Steady take-off

SIA Engineering has all the ingredients of a quality stock: stable earnings growth, high ROEs, net cash, attractive dividend yields and undemanding valuations against peers.

We peg a higher P/E of 15x (5-year mean) in our blended valuation (previously 10x on recession trading band) following a more positive MRO outlook. We refine our EPS as we update some assumptions. Maintain Outperform with catalysts anticipated from strong earnings growth.

More heavy checks

We believe SIA’s workload alone can sustain utilisation rates at all of SIE’s six hangars. About 41 of SIA’s aircraft are due for D checks in 2012-13, in our estimation. These would comprise the first “D” checks (after five years of flying) for six A380-841s and 12 B777-312s. There are also 18 B777-212s scheduled for second “D” checks (after 10 years of flying). Management expects the hangars to be at least 70% utilised in the next five years, backed by long-term contracts and current order book.

Bullish on MRO

We are bullish on the MRO industry. According to the latest statistics released by IATA, asset utilisation for airlines in the passenger market had improved in Jan, even after adjusting for high Chinese New Year load factors. Despite climbing oil prices, passenger load factors remained at historical highs. As aircraft utilization rises, we expect demand for heavy maintenance services to rise.

Earnings recovery unappreciated

SIE has outperformed the market by about 11% since our upgrade in Feb 12. We see room for further upside given the steady growth of its MRO usiness. As risks of an economic downturn dissipate, we see a less likelihood of capacity cuts by airlines. In a bull market, SIAE could trade up to 19x forward P/E. We believe the market has not priced in its earnings growth of 5-7% through 2014 as SIE is trading at its Mar 10 valuations when its earnings dipped 10%. We prefer SIE to ST Engineering for its more attractive valuations (14x CY13 P/E vs. 17x CY13 P/E).

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