Inside the Market’s roundup of some of today’s key analyst actions
Ahead of the start of second-quarter earnings season for Canadian banks next week, a group of analysts on the Street adjusted their target prices for stocks in the sector on Thursday.
Though he doesn’t “expect quite the same magnitude of beats and earnings revisions this time around,” Scotia Capital’s Menny Grauman remains “very bullish” on both the quarter and the outlook for the sector as a whole.
“Beyond red-hot mortgages, we believe that credit will once again be a key driver of results this quarter,” he said. “Lower-than-expected loan loss provisions helped drive the massive beats we saw in Q1, and we expect a repeat this time around as reserve releases become a bigger part of the story. Given that the pandemic continues to rage in Canada, at this stage reserve releases will be much more muted than what we saw in the US, but nevertheless we will see reserve releases this quarter as economic indicators improve and management teams get more confident in the post-pandemic future. Certainly, investors will try to look beyond credit and zero in on PTPP earnings growth, but nevertheless this dynamic will drive core EPS beats, and push up excess capital as OSFI’s ban on buybacks and dividend increases continues.”
Mr. Grauman upgraded Canadian Western Bank (CWB-T) to “sector outperform” from “sector perform” with a $36 target, falling 23 cents short of the average on the Street.
““From a positioning perspective, we continue to believe that the entire sector is a buy, but among the individual names we think that investors should be looking towards the valuations laggards as the market’s focus is now squarely on value instead of safety,” he said. “As a result we reiterate our Sector Outperform rating on CIBC and keep it at the top spot in our pecking order, but also highlight NA as a favourite name. We are also adding Canadian Western Bank to our growing list of buys in the space since we now believe that the bank can easily beat management guidance as the outlook for credit and margins continues to improve”
Mr. Grauman also made these target price adjustments:
- Bank of Montreal (BMO-T, “sector outperform”) to $137 from $126. Average: $124.13.
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM-T, “sector outperform”) to $156 from $144. Average: $138.39.
- Laurentian Bank of Canada (LB-T, “sector perform”) to $46 from $44. Average: $42.
- National Bank of Canada (NA-T, “sector outperform”) to $104 from $98. Average: $93.32.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RY-T, “sector outperform”) to $140 from $133. Average: $127.96.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD-T, “sector perform”) to $95 from $91. Average: $87.06.
Seeing a “brighter macroeconomic environment,” Credit Suisse’s Mike Rizvanovic raised his earnings expectations for the quarter, leading to higher targets.
“With the economic rebound picking up momentum, we have increased our EPS forecasts for the group through F2022 heading into Q2 earnings season largely to reflect less severe PCLs, and we expect to see further evidence of normalization in the quarter for key earnings drivers with margins stabilizing, fee-based revenue trending higher, PCLs on performing loans gradually reversing, and higher-spread lending beginning to recover,” he said. “Our target prices move up on both our EPS revisions and a higher PE multiple (11.3 times now vs. 10.8 times previously), although our ratings remain unchanged. Heading into the quarter we continue to favor NA, RY, and BMO, and are most concerned about BNS given ongoing headwinds in the bank’s LatAm footprint.”
Mr. Rizvanovic’s changes are:
- Bank of Montreal (BMO-T, “outperform”) to $125 from $113. Average: $124.13.
- Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS-T, “underperform”) to $77 from $75. Average: $83.36.
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM-T, “neutral”) to $131 from $123. Average: $138.39.
- Canadian Western Bank (CWB-T, “outperform”) to $39 from $37. Average: $36.23.
- Laurentian Bank of Canada (LB-T, “underperform”) to $38 from $36. Average: $42.
- National Bank of Canada (NA-T, “outperform”) to $96 from $87. Average: $93.32.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RY-T, “outperform”) to $125 from $118. Average: $127.96.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD-T, “underperform”) to $84 from $77. Average: $87.06.
CIBC’s Paul Holden said there are “plenty of reasons to remain positive on the banking sector,” pointing to “growing fee income, diminishing credit risk, record capital ratios and the potential to benefit from rising interest rates.”
“While FQ2 results may be hindered by the lack of net interest income (NII) growth, many of the other positives should come through,” he said. “Our FQ2 estimates are 6.5 per cent higher than consensus, on average, and we believe there is capacity for further positive revisions to 2022 consensus. While valuation multiples are now at a modest premium to trailing five-year averages, we think there are sufficient potential catalysts that the sector can continue to trade well. We like the group as a whole and our favourite names are TD, BMO, BNS and CWB.”
Mr. Holden’s changes were:
- Bank of Montreal (BMO-T, “outperformer”) to $136 from $132. Average: $124.13.
- Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS-T, “outperformer”) to $91 from $86. Average: $83.36.
- Canadian Western Bank (CWB-T, “outperformer”) to $41 from $38. Average: $35.38.
- Laurentian Bank of Canada (LB-T, “underperformer”) to $40 from $37. Average: $42.
- National Bank of Canada (NA-T, “neutral”) to $98 from $89. Average: $93.32.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RY-T, “neutral”) to $133 from $120. Average: $127.96.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD-T, “outperformer”) to $97 from $88. Average: $87.06.
With a “more constructive” view of its fundamentals, Citi analyst Stephen Trent raised his rating for Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B-T) to “buy” from “neutral” on Thursday.
“When we reinstated coverage of Bombardier in January with a Neutral/High Risk rating, concerns about the speed at which the company could move up the Global 7500 production learning curve, potentially excessive trade-in activity on jet sales and balance sheet instability were key concerns,” he said. “However, since that time, none of these issues have come to pass — and we regret missing the opportunity to get investors more involved in the shares at lower levels. Nevertheless, applying a reduced target multiple to higher 2022E EBITDA now puts enough upside on the shares, to upgrade Bombardier.”
Mr. Trent sees the Montreal-based company poised to continue to generate higher margins on its Global 7500 ultra-long-range business jet program, and emphasized that “previous concerns about significant discounting on deliveries have not materialized.”
“At the same time, trade-in activity appears to be very limited and the growing contribution from aftermarket services is positive for sales mix (A trade-in occurs when a customer purchasing a new aircraft, convinces the manufacturer of the new aircraft to purchase that customer’s used plane, in order to effect the sale),” the analyst said. “Meanwhile, Bombardier continues to make other strides, which at least somewhat help de-risk the company’s balance sheet.”
Seeing its long-term operations as looking more stable than he previously anticipated, Mr. Trent raised his target for Bombardier shares to $1.20 from 73 cents. The average on the Street is 87 cents.
“Although Bombardier’s shares have done very well year-to-date, they are down a (mild) 10 per cent versus the year-to-date peak that the shares reached early last month,” he said. “Nevertheless, in spite of the more constructive view on Bombardier’s fundamentals, Citi maintains the High Risk qualifier on the shares, owning to the company’s high financial leverage and to its significant share price volatility. Downside risks include interest rate increases that could pressure the company’s debt servicing costs, as well as unexpected taxation on luxury products such as business jets.”
In a research report titled Time-tested inflation hedges, Desjardins Securities analyst John Sclodnick initiated coverage of four gold producers and five gold developers on Thursday.
His top producer pick is Argonaut Gold Inc. (AR-T), citing its an ongoing transformation. He set a “buy” recommendation and $4.25 target, which falls below the $4.97 average on the Street.
“Using cash flows from its assets in Mexico to help fund development of the Magino project in Ontario, the company will go from being a Mexican heap leacher with a high cost base to emerge as a lower-cost, more diversified producer with a long-life asset in a stable jurisdiction,” said Mr. Sclodnick. “While there are certainly risks along the way, we believe that patient investors should be rewarded with a significant valuation re-rating; or, if it does not re-rate, then we see the company as a compelling takeout candidate.”
The analyst’s top developer pick is Minera Alamos Inc. (MAI-X), which he gives a “buy” rating and $1.30 target, exceeding the $1.06 consensus.
“We see the company quickly moving from being a developer to a multi-asset producer, with each asset having an exceptional IRR and low capital intensity,” he said. “With the first asset pouring gold around mid-year, the company will begin to reinvest cash flows into exploration and development of the next asset and should experience a re-rating as it transitions to producer status.”
Mr. Sclodnick also initiated coverage of these producers:
* Equinox Gold Corp. (EQX-T) with a “buy” rating and $14 target. Average: $18.53.
Analyst: “We view the current valuation as an attractive entry point while the company makes the necessary investments to drive up production and drive down costs, which should result in EBITDA increasing 67 per cent next year based on our estimates and potentially force a re-rating. Based on consensus estimates, Equinox is currently trading at 0.55 times NAV (0.57 times based on our estimate), which is a 29-per-cent discount to the intermediate peer average and is near the lowest P/NAV valuation on consensus numbers in the last two years where it traded as low as 0.51 times. This discount is unjustified in our view, and we believe the stock will re-rate over the course of the year to trade more in line with peers.”
* Lundin Gold Inc. (LUG-T) with a “hold” rating and $14 target. Average: $15.03.
Analyst: “In our view, the positive outlook for the company and the jurisdiction is priced in with the stock trading at 0.95 times our NAV estimate and at a premium of 22 per cent and 33 per cent to peers on a NAV and EBITDA basis, respectively. Furthermore, the company will experience a declining production profile following the peak in 2022. It is Lundin Gold’s current valuation vs peers, combined with its asset’s production profile and jurisdictional risk in Ecuador, that drives our Hold rating at this juncture.”
* Pure Gold Mining Inc. (PGM-X) with a “hold” rating and $1.80 target. Average: $2.17.
Analyst: “Our Hold rating is driven by early ramp-up issues, namely a mill feed grade well below expectations in 1Q due to unexpected mining dilution. While the company has reported improvements over the last few weeks, we would like to see more consistency. If realized head grades meet expectations in the coming quarters, we believe that the stock should regain its premium multiple but the current valuation does not offer sufficient upside considering the ramp-up risk, in our view.”
He also initiated coverage of these developers:
* Integra Resources Corp. (ITR-X) with a “buy” rating and $7 target. Average: $7.87.
Analyst: “Its DeLamar project has a large and growing resource in a stable operating jurisdiction and there are several opportunities to optimize the project. One of these is a high-grade exploration campaign which, if successful, could displace low-grade mill feed with higher-grade material, driving NAV accretion. Another area is improved silver recoveries, which is a focus of the upcoming PFS; with silver prices as a greater economic driver of the project, it could attract more attention from silver producers looking to lower their cost base and risk profile as well as from silver investors who, due to a lack of investment opportunities, have driven silver company valuations to an average of 1.5 times NAV vs gold producers at 0.75 times and gold developers at 0.58 times.”
* Liberty Gold Corp. (LGD-T) with a “buy” rating and $2.75 target. Avergae: $2.99.
Analyst: “With a strong balance sheet and the potential for another asset sale, investors can get in at a low valuation and without incurring any significant share dilution until a construction decision is made...that is if the company is not acquired before then.”
* Marathon Gold Corp. (MOZ-T) with a “buy” rating and $3.50 target. Average: $4.06.
Analyst: “Marathon Gold is a developer stock which checks all the boxes that investors look for—it has nearly 5moz of resources at relatively high grades for an open pit, which should translate into strong margins once it is in production. Moreover, it is in a safe operating jurisdiction and is well-advanced in the permitting process, with a feasibility-level study and demonstrated resource growth potential beyond that. All this makes for a compelling takeout target, and if it is acquired for the average price paid per ounce of recent Canadian projects, this would require a takeout premium of 37 per cent vs Friday’s (May 14) closing price.”
* Osisko Development Corp. (ODV-X) with a “buy” rating and $10.75 target. Average: $11.42.
Analyst: “Investors have an opportunity to participate in the Osisko team’s most advanced mining project as it looks to repeat the success it had at Canadian Malartic with another brownfield project in Canada. We like its approach of getting cash flowing from smaller mines first, which will both help fund development but also potentially allow for a higher valuation when funding is needed to build the prize that is the Cariboo project. The Cariboo project is a district play with potential to develop into a long-life mining camp, as numerous exploration targets have already been identified on the extensive, highly prospective land package.”
Elsewhere, Stifel analyst Ingrid Rico resumed coverage of Integra Resources Corp. (ITR-X) with a “buy” rating and $8 target.
“ITR offers investors exposure to a gold-silver project in southwestern Idaho, USA, that is on a dual-path of de-risking future production and demonstrating further blue-sky exploration upside,” she said. “The 2019 PEA confirmed an attractive base-case for the restart of the past-producing DeLamar project, and we expect a PFS (in 4Q 2021) to build up on this and show the scalability of the project. The confirmation of high-grade structures at Florida Mountain has been a promising new positive. Regional exploration is, in our view, also an important part of the story.”
After a “solid” first-quarter for TSX-listed mining royalty and streaming companies that featured record gold equivalent ounces (GEOs), Canaccord Genuity analyst Carey MacRury sees further growth ahead.
“Royalty companies offer precious metals exposure without the cost inflation risk,” he said. “Front and center on most mining company conference calls were questions on cost inflation risks from rising oil and steel prices as well as from a weaker USD. While most producers downplayed the near-term significance of this to their operations (and largely maintaining cost guidance), we believe cost inflation fears are weighing on investors’ minds given the rampant inflation seen in the last cycle particularly now with the price strength across most commodities.
“Given the solid performance year-to-date and without cost inflation exposure, the royalties have seen the best share price performance as a group with a median gain of 20 per cent versus the seniors at 3 per cent and intermediate/juniors at a decline of 3 per cent with returns more widely dispersed. Gold is down 1.5 per cent year-to-date.”
In reaction to a “slight” earnings beat and a 25-per-cent increase to its quarterly dividend, Mr. MacRury upgraded Maverix Metals Inc. (MMX-T) to “buy” from “hold” based on valuation. His target for its shares rose to $8.25 from $8, exceeding the $8.18 average.
Conversely, he downgraded Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (SSL-T) to “hold” from “buy” with a $11 target (unchanged), below the $12.44 average, seeing limited return to his target.
He also made these target changes:
- Altius Minerals Corp. (ALS-T, “buy”) to $20 from $19. Average: $20.
- Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV-T, “buy”) to $200 from $195. Average: $198.05.
He maintained a “buy” ratings for both Osisko and Wheaton. His targets are $24 and $70, respectively.
Expecting to see improvements in some gold miners toward the second half of 2021 as deferred spending and stripping are completed after a slow start to the year, National Bank Financial analysts adjusted their target prices for a group of TSX-listed stocks on Thursday.
Their changes include:
- Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM-T, “outperform”) to $108 from $97. Average: $86.64.
- Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI-T, “outperform”) to $14.25 from $13.25. Average: $14.78.
- Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX-T, “outperform”) to $39 from $36. Average: $29.80.
- B2Gold Corp. (BTO-T, “outperform”) to $10 from $9.50. Average: $9.07.
- Centerra Gold Inc. (CG-T, “outperform”) to $11.25 from $10.25. Average: $10.12.
- First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM-T, “outperform”) to $40 from $30.25. Average: $33.60.
- Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV-T, “sector perform”) to $200 from $195. Average: $198.05.
- Hudbay Minerals Inc. (HBM-T, “sector perform”) to $13 from $12.50. Average: $13.04.
- Kinross Gold Corp. (K-T, “outperform”) to $15 from $14. Average: $14.63.
- Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. (KL-T, “sector perform”) to $57 from $52. Average: $67.18.
- Newmont Corp. (NGT-T, “outperform”) to $108 from $101. Average: $101.
- Teck Resources Ltd. (TECK.B-T, “outperform”) to $36 from $32.25. Average: $31.36.
- Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (WPM-T, “outperform”) to $75 from $72.50. Average: $71.41.
Canaccord’s John Bereznicki sees tailwinds gaining momentum for midstream companies in his coverage universe “as 2020 moves further into the rearview.”
“The midstream sector enjoyed strengthening oil, liquids and natural gas pricing in Q1/21 as industry production volumes continued to normalize,” he said on Thursday. “Four of our coverage companies (ALA, IPL, KEY and GEI) beat consensus EBITDA while two (PPL and TWM) met Street expectations. In many cases, these companies benefited from strong spot fractionation economics and system volumes in excess of take-or-pay thresholds. While most commodity marketing segments faced lingering headwinds in Q1/21, we generally expect them to carry positive momentum into the second quarter. We nonetheless believe a strengthening C$ could remain a sector headwind as 2021 unfolds.”
Mr. Bereznicki said multiples in the sector have inflected, and he sees further upside potential moving forward.
“Sector EV/EBITDA multiples bottomed late last year and have been trending upward since,” he said. “We believe recovering fundamentals are improving growth prospects for the sector while reducing balance sheet and counterparty risk. We believe this is reflected by recent credit-positive rating agency announcements for PPL, ALA, IPL, and TWM. While cognizant that energy transition uncertainties will likely remain an overhang to sector valuation metrics, we nonetheless see further upside given the current commodity price backdrop and are increasing several of our target prices.”
The analysts target changes were:
- AltaGas Ltd. (ALA-T, “buy”) to $27 from $25. Average: $24.97.
- Gibson Energy Inc. (GEI-T, “buy”) to $27 from $25. Average: $24.47.
- Keyera Corp. (KEY-T, “buy”) to $34 from $30. Average: $31.29.
- Pembina Pipeline Corp. (PPL-T, “buy”) to $44 from $42. Average: $39.40.
Though the reopening of Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s (QSR-N, QSR-T) dine-in locations from pandemic-related closures has been “gradual thus far,” trailing rival McDonald’s Corp. (MCD-N), Citi analyst Sergio Matsumoto expects the pace to continue to pick up.
“May’s Geo-Tracker data indicate MCD’s dine-in channel is now fully open (99 per cent), concluding an accelerated reopening since March,” he said. “It eclipsed QSR’s Burger King that still stands at 63 per cent open for dine-in. We believe certain BK franchisees are still leaning on drive-thru centric operations to contain personnel expenses as to bolster their own profitability. BK also pushed more for delivery availability in recent months, according to data compiled by Citi’s Research Innovation Lab. However, BK should experience topline-driven operating leverage from the reopening of remaining stores over the next months.”
Mr. Matsumoto thinks Burger King’s sales should benefit “from dine-in reopening from 63 per cent to fully-open to capture increasingly mobile customers who choose to drive further to Burger King stores to dine in.”
“In addition, QSR stock still has upside from the eventual Canadian mobility restoration, benefiting BK’s sister brand Tim Hortons,” he said.
Keeping a “buy” rating for Restaurant Brands shares, he increased his target to US$78 from US$74, exceeding the US$71.38 average.
“Our Buy rating reflects the virtuous cycle of improvement in the performance of its 3 brands (Tim Hortons, Burger King, and Popeyes), which elevates the unit economics among the franchisees, that in turn enables the long-term guidance of reaching 40,000 units by 2028 or 5-per-cent CAGR [compound annual growth rate]. The source of this restaurant unit growth is particularly in the international market with Burger King and Popeyes in the US should also see double-digit growth driven by increasing consumer recognition of the brand,” the analyst said.
He maintained a “neutral” rating with a US$250 target, up from US$230 but the US$256.63 average, for McDonald’s shares.
Seeing it possessing a “top-tier jurisdictional profile with a pathway to scale,” Stifel analyst Ian Parkinson initiated coverage of Vancouver-based i-80 Gold Corp. (IAU-T) with a “buy” rating.
“We like the company’s growth profile and geographic focus in Nevada along the namesake i-80 corridor, and note the current market void of a 100-per-cent U.S.-based gold producer with line of sight to scale,” he said. “i-80 has the current cash flowing Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) operated South Arturo mine, a unique backstop for developing gold companies, allowing the company to focus on developing McCoy Cove and Getchell. McCoy Cove provides a low capital opportunity to boost consolidated gold production towards 200kozpa, and Getchell only sweetens the asset base with more than 2 million ounces in global resources.
“In an industry with almost inescapable political risk, i-80 offers a unique 100-per-cent Nevada focused venture. Nevada needs no introduction to gold bugs but very seldom do any juniors come with the land package of i-80. Nevada is not just a company making jurisdiction, but it also does not have the risks often associated with other regions, in our view. We are hearing talk of a changing taxation landscapes in some South American countries. Others are talking about increasing resource nationalism, these do not impact i-80.”
Emphasizing its “strong balance sheet out of the game” with its financial commitment from Equinox Gold Corp. (EQX-T), Mr. Parkinson set a target of $4.25 per share.
In other analyst actions:
* CIBC World Markets analyst Kevin Chiang cut his target for CAE Inc. (CAE-T) to $43 from $44 with an “outperformer” rating, while Canaccord’s Doug Taylor raised his target to $40 from $38 with a “hold” recommendation. The average on the Street is $43.33.
“CAE reported a March Q4 quarter that featured a slight beat on headline expectations driven mostly by non-recurring ventilator sales in its Health unit,” said Mr. Taylor. “The outlook points to further gradual recovery in the civil and defense & security markets in F2022. We continue to suggest that this recovery is to a great degree factored into the current valuation. We look for better visibility to the shape of the recovery and ultimate state of the industry post-pandemic to justify higher valuations – management points to further detail to be provided next quarter.”
* Several analysts resumed coverage of Crombie Real Estate Investment Trust (CRR.UN-T) following completion of a $100-million. equity raise. They include: CIBC’s Sumayya Syed with a target of $18, up from $16.75, with an “outperformer” rating; TD Securities’ Sam Damiani with a “hold” recommendation and $17 target, up from $16.50; Scotia’s Mario Saric with an $18 target, up from $17.75, with a “sector outperform” rating and National Bank’s Tal Woolley with an “outperform” rating and $18.50 target. The average is $17.38.
* Desjardins Securities analyst David Newman resumed coverage of CareRX Corp. (CRRX-T) following its equity financing with a “buy” rating and $10 target, up from $7.50 and exceeding the $8.78 average, while Echelon Capital’s Stefan Quenneville increased his target to $8 from $7.25 with a “buy” recommendation.
“CRRX is an emerging quality compounder, well-positioned to capitalize on secular industry tailwinds, contract renewals and organic growth opportunities, as well as further consolidation trends in a fragmented market,” he said.
* Canaccord Genuity’s Brendon Abrams raised his target for Dream Industrial REIT (DIR.UN-T) to $16 from $15, keeping a “buy” rating. The average on the Street is $15.28.
“We believe Dream Industrial should trade at a premium to NAV given our expectation for downward pressure on industrial real estate cap rates, potential accretion to cash flow per unit by deploying excess balance sheet capacity towards acquisitions, and strong organic growth from marking in-place rental rates to market, particularly in its GTA and Montreal portfolio,” he said.
* BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst John Gibson initiated coverage of Xebec Adsorption Inc. (XBC-T) with an “outperform” rating and $5.60 target, topping the average by 10 cents.
“XBC is a global provider of renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen systems, which we expect should experience significant industry growth over the next several decades. The company will need to execute better on its current order book and its growth program, however, and this causes us to rate the shares as Outperform (Speculative),” he said.
* Mr. Gibson cut his Computer Modelling Group Ltd. (CMG-T) target to $7 from $7.50 with an “outperform” rating. The average is currently $6.82.
“CMG reported modestly light FQ4/21 results, mostly the result of higher-than-expected R&D spending in the quarter. More positively, Annuity/Maintenance revenue is trending up once again, likely on the back of some Perpetual wins in its non-North American regions in prior quarters,” he said.
* TD Securities analyst Daryl Young increased his Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (ITP-T) target to $38, which is 39 cents below the consensus, from $35 with a “buy” rating.
* TD’s Arun Lamba raised his Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. (WDO-T) target to $15 from $13.50, maintaining a “buy” rating. The average is $14.10.
* PI Financial analyst Kris Thompson initiated coverage of Think Research Corp. (THNK-X) with a “buy” rating and $5.50 target, exceeding the $5.13 average.
“We see a number of catalysts over the near term generating interest in the stock including: expanding EBITDA as recent acquisitions are brought into the fold, accretive M&A, margin expansion from organic growth, and a graduation to the TSX senior exchange that should attract more investor interest,” he said.