NEXTDC Limited (NXT)

Stock: NEXTDC Limited
Symbol: NXT
Exchange: ASX
Latest Price: $6.13
Market cap: $2.1 billion
Currency: AUD
Financial Year: 30 June
Date: 8 October 2018

Sector: Technology
Industry: Data Storage

Investment Theme: Long-term Growth
Structural Trends: Rising connectivity and online services

Company Profile

NEXTDC is an Australia-based and Australia-focused technology company providing data center outsourcing solutions through a nationwide network of Tier III and Tier IV facilities.

Markets & Competitors

NEXTDC provides enterprise-class colocation services to local and international organizations. Clients include:

  • Government agencies and private enterprise concerned as to whether off-shore data storage meets Australian Privacy Act and/or requirements for the protection of sensitive information;
  • Global cloud providers such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle;
  • Large IT service providers such as Wipro, Tech Mahindra, NEC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, NTT and Data#3; and
  • Telecommunications providers such as Optus, Telstra, AAPT, Vocus, TPG, PCCW, Superloop and CenturyLink.

Financial performance

Revenue Growth

NEXTDC shows steady revenue growth over the past 5 years as it expands its data centers across Australia.

Revenue per share

Net assets expanded to $1.2 billion in FY 18 from $282 million in FY15, funded by a mix of new equity and debt. Further expansion is planned for FY19:

NEXTDC recently announced plans to acquire three new sites in Australia for additional data centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth: S3 80MW, M3 80MW and P2 20MW – these new facilities in Sydney and Melbourne will be the largest ever built in Australia. That takes NEXTDC’s total future capacity to over 300MW.

Return on Assets/Equity

While revenue growth may appeal, return on assets is low at 0.64% in FY18 (FY17: 3.33%*). Return on equity is not much better at 0.95% for FY18 (FY17: 5.48%*). EBITDA/Total assets fell to 5.06% in FY18, from 5.75% in FY17.

Return on Equity and Return on Assets

Utility Origin Energy (ORG) earns similar rates of return at 0.88% (ROA), 1.88% (ROE) and 11.9% (EBITDA/TA).

*FY17 results were inflated by a $10.2 million tax credit.


Development of new and existing data centers is capital intensive and sometimes undertaken without pre-sales commitment from customers, and there is a risk that there is not enough demand to achieve a sufficient return on investment.

According to various recent industry cyber risk reports, cyber incidents and their financial impacts are increasing significantly year on year and cyber criminals are targeting small and large businesses alike. To mitigate these risks, NEXTDC has implemented an information security management system based on ISO 27001 as well as undertaken ongoing penetration and vulnerability tests.

Catastrophic failure or equipment malfunction at a data center could result in NEXTDC not being able to provide power and cooling to support customers’ equipment, thus breaching service agreements and incurring contractual liabilities. To address this risk, NEXTDC’s data centers are designed and built with significant redundancy in place.

Technical Analysis

Twiggs Momentum has declined to a still-respectable 67% but 50-week Trend Index crossed below zero after a bearish divergence, warning of strong selling pressure.

Twiggs Momentum and Trend Index (50 week)


Do not buy. NEXTDC earns utility-level rates of return on assets and does not justify its current high forward price-earnings multiple of 78. Long-term revenue growth will require significant investment in new data centers, funded in part by new equity issues which dilute returns to existing shareholders.


Staff of The Patient Investor may directly or indirectly own shares in the above company.

BWP Trust (BWP)

Stock: BWP Trust
Symbol: BWP
Exchange: ASX
Financial Year-end: 30 June
Latest price: $3.39
Market cap: $2.17 billion AUD
Date: 13 September 2018

Sector: Real Estate
Industry: Retail REIT
Investment Theme: Dividends & Growth

Company Profile

BWP Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) established in 1998 that invests in and manages commercial properties throughout Australia.

Wesfarmers Limited owns approximately 24.75% of the issued units in the Trust. The responsible entity for managing the Trust, BWP Management Limited, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wesfarmers.

BWP owns a portfolio of 79 stores in Australia. The majority of the properties are large format retail properties leased to Bunnings Group Limited, a subsidiary of Wesfarmers. Eight of the properties have adjacent retail showrooms, leased to other retailers and there is one stand-alone showroom property.


Over 92% of rental income is from Bunnings (Wesfarmers).

98.8% of the portfolio was leased, with two properties unoccupied, at 30 June 2018.

Of the 79 properties, 13 are expected to be vacated by Bunnings (in the process of relocating to a nearby site, including some ex-Masters sites), including the two currently vacant. Five of the 13 properties are being sold and 8 are being re-positioned.

Financial performance

Revenue Growth

Annual revenue continued to rise, with 2.5% like-for-like rental growth in FY18 while total rent received grew by 0.35%.

Revenue and EPS

Long leases provide stability and growth.  Weighted average lease expiry (WALE) is 4.5 years. Initial Bunnings leases are typically 10 to 15 years with further options of 5 or 6 years.

Approximately 59% of rental income are subject to annual CPI adjustment and 41% to fixed annual adjustments,  typically reviewed to market every 5 years.

Rents are generally not linked to tenants’ turnover, but retailing conditions can impact on market rents. FY19 may bring some rent free periods and capital expenditure as 8 properties are re-positioned following Bunnings exit.

Earnings per share

Earnings include net unrealized gains in fair value of investment properties. Net increase in fair value of $67.4 million for FY18 is significantly lower than $111.3 million in FY17, accounting for the substantial drop in EPS.

Earnings per Share and Dividends

Excluding unrealized gains, EPS shows an increase of 0.65% in FY18.

Distributions, excluding capital, were 17.62 cents per share for FY18, an increase of 0.65%.

Historical growth (CAGR) in distributions from 1999 to 2018 is 3.5% p.a.

Cash Flow

Cash flow from operating activities and free cash flow both increased by 0.83% in FY18.

Net Income & Free Cash Flow % of Revenue

Capital structure

Net debt to equity of 25% is manageable.

Net Cash/(Debt) % of Equity


BWP’s earnings are strongly linked to the ongoing success of Wesfarmers’ Bunnings business and their underlying markets: home improvement and outdoor living. While this business has a strong track record, declining housing prices are expected to weigh on performance.


Net tangible assets (NTA) at FY18 were $2.85 per share. Decline in the weighted average capitalization rate to 6.48% in FY18 (FY17: 6.59%) accounted for most of the 4.0% increase in NTA.

We project current distributions of 17.62 cents (excluding capital distributions) will grow at a long-term rate of 2.5% per year, giving an expected annual return of 7.7% using Gordon’s Growth Model, or 8.1% including tax benefits.

Technical Analysis

Momentum (50-week) has risen to a modest 12%, while Trend Index (50-week) only recently crossed above zero. BWP has appreciated at an average of 6.0% CAGR since 1998.


The shorter term Trend Index (21-day) formed a bullish trough near zero in late August/early September. Another trough at or above zero should provide a good entry point.



We consider BWP to be over-priced at present: $2.95 would offer a long-term projected investment return of 8.5%, or 8.95% including tax advantages. Hold and accumulate if price dips below $3.00 per unit.


Staff of The Patient Investor may directly or indirectly own shares in the above company.

Wesfarmers Ltd (WES)

Stock: Wesfarmers Ltd
Symbol: WES
Exchange: ASX
Financial Year-end: 30 June
Latest price: $51.34
Market cap: $58.1 billion AUD
Date: 11 September 2018

Sector: Consumer Staples
Industry: Food & Staples Retailing
Investment Theme: Dividends & Growth

Company Profile

From its origin in 1914 as a Western Australian farmers’ cooperative, Wesfarmers has grown into Australia’s largest listed conglomerate. Headquartered in Perth WA, Wesfarmers’ businesses span the retail and industrial landscape.

Retail delivers the bulk of group earnings: 88% of FY18 EBIT after allowing for sale of Resources. Operations include 809 Coles supermarkets; 711 convenience stores; 228 Kmart discount department stores and 256 Kmart Tyre & Auto centres; 187 large- and 116 small-format Target apparel and homewares stores; 899 Liquorland, 1st Choice and Vintage Cellars liquor outlets; 88 hotels; 165 Officeworks office supplies stores; and 259 Bunnings home improvement warehouses, 78 smaller format stores and 32 Trade outlets across ANZ.

The Industrials division includes chemicals and fertilizers, gas processing and distribution, industrial and safety products and coal-mining (sold in August 2018).

Markets & Competitors

Woolworths is Wesfarmers’ largest retail competitor, operating more than 1000 supermarkets, 183 Big W discount stores, and more than 1500 liquor outlets. Competition from Woolworths and Aldi (460 stores) has exerted pressure on Coles’ margins: EBIT fell to 3.8% of Revenue in FY18, compared to 4.1% in FY17.

Bunnings is the jewel in Wesfarmers’ crown, with the largest market share (30%) in the Australian hardware/home improvement/DIY sector4. Competing retailers include Home Timber & Hardware and Mitre 10 chains, as well as a large number of independents. Woolworths, through their Masters joint venture with US home improvement giant Lowes, tried to challenge Bunnings’ market dominance but failed dismally, ending in Masters closure and a $3.25 billion write-down.

Kmart and Target were merged under a single head of Department Stores (Ian Bailey to replace Guy Russo in November 2018). Some Target stores were rebranded as Kmart while others were closed due to their poor performance which resulted in FY16 $1.27 billion and FY18 $0.3 billion impairment charges before tax1.

Officeworks dominates the office supplies and stationery market but faces competition from Amazon with the launch of its online business supplies website.

Wesfarmers also hold a 25% stake in BWP Trust, a listed REIT which owns 79 Bunnings warehouse properties, 2 of which are now vacant, with Bunnings relocating some stores to former Masters premises.


Contribution to group EBIT by segment:

FY18 EBIT by Segment

Acquisitions and disposals will significantly alter composition of the group in FY19.

Acquisitions and Disposals

On 16 March 2018, Wesfarmers announced their intention to spin-off Coles as a separate ASX-listed company with an independent board, to be completed in FY19. Wesfarmers would retain a minority ownership interest (up to 20%) and a substantial ownership stake in Flybuys (supporting Wesfarmers’ & Coles’ data and digital initiatives)2.

Apart from the Coles spin-off, in recent months Wesfarmers shed a number of smaller subsidiaries:

  • Sale of 13.2 per cent indirect interest in Quadrant Energy Holdings to Santos Limited, expected to net a profit of $98 million before tax (August 2018);
  • Sale of Kmart Tyre and Auto Service business to Continental AG for $350 million, expected to net a profit of about $270 million before tax (August 2018);
  • Sale of 40% stake in Bengalla thermal coal mine to co-owner New Hope for $860 million (August 2018); and
  • Sale of Curragh coal mine in Queensland to Coronado Coal Group for $700 million, expected to net a profit of $110 million after tax (March 2018).

Wesfarmers earlier (May 2017) abandoned plans for an initial public offering of Officeworks after fund managers rejected the conglomerate’s $1.5 billion asking price because of weak Australian consumer discretionary spending and the prospect of increased competition with the arrival of Amazon in Australia.

Wesfarmers bought UK hardware chain Homebase for £340 million in February 2016, with the intention of rebranding the 265 stores in the UK and 15 in Ireland as part of the Bunnings group. After mounting losses, Wesfarmers threw in the towel, selling the entire UK and Ireland operation to turnaround specialist Hilco for a nominal £13, with an FY18 after-tax impairment charge of $1.4 billion1.

Michael Chaney in an interview with The Age explained:

Chaney was the chairman that signed off and despite everything contends he had never seen a more thorough investment analysis than had been undertaken on Bunnings UK. They had a base case set of projections and a downside case and it all looked very positive at the time according to Chaney. But a couple of fundamental mistakes were made subsequently after acquisition of Homebase home improvement network of stores including the removal of 150 senior managers.

“One was moving out the senior management and replacing it with our Australian experts and the second was getting rid of a lot of the products and the franchises because they didn’t suit the Bunnings model,” says Chaney. By way of example the Australian interlopers jettisoned Laura Ashley from the home decorator product line up – and British women voted with their purses.

It was the success of the Australian model and its management that blinded the higher ups inside Wesfarmers to the fact that these guys didn’t know better what the UK customers wanted. Wesfarmers got caught in the hubris trap.

Financial performance

Revenue Growth

Revenue growth stalled in FY18.

Revenue and EPS

Coles revenues grew by 0.4% to $39.4 billion in FY18 but EBIT margins declined to 3.8% (FY17: 4.1%). Food & Liquor (incl. hotels) comparable sales grew 1.1%, while headline sales grew 2.1% to $33.6 billion. Convenience stores fell 6.1% to $5.8 billion in FY18 due to lower fuel sales.

Bunnings (Australia & New Zealand) same-store sales grew 7.8% in FY18 (FY17: 7.3%) while total revenue increased 8.9% to $12.5 billion.

Kmart achieved comparable sales growth of 5.4% in FY18 (FY17: 4.2%) while total sales grew 8.0% (FY17: 7.9%). Target comparable sales growth continued to decline, -5.1% in FY18 (FY17: -14.9%) and total sales growth of -4.7% (FY17: -14.5%). Combined revenue was up 3.6% at $8.8 billion.

Officeworks does not provide same-store comparisons but revenue grew 9.1% to $2.1 billion. This includes the opening of six new stores and online enhancements, including 2-hour click-and-collect, to combat competition from Amazon.

In the Industrials division, Chemicals, Energy & Fertilizers (CEF) revenue grew 11.7% in FY18 to $1.83 billion; Industrial & Safety declined 1.5% to $1.75 billion; and Resources (now sold) declined 3.3% to $1.69 billion after Curragh mine was sold in March 2018.


There were substantial impairment charges in FY16 and FY18. If one excludes these significant items, net margins stabilized at 4.2% in the last two financial years.

Net Income (adjusted) % of Revenue

FY16 includes the following significant after-tax items: $1,249 million non-cash impairment of Target; $595 million non-cash impairment of Curragh; and $102 million of restructuring costs and provisions to reset Target.

FY18 includes an after-tax impairment charge and loss on disposal of $1.4 billion in respect of Bunnings/Homebase UK; $300 million non-cash impairment of Target; and $123 million gain on disposal of Curragh.

Return on Capital Employed

Wesfarmers are known for their disciplined capital budgeting and have demonstrated their willingness to shed underperforming assets.

FY18 Return on Capital Employed by Segment

Comparing return on capital (ROCE) to the actual allocation of capital, Coles is the elephant in the room, with ROCE of 9.2% in FY18 while absorbing almost 64% of group capital.

FY18 Capital Employed by Segment

Return on capital employed by Department Stores and Resources is inflated by impairment charges in FY16 and FY18, while the Bunnings/Homebase UK misadventure is excluded from the above capital allocation.

Department Stores and Officeworks are unlikely to form part of the group’s long-term plans but there is little opportunity for a sale at present. Target faces a declining market, while Amazon is expected to challenge Officeworks dominance in office supplies and stationery.

Industrial & Safety also failed to achieve meaningful returns on capital. With Resources gone, that leaves Bunnings and WesCEF as the likely last divisions standing.

Earnings per share

Earnings per share declined in FY16 and FY18 because of impairment charges.

Earnings per Share and Dividends

Dividends were maintained at 223 cents in 2018 (2017: 223 cents) and are fully franked.

Cash Flow

Free cash flow is reasonably strong despite recent losses.

Net Income & Free Cash Flow % of Revenue

Capital structure

Net debt is relatively low at 15% of equity and should improve further with post year-end disposals.

Net Cash/(Debt) % of Equity


Conglomerates used to dominate stock market listings several decades ago but inefficient management structures and poor capital allocation led to their almost complete extinction.

Coles revenues are resilient through the economic cycle but margins will remain under pressure from Woolworths/Aldi competition.

Bunnings is susceptible to fluctuations in the property cycle, with current declining home prices a warning sign.

Department Stores are susceptible to the economic cycle, while Target also faces a shrinking market.

Officeworks can expect fierce competition from Amazon.


We expect that the Coles spin-off will realize $18 billion at an EBIT multiple of 12 (Credit Suisse estimate $19.4 billion). We value the remaining divisions at an EBIT multiple of 8 (before tax cost of capital of 12.5%) apart from Bunnings at an EBIT multiple of 10, giving a total value including Coles of $36.60 per share.

With dividends of $2.23 (a 4.3% yield) estimated to grow at 4% in the long-term, we project annual investor returns of 8.3%, or 10.2% after allowing for franking credits.

Technical Analysis

WES broke through resistance at $50 after lengthy consolidation above support at $40. Momentum rose to 22.6% while Trend Index held above zero since November 2016.

Twiggs Momentum & Trend Index

Breakout above $50 was followed by retracement to test the new support level. Rising troughs on 21-day Trend Index indicate that respect of support is likely.

21-Day Trend Index


Hold. Wesfarmers has indicated that the Coles spin-off will be completed by November 2018. It would make sense to wait for the spin-off before deciding whether to invest further or divest.


Staff of The Patient Investor may directly or indirectly own shares in the above company.


1 FY18 Results Presentation
2 Presentation, 16 March 2018
3 BBC News, 25 May 2018
4 Analyst Note, Johannes Faul, 15 August 2018, Morningstar

APN Outdoor (APO) – Sell

Stock: APN Outdoor
Symbol: APO
Exchange: ASX
Financial Year-end: 31 December
Latest price: $6.70
Date: August 24, 2018

Sector: Consumer Cyclical
Industry: Marketing Services
Investment Theme: Structural Trends

APO is positioned to benefit from the rise of technology, with fast-growing revenues from digital billboard advertising.

Company Profile

APN Outdoor is a leading outdoor advertising company with 28% market share in Australia and 30% in New Zealand.

Competitors & Markets

APO will rank second behind the combined 50% market share of oOhmedia and Adshel if their proposed merger goes ahead.

APO is active in billboards (55% of total revenue), transit (26%), airports (11%) and rail (8%). Digital advertising grew 18% in FY18 and contributes 42% of total revenue, with 134 large format digital panels across Australia & New Zealand. Non-digital advertising declined 5% due to loss of the Melbourne Yarra trams contract (won by JCDecaux).

Outdoor advertising sites are secured by 5- to 10-year leasehold contracts and may be subject to competitive bidding on renewal of larger sites.

Financial performance

Revenue Growth

Revenue growth slowed to 4% in HY18, compared to an average of 6.7% over the previous two years.

Revenue and EPS

Earnings per share (right-hand scale) declined slightly from FY16.


EPS decline is a result of tighter margins.

EBT Margins

Cash Flow

Cash flows declined relative to net income as APO invested in digital displays.

Net Income & Free Cash Flow % of Revenue


APO declared fully franked dividends of 7 cents (H1 FY18) and 12.5 cents (H2 FY17), amounting to a 2.9% dividend yield.

EPS and Dividends

Capital structure

APO uses debt to fund new digital billboards, maintaining a net debt to equity ratio of 35%. This could render it vulnerable in an economic down-turn.

Net Cash/(Debt) % of Equity


Outdoor advertising revenues can be volatile over the economic cycle.

Recent management changes leave APO with new leadership after the retirement of CEO Richard Herring (having led the group since 2004) in September 2017 and CFO Wayne Castle in January 2018.

Takeover Offer

French outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux tabled a AUD 6.70 per share cash offer in June 2018, to acquire 100% of APO. The offer was recommended by the APO Board of Directors and is likely to go to a shareholder vote in October 2018.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) cleared the proposed acquisition on August 23 but the deal still remains subject to a number of conditions, including approval of APN Outdoor shareholders, court approval, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval, and the satisfaction or waiver of certain other conditions outlined in the Scheme Implementation Agreement lodged with the ASX on 26 June 2018.

APO is expected to declare a fully franked special dividend of up to $0.30 per share just before the takeover. The AUD 6.70 offer per share would be reduced by the cash amount of the dividend but shareholders would benefit from up to $0.13 per share in franking credits.


With expected annual revenue and earnings growth of 7%, APO is projected to deliver low annual returns of 6%, or 7.6% after franking credits.

Technical Analysis

APO broke resistance at $6.00 after the JCDecaux offer. Twiggs Momentum (50-week) and Trend Index (50-week) recovered to positive territory but remain weak.

Twiggs Momentum & Trend Index


Sell at $6.70. Prospects of 13 cents in franking credits are not sufficient incentive to hang on to APO.
[**Note added 26/08/18: Clarification is required regarding the upcoming dividend of 7 cents plus 3 cents franking credit. Sellers prior to the ex date of September 5th will forego the dividend. Sellers after the ex date are likely to receive a price, probably 7 cents lower. They may wish to wait until September 5th for the benefit of the 3 cents franking credit but need to weigh this against the increased uncertainty.]


Staff of The Patient Investor may directly or indirectly own shares in the above company.

Wisetech Global Ltd (WTC)

Stock: Wisetech Global Ltd
Symbol: WTC
Exchange: ASX
Latest Price: $15.47
Date: 9 August 2018
Financial Year: 30 June 2018
Results Due: 22 August 2018

WTC was added to the ASX 200 in December 2017 and shows strong growth in revenue and earnings as well as price performance since 2016.

Wisetech Global Ltd (WTC)

We have not rated WTC as a buy signal because:

Our valuation is substantially below the current price. Assuming long-term revenue growth of 25%, while operating expenses grow at a slower rate of 23% due to economies of scale, delivers a value of $10.00 per share.

Results for the 6 months to 31 December 2017 (1H18) show declining Net Income and Free Cash Flow as a percentage of Revenue. Declining margins are the opposite of what we expect to see with economies of scale.

WTC Net Income and Free Cash Flow as % of Revenue

Free Cash Flow is also consistently lower than Net Income because a percentage of research and development costs is capitalized. While one can expect to benefit from current R&D in future years, most companies need to expend a constant percentage of Revenue on R&D in order to maintain their competitive position, especially in Software Development .

WTC looks like a great business, with strong customer retention rates, but is over-priced at present.

We will review WTC performance after FY18 results are announced on 22 August 2018.

Appen Limited (APX)

Stock: Appen Limited
Symbol: APX
Exchange: ASX

Appen was added to the ASX 200 in June 2018 and displays strong performance in both LT technical and revenue & earnings growth.

Appen Limited (APX)

Despite this, we have not added APX to our model portfolio, or issued a buy signal, because of its market position.

We are looking for companies with a competitive advantage that enables them to defend market share against competitors, without compromising profit margins.

APX competes in a crowded, technology-driven market against a vast number of competitors (over 17,500 Content Relevance and Language Resources providers, according to Jacob Simonsen at Lincoln) and is vulnerable to technology advances by competitors that could make it difficult for APX to defend its market share.