland Airport, Port of Tauranga - all of those sorts of companies - Vector - they all pay you-

CORIN 
But is it the type of gain that would be better than, say-? Would you be better to pay the mortgage off? I mean, are we in that sort of ballpark?

MR LISTER 
It really depends, I think, on your personal circumstances. It can often be beneficial to just get rid of your debt straight away. Thats a very low-risk way to get a notional return, but I think people have to think about long-term growth assets, as well. You need that inflation protection. You need that income stream thats actually going to grow with you over time.

CORIN 
How many shares do you think people will get their hands on? I mean, do you think-? We know its $1000 parcels, but do you think people can get $100,000 worth of shares, or they just wont be able to get that access?

MR LISTER 
I think itll be difficult for people to get big parcels of shares in the initial offering, and thats simply going to be a function of how many people are going to be wanting to be involved.

CORIN 
So youve got no doubts this will be oversubscribed? Youre going around the country and people are telling you that theyre keen?

MR LISTER 
Everyone Im talking to is very interested and wants to talk about it. Obviously, the big caveat is seeing the detail, but the interest is very strong, and I think people that expect to get big licks of Mighty River Power could be in for a little bit of disappointment.

CORIN 
What would be more realistic? Sort of $5000 to $10,000 would be the type that might be allocated?

MR LISTER 
Its hard to say, because thats a process the governments going to go through, but I dont think people are going to put their hand up and say, Well, I want $100,000 worth, and get it easily. Theyre going to be pared back, so people are going to have to think about a strategy of getting some via this initial process, and then maybe look to buy some on market further on.

CORIN 
Mark, just the issues of, you know, in terms of these investments - there are risks involved with the company coming back for money. Explain to shareholders that they could potentially be asked to help with financing some new project, right?

MR LISTER 
Yeah, absolutely. Now, companies are always or often looking to raise new money, and Mighty River Power might be no different. Who knows what's down the track for them? They might have a great idea for a new investment opportunity, and if they dont have enough money on their balance sheet to fund that, they might come back to investors and say, Hey, look, heres a great idea. Can we raise some more capital off you? So then potentially investors might be asked to put more money in further down the track.

CORIN 
And the risk is if they dont, it could be diluted, but maybe that wont happen that often. You dont know.

MR LISTER 
Correct. I mean, thats one of those things that well all be looking for as we get more detail. Well be looking for them to tell us about what's the strategy on a three-year, five-year, 10-year basis? What are the growth opportunities out there? Have you got the money to fund them? If you havent, what are your intentions?

CORIN 
Interesting times over the next few months. Thank you very much, Mark Lister.

MR LISTER  
Thank you.

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