Recovery in passenger traffic likely in 2023

Most analysts covering the stock were disappointed with the recent financial results by AirAsia but that was only to be expected, given the slump in air travel.

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group Bhd will need further capital to stay afloat and wait for better times until the borders open up and people can travel with confidence.

That is what most airlines globally are doing as the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has caused mayhem to the travel and airlines balance sheet.

They have to continue to sustain in order to ride the tide as air travel picks up.

Most analysts covering the stock were disappointed with the recent financial results by AirAsia but that was only to be expected, given the slump in air travel.

Some analysts continued to have a “sell’’ call on the stock and given the company’s latest financial results, some research houses have also revised their earnings forecast and share price targets.

Maybank Investment Bank Research believes that a full recovery in passengers carried will be delayed by a year to financial year 2023 (FY23).

With the current interstate travel ban in Malaysia and rising fuel prices, it said FY21 will likely be another difficult year.

The research unit has also cut its passenger carried forecast.

Meanwhile, AmInvestment Research added that during its recent analyst briefing, AirAsia reiterated its plans to raise RM2bil-RM2.5bil fresh funds from a combination of equity and debt.

Thus far it has completed its private placement and raised proceeds of about RM336mil.

“It hopes to embark on a rights issue by second quarter FY21 and it is also in final stages of discussion for a government guarantee loan (Danajamin Prihatin Guarantee Scheme), ’’ AmInvestment said.

It added that AirAsia has secured “commitments from two banks” so far with regards to the scheme.

“We believe it is highly critical for AirAsia to shore up its liquidity quickly, given its cash burn rate, which we estimate at about RM350mil per month, ’’ AmInvestment said.

AirAsia turned in net losses of RM5.1bil for FY20 versus a net loss of RM315mil a year earlier.

This is led by lower sales while the airline also booked a series of impairment losses. Its core loss was RM3.6bil versus consensus’ RM3.1bil.

This also dragged its share price down, though marginally, in yesterday’s trading to RM1.07, down 6 sen.

Kenanga Research raised its share target price from 38 sen to 70 sen based on nine times FY22 earnings per share, while MIDF Research revised its target to 21 sen from 37 sen.

However, TA Research said it was less sceptical of AirAsia’s fundraising programmes, thus removing the 50% discount attached to AirAsia’s valuation.

It raised AirAsia’s target price to RM1.23 per share from 77 sen previously and upgraded the stock to “hold” from “sell.”

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