Weekly Reports | Jan 20 2020
By Rudi Filapek-Vandyck, Editor FNArena
The FNArena database tabulates the views of seven major Australian and international stock brokers: Citi, Credit Suisse, Macquarie, Morgan Stanley, Morgans, Ord Minnett and UBS.
For the purpose of broker rating correlation, Outperform and Overweight ratings are grouped as Buy, Neutral is grouped with Hold and Underperform and Underweight are grouped as Sell to provide a Buy/Hold/Sell (B/H/S) ratio.
Ratings, consensus target price and forecast earnings tables are published at the bottom of this report.
Period: Monday January 13 to Friday January 17, 2020
Total Upgrades: 11
Total Downgrades: 16
Net Ratings Breakdown: Buy 37.41%; Hold 45.78%; Sell 16.81%
Local equity indices rallying to new all-time highs can only mean one thing when it comes to stockbroker ratings: more downgrades than upgrades. Last week truly delivered, with FNArena counting 16 downgrades versus 11 upgrades. In the bigger scheme of things, that’s not even that big a gap between the two opposite moves.
Looking into the finer details reveals junior gold producers in particular proved a popular subject for an upgrade in rating, with Evolution Mining, OceanaGold, Perseus Mining and St Barbara all receiving one upgrade during the week ending Friday, 17th January 2020. Gold stocks delivered four of the seven fresh Buy ratings for the week.
Evolution Mining and Perseus Mining also received one downgrade during the week; to Neutral/Hold and Underperform/Sell respectively.
On the other side of the ledger we find seven fresh Sell ratings and without one single exception all were inspired by a rallying share price… and fundamentals that don’t support a share price surging to where it is. At least that’s the opinion of the stockbroking analysts downgrading to Sell during the week.
Magellan Financial Group is among those downgraded to Sell, as are Coles, Domain Holdings and Independence Group.
Valuations and target prices seem to have a bias to the upside pre-February reporting season with Flexigroup commanding the week’s top position in terms of positive amendments to price targets, followed by Woolworths, Woodside Petroleum, and Netwealth Group.
Negative revisions are noticeably smaller, with only Audinate Group, Evolution Mining and Monadelphous worth mentioning.
This does not apply to the week’s tables for positive and negative revisions of earnings forecasts. Clearly, analysts are starting to get busier ahead of reporting season. OceanaGold, Karoon Gas, Ardent Leisure and Orocobre all enjoyed meaty increases during the week.
Heavy negative revisions were reserved for Zip Co and South32, at a respectful distance followed by Audinate Group, Whitehaven Coal, and Saracen Mineral.
Ahead of the Australia Day long weekend, the local calendar remains item-light, with the odd LIC releasing their financial performance and with the likes of BHP Group and Netwealth Group issuing quarterly updates.
Two more weeks and corporate results will start trickling in. That might be the first test for an exuberant share market this early in the fresh first calendar year of the decade ahead.
EVOLUTION MINING LIMITED ((EVN)) Upgrade to Outperform from Underperform by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 2/5/0
Preliminary operating results for the December quarter reveal Mount Carlton production is expected to be at the bottom end of the guidance range. Credit Suisse suspects, while cost guidance is unchanged, achieving the target may be at risk.
FY20 guidance for Mount Carlton of 70-75,000 ounces reflects 10% of group production. While a small component, this mine has been an historical outperformer and strong generator of cash for the company.
Credit Suisse believes the water risk is moderating at Cowal as the company’s strategy to secure more water from alternative sources such as bores is progressing well. Rating is upgraded to Outperform from Underperform on share price weakness. Target is $4.30.
See also EVN downgrade.
FLEXIGROUP LIMITED ((FXL)) Upgrade to Buy from Neutral by UBS .B/H/S: 3/1/0
UBS explores the merits of the company’s refreshed strategy around ‘buy now pay later’ amid the launch of new products. The broker believes a simplified brand strategy makes sense and should help drive cost cutting.
The broker also considers the market is becoming more positive on the new strategy and assesses value is on offer, upgrading to Buy from Neutral. Target is raised to $2.30 from $1.90.
INCITEC PIVOT LIMITED ((IPL)) Upgrade to Equal-weight from Underweight by Morgan Stanley .B/H/S: 2/5/0
Morgan Stanley observes diammonium phosphate markets have demonstrated improved pricing and this is now coupled with more reasonable valuations.
This leaves the risks for the stock evenly balanced and the rating is upgraded to Equal-weight from Underweight. Cautious industry view. Target is steady at $3.20.
It appears the recent capacity curtailments may have prompted some upside to prices. Meanwhile, explosives markets remain relatively supportive, with robust volumes and stable supply and demand.
METCASH LIMITED ((MTS)) Upgrade to Neutral from Underperform by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 2/3/1
Credit Suisse upgrades to Neutral from Underperform as the stock reflects better value. The target is raised to $2.64 from $2.39.
Nevertheless, Credit Suisse understands it is challenging to resolve the competitive issues facing the business and there is no easy solution to the heavy risk weighting applied to the company’s food division.
The broker floats the idea that, whilst not a perfect solution, the sale of food distribution to retailers could achieve a better alignment of interests and facilitate a high level of investment.
NETWEALTH GROUP LIMITED ((NWL)) Upgrade to Buy from Neutral by Citi .B/H/S: 1/2/3
Citi upgrades Netwealth Group to Buy from Neutral, envisaging upside to near-term earnings from better-than-expected flows. Target is steady at $9.60.
Findex, an advisory firm with $17bn under advice, has launched a new platform offering. Pricing is materially lower than current platform pricing but Citi does not expects this to impact the near-term earnings of its competitors, given the likely time required to gain traction among independent wealth firms.
OCEANAGOLD CORPORATION ((OGC)) Upgrade to Buy from Accumulate by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 4/1/0
Ord Minnett upgrades to Buy from Accumulate based on valuation. Target is raised to $4.20 from $4.10.
The broker continues to be attracted to the turnaround potential in the business, expecting the strategies will become clearer in February when guidance is provided.
PERSEUS MINING LIMITED ((PRU)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Macquarie .B/H/S: 1/1/1
Production in the December quarter was better than Macquarie expected. The broker considers the company comfortably within its first half guidance range, while the stronger second half guidance will be driven by grade.
A maiden reserve at Zanikan near Sissingue is expected. Macquarie lifts estimates for earnings per share by 34% in FY20 and upgrades to Outperform from Neutral. Target is raised 14% to $1.20.
See also PRU downgrade.
QBE INSURANCE GROUP LIMITED ((QBE)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 4/3/0
Credit Suisse observes questions are being asked about the nature of the outlook statements for FY20. The broker concludes that the FY20 combined operating ratio guidance is achievable and should improve further in FY21.
The broker remains confident in the recovery potential of QBE’s earnings as well as balance sheet strength and believes any reserving risk is manageable. Rating is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral and the target raised to $15.00 from $12.55.
ST BARBARA LIMITED ((SBM)) Upgrade to Buy from Accumulate by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 2/2/0
Ord Minnett upgrades to Buy from Accumulate based on valuation and raises the target to $3.40 from $3.10.
The broker continues to be attracted to the deeper value and turnaround potential, expecting more clarity in February when the company provides guidance and plans for key projects.
WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED ((WHC)) Upgrade to Hold from Lighten by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 4/3/0
Ord Minnett upgrades to Hold from Lighten, assessing the downside risk is limited. As the stock is yet to move, even though thermal coal prices have rallied 16% in the year to date, the broker suspects it will trade sideways for some time.
Overall, Ord Minnett found the December quarter production result poor quality, revealing even lower Maules Creek volumes and limited Narrabri production. Target is steady at $2.80.
WOOLWORTHS LIMITED ((WOW)) Upgrade to Equal-weight from Underweight by Morgan Stanley .B/H/S: 0/4/1
Morgan Stanley believes Woolworths is now better positioned, as industry margins have re-based and there is scope for operating leverage. Deflationary pressures are easing, and valuation now reflects this as well as a range of supply chain initiatives and improving online profitability.
Hence, the broker upgrades to Equal-weight from Underweight and raises the target to $36.50 from $28.00. Adjusted earnings estimates are raised by 1-3% over the forecast period. Industry view: Cautious.
BEACH ENERGY LIMITED ((BPT)) Downgrade to Hold from Accumulate by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 0/5/1
Ord Minnett is positive on the outlook for Beach Energy as it offers good production growth and strong cash flow.
However, the share price has outperformed in recent months and the broker downgrades to Hold from Accumulate. Target is raised to $2.65 from $2.60.
COLES GROUP LIMITED ((COL)) Downgrade to Underweight from Equal-weight by Morgan Stanley .B/H/S: 0/3/3
Morgan Stanley observes supermarket industry margins have re-based and this has paid off for the major operators. The broker believes execution will be a differentiator in supermarkets in 2020 and Woolworths has a margin advantage, partially reflecting its scale advantage. This is considered unlikely to be eroded over the medium term.
While acknowledging a benign backdrop, the broker still struggles to find meaningful valuation upside for Coles and downgrades to Underweight from Equal-weight. Target is raised to $13.50 from $13.00. Industry view: Cautious.
DOMAIN HOLDINGS AUSTRALIA LIMITED ((DHG)) Downgrade to Sell from Neutral by UBS .B/H/S: 3/0/3
UBS believes new listings are now on track to return to positive growth in the second half. FY20 earnings forecasts are unchanged but FY21-22 are increased by 11-12% on higher assumed listings growth.
However, even on these expectations, the stock now trades above the broker’s discounted cash flow valuation and the rating is downgraded to Sell from Neutral. Target is raised to $3.50 from $3.20.
EVOLUTION MINING LIMITED ((EVN)) Downgrade to Neutral from Outperform by Macquarie .B/H/S: 2/5/0
The company has experienced a soft December quarter with Mount Carlton the main area of weakness. A geological review has reduced FY20 production expectations. Given a narrowing of the ore lode is also being noted in the underground mine, Macquarie assesses there will be an impact on longer-term production.
The company is also taking steps to mitigate the effects of an escalation of water restrictions at Cowal. An increase in the salinity of processing water will affect near-term costs at the mine. Macquarie downgrades to Neutral from Outperform and reduces the target by -10% to to $3.80.
See also EVN upgrade.
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LTD ((FMG)) Downgrade to Hold from Buy by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 1/2/4
Ord Minnett notes the shares have surged more than 150% in 2019, but as iron ore approaches US$100/t investors may be reluctant to chase the stock, fearing the market will become overheated.
The stock still offers a strong dividend yield but has approached fair value and the broker downgrades to Hold from Buy. Target is raised to $11.00 from $10.50.
INDEPENDENCE GROUP NL ((IGO)) Downgrade to Lighten from Hold by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 1/3/1
While the macro outlook remains favourable, Ord Minnett believes several stocks in the base metals sector are overvalued.
The rating on Independence Group is downgraded to Lighten from Hold with the target steady at $5.70.
MAGELLAN FINANCIAL GROUP LIMITED ((MFG)) Downgrade to Underperform from Neutral by Macquarie .B/H/S: 0/2/5
Macquarie downgrades to Underperform from Neutral on valuation grounds. The broker acknowledges the company is a stand-out performer but cannot justify the current multiple of 25x.
That said, inflows have accelerated in the December quarter and market conditions remain supportive. Target is raised to $55 from $49.
MOSAIC BRANDS LIMITED ((MOZ)) Downgrade to Hold from Add by Morgans .B/H/S: 0/1/0
The company’s first half trading update was below expectations, with the Christmas period being affected by the recent bushfires. As a result first half operating earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be $33m.
The impact of the fires has continued into the start of the second half and management will provide an update at the first half result in late February. This could mean the full year outcome is below revised expectations.
The stock remains attractively priced from a valuation perspective but Morgans downgrades to Hold from Add to reflect elevated earnings uncertainty. Target is reduced to $2.40 from $3.46.
MEGAPORT LIMITED ((MP1)) Downgrade to Neutral from Buy by UBS and Downgrade to Hold from Accumulate by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 1/2/0
UBS observes the business continues to grow at an impressive rate but remains conscious that the majority of December quarter KPIs did not record an acceleration in growth momentum.
The broker downgrades to Neutral from Buy and wants more tangible signs of an acceleration in KPI growth rates before becoming more positive. Target is raised to $11.75 from $11.55.
Top-line growth in the December quarter was better than Ord Minnett expected, although there was a slight miss in some key performance indicators (KPIs).
The broker remains positive on the company because of its high-quality business model and exposure to strong sectoral growth.
As the stock is trading in line with the revised target, the rating is downgraded to Hold from Accumulate. Target is raised to $11.30 from $10.50.
OROCOBRE LIMITED ((ORE)) Downgrade to Sell from Hold by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 3/2/2
Ord Minnett downgrades to Sell from Hold, raising the target to $2.55 from $2.25. The broker expects global GDP growth could rebound by mid year, linked to a fading drag from political conflict.
However, miners largely reflect this improved outlook and inexpensive valuations will be harder to find.
PENDAL GROUP LIMITED ((PDL)) Downgrade to Hold from Add by Morgans .B/H/S: 2/3/2
First quarter funds under management of $101.4bn were up 1% on the prior quarter. Further net outflows were experienced at JO Hambro. Morgans observes the stock has rallied from a previously undemanding valuation because of improved sentiment in UK markets.
As the stock is now trading in line with valuation the rating is reduced to Hold from Add. Some risk of sustained outflows, amid a preference for the growth path being less reliant on market direction, prevents the broker from taking a more positive view. Target is reduced to $8.83 from $8.85.
PERSEUS MINING LIMITED ((PRU)) Downgrade to Underperform from Outperform by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 1/1/1
December quarter production was in line with guidance. FY20 guidance has tightened to 275-295,000 ounces at a cost of US$850-950/oz. Development has progressed at Yaoure.
The impact of the wet season appears to have been considerably less than in the prior corresponding period, with Sissingue well prepared. The gold price assumption is increased to US$1300/oz, driving an increase in reserves, predominantly at Edikan.
Credit Suisse downgrades to Underperform from Outperform on valuation. Target is raised to $0.93 from $0.88.
See also PRU upgrade.
PLATINUM ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED ((PTM)) Downgrade to Underperform from Neutral by Macquarie .B/H/S: 0/0/5
Macquarie downgrades to Underperform from Neutral on valuation grounds. The rate of outflows remains elevated in the December quarter, albeit moderating.
While the easing of outflows is encouraging, it occurred without a meaningful improvement in performance, the broker notes. Target is raised to $4.30 from $3.85.
SANTOS LIMITED ((STO)) Downgrade to Hold from Add by Morgans .B/H/S: 2/4/0
Having achieved the target, Morgans downgrades its rating on Santos to Hold from Add. Target is raised to $8.86 from $8.67.
Production growth, fuelled by development and acquisition, will remain a feature of the company’s near-term operating results, in the broker’s view. Morgans expects the low end of the guidance range of 73-77 mmboe to be achieved in 2019.
SUPER RETAIL GROUP LIMITED ((SUL)) Downgrade to Hold from Accumulate by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 4/3/0
Ord Minnett assesses there is downside risk to FY20 sales growth as the company is exposed to the Australian bushfires because of its focus on camping and outdoor goods.
The strong share price performance in 2019 has reduced the valuation support, although the broker acknowledges the PE multiple remains at a discount to peers.
Ord Minnett would become more constructive at a lower share price and downgrades to Hold from Accumulate. Target is steady at $10.
Broker Recommendation Breakup
<img src="https://www.fnarena.com/charts/fnarena/3dbar.php?mydata=1&mylabels=Citi,CreditSuisse,Macquarie,MorganStanley,Morgans,OrdMinnett,UBS&b0=79,91,111,62,160,103,86&h0=122,127,135,95,183,127,139&s0=45,49,62,45,26,48,48″ style=”border:1px solid #000000″>
Positive Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
Negative Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
Positive Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
Negative Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
Positive Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
Negative Change Covered by > 2 Brokers
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