As global markets continue to evolve, certain companies are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the substantial capital expenditure (capex) cycles driven by megatrends and shifting market dynamics. These companies, through strategic investments and a focus on future-oriented projects, stand to benefit significantly from large-scale capex initiatives. In the Month Ahead this month, we highlight three such companies: ALS Limited (ALQ), Worley Limited (WOR), and Woodside Energy Group (WDS). Each of these firms is leveraging its core strengths and market positioning to navigate and benefit from the upcoming waves of investment in their respective sectors.

Worley (WOR)

We see Worley as being well-positioned to capitalise on the increasing momentum of capex investment across its target Energy, Chemical and Resources markets. Most notably, megatrends such as the global energy transition, decarbonisation, and the push towards reaching global net-zero emissions by 2050, in our view represent a potential multi-decade tailwind for the business. Worley has been an early mover in the ECPM sector to take advantage of these emerging trends, having made a concerted shift towards taking on an increasing number of transitional and sustainability related projects, which has underpinned positive momentum in its project backlog growth over recent years.

Projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that a ~2.3x uplift in annual global clean energy investment is required by 2030, to reach levels needed to achieve Net-Zero targets by 2050. With ~85% of Worley’s Top 20 customers having pledged a commitment to reaching Net-Zero by 2050 or earlier, we believe the company is in a strong position to benefit from this trend.

Additionally, we currently see this investment trend supported by regulation across North America and Europe (which accounts for the majority of Worley’s revenue), and consensus capex outlook for global majors in WOR’s end market also remains supportive of growth through to FY26F. Overall we see this as being supportive of WOR’s revenue growth, and ongoing margins expansion over the medium term, which underpins our forecasts for double digit EPS growth. We recently Initiated on Worley with an ADD recommendation and a price target of $18.00

      
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ALS Limited (ALQ)

We think ALS is in for a strong few years. It looks poised to benefit from margin recovery in Life Sciences as well as a cyclical volume recovery in Commodities. Timing around the recovery in Commodities is less certain though:

1) the length of previous junior miner raisings prolonged troughs suggests that a recovery is not too far away;

2) commodity prices are supportive with gold & copper (70-75% of exploration) around all-time highs; and

3) we are already starting to see some green shoots in equity capital markets (a key funding source for junior miners) with gold & silver raisings picking up.

ALS is on 20x FY25 PE which feels cheap given the material upside risk to our forecasts for the years ahead. ALS is targeting mid-single-digit organic growth for FY25, consistent with our forecasts. Life Sciences is expected to deliver modest margin improvements, while Minerals and Environmental divisions should maintain margin resilience. Geochemistry sample volumes have started to trend positively year-on-year, indicating a potential recovery in exploration activities. Macro indicators are positive for Commodities, with spot prices for gold and copper up more than 20% compared to 2023 averages.

Historically, gold and copper prices have shown strong correlations with exploration spend, which bodes well for future growth. Although junior miner raisings have not yet shown significant improvement, historical trends suggest a recovery within the next few months. ALS, the global leader in geochemistry testing with around half the market, is well-positioned to leverage its cash-generative Commodities division to fund growth in Life Sciences. The company’s dominant market position and the resilience of its business model underpin our positive outlook. We rate ALS as an ADD with a price target of $15.50 and think there could be material upside risk to our forecasts should exploration spend align with current commodity prices.

      
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Woodside Energy (WDS)

Woodside is unique among the companies in our coverage universe that benefit from capex megatrends, as it stands to directly benefit from the lack of significant global spend within global oil and LNG markets over multiple decades. In aggregate terms, 2022 and 2023 saw marked improvements in the rate of supply investment by the global oil and gas industry. However, this improved rate of spending still remains materially below the level needed to satisfy even the most bearish demand scenarios over the next decade.

To illustrate, if global oil production experienced an average natural field decline (supply decline) of 4% per annum, and aggregate oil demand decreased by 1% per annum, the oil industry would still need to add new supply equivalent to 3% per annum. Fixing this simple equation becomes more challenging the longer it remains out of balance. Woodside, meanwhile, has a robust pipeline of new projects, with the Sangomar oil project due to come online in 2024, Scarborough LNG in 2026, and the Trion oil project in 2028. Already deep into its investment cycle, Woodside is advanced in its construction spend on Sangomar and Scarborough.

Despite the peak capex associated with these projects, Woodside has managed to maintain low gearing and an 80% dividend payout ratio. The timing of Woodside’s investment cycle has also positioned it to substantially expand free cash flow starting in 2025, which could prove beneficial given our expectation that global oil demand will start to recover against a backdrop of restrained supply. We maintain an ADD rating on Woodside, which remains our top preference among our energy resources coverage. Having navigated peak capex while maintaining a healthy balance sheet and strong dividend profile, we have little doubt that Woodside is effectively deploying capital. The key risk to our call, outside of oil/LNG prices, is execution risk around its growth projects. However, the scale and pace at which capex rolls off over the coming years, while group EBITDA remains around ~US$8.7-$9.0bn per annum until approximately 2031, create a significant long-term value buffer supporting our call.

      
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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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News & Insights

As global markets continue to evolve, certain companies are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the substantial capital expenditure (capex) cycles driven by megatrends and shifting market dynamics. These companies, through strategic investments and a focus on future-oriented projects, stand to benefit significantly from large-scale capex initiatives
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