ComfortDelGro - UOB Kay Hian 2020-05-20: Priced For Recovery; Upgrade To BUY


ComfortDelGro - Priced For Recovery; Upgrade To BUY

  • While a pick-up in commuter numbers is likely to be gradual, ComfortDelGro's share price appears to have largely priced in the weakness in transportation services due to stay-home measures, from both its taxi segment as well as from rail ridership. If there are further transport disruptions, downside is fairly limited.
  • ComfortDelGro's 1H20 will see less-than-stellar performance, but the road ahead is likely to be more positive.
  • Upgrade to BUY with a PE-based target price of S$1.82 (previously S$2.15).

Transportation curtailed. How will ridership resume?

  • Since the Circuit Breaker measures were introduced, public transport ridership has plunged along with the taxi trips – which have now included food and groceries deliveries. According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, daily bus and rail ridership has fallen by more than 71% and 75% respectively and scheduled trips have been reduced. Ridership will likely take some time to resume normalised operating conditions.
  • As a reference to countries which have eased stay-home measures - daily average transit ridership in Shenzhen was at 40-45% of normal capacity as of two months after return to work was permitted, while Hong Kong’s mobility trends for public transit indicate that it is at 75% of pre-COVID levels as of early-May 20.

Priced in taxi weakness.

  • ComfortDelGro (SGX:C52) had granted full taxi rental waiver for approximately two months with the closure of non-essential workplaces in Singapore. Further extension in rental relief could last till Sep 20, depending on prevailing conditions, which could amount up to S$26.50 per taxi per day relief until then. Given the dependence on tourism, taxi drivers would likely require support till transportation normalises.
  • ComfortDelGro noted that its rental rebates would effectively cost as much as S$116m in total, assuming that the rebates are implemented fully, and would effectively push the taxi business into the red for FY20. Since the first relief measures were introduced, ComfortDelGro's share price has dropped by close to 30%.
  • The taxi segment contributed S$104m in operating profits (approximately 25% of group’s operating profits) for 2019, and the taxi weakness appears to be priced in.

In a stronger position than rivals?

  • ComfortDelGro’s local taxi fleet had only dipped 0.6% in 1Q20, compared with rival taxi fleet which dropped 6.4% in 1Q20. The Circuit Breaker period will prove tougher as Apr 20 industry taxi fleet showed a 3.1% drop m-o-m. Right sizing of the private hire fleet size could be a boon, given the private hire fleet number of close to 55,000.

Discount taxis.

Watching bus tenders.

  • While public transport might be weaker on the back of lower fares from rail ridership, potential bus tenders wins might prove useful given its more resilient contracting model.

Dividends likely to take a hit.

  • As a point of reference, ComfortDelGro payout ratio in FY08 had dropped to 52% (FY07: 85%). See  ComfortDelGro Dividend History. We estimate 5 S cents of dividend for 2020 based on 60% payout ratio (FY19: 9.79 S cents, 73% payout ratio). This should give a yield of about 3% for 2020.

Cut net profit forecasts by 35% for FY20 and 13% for FY21-22.

  • We factor in the rental rebates until Sep 20, as well as a lower ridership for rail transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our assumption for rail ridership is a staggered recovery till normalcy in 4Q20, with an average of 30% of normal capacity in 2Q20. In our view, the lower ridership should be aided to a certain extent by:
    1. the Budget’s job support scheme (approximately 2,900 bus captains are Singaporeans/PRs, and
    2. Lower fuel and maintenance costs.

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ComfortDelGro share price catalyst

  • Easing of stay-home measures.
  • Bus tender contract wins.
  • Earnings-accretive overseas acquisitions.
  • Regulatory changes in public transport.

Lucas Teng UOB Kay Hian Research | https://research.uobkayhian.com/ 2020-05-20
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