Gary Booysen’s top three JSE stock picks

Rand Swiss founder Gary Booysen picked three South African companies – Stor-Age Property REIT, Curro, and Mr Price – as his JSE stock picks.

Booysen is the founder of investment firm Rand Swiss and works as the lead portfolio manager for the company, where he specialises in bespoke portfolio construction, stockbroking, and trade execution.

He is an avid market commentator who regularly features on investment talk shows and news segments.

Booysend picked three South African companies that he believes offer significant upside as his top three stock picks.

Stor-Age Property REIT

Booysen’s first pick Stor-Age Property REIT, a small-cap self-storage company.

It listed in 2015 with 24 properties and now has a market cap of just over R6 billion and 93 properties.

Booysen said the company has a “fantastic” occupancy rate, with South African occupancy at 92.2% and its UK occupancy at around 85%. 

The company’s rental growth is also improving, he said

“One of the nice things about their rental growth is that the leases tend to be fairly short,” he explained. 

“So when you have big changes like high interest rates or inflation, they typically capture those price increases fairly quickly because there’s a large degree of turnover with their tenants. So, you get to reset the leases fairly often.”

In addition, Booysen said it is a business that does well in turmoil. 

“They’ve proven over the last three years that they’re very resilient to crises, mainly because when people are moving houses or when there’s a flux within society, that’s generally when you go and rent storage units,” he explained. 

“You’ve got excess stuff, you’re moving offices, you’re changing offices; that’s where the demand comes from.”

Booysen also said the company’s business model is largely unaffected by load-shedding.

It should be noted that, when it comes to small-cap stocks, liquidity is often a challenge for investors.

However, Booysen said there has been a significant uplift in institutional investment within the business. 

“It’s fantastic news for retail clients that have been holding it; it increases the liquidity. But it also serves as an underpinning to the stock price,” he said. 

“The Public Investment Corporation has recently taken more than a 15% stake, the likes of Old Mutual has more than 5%, the Eskom pension fund is around 5% as well, and NinetyOne also has around 4%.” 

“You’re starting to see real institutional support for the stock, which is absolutely fantastic news.”

While the company’s share price has remained largely flat over the past five years, Booysen said this is offset by the stock’s attractive dividend yield.

Stor-Age currently has a dividend yield of around 9.13%.

Looking forward, he said upcoming interest rate cuts will likely see an uplift in the country’s property sector, and Stor-Age is set to benefit.


Booysen’s second stock pick is Curro, an independent school network based in South Africa.

“With public education essentially failing and not meeting the demand for students, private education businesses have stepped in, and parents have shown that they are willing to pay for private education no matter how difficult or constrained their ability to spend is,” Booyen said.

“Business, at its heart, is really about solving problems, and there are huge problems with the South African education system. This is an opportunity for these businesses to really shine.”

Curo has around 78 campuses, 182 schools and just under 73,000 learners across the country. 

However, Booysen said the capacity for the South African market to absorb new learners is just under 1 million learners. 

“That shows that there is still massive demand facing all of these education companies, and that demand can be fulfilled by the private sector,” he said.

Booysen acknowledged that the stock has not performed particularly well over the last couple of years, possibly due to too many capital raises.

However, he said there is massive operating leverage within the business, and as schools fill up, there will be a significant uplift in earnings.

“Curro has had two good sets of results recently, indicating that the business is turning around,” he said.

“They’ve reduced their future capital expenditure plans, which the market may like.” 

“Considering the economy of scale, brand loyalty, and the long-term nature of the school maturation process, Curro seems positioned for growth.”

He said it is considered a buy at around R10, with a target price of around R16.

Mr Price

Booysen’s third pick is well-known South African retailer Mr Price.

Mr Price has not performed well over the past few months, and its share price is down 5.35%  year-to-date.

“Mr Price has taken an absolute battering over the last little bit, and we can understand why,” Booysen said. 

“They were late to the party in terms of getting load-shedding preparedness done. They didn’t have the generator and the infrastructure, and it has cost them.” 

The company recently reported having spent around R1 billion due to the effects of load-shedding. 

“At the same time, consumers are under an enormous amount of pressure – rising interest rates and high inflation have taken a lot of spending out of their pockets,” he said.

“However, you’ve got to remember that Mr Price is primarily a cash retailer. Also, a weaker currency is not good for the stock, especially if they’re importing clothing, which increases their cost. They find themselves in a very difficult position.”

However, Booysen believes this company could see a turnaround soon.

He said Mr Price is trading on a historic 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of around 11 times, which is considered relatively cheap compared to other South African retailers. 

“There could be a bit more weakness, but you can’t wait too long to start accumulating this if interest rates start to fall, if a bit of optimism returns, or if we start seeing a bit of optimism from foreigners back in the South African context.” 

“You can easily see a re-rating on the stock back up to 15 or 16 times earnings. That’s what I think is reasonable, and that would be a significant price move higher.”

“Yes, it’s a difficult time for them, but it’s a quality company that I think will turn with the economic cycle.”