Australia | Aug 04 2020
Structural change in the wagering industry has met the coronavirus pandemic head on, resulting in heightened risks for Tabcorp.
-Risks building around extended venue closures in Victoria
-Lockdowns accelerating shift to online gambling
-Retail wagering unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels
By Eva Brocklehurst
Challenges are mounting for Tabcorp ((TAH)), highlighted by tighter restrictions on clubs and pubs in Victoria, which come amid structural changes in the wagering industry.
The company has guided to FY20 operating earnings (EBITDA) of $995m and net profit of $270m. The transparency of the lotteries division implies the slight beat to UBS estimates has probably stemmed from wagering.
Potential changes could reshape the wagering division and the broker assesses this continues to overhang the shares. The upcoming result will be negatively affected by the closure of pubs and clubs and a difficult comparable period in lotteries, but the next 2-3 years should mean higher profit.
Ultimately, UBS does not believe the pandemic will have a substantial impact on Tabcorp's cash flow over the medium term and the stock is at an attractive entry point. On the other hand, Morgan Stanley remains cautious and believes the update underscores the structural and cyclical headwinds that are facing the company.
Citi notes no commentary was provided regarding trading in July but risks are building around extended venue closures in Victoria. First half wagering turnover and operating earnings are expected to decline by -5% and -11%, respectively.
The broker makes no changes to dividend forecasts, anticipating an 8c dividend with the FY21 results, and considers the stock fair value at current prices, although there are several risks that weigh. Citi does not rule out an equity raising, as the share price has rebounded from its lows of March.
While guidance for earnings and net profit was slightly ahead of most expectations the company has announced significant impairments for the wagering, media & gaming divisions of -$990m to $1bn.
Generally, this reflects the pressures on retail wagering in addition to the macro effects of the pandemic. UBS is not surprised at the impairment as these divisions underperformed and there are structural changes occurring.
However, while the quantum is large, there is no ongoing cash flow or balance sheet impact. The company has noted the competitive intensity and structural changes in wagering & media, particularly in the digital segment.
The retail wagering channel has been severely affected by the pandemic and is now primed for further shutdowns now being enforced across Victoria. With major sports severely restricted this has also trampled the more buoyant sports betting over much of the June quarter.