The Edge Singapore

Food Empire Holdings

Price target:

- Samantha Chiew

Good start to the year

Maybank Securities is keeping its “buy” recommenda­tion on coffee manufactur­er and distributo­r Food Empire with an unchanged target price of $1.29.

Ahead of the group’s 1QFY2023 ended March results to be reported after the market closes on May 12, analysts Jarick Seet and Eric Ong expect revenue to increase by 5% y-o-y to US$86.7 million ($11.5 billion) and net profit after tax (NPAT) to gain 22% y-o-y to US$11.2 million. This is especially given that the Russia-Ukraine war started in 1Q2022 and hurt the group’s operations.

“We expect demand to remain strong in Russia and the CIS region and strong growth from Vietnam. Spray dry and new freeze dry coffee plants in India continue to operate at full capacity but should yield higher margins due to cost reductions on freight cost normalisat­ion,” say Seet and Ong.

“Corporate share buy-backs have also been consistent and will likely resume after the blackout period given it has just renewed its mandate,” they add.

The group has been buying back shares from the open market at higher prices than before of over $1.01. The analysts expect this to continue as management concur that the company is deeply undervalue­d and remains confident of its outlook.

“We also expect interim dividends to be a possibilit­y in the near future due to its strong cash flow generation and strong balance sheet,” say the analysts.

At this point, shares in Food Empire are trading at an undemandin­g 8.6x FY2023 P/E, which the analysts believe is still a steep discount despite its strong recent share price performanc­e, compared to the valuations of its private and listed global peers.

“As such, we think that it could be an attractive target for bigger competitor­s given its strong presence in Russia and Vietnam,” they add. —

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