Morgans Best Ideas: December 2023
About the author:
- Author name:
- By Andrew Tang
- Job title:
- Analyst - Equity Strategy
- Date posted:
- 04 December 2023, 8:00 AM
- Sectors Covered:
- Equity Strategy and Quant
Our best ideas are those that we think offer the highest risk-adjusted returns over a 12-month timeframe supported by a higher-than-average level of confidence. They are our most preferred sector exposures.
Additions: This month we add Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL)
Removals: This month we remove Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) and Accent Group (ASX:AX1).
See our Spring Sector Outlook and Strategies for more on key themes and ideas.
Large cap best ideas
Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC)
WBC has a similar asset base, funding mix and domestic retail concentration as the premium priced CBA. However, its growth, profitability and ROE have been significantly weaker than this larger competitor, which is ultimately reflected in WBC’s lower earnings and asset-based trading multiples and higher cash yield. If WBC can materially improve its business performance (this is not without significant risk of disappointment) then an investment in its stock could deliver attractive returns as the share price rerates upwards and cash returns to investors lift.
WES possesses one of the highest quality retail portfolios in Australia with strong brands including Bunnings, Kmart and Officeworks. The company is run by a highly regarded management team and the balance sheet is healthy. We believe WES’s businesses, which have a strong focus on value, remain well-placed for growth and market share gains in a softening macroeconomic environment.
Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE)
It may take some time for the market to digest TWE’s acquisition of Paso Robles luxury wine business, DAOU Vineyards (DAOU) for US$900m (A$1.4bn) given it required a large capital raising. The acquisition is in line with TWE’s premiumisation and growth strategy and will strengthen a key gap in Treasury Americas (TA) portfolio. Importantly, DAOU has generated solid earnings growth and is a high margin business. It consequently allowed TWE to upgrade its margins targets. While not without risk given the size of this transaction, if TWE delivers on its investment case, there is material upside to our valuation. The key near term share price catalyst is if China removes the tariffs on Australian wine imports.
The resilience of STO's growth profile and diversified earnings base see it well placed to outperform against the backdrop of a broader sector recovery. While pre-FEED, we see Dorado as likely to provide attractive growth for STO, while its recent acquisition increasing its stake in Darwin LNG has increased our confidence in Barossa's development. PNG growth meanwhile remains a riskier proposition, with the government adamant it will keep a larger share of economic rents while operator Exxon has significantly deferred growth plans across its global portfolio.
Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG)
We continue to like MQG’s exposure to long-term structural growth areas such as infrastructure and renewables. The company also stands to benefit from recent market volatility through its trading businesses, while it continues to gain market share in Australian mortgages.
CSL Limited (ASX:CSL)
While shares have struggled of late, we continue to view CSL as a key portfolio holding and sector pick, offering double-digit recovery in earnings growth as plasma collections increase, new products get approved and influenza vaccine uptake increases around ongoing concerns about respiratory viruses, with shares trading at 25x, a substantial discount (20%) to its long-term average.
ResMed Inc (ASX:RMD)
While weight loss drugs have grabbed headlines and investor attention, we see these products having little impact on the large, underserved sleep disorder breathing market, and do not view them as category killers. Although quarters are likely to remain volatile, nothing changes our view that the company remains well placed and uniquely positioned as it builds a patient-centric, connected-care digital platform that addresses the main pinch points across the healthcare value chain.
TCL owns a pure play portfolio of toll road concession assets located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and North America. This provides exposure to regional population and employment growth and urbanisation. Given very high EBITDA margins, earnings are driven by traffic growth (with recovery from COVID) and toll escalation (roughly 70% by at least CPI and approximately one-quarter at a fixed c.4.25% pa). We think TCL will continue to be attractive to investors given its market cap weighting (important for passive index tracking flows), the high quality of its assets, management team, balance sheet, and growth prospects.
QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE)
With strong rate increases still flowing through QBE's insurance book, and further cost-out benefits to come, we expect QBE's earnings profile to improve strongly over the next few years. The stock also has a robust balance sheet and remains relatively inexpensive overall trading on 8x FY24F PE.
Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL)
We have three key reasons for being positive on ALL. They are: (1) long-term organic growth potential. ALL is better capitalised than many of its competitors and has what we regard as a strong platform to continue investment in design and development in both its land-based gaming and digital businesses; (2) strong cash conversion and ROCE. ALL is a capital-light business despite its ongoing investment in Gaming Operations capex and working capital. It has a high level of cash conversion and ROCE; and (3) strong platform for investment. ALL has funding capacity for organic and inorganic investment in online RMG, even after the recent buyback. Its current available liquidity is $3.8bn.
Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN)
MIN is a founder-led business and top tier miner and crusher that has grown consistently despite barely issuing a share over the last decade. Also helping our investment view is that MIN’s diversification leaves it far more capable of tolerating volatility in lithium markets than its peers in the sector. We see MIN’s lithium / iron ore market exposures as an ideal combination to benefit from the China gradual recover. We also see MIN as well placed to grow into its valuation, even if we see unexpected metal price volatility, given the magnitude of organic growth in the pipeline.
S32 has transformed its portfolio by divesting South African thermal coal and acquiring an interest in Chile copper, substantially boosting group earnings quality, as well as S32's risk and ESG profile. Unlike its peers amongst ASX-listed large-cap miners, S32 is not exposed to iron ore. Instead offering a highly diversified portfolio of base metals and metallurgical coal (with most of these metals enjoying solid price strength). We see attractive long-term value potential in S32 from de-risking of its growth portfolio, the potential for further portfolio changes, and an earnings-linked dividend policy.
Goodman Group (ASX:GMG)
GMG represents c.27% of the ASX A-REIT index and is one of the few offshore earners in the A-REIT space. GMG rarely screens cheap against domestic peers, but within the context of its offshore peers, it consistently delivers higher returns at lower levels of leverage and at a comparable price to book ratio. Growth in Assets Under Management and development completions are a key determinant of value and an AUM of A$80bn (US$50m) is comparatively modest in a global context, whilst A$7bn (US$5.5n) of completions pa we see as likely sustainable. With continued increases in interest rates and persistent inflation (most notably construction costs), risks abound the REIT sector. This drives our preference for beds and sheds, reflecting the strength of those underlying operating markets. Given the duration risk from higher rates, we prefer more active managers who can grow AUM and add value from an active buy, build, manage strategy. To this end, strong balance sheets are also key to navigate any deterioration in book values.
Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN)
QAN is trading at a material discount compared to pre-COVID multiples, despite having structurally higher earnings, a much stronger balance sheet, a better domestic market position, a higher returning International business and more diversification (stronger Loyalty/Freight earnings). The strong pent-up demand to travel post-COVID should result in a healthy demand environment for some time, underpinning further earnings growth over FY24/25. QAN’s balance sheet strength positions it extremely well for its upcoming EBIT-accretive fleet reinvestment and further capital management initiatives (recently announced another A$500m on-market share buyback at its FY23 result).
For our full list of Best Ideas, including our mid-cap and small-cap key stock picks, download our full research note (Morgans clients only):
Best Ideas December 2023
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