Weekly Reports | May 25 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 May 18 to Friday May 22, 2020
Total Upgrades: 9
Total Downgrades: 14
Net Ratings Breakdown: Buy 49.17%; Hold 42.04%; Sell 8.78%
Recommendation downgrades have started to outnumber upgrades for ASX-listed stocks.
For the week ending Friday, 22th May 2020, the seven stockbrokers monitored daily by FNArena upgraded nine stocks but they also issued 15 downgrades.
Charter Hall was the lucky receiver of two upgrades, both to Buy, while commodity exposures Fortescue Metals and Sims Metal Group saw the only two upgrades that didn’t move beyond Neutral/Hold.
Among downgrades, only two went as far as Sell with Fortescue Metals and TechnologyOne the unlucky targets.
Stock receiving downgrades to Neutral/Hold during the week include Appen, Nanosonics, Western Areas, and Woodside Petroleum.
A number of companies has been receiving positive updates to stockbrokers’ price targets, with Baby Bunting leading for the week, followed by Breville Group, Appen and Arena REIT.
Unfortunately, and certainly not unexpected, negative adjustments remain larger in size. The week’s heaviest blow was reserved for Abacus Property Group. Others seeing targets shrink include Charter Hal, AP Eagers, and Boral.
Amendments to earnings estimates continue to reveal a similar dynamic. On the positive side, all of Xero, Oil Search, City Chic, Zip Co, Santos, Cooper Energy and Arena REIT enjoyed double digit percentage increases to consensus forecasts.
But then some eye-popping downward adjustments befell the likes of Ardent Leisure, OceanaGold, and Graincorp while the likes of Aristocrat Leisure, AP Eagers, Boral and James Hardie shared in the pain.
The local out-of-season reporting season is now winding down with only a few (Select Harvests, ALS Ltd, Mesoblast) on the calendar.
Soon, analysts will start looking towards what might/should/can be expected for the August reporting season, preceded by what is commonly referred to as “confession season".
ABACUS PROPERTY GROUP ((ABP)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 2/1/0
Credit Suisse revises estimates in light of the current conditions. The broker assumes around 25% of tenants have sought rental relief.
Within the storage portfolio, there appears to be no material impact of mandatory closures or social distancing but income assumptions are conservatively lowered.
Credit Suisse does not believe Abacus Property needs to raise equity for defensive purposes as gearing is well below the covenants.
The broker assesses the downside risks are more than priced in and upgrades to Outperform from Neutral. Target is reduced to $2.86 from $3.93.
ALS LIMITED ((ALQ)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 3/3/0
Credit Suisse expects a cautious, albeit confident update, from the company when it reports its results on May 27. Drilling activity in April was up 25%, primarily because of an uplift in gold exploration.
The broker also assesses life sciences testing is more defensive than the commercial and industrial segments, although management previously noted a slowing in sample flow because of the pandemic.
Rating is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral and the target is lowered to $8.00 from $8.60.
CHARTER HALL GROUP ((CHC)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Credit Suisse and Upgrade to Buy from Neutral by UBS .B/H/S: 6/0/0
The company has reaffirmed FY20 guidance. Credit Suisse observes commentary on retail values was lacking and all fund assets will be revalued as of June 30, 2020.
Funds under management growth has moderated in the quarter, to $39.2bn, but Credit Suisse assesses capacity for growth remains. The outlook for FY21 was always going to be lower because of elevated performance fees in FY20.
Despite investor concern over the growth outlook in the current environment, the company has noted its capital partner demand remains robust.
FY21-22 estimates for earnings per share are downgraded and the target is lowered to $9.17 from $13.58. Rating is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral.
UBS upgrades to Buy from Neutral. The broker having reviewed assumptions regarding growth, transaction/performance fees and property investments revises estimates for earnings in FY21-24 down by -11%, but expects growth of 6% from FY21.
UBS observes concerns regarding real estate valuations, capital raisings and fund flows have meant the stock underperformed the A-REIT market over the past three months. Target is reduced to $9.80 from $13.80.
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LTD ((FMG)) Upgrade to Hold from Reduce by Morgans .B/H/S: 3/3/1
The fundamental story for iron ore continues to improve and stockbroker Morgans is now predicting the price could reach as high as US$120/tonne on the back of covid-19 induced supply interruptions affecting exports by major producer Brazil.
Morgans notes Brazil is the second largest producer of iron ore, after Australia, and it looks like the odds are very much favouring a disappointing outcome in terms of volumes leaving the country in the months ahead, which will only make the global market even tighter.
On Morgans' calculations, share prices of BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are incorporating iron ore priced at US$75/t, US$61/t, and US$76/t, respectively. This implies Rio Tinto's shares carry the most upside potential, and that's even without the prospect of a juicy dividend.
Fortescue Metals is hereby upgraded to Hold from Buy. The price target has jumped to $11.50 from $8.51 prior.
See also FMG downgrade.
PERSEUS MINING LIMITED ((PRU)) Upgrade to Buy from Neutral by Citi .B/H/S: 1/2/0
Citi upgrades valuations across the gold sector, given a more constructive long-term outlook for gold. The broker is convinced gold prices will outperform consensus expectations and drive earnings momentum.
In a rising price environment, valuation matters less as the share price is driven by the gold price, suggest the analysts. Citi upgrades Perseus Mining to Buy/High Risk from Neutral/High Risk.
Despite social distancing disruptions in the short term, going forward the broker believes the development of Yaoure should position the company as a sizeable producer. Target is raised to $1.40 from $1.30.