DAILY MORNING NOTE | 14 February 2024

Trades Initiated in the past week

Factsheets


Singapore shares on Tuesday (Feb 13) ended the first day of the holiday-shortened week on a flat note, with all eyes on the latest US inflation print that will shape market expectations for rate cuts by the world’s largest central bank. Shares rose 3.57 points or 0.11 per cent to 3,141.87, following Wall Street’s mixed showing overnight with the Dow pushing to a fresh record, ahead of the US’ January headline consumer price index set to be released on Tuesday night.

Wall Street stocks tumbled on Tuesday after US consumer inflation slowed less than expected in January, dampening hopes for quick interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.1 per cent from a year ago, while “core” inflation, stripping out volatile food and energy components, rose 3.9 per cent. That’s a big improvement from the worst of the pandemic price surge, but still above the Fed’s two per cent target. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 1.4 per cent at 38,272.75, retreating from Monday’s record. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.4 per cent to 4,953.17, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.8 per cent to 15,655.60.

Top gainers & losers

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Events Of The Week

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SG

Aztech Global has fallen victim to a ransomware attack, with an unknown party gaining unauthorised access to its IT network. In an announcement on Feb 13, the company said upon discovering the breach it took immediate action by shutting down all its servers over the lunar new year break and using cyber security screening software to continue to ensure no further data is affected or compromised. Although the incident has not affected operations nor had any material financial impact, Aztech says has notified the appropriate law enforcement authority and that it is looking at appointing third-party forensic advisors to help investigate the incident.

ComfortDelGro Corp (CDG) through its wholly-owned subsidiary CityFleet Networks has acquired UK-based ground transport management and accommodation network specialist CMAC Group for GBP80.2 million ($135.4 million). CMAC has an extensive network of approved and certified suppliers to provide around-the-clock specialised pre-planned and on-demand emergency passenger transport and accommodation solutions to businesses in the rail, travel, healthcare, corporate and public sectors.

Straco Corporation says it expects to report a “substantial” net profit for the FY2023 ended Dec 31, 2023, due to overall improvements in its business operations. In comparison, the group reported a net loss in FY2022. During the year, the group saw higher revenue from its Chinese attractions on the back of surging visitors since early December 2022 when domestic tourism recovered strongly. Revenue for the Singapore Flyer, which it operates, also rose from the higher number of visitors as international tourist arrivals recovered strongly. Ride operations at the Flyer also resumed to its normal operating hours. Finally, the group saw lower exchange losses recorded in FY2023.


US

Airbnb ended 2023 stronger than analysts had expected and gave an optimistic outlook for the start of this year, fuelled by growth in international markets and suggesting that the post-pandemic travel boom has yet to run out of steam. The shares jumped more than 8 per cent in extended trading. Revenue for the three months ending in March will be US$2.03 billion to US$2.07 billion, surpassing analysts’ average estimate of US$2.02 billion. The number of nights and experiences booked is expected to moderate compared with the fourth quarter, however, due to a particularly strong growth rate a year ago.

Nvidia was on the verge of overtaking Alphabet as Wall Street’s third most valuable company on Tuesday as the dominant AI chipmaker ended the day with a market capitalisation above Amazon’s for the first time in two decades. Nvidia’s shares slipped 0.17 per cent, leaving its stock market value at US$1.78 trillion, eclipsing Amazon’s US$1.75 trillion value after the online shopping and cloud-computing heavyweight’s stock declined 2.15 per cent. Google-owner Alphabet’s stock dipped 1.62 per cent, leaving its market capitalisation at US$1.81 trillion.

Canada’s Shopify topped Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter revenue and profit on Tuesday (Feb 13), riding on demand for its e-commerce services from merchants during the holiday shopping season. However, the company’s US-listed shares, which had more than doubled last year, fell nearly 8 per cent in trading before the bell. Total revenue rose 24 per cent to US$2.14 billion for the three months to December, higher than analysts’ average estimate of US$2.08 billion. On an adjusted basis, Shopify earned 34 US cents per share, beating expectations of 31 cents.

Moody’s on Tuesday (Feb 13) missed estimates for fourth-quarter profit, as the performance of its credit ratings and assessment unit fell short of expectations. The New York-based rating agency also named Noémie Heuland as its new chief financial officer, succeeding Caroline Sullivan who took the role as interim CFO in August last year. Heuland will join the company on April 1, 2024.
The company’s credit ratings segment posted revenue of US$684 million, compared with analysts’ average estimate of US$699 million. Revenue from the company’s analytics unit, which provides financial intelligence and analytical tools, rose 11.5 per cent to US$796 million, compared with a year earlier. Total revenue rose nearly 15 per cent to US$1.48 billion from last year.

Burger King’s International reported sales and profit that surpassed analyst estimates, defying a pullback in spending that has hurt rivals’ results. Revenue was US$1.82 billion (S$2.44 billion) in the fourth quarter, exceeding the average estimate of analysts. Earnings per share of 75 US cents were higher than the 73 US cent expectation. Same-store sales, a gauge of how restaurants open for longer than a year are performing, rose 5.8 per cent, beating the 5.7 per cent average estimate of analysts. Digital sales jumped 20 per cent from a year ago and now makes up over a third of system-wide sales.

Hotel operator Marriott International forecast 2024 profit below Wall Street expectations on Tuesday (Feb 13), as room revenue in the United States normalises from its post-pandemic highs. Travel demand and costs in the US have been returning to normal levels after seeing a post-pandemic spike from “revenge travel”. Travel companies are expecting their 2024 boost to come from international markets like China, the final region lagging in its recovery from the pandemic. Marriott sees a full-year 2024 profit of between US$9.18 and US$9.52 per share, while analysts had expected US$9.69 per share.

Coca-Cola beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday (Feb 13), as the beverage maker benefited from higher product prices and buoyant demand, especially for its namesake drink, sending its shares up about 1 per cent before the bell. Consumers who have started to prefer dining out and indulging in experiences like movies and sports are willing to spend more for their favourite drinks and snacks, which have become pricier over the last several quarters. Coca-Cola’s average selling prices rose 9 per cent in the fourth quarter, while unit case volumes increased 2 per cent. Its net revenue rose to US$11 billion in the quarter compared with US$10.2 billion a year earlier, while analysts estimated US$10.7 billion.

Source: SGX Masnet, Bloomberg, Channel NewsAsia, Reuters, CNBC, WSJ, The Business Times, PSR


RESEARCH REPORTS

StarHub Limited – Pop in dividends

Recommendation: ACCUMULATE (Maintained); TP S$1.29, Last close: S$1.16; Analyst Paul Chew

– 4Q23 results were within expectations. FY23 revenue and EBITDA were 99%/101% of our FY23 estimates. The full-year dividend was 6.7 cents, a 34% YoY rise and ahead of our 5 cents estimate.

– Revenue guidance for FY24e was for weaker growth of 1-3% (FY23: +5.5%). We believe mobile revenue faces stiffer competition from lower-end price plans, thus impeding ARPU growth despite contributions from higher-margin roaming revenue.

– The increase in FY24e dividend guidance from 5 cents to at least 6 cents has placed a minimum yield of at least 5% at the current price. Our target price is raised from S$1.21 to S$1.29 as we roll over our earnings to FY24e. We peg valuation to 6.5x FY24e EV/EBITDA, in line with other mobile peers. It will be another year of investment and slow growth for StarHub with its DARE+ initiative. The expected spend is S$80mn in FY24e, of which S$32mn is opex and S$48mn capex. Any premium valuations (or re-rating) for StarHub will depend on the efficiency and revenue gains from DARE+. This is elusive so far. Another catalyst will be monetisation or operating leverage at Ensign, the cybersecurity operations.

PayPal Holdings Inc – Weak earnings guidance

Recommendation: BUY (Maintained); TP: US$83.00

Analyst: Ambrish Shah

– FY23 revenue/adj. PATMI was in line with expectations at 101%/102% of our forecasts. 4Q23 revenue grew 9% YoY led by a 15% YoY rise in total payments volume. Adj. PATMI grew 13% YoY mainly due to higher operating leverage.

– For FY24e, PayPal expects adj. EPS of US$5.10 or flat compared to FY23. It also expects gross profit to remain flat YoY at US$13.7bn. This implies continued gross margin contraction due to the business-mix shift towards the Braintree unit.

– We maintain a BUY recommendation but lower our DCF target price to US$83.00 (prev. US$101.00), with an unchanged WACC of 7% and terminal growth rate of 4%. We cut our FY24e revenue/adj. PATMI estimates by 1%/13% as payments volume shift towards low-margin unbranded checkout solutions like Braintree. PayPal is well-positioned to benefit from its two-sided global network of 426 mn consumers and merchants, a secular shift to digital commerce, as well as new solutions like Fastlane by PayPal to enhance guest checkout, targeted marketing, digital invoicing, and business lending.

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