Bottom-Up EquitiesDaily Briefs

Equity Bottom-Up: SGX, HSBC Holdings, Intel Corp, Tencent, ICICI Bank Ltd, iFAST and more

In today’s briefing:

  • Singapore Exchange – Another Deal, Another Distraction
  • HSBC Holdings Plc – Strong Armed By The HKMA
  • Intel 2Q21: Where Do Margins Go?
  • Tencent (700 HK): Juvenile Internet Usage Will Not Decrease
  • Cause for Alarm – ICICI Bank’s Burgeoning Retail Lending Vulnerable to the Economy
  • IFast 2Q: Strong Earnings; Winning Malaysian Digital Banking License Could Be a Near-Term Catalyst

Singapore Exchange – Another Deal, Another Distraction

By Thomas J. Monaco

*Limited Impact: Singapore Exchange (SGX.SG) [SGX] announced that it was acquiring MaxxTrader from FlexTrade Systems for USD 125mn plus. This is SGX’s third acquisition after BidFX and Scientific Beta in 2020. This deal is expected to provide SGX with the ability to leverage this franchise to set up an ECN FX marketplace as targeted under its medium-term plan; and

*Distractions:As SGX needs to contend with a greater than expected impact from Hong Hong Exchanges & Clearing (388.HK) competitive pressures for derivatives volumes, and the earlier-than-expected launch of HKEX’s MSCI China A index futures – on top of weaker equity volumes and fees, it continues to do numerous tiny bolt-on deals which appear to be more of a distraction than their worth.


HSBC Holdings Plc – Strong Armed By The HKMA

By Thomas J. Monaco

*Kick In The Pants: On July 21, 2021, HSBC Holdings plc (5.HK/HSBA.LN) [HSBC] and many of the other major Hong Banks finally had the epiphany of declining mortgages to borrowers on two of Evergrande Group’s (3333.HK) residential developments in Hong Kong. On July 22, 2021, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) hauled HSBC and its colleagues in to explain the no lend decision on Evergrande’s two Hong Kong in process property  developments. Wouldn’t you know it, this subtle re-think request caused the banks to reverse course; and

*Daisy Chain:This move by the HKMA and clearly prompted by authorities in mainland China intimates that Evergrande poses significant systemic risk for mainland China. Government officials in Shenyang are prompting SOEs to increase their ownership in Shengjing Bank (2966.HK), which is 36% owned by Evergrande and lent it an estimated USD 15.5 bn.    


Intel 2Q21: Where Do Margins Go?

By Aaron Gabin

We remain short Intel. The growth and margin picture is still deteriorating. We don’t think Pat Gelsinger is capable of turning this ship around…and we think the proposed acquisition of Global Foundries may accelerate Intel’s demise.

Obex’s fundamental research process is focused on secular change in the TMT and Consumer sectors. We seek to differentiate between fundamental business analysis and security analysis. Before deciding if a security’s pricing and positioning merit a long or short position, we analyze the four pillars of business fundamentals (Secular Factors, TAM, Competitive Advantage, Business Model) in order to determine if this is a “good” or “not so good” opportunity.


Tencent (700 HK): Juvenile Internet Usage Will Not Decrease

By Ming Lu

  • We do not believe the juveniles will reduce internet usage in the future.
  • The authorities forbid tutoring schools so that juveniles have more time to spend on internet.
  • Parents went back to their office so they cannot stop their children from using internet.

Cause for Alarm – ICICI Bank’s Burgeoning Retail Lending Vulnerable to the Economy

By Hemindra Hazari

ICICI Bank Ltd (ICICIBC IN) ’s 1QFY2022 results on July 24, 2021 highlight the need for shareholders to re-examine the bank’s retail asset strategy. ICICI Bank’s strategy was to focus on retail assets to compensate for the bulky poor-quality corporate assets that it had earlier emphasised. However, the broad economic slowdown even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic impacted all segments of the economy, and the pandemic dealt small and medium enterprises, and indeed the whole informal sector, a severe blow. A section of organised sector employees too lost their jobs or experienced pay cuts. All these developments affected retail assets of banks. Unlike HDFC Bank (HDFCB IN) , which started shifting from retail assets, ICICI Bank surged ahead in retail lending even when retail asset profits declined in FY2021, and this strategy continued in 1QFY2022 despite a drastic fall in retail profits.

Apparently the board of directors has taken a view that the bank has to continue to grow the overall balance sheet despite the weak economic conditions, and that, since corporate credit remains weak, the only other avenue is to grow retail assets. It is precisely this strategy that shareholders need to review and debate with the management. The past two years’ data from both ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank reveal that, on account of deteriorating retail asset quality, the contribution of retail profits before tax (PBT) to overall PBT is declining, and in 1QFY2022 it has fallen steeply. From ICICI Bank’s surge in retail assets in FY2021 and 1QFY2022, it appears that the bank believes that the past two years’ data are an anomaly, and that retail asset quality will bounce back.

According to ICICI Bank, additions to gross NPAs are expected to be lower in 2QFY2022, and further improve in 2HFY2022. Given the state of the Indian economy, it may be more prudent for ICICI Bank to curtail its asset growth, de-emphasise retail loans and focus on treasury and select corporate credit to boost profitability.      


IFast 2Q: Strong Earnings; Winning Malaysian Digital Banking License Could Be a Near-Term Catalyst

By Shifara Samsudeen, ACMA, CGMA

iFAST (IFAST SP)  reported its 2Q2021 results on Friday (23rd July) which saw revenues increasing 31.7% YoY while reported operating profit grew 46.0% YoY during the quarter. The net revenue from B2B segment increased 32.9% YoY while net revenue from B2C segment grew 30.5% YoY during 2Q2021 driven by increased investment subscription from customers in exchange-listed securities, service fee from currency conversion administration services and net inflows from clients in unit trusts (UTs). iFast’s assets under administration (AUA) grew 57.3% YoY to SG$17.54bn as at the end of June 2021 from SG$16.11bn as at the end of March 2021.


Related tickers: SGX (SGXL.SI), HSBC Holdings (0005.HK), Intel Corp (INTC.O), Tencent (0700.HK), ICICI Bank Ltd (ICBK.NS), iFAST (IFAS.SI)

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