Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Singapore Stocks Market Analysis of ComfortDelGro Corp

ComfortDelGro Corp - Downgrade: A rail disappointment
■ Regulator awards TEL contract to SMRT despite poorer track record
■ We see greater uncertainty over the outcome of future contracts
■ Downgrading to Hold (3) from Buy (1); lowering TP to SGD2.09

ComfortDelGro Corp

What's new:

The recent award of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) rail contract to SMRT (not listed) raises uncertainty over the regulator’s evaluation process for future transport service contracts, in our view. As our original expectation for ComfortDelGro (CDG) to be a key beneficiary of greater public transport usage in Singapore appears diminished, we downgrade our rating on the stock to Hold (3) from Buy (1).

What's the impact:

The TEL contract was widely expected to be a key near-term catalyst for CDG. While we had not factored its potential into our forecasts, we estimate that the rail line could have contributed around SGD0.08/share to our valuation. According to the regulator, SMRT’s bid of SGD1.7bn was 30% below that of CDG while still ranking higher on quality – despite CDG’s relatively better rail reliability track record. More importantly, the outcome of the bid raises uncertainty over the bidding and evaluation process for future contracts in both the bus and rail segments.
In the rail segment, CDG remains in negotiations with the regulator over the transitioning of its existing lines to a new rail model (see our note dated 20 July 2016), which we think could now lead to a less favourable resolution. Meanwhile, as bus packages currently operated by CDG are to beprogressively tendered out over the next decade, we see elevated risks
that bids may have to be priced more competitively for CDG to retain them.
Finally, while we have been aware of competitive pressures, we nowexpect CDG’s taxi business to see a structural longer-term decline. In terms of forecast changes, we cut our near and longer-term growth and margin expectations for CDG’s Singapore businesses across its segments, resulting in 4-13% cuts to our 2017-19 EPS forecasts. 
We now look for a structural decline in CDG’s taxi business over a 10-year horizon, as well as reduced profitability outlook for bus and rail. We also factor potential fare reductions into our 2018-19 rail forecasts following the regulator’s recent fare review exercise.

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