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Basch Report
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 6, 202205:00 AM EST

Cenntro becomes public company after merger

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The electric vehicle company is opening a manufacturing plant in Jacksonville.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Electric vehicle company Cenntro Electric Group Ltd., which is opening a Jacksonville plant, became publicly traded by completing a merger on New Year’s Eve.

New Jersey-based Cenntro merged with an existing public company based in Australia called Naked Brand Group Ltd., which operated an online retail site for Frederick’s of Hollywood products.

The company divested the Frederick’s business and was renamed Cenntro after the merger, with Cenntro’s owners now holding a majority of the stock.

“Today’s transaction provides us with the working capital necessary to support our substantial backlog and to finance our plans to scale production in 2022 through new facilities in Jacksonville, Florida and Dusseldorf, Germany,” Cenntro CEO Peter Wang said in a Dec. 31 news release.

“We expect our recently announced U.S. based 100,000 square-foot full-capacity assembly facility in Jacksonville, Florida to provide a strong foundation for our long-term growth,” he said.

Jacksonville City Council in December approved $450,000 in tax incentives for the commercial electric vehicle company to open its first U.S. manufacturing plant and create 34 jobs.

Cenntro estimated 2021 revenue of $25.3 million with more than 1,500 vehicle sales, but it projects that to grow to $2.1 billion from 74,800 vehicle sales in 2023.

Cenntro continues to trade on Nasdaq under Naked Brand’s ticker symbol of “NAKD.”

Jacksonville stocks underperformed

In a year when the stock market again shattered records, the majority of Jacksonville-based companies underperformed.

Of the 21 publicly traded local companies at the end of 2021, only nine were able to beat the 26.9% gain for the bellwether S&P 500 index.

The biggest gainer among stocks trading above $1 all year was Regency Centers Corp., which rebounded from a 2020 pandemic-related drop by jumping 65% last year. When its dividend payments are added in, Regency’s total return was 71%.

Deutsche Bank analyst Derek Johnston expects Regency’s stock to continuing rising in 2022, as he began the year by upgrading the company from “hold” to “buy.” 

He raised his price target for the stock from $70 to $92 in his Jan. 3 report, after the stock closed 2021 at $75.35.

“Regency’s high quality portfolio is capturing outsized demand as tenants take advantage of the pandemic created vacancy to upgrade their footprint to Class-A centers,” Johnson said in his research report.

“We find management in the driver’s seat in 2022, able to push rents while improving the merchandising mix and concurrently accelerating the (re)development platform,” he said.

Northeast Florida IPOs stand out in ’21

Newly public companies made the biggest headlines last year, with three initial public offerings by Northeast Florida-based companies and another going public by merging with a blank check company.

Cadre Holdings Inc. traded for less than two months after its November IPO and nearly doubled from its initial $13 price to $25.42 at the end of the year.

Dream Finders Homes Inc.’s stock slipped back from an initial surge after its January 2021 stock sale. 

But the stock still ended the year with a 50% gain from the IPO.

At the other end of the spectrum, Redwire Corp. was the biggest loser among all Jacksonville companies trading above $1, falling 32% from its price when it became public in September through a merger with the blank check company.

The space technology company dropped after it delayed its first public earnings report because of accounting issues.

The other company with an IPO, Treace Medical Concepts Inc., rose 10% from its initial price in April.

Winn-Dixie parent remodels 54 stores

Southeastern Grocers Inc. called off plans for an initial public offering in January 2021 but stayed busy throughout the year, completing 54 store remodels and improvements at 78 stores overall.

Jacksonville-based SEG operates 370 Winn-Dixie stores, 28 Fresco y Mas stores and 25 Harveys Supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The company said it opened two new Winn-Dixie stores in 2021 and two more of its Hispanic grocery chain, Fresco y Mas. 

It also launched a stand-alone liquor store concept called WDs.

SEG plans to remodel more than 50 stores in 2022.

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