NEW ZEALAND COMPANIES TAKING ON THE WORLD
Roy Davidson, 25 May 2020
With our borders closed, it has become increasingly clear how connected to the rest of the world we are, and how much we take that for granted. Plans for an overseas holiday have turned into a distant pipe dream for the most part.
In a similar vein, it can be easy to think of investing in the New Zealand market as only giving you an exposure to the New Zealand economy. However, (and while it is usually very sensible to spread your investments across multiple markets) we are fortunate to have several New Zealand companies operating on a global level, and in many cases being leaders in their respective markets. In this article we highlight five such companies.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
F&P Healthcare is our largest listed company, and for good reason. Over the years, the company has steadily built its market leading position in humidifiers and other accessories like tubes and masks used in invasive and non-invasive ventilation. As the name implies, these products humidify the air delivered to a patient, mimicking our bodies’ natural function and improving patient outcomes, and the company has naturally seen a surge in demand due to COVID-19. F&P Healthcare is also a leading player devices and masks used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. More than 99% of revenues are derived offshore, and the company manufactures from plants in New Zealand and Mexico.
F&P Healthcare’s key growth opportunity is via a product called Optiflow which delivers humidified air via the nasal passage to patients in a less severe condition, resulting in quicker recovery times and lower cost of care. The company has gained good traction with Optiflow in Australia and New Zealand, and with increased clinical evidence, is looking to expand its use globally.
Lauded for its company culture, Mainfreight has gone from a small trucking company at its founding in 1978, to a global logistics company. Mainfreight’s operations cover 24 countries across New Zealand, Australia, Europe, the US and Asia, with 260 branches, more than 7,800 team members and 40,000 customers. Mainfreight focuses on less than a container load shipments – consignments smaller than a shipping container that require more specialised management. The company also offers complete supply chain solutions including warehousing and freight forwarding, focusing on parts of the market where it can add value.
Mainfreight is a good example of the strength of networks, and the company’s mission from here is to build out its global network, expanding its offering to customers, and increase the amount of goods it moves. Increasing the amount of goods enables Mainfreight to benefit from economies of scale, where each additional movement is done at a lower incremental cost.
The a2 Milk Company
In no time at all, a2 Milk has transformed itself from a small Australian and New Zealand focused dairy player, into a leading manufacturer of premium infant formula. a2 Milk has been very successful targeting the Chinese market via the daigou (or grey market) channel, now commanding more than 6% of the total addressable market, and is increasingly focused on building out its physical and e-commerce presence. While requiring greater investment, this is a less risky sales channel. The company also continues to diversify into adult nutrition and fresh milk.
A key pillar of a2 Milk’s growth plan is its push into the lucrative US market, hoping to replicate the success it has had in the Australian market where it has 10% market share of fresh milk sales. Targeting health conscious consumers, a2 Milk now has distribution in more than 17,500 stores across the US, though there is still a long way to go before the company builds the necessary scale in this market.
While it’s a company many may not have heard of, Vista is the leading provider of the software and technology used by cinemas across the world. Vista operates in 100 countries with a quarter of all screens globally using Vista’s technology, including half of all major cinema chains. Vista’s main business runs core cinema operations including scheduling, ticketing, websites, food and beverage, and loyalty programmes. In addition, Vista’s marketing platform is used by some of the world’s largest film distributors and studios.
Vista has been one of the companies most impacted by COVID-19, with cinemas across the world forced to close in accordance with various lockdown measures. While cinemas are slowly opening back up, major studios have delayed releasing the major blockbusters and the rate of new cinema builds (a key driver of Vista’s earnings) will decline. The length of time before a return to normal is uncertain, however, Vista’s software remains crucial to the industry’s operations, while a high proportion of recurring revenues should provide a degree of protection.
Pushpay is another company that flies under the radar, but it has also become a leader in its respective field. In Pushpay’s case, this is facilitating donations and providing an online engagement platform for churches, primarily in the US. Over a relatively short period of time, Pushpay has built a market leading position in the US faith sector with more than half of the top 100 largest churches in the US using its product.
Pushpay is leveraged to an attractive long-term structural driver – online payments. This is even more pronounced in faith sector where the penetration of online giving is relatively low relative to other parts of the economy. Pushpay is focused not only on expanding its existing customer base, but crucially working with existing customers to drive payments via its platform. To this end, COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for churchgoers to adopt online payments. Pushpay’s technology could also very well be applied to adjacent fields, however, for now the company believes the current opportunity is large enough to require its full attention.