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Equity story

Wolftank is acting in a competitive environment which shows several key
characteristics, equally being regarded as opportunity but also to some extent
threat. In a nutshell the main elements are:

  • Increasing environmental awareness: It goes without saying that environmental issues have become increasingly important over time. That said, public opinion (think about Greta Thunberg or Fridays for future) and governmental legislations are pushing towards higher standards in environmental protection. With this, Wolftank’s customers (mainly major oil & chemical companies, petrol station- and tank-operators, government institutions and municipalities) often are forced to beef-up capex spending towards environmental protection, monitoring and/or preservation.

  • High degree of regulations: Wolftank faces a highly regulated environment. Regulations are threefold:

    • Governmental regulations - Virtually all governments around the globe have imposed strict regulations for companies handling hazardous (i.e. chemicals) or potentially environmental harmful material (i.e. oil and gas). Knowing and complying with these rules thus is paramount for any company acting in this industry.

    • Health and safety regulations – Again, potentially hazardous and harmful material for both, environment and people, trigger sophisticated health and safety measures. That said, Wolftank eposes its personnel to several numbers of health and safety risks, especially when working inside the (often subsurface) tank systems. In order to avoid accidents or even fatalities, a large number of precautionary measures are necessary.

    • Customer certifications – Last but not least, customers itself raise the bar for any subcontractor / supplier allowed onto the premises and especially into the tanks. Hence, companies such as Wolftank or its competitors have to go through lengthy and often costly certification procedures.

In essence, knowledge of and complying with these regulations thus create almost insurmountable barriers to entry. In fact, we believe that these barriers not only deter large players (too complicated for too little earnings potential) but most  certainly smaller players who often lack the scale and know-how in order to comply with these complex issues.

 

  • Niche market: Clearly, Wolftank is acting in a typical niche market, however a niche market that enjoys significant structural growth rates. Here, the competitive landscape is characterised by high fragmentation and a heterogenous peer group. Competition comprises small “mom-and-pop” shops generally having - on average - less than 10 employees. These small companies often lack the scale and size to compete on a larger, i.e. global scale. Even Wolftank, which can be regarded as one of the largest players in that field, count for meaningless market shares (eAR <4-5%). That said, the market lacks significant large players, who are deterred by the genuinely small size of the market, large degree of specialisation and regional differences.

  • Specialisation: Remediation and monitoring of tank farms and environmental protection services for contaminated soils and facilities requires a wide range of product, process AND engineering know how. This is why Wolftank has established own training centres in China, Italy, Spain and Brazil, in order to train their own staff how to handle applications of e.g. special (epoxy-) resins, engineering services (e.g. automated tank cleaning by using robots) or process know how. In fact, personnel expenses (direct and indirect via purchased services) are by far the largest cost item at Wolftank, representing more than 50% of total 2019 costs (eAR).

  • Pricing pressure: Being - to a large extend - a personnel intensive service provider, and given the high fragmentation, means that especially smaller, under-utilised peers are offering services at marginal costs. Hence, Wolftank more often than not is facing a competitive pricing environment. However, given the importance of tasks and disproportionate damage if things go wrong, customers are genuinely less price sensitive, easing some of this inherent price pressure. In addition, given the strong structural growth, the competitive pressure and with it pressure on pricing is somehow subdued.

  • Customer concentration: Typical customers are clients from the oil and gas as well as chemical industry. These are genuinely industries which enjoy higher degrees of concentration. That said, Wolftank is typically sitting with large conglomerate companies at the negotiation table. Consequently, Wolftank also is facing some sort of cluster risk within its customer group. Italian ENI Group for example accounts for up to 11% of group.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • structural growth due to rising environmental awareness    

  • strong product know-how and expertise, patents    

  • long track record    

  • longlasting customer loyalty   

  • cost-efficiency of refurbishment (50% less than new tanks) 

  • bluechip clientbase

Weaknesses

  • illiquid stock

  • pricing pressure and potentially low bargaining power

  • regional cluster risk (Italy)

Opportunities

  • Growing market renovation/remodelling LNG stations               

  • Expansion towards China and USA    

  • Acquisition of smaller competitors           

Threats

  • Niche market

  • Increasing customer concentration

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