Belgacom’s Investor day focussed on how the company aims to stop the market share losses it suffered over the last quarters and years. Keep in mind that the 1Q11 results were below expectations, prompting the company to lower its FY outlook. There were no comments about the 2Q results, the FY outlook, cost cutting initiatives or cash return plans.
highlighted 5 focus elements in its efforts to protect market shares:
1) improve the sales and distribution network (e.g. announced the acquisition of the Phone House earlier this year);
2) improve marketing efforts (better use of social media, more segmented campaigns);
3) further push & leverage convergence (e.g. the partnership with FON on WiFi), taking advantage of the company’s fixed and mobile networks;
4) smart subsidising (such as the Samsung tablet offer including fixed and mobile broadband);
5) improve client servicing (installation, problem solving etc).
Overall, we believe the company is taking the right steps to limit the market share losses they are suffering, and we acknowledge that havingboth a fixed and a mobile network is a material advantage over the competition.
On the other hand, it is clear that competitive pressure in the Belgian telco market is heating up, as Mobistar is trying to get into the TV business with its Starpack offer,Telenet is stepping up their mobile efforts, while Walloon cable operator VOO is now getting its act together and is emerging as a credible competitor in the South of the country.
The combination of these two factors means that we expect that in 2012 (and beyond), Belgacom’s sales and profits will still be under pressure, but to a lesser extent than this year thanks to the initiatives the company is undertaking to protect market shares. As a reference: we expect an 0.3% sales decline next year and a 1% drop in EBITDA, a better performance than this year (KBCS: -1.7% in sales, -4.2% in EBITDA). Also consensus estimates are banking on a limited decline in Belgacom’s sales and profits next year.
We stick to these estimates following the company’s Investor Day.
Belgacom’s Investor Day brought no earth shattering news and we keep our estimates. seems to be taking the right steps to reduce market share losses going forward, but we believe sales, profits and cash flows will remain under pressure due to increasing competitive pressure in the Belgian telco market.
The current valuation seems fair to us; adjusted for BICS (100% consolidated but 58% owned), is trading at around 5.1x EBITDA11E, a small discount versus the European telcosector (5.3x EBITDA11E). The attractive dividend yield (Belgacom has already committed to the € 2.18 dividend that will be paid out in the course of 2012, and the company is also executing a € 200m buy back programme) is limiting the downside risk we believe.