Thursday, August 5, 2021

    Equity Analysts Spot Buying Opportunity in MTN Nigeria after Earnings Beat

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    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    Equity analysts at Vetiva Capital limited spots buying opportunity in MTN Nigeria Plc.’s stock after the telecommunication giants beat earnings estimates in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.

    Due to the impressive outturn for the period, the equity analysts’ team at Vetiva Capital led by Luke Ofojebe maintained buy ratings on the telecom giant’s stock.

    MTN Nigeria Q1-2021 earnings saw the company grow its revenue by 17% year on year to ₦385 billion, riding on a 43% year-on-year surge in data income.

    Analysts said despite heightened inflationary pressures, which drove operating costs -excluding depreciation & amortization 15% higher to N181 billion as heightened cost pressure drove several cost items northward.

    From the company’s financial, direct network operating cost and interconnect costs expanded 30% and 11% respectively.

    Despite this, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation margin improved to 53% from 52% in Q1-2020 and 51% in the financial year 2020 as topline growth was able to subdue the effects of increased operating expenses.

    In absolute terms, the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 19% to ₦205 billion, 9% above Vetiva Capital estimate. However, analysts said the reported EBITDA surge was propelled by revenue growth.

    Vetiva Spots Buying Opportunity in MTN Nigeria after Earnings Beat
    Vetiva Spots Buying Opportunity in MTN Nigeria after Earnings Beat
    After accounting for depreciation and amortisation which printed at N71 billion in Q1-2021 as against N61 billion in the comparable period, as well as net finance expenses that printed at N30 billion from N34 billion in Q1-2020, MTN profit before tax came in at N103 billion.

    This represents a 34% increase when compared with N77 billion reported in the comparable period in 2020. As a result, net profit jumped 43% year on year to ₦74 billion, blowing away Vetiva Capital’s estimate of ₦56 billion.

    “In light of Q1-2021 earnings surprise, we have made some changes to our full-year assumptions and now expect after-tax earnings to come in at ₦290 billion from the previous estimate of ₦231 billion”, analysts stated. This bringing the investment firm’s valuation of MTN Nigeria Plc. to a one-year target price of ₦228.38.

    Buy Recommendation

    “With the suspension of new SIM card registration now lifted, we expect to see some gains in MTN Nigeria’s subscriber base going forward.

    “This, alongside rapidly rising smartphone penetration in Nigeria, is expected to continually drive data revenue upward”, analysts said.

    Vetiva added that going by its revised projections, analysts expect data revenue to rise 46% to ₦485 billion in 2021, and over the next four years.

    “We see data revenue advancing at a compounded annual growth rate of 25%, possibly surpassing voice revenue as the largest contributor to top line by 2025”, analyst projected.

    Meanwhile, compared to data, analysts said they see 2021 voice revenue increasing at a slower pace of 10% to ₦839 billion, amidst intense price competition and increasing preference for cheaper substitutes such as Over-the-Top communication (OTT) voice calls.

    “With no imminent sign of a slowdown in headline inflation, we forecast a 14% rise in operating costs, and expect EBITDA margin and EBITDA to come in at 53% as against prior estimate of 51% and ₦863 billion from ₦686 billion respectively”, Vetiva said.

    For the financial year 2021, analysts at Vetiva Capital Limited projected MTN Nigeria will deliver a 41% increase in profit after tax to ₦290 billion.

    Vetiva said the Telecommunication giant’s Q1-2021 performance was outstanding regardless of any metrics we look at.

    Recall that last year, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) had suspended the registration of new SIM card as well as reactivation of misplaced SIM cards.

    With the suspension lasting through the first quarter of 2021, MTN Nigeria’s GSM subscribers base show a consistent monthly decline from 80.8 million in December, 2020 to 75.9 million in March, 2021, according to NCC.

    Despite this adverse trend, stronger than expected data demand from active subscribers propelled data revenue 43% year on year to quarterly record high of N106 billion, outpacing Vetiva’s N95 billion expectation.

    Additionally, Vetiva Capital said voice operation, which accounted for 54% of aggregate turnover grew 8% year on year to N209 billion, beating its expectation by N1 billion – amidst an ongoing shift in subscribers behavioural pattern towards internet driven Over the Top call via apps such as WhatsApp, Skype etc.

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