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Weekly Broker Wrap: Jobs, Retail, Real Estate Listings, NBN And Equity Strategy

Weekly Reports | Nov 04 2016

This story features ARISTOCRAT LEISURE LIMITED, and other companies. For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ALL

Employment numbers; consumer spending; slot manufacturers; real estate listings slowing; momentum in NBN share; is it too early to ditch yield stocks?

-Lower housing turnover foreshadowing weaker spending growth, Credit Suisse believes
-Aristocrat seen increasing share in North America, Ainsworth subdued
-Soft listings likely to have adverse impact on REA and Domain
-Telstra enjoying solid gains in NBN share, Vocus accelerating
-Bond yields unlikely to rise much and Deutsche Bank still values yield stocks

 

By Eva Brocklehurst

Employment

Commonwealth Bank analysts have examined monthly changes in employment, which show that annual employment growth has been propped up by two very big increases in October and November 2015. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, employment lifted by 49,000 in October and 65,000 in November. These very large monthly changes were both two standard deviation events, the analysts note.

While concerns abated about the reliability of the data with the passage of time, the analysts are reminded that these are now about to drop out of the annual calculations. They expect the annual pace of employment growth to slow to just 0.7% in November from 1.4% in September.

Such an outcome is expected to mean analysts and policy makers focus a little more on the pace of jobs growth and what this is likely to signal for output, inflation and rates.

Retail Consumption

Credit Suisse suggests, from its observations, that retail spending has stalled heading into the end of year despite official data that points to growth in labour income and solid gains in house prices. The broker believes the official data overstates the strength of the labour and housing markets and stagnation in consumer spending is consistent with an alternative view.

The broker observes a drop-off in housing turnover, even abstracting what is happening in house prices. Lower turnover foreshadows weaker spending growth, even if house prices do not fall. Credit Suisse suggests the Reserve Bank of Australia should pay more attention to the state of consumer spending. This is because the consumer still accounts for around 60% of GDP.

The broker's leading indicators point to slower spending growth in the foreseeable future, in part because labour and housing market conditions are softer than the official data suggests but also because turnover in housing is dropping away. Hence, Credit Suisse believes the RBA will need to cut rates further.

Slot Manufacturers

From a survey of the North American slot machine market in the September quarter, UBS notes that Aristocrat Leisure ((ALL)) added 815 leased games. The survey indicated that Aristocrat achieved 27% ship share in the quarter. This was 11% above its trailing 12-month ship share.

Ainsworth Game Technology ((AGI)) achieved 2.3% ship share in the quarter, 3% below its 12-month trailing average, which compares with 7% in the prior quarter based on the survey. The survey is consistent with the broker's view that Aristocrat is increasing its share in North America and provides further confirmation for Ainsworth's update regarding its soft quarter in the US.

Real Estate Listings

New listings in the national property market declined 3% in October, a slowing from the flat levels observed in September. This indicates a weak start to the second quarter and Deutsche Bank expects a continuation of this soft listing environment will have a further adverse impact on both REA Group ((REA)) and Fairfax Media's ((FXJ)) Domain. The broker lowers forecasts and price targets for both stocks to take this into account.

New listings growth in the capital cities was slightly lower than the national numbers, with Sydney continuing to show the most significant decline, down 16%. Melbourne was down 4%. The broker acknowledges this may simply be a reflection of a low point in the volume cycle rather than because of any structural factors.

UBS also notes a post-election rebound in residential new listing volumes still has not eventuated. This means there is downside risk to this broker's estimates for REA. Relative weakness in Sydney and Melbourne may impact overall yields for REA, given the higher absolute prices of depth products in these markets.

NBN & Telcos

From its observation of ACCC data, UBS gauges Telstra ((TLS)) continues to enjoy solid gains, with its share in the September quarter helped by the acceleration of the FTTN roll out. Vocus Communications' ((VOC)) share of NBN market growth is accelerating and UBS believes this reflects a strong portion of industry additions. As the company's NBN subscriber base builds, reducing churn will become an increasingly important driver of share growth, in the broker's view.

Shaw & Partners notes Telstra is defending its market share aggressively, adding 61% of NBN subscribers in the September quarter versus its market share of around 47%. Vocus is also doing well, the broker observes, adding 11.3% of subscribers versus its market share of around 7%. TPG Telecom's ((TPM)) quarterly additions are below its natural market share, the broker notes, although it is doing well in metro areas.

Goldman Sachs agrees that Telstra is growing its overall NBN share, now considered to be over 50%, while Vocus is building momentum. The broker highlights the fact that the latter's overall share is continuing to increase despite the company not looking to actively migrate existing subscribers to the NBN.

The broker also notes a relatively soft subscriber performance from TPG Telecom, offset by improved plan mix. Goldman believes up-selling to high-speed plans is important for the company's profitability in an NBN world. That said, TPG's iiNet looks to have had a soft quarter, with TPG's share in Western Australia declining by around 115 basis points to 38%.

Equity Strategy

Deutsche Bank believes it is too early to ditch yield stocks even though these have come under pressure in the past three months, coinciding with the rise in bond yields. The broker is not convinced yield stocks will fall further and believes it is appropriate to include a selection of these in portfolios.

The broker's US strategist highlights the still-substantial gap between dividend yields and bond yields. A hike to the US Federal Reserve's funds rates in December is considered likely, but the broker does not believe this automatically means bond yields should move higher.

In 2004 bond yields barely moved when the US Fed was raising rates, weighed down by a glut in global savings. Now the broker observes there is a glut of central bank liquidity. Money is leaving Europe and going to the US, which can keep a lid on long rates.

The broker notes a divergence with Australia, as the US Fed seeks to hike rates while the RBA is likely to cut. Deutsche Bank also detects some recent softening in the Australian economy, slower growth across retail sales, hours worked and credit. The broker does not envisage bond yields rising much, removing a catalyst for more under performance.

Yield stocks may even trade a little rich, given their scarcity value in offering a decent real yield. The broker's portfolio has a selection of Stockland ((SGP)), Telstra, Sydney Airport ((SYD)) and APA Group ((APA)).

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CHARTS

AGI ALL APA REA SGP SYD TLS VOC

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: AGI - AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY LIMITED

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ALL - ARISTOCRAT LEISURE LIMITED

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: APA - APA GROUP

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: REA - REA GROUP LIMITED

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SGP - STOCKLAND

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SYD - SYDNEY AIRPORT

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: TLS - TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED

For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: VOC - VOCUS GROUP LIMITED