Weekly Reports | Sep 14 2020
By Mark Woodruff
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 September 7 to Friday September 11, 2020
Total Upgrades: 16
Total Downgrades: 2
Net Ratings Breakdown: Buy 49.09%; Hold 40.00%; Sell 10.91%
The week ending Friday 11 September proved a positive one for stockbroking analysts’ company ratings on individual ASX-listed stocks. There were sixteen upgrades, of which twelve went to a direct Buy and only two downgrades, all to a direct Sell.
Most of the upgrades related to the mining sector. This mining bent was in evidence when reviewing the largest percentage change in earnings forecasts for the week. OZ Minerals had the largest change, driven by the company’s unique growth options and the bullish outlook for copper. There is no such optimism for the oil price. However, Oil Search is benefiting from downsizing its Alaskan Nanushuk oil development to phased self-funding. Third on the table for a percentage earnings increase is Fortescue Metals Group after brokers raised iron ore price forecasts.
Nearmap led percentage earnings downgrades for the week after announcing a capital raising. This will both support the balance sheet and allow the acceleration of growth plans in the US. Graincorp came second on the table for percentage downgrades. Brokers weighed up an increase to the winter crop forecast versus the insurance payout required by the company, as it attempts to smooth earnings in good years and bad.
Mineral Resources was in the leading bunch of target price upgrades from brokers, along with the aforementioned OZ Minerals. Mineral Resources gained favour due to the expectation of stronger steel production in China. As a result, expected future iron ore prices have been ratcheted up in the models used by analysts.
Blackmores suffered the only notable percentage downward adjustment to a target price, as outlook comments after the FY20 result were weaker than expected. Debate now centres on large variables including brand value and whether the company deserves a potential takeover premium. Additionally, Chinese distribution and regulatory shortcomings need to be addressed.
Total Neutral/Hold recommendations take up 49.09% of the total, versus 40% on Neutral/Hold, while Sell ratings account for the remaining 10.91%.
APPEN LIMITED ((APX)) Upgrade to Neutral from Underperform by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 3/2/0
Credit Suisse has become more balanced in its view of the stock and upgrades to Neutral from Underperform. The rating change is more about the share price than any fundamental difference.
Valuation still appears stretched at 51x 2020 price/earnings, although the broker notes the industry structure remains healthy. Credit Suisse increases 2021 sales forecasts on higher productivity assumptions. Target is raised to $30 from $29.
At this stage, the broker believes guidance for 2020 is achievable and leaves its forecast for $125.5m in operating earnings unchanged.
BEACH ENERGY LIMITED ((BPT)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Macquarie .B/H/S: 4/2/0
With Beach Energy's share price down -15% since May, Macquarie notes the company has underperformed the energy sector on account of its reduced five-year free cash flow guidance.
The broker considers the Waitsia-North West Shelf contract win a positive surprise. Earnings forecasts for FY21-23 have been increased due to higher expected oil production and gas contract prices.
Macquarie has upgraded its rating to Outperform from Neutral with a target price of $1.70.
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LTD ((FMG)) Upgrade to Buy from Hold by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 3/2/2
Ord Minnett expects 2021 iron ore price to increase to US$105/t from US$100/t due to higher China steel production estimates. This compels the broker to upgrade Fortescue Metals Group's rating to Buy from Hold with the target price increased to $20 from $18.80.
Iron ore price estimates for the group have been increased to US$51/t from US$48/t. The group offers a dividend yield of 9% over the next three years, according to the broker.
See also FMG downgrade.
MAGELLAN FINANCIAL GROUP LIMITED ((MFG)) Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral by Credit Suisse .B/H/S: 1/4/2
Since the FY20 result Magellan Financial has dropped around -10%. Yet the infrastructure franchise has built a core offering which accounts for around half of its assets under management and Credit Suisse believes there is scope for a similar market in global equities.
The broker upgrades estimates by 1-2% to account for higher net flows and believes the company's products offer attractive characteristics that appeal to institutional investors and flows should remain robust.
Rating is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral and the target raised to $65 from $60.
MOUNT GIBSON IRON LIMITED ((MGX)) Upgrade to Buy from Neutral by Citi .B/H/S: 2/0/0
Citi expects a modest pullback in the iron ore price in the near-term but believes the price will be rangebound between US$100-US$120/t range for the rest of 2020. Iron ore price forecasts for 2021-23 have been lifted due to a more constructive Chinese steel demand outlook.
The broker notes pure-play iron ore names like Mount Gibson Iron will benefit the most from higher prices with near term earnings almost doubling.
Citi upgrades its rating to Buy from Neutral given the expectation of strong free cash flow generation at the new iron ore price deck. The target price rises to $1 from $0.75.
NEWCREST MINING LIMITED ((NCM)) Upgrade to Accumulate from Hold by Ord Minnett .B/H/S: 3/3/1
Ord Minnett is positive on the outlook for gold and maintains a US$2,000/oz gold price forecast for the December half.
However, a strengthening Australian dollar has been playing spoilsport, adds the broker, eroding margins and leading to near-term downgrades in earnings forecasts.
The broker has upgraded its rating for Newcrest Mining to Accumulate from Hold with the target price increasing to $35 from $34.
NUFARM LIMITED ((NUF)) Upgrade to Add from Reduce by Morgans .B/H/S: 5/2/0
Nufarm reports its FY20 result on September 23. The company has recently provided preliminary underlying earnings guidance of $290m-$300m for FY20, slightly below Morgans estimates.
However, the broker expects FY20 earnings to be the low point given improved seasonal conditions in Australia. Additionally, the company said FY20 will be the trough for the European business.
Given material share price weakness and a more attractive valuation, Morgans upgrades the rating to Add from Reduce and the target price is increased to $4.85 from $4.76.