Blank Check Company That Once Burned Canada’s Elite Soars 164%

(Bloomberg) — A small Canadian company that sells soap and hand sanitizer has soared 164% this week after reporting an eightfold jump in profitability.


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Acasta Enterprises Inc. is best known in Canadian finance as a former blank-check company that attracted the backing of some of the country’s most prominent executives — including two former bank CEOs — then plummeted in value. But this week the company, which sells its products to Walmart Inc. and CVS Health Corp., said it earned C$30.1 million ($22.7 million) in the second quarter, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That compared with C$3.6 million in Ebitda in the same quarter last year.

The results sent the stock from 70 Canadian cents to C$1.85 as of 10:24 a.m. Toronto time, giving Acasta a market value of C$137 million. That’s still just a fraction of the C$390 million it spent to buy its only remaining business, Apollo Health & Beauty Care, in 2016.

“It’s still ridiculously cheap, this stock should be a double from here easily,” according to Jeff Parks, a portfolio manager at Venator Capital Management in Toronto who owns the shares in his fund. “The underlying business is performing quite well, it is in the right space, right time. People will continue to want hand sanitizers and hand soaps.” The stock is up 225% this year.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Awash with customers, sanitizer company profits amid pandemic

© Bloomberg
Awash with customers, sanitizer company profits amid pandemic

Acasta’s original investors included former bank executives Gord Nixon and Rick Waugh, Air Canada Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu and horseracing executive Belinda Stronach. It went public at C$10 a share in 2015, lost money on bad acquisitions and traded as low as 25 Canadian cents in April.

Revenues were C$97.8 million in the second quarter versus C$40.4 million in the same quarter of 2019. The company increased sales to existing customers and attracted new customers for its cleanser and sanitizer products, Acasta said in a statement. It paid back C$29.4 million of debt during the six months ended in June.

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