We see investor opportunity in Stobart’s main divisions of Aviation and Energy, which continue to perform well and will benefit from planned investment, notably in Aviation, which should expand the business and drive long-term profitability. Underlying EBITDA grew strongly, up 10% in the first half. Aviation saw a strong rise in both passenger numbers and underlying EBITDA per passenger at London Southend airport, its main business. Energy’s performance has benefitted from higher volumes, a better customer mix, operational gearing and cost management.
Underlying H119 EBITDA rose from £15.4m to £17.0m, reflecting growth in the main divisions of Aviation and Energy. In Aviation, London Southend airport (LSA) saw strong growth of 37% in passenger numbers and 87% in underlying EBITDA per passenger. Management outlined new airline agreements and plans for further retail development at LSA which should boost future performance. Energy’s underlying EBITDA rose from £4.6m to £8.7m; plants commissioned last year are now approaching commercial volumes, customer mix improved and operational gearing improved in tandem with cost management. On the negative side, Rail & Civils’s underlying EBITDA swung from £1.4m profit to a loss of £4.8m, although management emphasises that this division is already turning around.
Since our last note in January we have reviewed our model for Stobart Group and take this opportunity to reset forecasts. We reduce our FY19 underlying EBITDA from £39.0m to £25.7m, mainly to account for the move from profit to loss at Rail & Civils, and introduce a FY20 estimate of £41.4m, reflecting a return to profit in Rail & Civils and continued growth in Aviation and Energy.
We have adjusted our valuation from 285p per share to 275p, mainly to reflect the reduction in our forecasts, partly offset by a reduction in WACC. Our valuation uses a core DCF and an additional value for the company’s stake in Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL).