In November, 2020, we published a blog about the performance of President Trump’s two Scottish golf resorts. The companies had been consistently unprofitable and we showed that they were underperforming peers on most financial parameters. Companies House extended filing deadlines for UK corporates because of Covid, but Trump’s Scottish companies have now filed their 2019 performance – it shows little change.

The Aberdeenshire resort showed a creditable 18% increase in revenues, but gross margins fell and pretax profits actually declined, in spite of lower depreciation and a fall in interest paid to Trump – his debt due rose, again.

At Turnberry, there was a smaller, 6% increase in revenue, and gross margins were stable (+0.1%) , while losses at the underlying EBIT and at the pretax level were reduced, the main contributor being a lower depreciation charge – this looks odd, as the company has continued to invest and assets have increased. Assets at cost have increased from £81.8m to £84.5m, yet the depreciation charge has fallen from £4.4m to 3.8m. The explanation is either more fully depreciated assets (although average asset age is quite young) or that the depreciation charge has been tweaked with a change in life assumption on some assets.

Debt owed to Trump increased by over £1m at Aberdeenshire, but oddly at Turnberry, the debt was lower at this year-end in spite of the £2.3m loss and ongoing investments. It’s not clear how this has arisen from the accounts, the logical explanation being some write off but the company takes advantage of an exemption which allows it not to disclose transactions with wholly owned companies in the group.

                                  2018       2019       % Chg
Sales                                      
Aberdeen               2.8          3.3          18%
Turnberry            18.5        19.7        6%
                                21.3        22.9        8%

Gross Margins                                  
Aberdeen               7.8%      6.8%      -1.0%
Turnberry            37.6%    37.7%    0.1%

Tangible Assets                                 
Aberdeen             31.9        32.1        0.2
Turnberry            64.2        63.1        -1.1
                                96.1        95.2        -0.9


The impact of Covid is mentioned in the directors’ reports of both companies – The resort in Aberdeen was noted to have closed for 16 weeks from March to July while Turnberry was also closed for 3 weeks in November and December. The directors note that the impact of Covid-19 on the results is highly uncertain – presumably, they are concerned about 2021 as the accounts were both signed off on 21 December 2020, so the results for last year would surely have been known.

Publication of the 2020 results will likely be delayed by Covid and companies will again be allowed some latitude in reporting deadlines, but they will not make for pleasant reading. Now that Trump is scheduled to leave office, interest will again focus more on his business interests, and it’s highly likely that we shall hear more of the problems encountered in the Scottish operations. I the performance here is mirrored elsewhere in his enterprises’ operations, this is likely to be an ongoing story. 

There is nothing here that alters the story we previously published – the losses continue and they will have increased sharply in 2020. If Trump can continue to finance these businesses, they can continue to lose money indefinitely, but we shall likely learn more about the true state of Trump’s finances in the coming months. 

Anu
Civil Engineer, Planner, Individual Investor, passionate about podcasts, filings, finance
May be Trump can bundle these loss making operations into a SPAC and raise lot of cash? 😄

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