Jefferies initiates coverage on Stobart at 'buy'
Analysts at Jefferies initiated coverage on Southend Airport owner Stobart at 'buy' on Thursday, saying that progress on several fronts might drive the shares higher.
"Stripping the weeds is under way to reveal two valuable, growing assets," they said in a research report sent to clients.
According to the broker, Southend Airport was the only one of London's six airports with spare peak daily capacity and was on track to meet its 2023 goal of reaching 5.0m passengers, up from 1.5m currently and with Ryan and Loganair set to add another million beginning this summer.
Jefferies also noted that Connect Airways, a product of the Virgin and Stobart-Flybe deal, earlier trains and expanded retail and parking and a second hotel at the site all supported progress towards pushing EBITDA above £40m EBITDA in 2023.
Elsewhere, Jefferies noted that Stobart, which was also the leading supplier of waste wood biomass to UK renewable energy plants, had seen delays to commercial handover at the six largest plants which it supplies, but they now looked set to come to an end, with two completed and three more expected by July, helping the firm remove some of the remaining weeds.
"Both aviation and energy have 'below-the-line' negatives," said Jefferies, adding that it "should begin to decline this year".
"While proof of progress to passenger and tonnage targets is delivered. Remaining real estate can gradually be monetised (not yet assumed in our estimates) adding confidence over funding and dividend sustainability."
Jefferies, which started the group off with a 174p target price, also highlighted multiple potential additions to its target price in its aviation (42p), energy (22p), corporate (39p) and other units (25p) and if shareholder overhang issues were resolved and progress confirmed then the upside valuation could rise to 285p and beyond.
"Our Buy case rests on the ever-clearer visibility of Aviation/Energy value as they progress and obscuring weeds are removed."