Sydney Airport: June pax data…but the takeover talk is the main game

About the author:

Nathan Lead
Author name:
By Nathan Lead
Job title:
Senior Analyst
Date posted:
20 July 2021, 10:00 AM
Sectors Covered:
Infrastructure, Utilities

  • June pax data was weaker than we had anticipated, impacted by government movement restrictions as a result of the latest wave of COVID outbreaks.
  • We downgrade our short-term forecasts, but acknowledge the takeover talks will be the main influence on the share price until the deal completes or ceases.
  • HOLD. 12 month target price set in line with (login to view) indicative bid price.


Sydney Airport (ASX:SYD) released its pax data for the month of June, completing the 1H21 pax data set ahead of the 1H21 result due to be released on 20 August.


1H21 total pax was down -72.4% on the 2019 pcp, with domestic pax down -57.5% and international down -96.2%. Metrics for the month of June are similar, with domestic down -56.8% and international down -93.6%.

Pax had been improving in May and into June, but was impacted by new NSW Govt lockdown restrictions applied on 25 June limiting interstate travel. The quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble was also suspended from 23 June.

July pax data is likely to be impacted by new lock-down restrictions imposed by the NSW and Victorian Governments in mid-July, and ongoing suspension of the quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble.

Forecast and valuation update

We continue to assume FY/CY24 is the year when pax recovers to the FY19 level. We assume international grows at trend thereafter, while domestic growth in the Sydney catchment follows the historical correlation to international pax but SYD is impacted from 2027 by the opening of the Western Sydney Airport.

While our long-term outlook is unchanged, the June pax was weaker than we had assumed, requiring a downgrade to our 1H21 forecasts. We have also re-profiled the recovery shape across FY21-23 (now assuming a steeper recovery into FY24). FY21/22/23 pax downgrades are -6%/-3%/-2% causing cash-flow downgrades of - 8%/-5%/-2%, respectively.

On a stand-alone basis, our assumption is that SYD will recommence distributions when its key debt metric (FFO:debt) recovers to that required of a BBB credit rating. Based on our assumed recovery shape, we think this could occur by 2H22, thus first cash payment to investors in say February 2023. However, we think SYD has sufficient excess capital that it could recommence dividends ahead of this trigger if it sees a sustainable path to pax (and thus earnings) recovery, likely driven by the success of vaccination programs.

Stand-alone valuation $7.04ps (+1cps) vs pre-bid close of $5.81ps (note broader market is down c.1% since that time).

Investment view

HOLD, given the takeover offer has pushed the share price beyond our stand-alone valuation. Upside to the (login to view) indicative bid is c.5% at current prices. Downside if the bid is withdrawn and the stock falls back to pre-bid levels is -26%.

We think the bid consortium is employing more aggressive assumptions than us regarding traffic recovery, long-term growth, target equity returns, and balance sheet utilisation. However, we think it unlikely that the bid consortium will walk away from the offer after the first rejection (or an alternative bidder emerges).

Price catalysts

An increased takeover price, either from the Sydney Alliance consortium or a counter-bidder.

Recommencement of the distribution, which we expect will attract income-oriented investors back to the stock and thus help close the pre-bid gap between share price and fundamental value.


Bid not proceeding or extended delays in an agreed deal’s completion.

Extended pax recovery phase, with weakened growth thereafter.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this report is provided to you by Morgans Financial Limited as general advice only, and is made without consideration of an individual's relevant personal circumstances. Morgans Financial Limited ABN 49 010 669 726, its related bodies corporate, directors and officers, employees, authorised representatives and agents (“Morgans”) do not accept any liability for any loss or damage arising from or in connection with any action taken or not taken on the basis of information contained in this report, or for any errors or omissions contained within. It is recommended that any persons who wish to act upon this report consult with their Morgans investment adviser before doing so.

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