Flour Mills of Nigeria: Revision to Estimates

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By Cordros Research

We revise 2018 forecasts for FLOURMILL following H1, wherein EBITDA and net profit were impacted by strong FX-linked net operating gains and double-digit revenue growth, which more than offset both weaker y/y gross margin and higher finance costs.

While we look for relatively (to H1-18) weaker earnings in H2-18, we expect they would be stronger compared to H2-17. Overall, we raise our EBITDA and net profit forecasts by 10% and 72% respectively for 2018F.

Upward revision to estimates was conservative (flattish and 2% respectively) for 2019-2020F. On net, we raise our TP for the stock by 35% to NGN38.89 and maintain HOLD rating.

We increase revenue growth forecast for 2018 to 8.9% (previously 7.6%) on stronger run rate of 17% in H1. The waning impact of prices on revenue was visible in Q2 growth rate (9.8%, the slowest pace since Q4-15/16), and management said – in obvious acknowledgement of the little room for price increases – it will leverage on increased sales volumes and marketing activities to boost top-line going forward.

We retain revenue growth forecast of 9.4% for 2019-2020, on continued resilience of the Food division, and stronger growth in the Agro-Allied and Packaging divisions, amidst the gradually recovering consumer purchasing power and spending from general elections.

Downside risks to volume, however, are (1) potentially intense competition (on improving dollar liquidity and FGN supply of subsidized fertilizers) and (2) the gridlock in Apapa (which negatively affects both the movement of goods out of FLOURMILL’s factory and customers’ access to the factory), on the back of the ongoing repair works, and the consequent congestion of the seaport.

We revise net operating gain forecast for 2018F to NGN7.7 billion (previously –NGN1.4 billion), following the strong formation (NGN5.1 billion) over H1, on the revaluation of liabilities (via FX hedges using NDFs and forwards) and biological assets (the sugar plantation). These items are excluded from our estimates for 2019-2020.

Notwithstanding the 331 bps q/q improvement in gross margin in Q2, we revise 2018 estimate lower by 69bps to 12.01% on slower-than-expected recovery (-237 bps in H1). While noting the risk from selling prices (given outlook for competition) and input cost (wheat prices for delivery in 12 months are higher by 14% for November contracts) pressures, we also point to tailwinds from (1) stable-strengthening exchange rate and (2) better energy mix from improved gas availability

We revise 2018F finance cost forecast lower by 4%, following the reduction of borrowings to NGN188.2 billion, from end-2017FY NGN241.6 billion. The modest revision of our forecast, including for 2019-2020, notwithstanding the sizeable reduction of outstanding loans, reflects the increased average interest rate (+226 bps since March ending) on more expensive debt mix. FLOURMILL’s management recently announced plans to raise NGN70 billion via Medium Term Notes. We have not factored this into our model, as management stated at the Q2 results analysts call that the signing will be in 2018, “depending on the evolution of interest rates.”

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