Still Worth Paying For

Still worth paying for. SMRT Corporation (SMRT) has, over the last 18 months, been trading at about 23.5% over and above the sector average, based on the PE metric. Even on a P/B basis, the stock is not cheap, trading at 3.6x P/B (though this is largely due to its low fixed asset base). However, the stock is still worth paying for, given its strong margins that outshine that of sector peers, outstanding return on assets (ROA), sustainable dividend payouts based on solid earnings, and its ability to leverage on the Singapore growth narrative.

Growth potential not yet exhausted. We view SMRT as a play on Singapore’s growth trajectory, and the rail system as the biggest beneficiary of the government’s push to nudge commuters and peak hour traffic towards public transport. The rail system is, by far, the best alternative transport method to avoid congestion on roads.

Stronger operating performance than peers’. We compare SMRT and sector comparables and find that the company commands the highest margins and ROAs among listed land transport operators. SMRT also has the added silver spoon advantage of lower capex due to strong government support.

Maintain BUY; target price raised to S$2.00. We have lowered our profit forecasts (by between -5.1% and -6.3%) and changed our valuation methodology from PE to discounted cash flow. We value SMRT using the firm’s discounted free cash flow to equity at S$2.00/share (6.9% COE, 1% terminal growth). Our revised target price (up from S$1.86) gives a return of 17% over the last closing price of S$1.71.

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