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Analyst Christopher Combe argues that Royal Mail is still a fundamentally sound, cash generative business that should be valued considerably above where it finds itself
Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG) shares have been in the doldrums for the past couple of years, with concerns over strike action, the pension deficit, increased competition and structural changes in the market all weighing heavily.
In 2017 alone the postal group has seen almost 20% wiped from its value.
But JP Morgan thinks the market has got it wrong, arguing that Royal Mail remains a strong cash generative company and that the current valuation is “overly harsh”.
As an example of this, analyst Christopher Combe points to the free cash flow yield which currently stands at 11.4%.
Combe expects Royal Mail will have to fork out £100mln in additional pension contributions following the next review, but even when that cash is taken out, the yield is still a respectable 9.2%.
He thinks the market is discounting for an additional £160mln cash pension headwind which, if that turns out to be the case, would imply a free cash flow yield of 5.7%.
That doesn’t sound too impressive but Combe highlights that core postal peers average about 5.1% while German giant Deutsche Post is on 3.7%.
Aside from the FCF yield, the analyst also notes that the dividend yield of 6.4% based on his current expectations.
Again, that compares favourably with Royal Mail’s peers which average 5.7%.
Combe has lowered his price target slightly to 535p (from 550p) although he’s still a bull of the stock, repeating his ‘overweight’ recommendation.
Royal Mail was one of the top risers on the FTSE 250 on Thursday morning, up 2.6% to 379.5p on the back of the note.