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Financial overview


Aspo - Improvement ahead in Q4

15.09.2020 | Company update

Aspo reissued guidance for this year. In our view the main takeaway is that improvement will be visible in Q4 figures, albeit there’s still long way to reach the targets set for ’23. Our TP is EUR 7.25 (6.00), rating BUY (HOLD).

Q4 will mark the beginning of profitability rebound

Aspo now guides FY ’20 EBIT to be in the EUR 12-16m range, compared to EUR 21.1m last year. Aspo says Telko’s (including Kauko) development has proved a positive surprise while Leipurin has been able to defend its profitability despite exceptional circumstances. Aspo expects the combined EBIT for Telko and Leipurin segments will be higher this year than in ‘19 (the combined figure amounted to EUR 11.0m last year). Meanwhile Aspo estimates ESL will post a negative result for Q3 but expects Q4 to be clearly profitable as e.g. steel industry production shutdowns end and cargo volumes will begin to grow.

Q4 results will still be significantly below target levels

The new range’s EUR 14.0m midpoint is lower than our previous EUR 15.3m estimate, the difference being mostly due to ESL’s expected negative Q3 result (which we previously estimated at EUR 0.4m). We now expect ESL to post EUR -0.2m in Q3 EBIT. We leave our FY ’20 estimates intact for other segments, and so we now expect Aspo to post EUR 14.6m EBIT this year. In our view the guidance reissue is positive news for Aspo shareholders in terms of informational content as it hints at relatively brisk profitability rebound in Q4. On the other hand, Q4 EBIT, which we now estimate at EUR 4.8m, will still be far from Aspo’s full potential. According to the long-term targets published at last fall’s CMD, Aspo aims for 6% EBIT margin in ‘23 (vs our 3.9% estimate for Q4). ESL’s targets imply EUR 24m in annual EBIT, or some EUR 6m on a quarterly level (vs our EUR 2.8m estimate for Q4). Telko and Leipurin will likewise still be generating EBIT margins clearly below their respective 6% and 5% targets.

Uncertainty remains, but we see surprises tilting to upside

The guidance pushes away some uncertainty, yet it was previously known this year will fall significantly below long-term potential. Next year’s profit gradient is the key question; the main upside driver is found in positive surprises for ‘21. Although it’s early to wait such news, we see valuation attractive already in terms of SOTP. Our TP is EUR 7.25 (6.00), rating BUY (HOLD).

Aspo - Navigation is still challenging

13.08.2020 | Company update

Aspo Q2 was stronger than expected thanks to Telko, but the report and comments painted a cautious short-term picture. Our TP remains EUR 6.0, retain HOLD rating.

Some beacons of light but still surrounded by thick fog

ESL’s top line declined by 23% y/y and at EUR 32.9m was clearly below our EUR 40.1m estimate. Q2 EBIT, at EUR 0.6m, thus didn’t meet our EUR 1.6m estimate. Steel industry cargo volumes fell steep and energy industry activity wasn’t much better. Smaller vessels continued to perform quite well but many larger ones operated in weak spot markets. ESL managed to shave fixed costs by EUR 0.9m and Aspo says cost measures will be fully realized in Q3, however Q3 outlook is not bright as steel industry volumes will be low with rebound now expected for Q4. Meanwhile Telko posted EUR 4.2m EBIT (vs our EUR 1.1m estimate), a strong show given that revenue declined by 26% y/y to EUR 59.5m (vs our EUR 63.1m estimate). Telko’s performance is clearly on an improving trend thanks to efforts addressing e.g. working capital efficiency. It however seems Q2 EBIT margin was exceptionally high and current outlook is challenging especially in Ukraine and Russia. Leipurin Q2 revenue fell by 17% y/y and the EUR 0.3m EBIT didn’t meet our EUR 0.6m estimate as certain machinery deliveries bound for Russia were postponed to H2.

We cut estimates due to cautious market comments

Aspo’s H1 figures already reflected the pandemic shock yet Q3 remains challenging especially for ESL. We now expect ESL EBIT at EUR 0.4m and EUR 2.9m respectively for Q3 and Q4. In our view Aspo’s unofficial soft guidance for Telko FY ’20 (flat y/y absolute profitability i.e. some EUR 8m) seems a bit conservative given the EUR 6.6m accumulated already in H1. We expect Telko Q3 EBIT at EUR 2.3m. We cut our H2 EBIT estimate all in all by EUR 4.0m to EUR 7.2m, reflecting Aspo’s cautious comments.

Strong rebound remains a possibility yet not imminent

It’s clear this year will be quite soft figurewise with ESL only beginning to rebound in Q4. There’s thus clear upside relative to long-term estimates, yet in our view given the prolonged pandemic uncertainty it takes a lot of conviction to rely on that outlook. In terms of SOTP there’s potential with respect to the ’19 and ’20 average, however that approach relies on Telko’s FY ’20 improvement. Our TP remains EUR 6, rating HOLD.

Aspo - Major earnings beat due to Telko

12.08.2020 | Earnings Flash

Aspo clearly beat estimates in terms of profitability, managing to post flat EBIT despite a significant drop in revenue as Telko’s profitability proved a huge positive surprise.

  • Aspo Q2 revenue amounted to EUR 115.6m vs EUR 130.5m/127.1m Evli/consensus estimates.
  • Q2 EBIT was EUR 4.1m, compared to the EUR 2.1m/2.0m Evli/consensus estimates. ESL and Leipurin underperformed relative to our estimates while Telko beat our EBIT estimate significantly.
  • ESL’s top line was EUR 32.9m while we expected EUR 40.1m. EBIT amounted to EUR 0.6m vs our EUR 1.6m expectation. Cargo volumes decreased to 3.0m tonnes (4.1m tonnes a year ago). Two-thirds of the volume decrease was due to steel industry and roughly one-third due to energy industry. Q3 result is expected to be weak.
  • Telko posted EUR 59.5m in Q2 revenue in comparison to our EUR 63.1m estimate. EBIT was EUR 4.2m while we had expected EUR 1.1m. Exceptional circumstances enabled highly active pricing, which temporarily increased margins. Gross margin is expected to decrease in H2 relative to Q2, but overall should improve slightly for FY ’20. Temporary cost measures will have a relatively significant impact in Q3 and FY ’20 profitability should be at the level of previous year.
  • Leipurin Q2 revenue amounted to EUR 23.2m vs our EUR 27.3m estimate. Meanwhile EBIT stood at EUR 0.3m in comparison to our EUR 0.6m expectation.
  • Other operations cost EUR 1.0m vs our EUR 1.2m estimate.
  • Aspo withdrew guidance in April and does not reinstate it for now.

Aspo - Improvement outlook unclear

06.05.2020 | Company update

Aspo’s operations ran rather normal in Q1, but profitability is under more pressure in Q2 and it’s quite uncertain how strong EBIT might rebound in H2’20. We have cut our estimates, our TP is now EUR 6.00 (6.25), rating HOLD.

The segments will perform far short of their potential

The nascent pandemic began to impair ESL’s EBIT early on in Q1 as the escalating situation in China had a substantial negative effect on shipping rates. ESL’s Q1 EBIT thus fell to EUR 2.3m from EUR 3.2m a year ago. ESL was able to run its operations without interruptions and cargo volumes declined only slightly to 3.5m tonnes (3.6m tonnes a year ago), helped by stable levels for smaller vessels. Demand for larger vessels, however, remains rather weak and this also negatively affects demand for loading services. Q2 is thus set to be worse. Telko’s EUR 2.4m EBIT in the face of falling volumes and prices was in our view strong show (revenue down 12% y/y), yet the operational improvements are probably not going to help figures that much in the near-term considering the kind of macroeconomic outlook e.g. vaporizing oil prices are indicating. Leipurin’s EBIT improved to EUR 0.6m, but many customers such as restaurants, cafes and small bakeries are suffering. Large industrial bakeries saw demand briefly spike but the situation has since normalized.

We now expect FY ’20 EBIT to decline almost 20%

We have cut our estimates especially for Telko. We now expect Telko’s FY ’20 revenue to decline by 14% and see EBIT down to EUR 6.4m compared to EUR 8.0m last year. For Q2 we see Telko revenue down 22% y/y. We estimate Aspo’s FY ’20 EBIT at EUR 17.4m (previously estimated EUR 20.7m) as macroeconomic recovery prospects have continued to deteriorate. H2’20 remains particularly uncertain in terms of ESL’s cargo volume outlook (on which EBIT improvement mainly relies). In our view Aspo’s creditworthiness is not in question (the company also has a EUR 67m liquidity position), but from a shareholder point of view the pace of improvement remains crucial, and right now it’s unclear just how quickly profitability could reach more attractive levels.

We see current valuation fair in the present environment

Our view is unchanged in the sense that higher profitability potential remains, but for now it’s difficult to rely on long-term estimates. Our TP is EUR 6.00 (6.25), rating still HOLD.

Aspo - Q2 will be weaker

05.05.2020 | Earnings Flash

Aspo disclosed its preliminary Q1 figures already on Apr 9, in addition to withdrawing guidance for FY ’20, so there was little surprise with regards to the results released today. The pandemic did hurt Q1 figures to some extent, but the impact will be felt harder during Q2.

  • Aspo Q1 revenue stood at EUR 133.2m, down 6% y/y.
  • Q1 EBIT was EUR 4.0m. Lower shipping rates in early Q1, due to the situation in China back then, affected ESL’s profitability, while in our view Telko and Leipurin managed relatively strong operating profits. Q2, however, is bound to be worse for all three.
  • ESL Shipping’s top line was EUR 42.7m (EUR 43.7m a year ago) while EBIT amounted to EUR 2.3m (EUR 3.2m a year ago). Q1 cargo volumes declined slightly y/y from 3.6m to 3.5m tonnes. Volumes for smaller vessels remained at a normal level. ESL can operate normally, but both demand and shipping rates are set to fall further during Q2.
  • Telko’s Q1 revenue was EUR 63.6m i.e. down 12% y/y, and EBIT came in at EUR 2.4m (EUR 2.4m a year ago). Aspo expects volumes to decline rapidly during Q2.
  • Leipurin posted EUR 26.9m revenue, up 4% y/y, and EUR 0.6m EBIT (EUR 0.5m a year ago). Aspo says the pandemic will have a significant negative impact on Q2 figures.

Aspo - The pandemic stirs the picture more

14.04.2020 | Company update

Aspo withdrew FY ’20 guidance as the pandemic is yet another setback for operations. We have cut estimates according to our assumption that business will begin to normalize during Q2 as many governments are reportedly about to ease restrictions. Yet we remain cautious given the uncertainty; our TP is now EUR 6.25 (8.25), rating HOLD.

Q1 was very weak for ESL, Telko performed relatively strong

Aspo disclosed preliminary Q1 figures. ESL operated in challenging conditions as the Chinese situation in the beginning of the year already affected shipping rates. ESL’s steel and energy transport volumes decreased in Q1 and the uncertainty means there’s no solid view on cargo volume potential for the rest of the year. Aspo says smaller vessels’ cargo volumes remained at a normal level. ESL’s Q1 top line decreased by 2% y/y to EUR 42.7m (our estimate was EUR 46.7m) and EBIT decreased to EUR 2.3m compared to EUR 3.2m a year ago and our EUR 4.9m expectation. Meanwhile Telko performed relatively good as Q1 revenue amounted to EUR 63.6m i.e. down by 12% y/y but close to our EUR 63.9m estimate. Telko’s Q1 EBIT, unchanged y/y at EUR 2.4m, was slightly above our EUR 2.2m estimate. This indicates Telko’s profitability measures are having some effect. Leipurin’s Q1 revenue amounted to EUR 26.9m, up 4% y/y and in line with our EUR 26.8m estimate. Leipurin’s EBIT increased slightly to EUR 0.6m while our estimate was EUR 0.7m.

The H2’20 EBIT improvement slope is very hard to assess

Aspo previously guided FY ’20 EBIT to be higher than in ’19 (EUR 21.1m). In our view Aspo’s profitability for this year is especially difficult to estimate with current information as last year’s result doesn’t represent a high hurdle as such given the long-term potential. In a scenario closer to normal we would have expected Aspo to reach the guidance easy. Yet the potential is now even more subject to uncertainty as the macro picture is very murky. We expect better results in Q3 but see Q2 EBIT down to EUR 2.6m (we previously estimated Q2 EBIT at EUR 7.0m).

The environment justifies low valuation relative to potential

In our view the potential for higher EBIT remains, however in the current situation it’s challenging to rely on long-term estimates. Our TP is now EUR 6.25 (8.25), rating remains HOLD.

Aspo - Higher EBIT remains missing

14.02.2020 | Company update

Aspo’s EUR 5.4m Q4 EBIT missed us and consensus by ca. EUR 1.0m. The miss was due to Telko. We believe Aspo has operational upside long-term, however we also view current valuation neutral given the uncertainty surrounding the improvement slope. We have made only minor estimate revisions. Our TP remains EUR 8.25, rating still HOLD.

ESL didn’t disappoint, yet macro uncertainty still weighs

ESL posted EUR 4.4m Q4 EBIT i.e. a 5% y/y increase and slightly above our EUR 4.3m estimate. In our view this was a decent performance considering Q4 cargo volumes declined y/y from 4.5m tonnes to 4.0m tonnes as steel industry shipments fell dramatically. Energy industry shipment volumes were also soft due to warm weather. Aspo sees Baltic Sea steel industry cargo volumes now stabilizing. Even though the LNG-powered vessels as well as AtoB@C are performing well, there’s uncertainty regarding ESL’s EBIT improvement slope this year. Nevertheless, even if steel industry shipments don’t rebound meaningfully in ’20 we would still expect ESL to achieve significantly higher EBIT. Telko’s EUR 0.9m Q4 EBIT didn’t meet our EUR 2.2m estimate and declined significantly y/y from EUR 3.4m. EBIT took a EUR 0.9m hit due to low volumes and raw materials prices, and FX. Telko also destocked low-margin low-turnover inventory, which also had a negative EUR 0.9m effect. Leipurin bakery business seems to be improving especially in Russia, however given the macro uncertainties around ESL’s and Telko’s profit development we don’t see this as a meaningful enough value driver currently.

Aspo guides improving EBIT for this year

We still view ESL able to post some EUR 5-6m in quarterly EBIT; should steel industry volume development turn positive in ’20 the dry bulk carrier should have no trouble achieving EUR 20m (compared to EUR 14.6m last year). Aspo says Telko’s Q1 will still be burdened by destocking measures. In our view Telko should still be able to achieve quarterly EBIT close to EUR 3m this year.

In our view valuation is neutral given uncertainty

There’s significant upside potential relative to Aspo’s long-term targets, however in our opinion the bridge there is not as of now stable enough to turn our view more positive. Our TP is still EUR 8.25, while our rating remains HOLD.

Aspo - EBIT miss attributable to Telko

13.02.2020 | Earnings Flash

Aspo reported Q4 EBIT at EUR 5.4m i.e. missing our and consensus estimate by about EUR 1.0m. In our view the EBIT miss was wholly attributable to Telko.

  • Group revenue amounted to EUR 147.0m in Q4, compared to EUR 150.5m/152.5m Evli/consensus estimates.
  • Aspo posted EUR 5.4m Q4 EBIT whereas the expectation was EUR 6.4m/6.6m Evli/consensus.
  • ESL Shipping’s Q4 revenue stood at EUR 45.3m, while we expected EUR 44.5m. ESL Q4 EBIT was EUR 4.4m vs our EUR 4.3m estimate.
  • Telko’s revenue amounted to EUR 69.8m in Q4 vs our EUR 71.9m expectation. Meanwhile Q4 EBIT was recorded at EUR 0.9m, in comparison to our EUR 2.2m estimate. Aspo says Telko’s EBIT was burdened by measures aiming to address the low-margin low-turnover material inventories (to the tune of EUR 0.9m). The figure was also burdened by decreased volumes and raw materials prices as well as FX (a combined EUR 0.9m).
  • Leipurin’s Q4 revenue was EUR 31.9m, compared to our EUR 34.1m estimate. Leipurin posted EUR 1.1m in Q4 EBIT vs our EUR 1.0m expectation.
  • The BoD proposes EUR 0.45 dividend per share to be distributed in two installments.
  • Aspo guides operating profit to increase this year compared to the EUR 21.1m figure last year.

Aspo - CMD notes; targets softened

27.11.2019 | Company update

Aspo updated its long-term targets in connection with the CMD yesterday. There were no actual downgrades to longterm EBIT margin targets, however Aspo abandoned the target ranges’ upper limits for both ESL and Telko, in addition to pushing the margin target dates further forward into the future for all segments. Our updated TP is EUR 8.25 (8.75), while our rating remains HOLD.

ESL’s 12% EBIT margin target left intact, but pushed back

ESL now aims for EUR 200m revenue and 12% EBIT margin in ‘23. The previous target was EUR 200m revenue and 12-15% margin in ‘20. A target softening wasn’t a big surprise considering the recent cargo weakness, largely attributable to the Nordic steel industry, although in our view the ‘23 target date should leave ESL with potential for a positive surprise assuming the market challenges are not seriously prolonged. No big news regarding the fleet’s current situation were floated. ESL said it is assessing new fleet investments i.e. growth prospects beyond ‘23. These would be in the form of environmentally friendly coasters (consistent with the acquisition of AtoB@C). Such an evaluation reflects ESL’s positive outlook on biofuels volumes. ESL also told it is considering different types of ownership and financing alternatives for the potential new smaller vessels. However, no major investments are likely soon.

Telko and Leipurin margin target dates pushed back

While Telko’s volumes have developed well (+10% this year), the focus will be on improving profitability in the coming years, i.e. the story wasn’t changed. Telko’s profitability in e.g. Ukraine hasn’t been developing as hoped. Aspo also said Kauko’s annual revenue will decline to EUR 10m effective Jan 1. Telko now targets 6% EBIT margin with EUR 300m revenue (excl. Kauko) in ‘23 (previously EUR 300-350m revenue and 6-7% margin in ‘20). Leipurin still targets EUR 140m revenue and 5% EBIT margin, however the date was pushed back by a year to ‘23.

Full potential will not materialize for a while

We have updated our estimates following the new targets. We revise our estimates down especially beyond ‘20, but also see next year EBIT some EUR 2.4m lower than previously. Our new TP is EUR 8.25 (8.75). Our rating remains HOLD.

Aspo - Market softness to cut results short

21.11.2019 | Company update

Aspo abandoned its former guidance for the rest of this year as ESL’s cargo volumes will be soft due to low steel industry demand. Telko’s profitability development will remain muted especially in the Western markets. We cut our estimates, our TP is now EUR 8.75 (9.25), rating HOLD.

In our view ESL’s long-term case remains intact

As was known previously, SSAB will temporarily shut one of its two furnaces in Raahe. The seizure is expected to last some 4-6 weeks, and the furnace should be firing up again early next year. ESL had of course made allowances in its budgeting for such an event, nevertheless the shipments materialized lower than expected. We note the Baltic Dry Index has declined steeply during the last couple of months, however ESL says its Supramaxes haven’t been materially affected so far. As the new LNG-powered vessels and AtoB@C are now performing according to expectations, it follows that the lowered near-term outlook is entirely due to low steel industry shipping volumes. With regards to Telko, Aspo says the Eastern market is developing basically as before, however the Western market has proved more challenging than expected.

We cut our Q4 estimates, see higher uncertainty for Telko

We trim our Q4 estimates. We previously expected ESL to achieve EUR 5.5m in Q4 EBIT; our new estimate stands at EUR 4.3m. Our previous Q4 EBIT estimate for Telko was EUR 2.7m, and the reduced expectation amounts to EUR 2.3m. We leave our estimates for Leipurin intact. This means we estimate Aspo to post EUR 6.4m Q4 EBIT, which can be compared to the EUR 6.7m figure recorded in the previous quarter, and the adjusted EBIT of EUR 7.4m in Q4’18. We thus see Aspo reaching EUR 22.1m in FY ’19 EBIT (EUR 20.6m in ’18, or EUR 25.4m when adjusted for the Kauko write-off). Aspo now guides FY ’19 EBIT to be higher than in ’18. Aspo previously expected the figure to be in the EUR 24- 30m range. We also cut our next year estimates for Telko.

Improvement steepness is uncertain due to macro softness

Our updated TP is EUR 8.75 (9.25), rating remaining HOLD. In our view both ESL and Telko continue to hold significant improvement potential, however caution is in order considering the softness of certain key Aspo markets.

Aspo - Q4 needs to be strong

30.10.2019 | Company update

Aspo’s EUR 6.7m Q3 EBIT fell short of our EUR 7.6m estimate, yet we see the key segments making progress despite the prolonged series of disappointing earnings. Macro weakness hit both ESL and Telko in Q3; we see the segments positioned to improve despite macro headwinds. Our TP is now EUR 9.25 (9.50); we rate Aspo HOLD (BUY).

ESL’s cargo volumes disappointed projections

ESL Shipping’s Q3 EBIT of EUR 4.4m is a step forward on the path towards a materially elevated earnings level. However, we expected the dry bulk carrier to achieve a EUR 5.3m EBIT for the quarter and as such view the result disappointing. ESL shipped 4.2 million tonnes of dry cargo in Q3, which according to our view fell almost 10% short of expected levels. The company comments the volume miss was especially due to low Nordic steel industry shipments, although softness was seen also in other cargo categories such as forest products. Besides the weak Q3 cargo development, the report had a silver lining as Aspo says the LNG-powered vessels and AtoB@C are performing strong.

Chemicals prices remained soft, pressuring Telko earnings

Telko’s underlying Q3 volumes grew by 8% y/y, yet revenue decreased by 4% as plastics and chemicals prices extended their slide. The cited 16% y/y and 3% q/q chemicals price decreases meant Telko’s EUR 74.7m in Q3 revenue and EUR 2.4m EBIT fell short of our respective EUR 81.5m and EUR 2.7m estimates. This led to EBIT margin decreasing by more than 100bps y/y. However, such a comparison is not very meaningful due to the big drop in prices, and we note the 3.2% Q3 EBIT margin a clear improvement relative to Q2 as prices have continued soft. We view the figure as evidence that Telko is making progress in improving working capital management.

Aspo’s key segments were affected by macro weakness

We leave our Q4 estimates for ESL intact despite the earnings miss as we see certain positive comments (such as good demand for loading operations) balancing the negatives regarding transportation volume softness. We expect ESL to achieve EUR 5.5m in Q4 EBIT, thus bringing FY ’19 EBIT to EUR 15.7m. We update our estimates for Telko to reflect the latest market developments. We now expect Telko to achieve EUR 2.7m in Q4 EBIT (we previously expected EUR 3.0m) and thus see the chemical distributor’s FY ’19 EBIT at EUR 9.8m. We note the uncertainty is elevated concerning Telko’s profitability going forward. On the positive side, we see the company making progress with its efficiency improvement program, and thus in an improved position to post better results should markets stabilize. On the other hand, the market and price outlook stays clouded for now. Leipurin’s machinery business continued to strain profitability, and Aspo sees the business line will post an annual loss. A change in schedule for a significant Russian machinery delivery leads us to cut our Q4 EBIT estimate for Leipurin to EUR 1.0m from the previous EUR 1.3m. On the positive side, Aspo’s group administration costs only amounted EUR 0.9m (has been previously hovering around EUR 1.3m).

We update our TP, rating now HOLD (BUY)

We update our estimates, and now expect Aspo to record EUR 24.0m in FY ’19 EBIT. We expect ESL to further improve going forward and see Telko improving materially should markets and plastics and chemicals prices stabilize. Aspo left its FY ’19 guidance intact, indicating accelerating performance for Q4 and a minimum of EUR 8.3m in EBIT. Our new TP is EUR 9.25 (9.50), rating now HOLD (BUY).

Aspo - ESL’s EBIT not there yet

29.10.2019 | Earnings Flash

Aspo’s Q3 EBIT, at EUR 6.7m, missed our EUR 7.6m estimate by 12% (the consensus was EUR 7.8m). ESL improved, but still didn’t quite reach the level of EBIT we were expecting. Nevertheless, Aspo retains its FY ’19 guidance, implying steepening improvement for Q4.

  • Aspo booked Q3 revenue at EUR 148.0m, whereas we expected EUR 155.3m.
  • EBIT was EUR 6.7m vs our EUR 7.6m estimate.
  • ESL Shipping recorded EUR 43.4m in Q3 revenue vs our EUR 43.3m expectation. The dry bulk carrier posted EUR 4.4m in Q3 EBIT, compared to our EUR 5.3m estimate. Aspo says cargo volumes didn’t reach the previously estimated levels and this was especially due to steel industry shipments.
  • Telko’s Q3 revenue was EUR 74.7m compared to our EUR 81.5m estimate. The chemical distributor achieved EUR 2.4m in Q3 EBIT, while we expected EUR 2.7m. The resulting 3.2% operating margin was therefore in line with our 3.3% estimate.
  • Leipurin’s Q3 revenue stood at EUR 29.9m vs our EUR 30.5m estimate. Leipurin’s Q3 EBIT amounted to EUR 0.8m vs our EUR 0.9m expectation. The 2.7% operating margin was slightly below our 3.0% expectation.
  • Aspo retains its FY ‘19 operating profit guidance, according to which the company sees EUR 24-30m in EBIT. As Aspo booked EUR 15.7m in EBIT for the first nine months of ’19, the implication is a minimum of EUR 8.3m EBIT for Q4. In our view such a level should still be achievable, although might be a close call.

Aspo - Backed by ESL, lifted further by Telko

11.10.2019 | Company report

Aspo’s H1’19 results were subdued as ESL was hampered by a plethora of one-off problems, while Telko and Leipurin also posted weaker profits. We expect Aspo’s results will improve sharply from H2’19 onwards, particularly due to ESL as the dry bulk carrier’s recent investments start to contribute. We also expect gradual improvement for Telko and Leipurin as both segments are taking actions to address profitability. Our TP is now EUR 9.5 (9.0) due to higher peer multiples raising SOTP valuation; our rating remains BUY.

We expect ESL to carry Aspo to materially higher results

We estimate ESL’s H2’19 EBIT to almost double compared to H1’19 as the malfunctioning cranes have been fixed, the market for Supramaxes has improved, and acute issues with Baltic Sea steel industry and ports have subsided. For FY ’19 we expect ESL to record EUR 16.6m in EBIT. We estimate the figure to further improve to EUR 23.6m in 2020 as synergies with AtoB@C fully materialize. In our view ESL will remain the cornerstone of Aspo as the segment contributes ca. 60% of the conglomerate’s value.

Telko and Leipurin have plenty of improvement potential

Telko’s operating margin weakened in H1’19 as the distributor carried high inventories and plastics and chemicals prices declined. Although market outlook remains soft we expect profitability to have bottomed out as the company is taking measures to boost efficiency. In our view Telko could prove a source of further upside for Aspo shareholders as there’s good potential for improved profitability. The situation for Leipurin is not unlike that for Telko; Leipurin is developing its operations and H2’19 results are bound to improve due to machinery deliveries. We expect Telko and Leipurin to post a combined EBIT at a level EUR 5.3m higher in 2020 compared to 2019.

Value is anchored to ESL, yet Telko could move the needle

Our updated TP is EUR 9.5 (9.0) as peer multiples have increased, boosting SOTP. Our estimates for next year and beyond do not fully capture the profitability potential of Telko and Leipurin, which could drive further upside beyond ESL. Our rating is BUY.

Aspo - ESL’s EBIT set for strong gain in H2

15.08.2019 | Company update

Aspo’s Q2 didn’t alter the bigger picture much as ESL is still expected to post higher EBIT in H2’19 as investments are paying off. However, Telko’s subdued results were a negative. Our TP is now EUR 9.00 (9.25), rating BUY (HOLD).

Q2 weaker than expected as Telko was unable to improve

Aspo’s EUR 151m Q2 revenue met our expectations, yet the EUR 4.1m EBIT missed our EUR 5.2m estimate. The miss was largely attributable to Telko’s weak 2.9% operating margin (we expected 4.5%), which declined both q/q and y/y. Telko’s EUR 80.6m Q2 revenue was in line with our estimate, and improved q/q and y/y, however declining plastic raw materials and chemicals prices continued to hurt profitability as Telko’s inventories were high (although have since normalized). The strengthening Russian and Ukrainian currencies had a further negative impact. Leipurin also fell short of our expectations and last year due to the machinery business’ weakness. Meanwhile ESL posted EUR 2.6m in EBIT (we cut our estimate to EUR 1.8m after Aspo warned Q2 will be weak due to a challenging market for the Supramax vessels).

ESL’s EBIT is set to almost double in H2 compared to H1

ESL’s LNG vessels are expected to reach their full potential in H2’19 as the cranes are now functioning normally. AtoB@C is also contributing. The market for Supramaxes has improved with the Baltic Dry Index rebounding sharply from its early 2019 lows. Steel sector shipments have also normalized after Q2, a period hampered by process challenges in Baltic steel mills as well as heavy traffic at Baltic Sea ports. We thus leave our H2’19 estimates for ESL intact (expect EUR 11m in H2’19 EBIT vs EUR 8m in H2’18). We revise our Telko estimates down as the market outlook in both West and East remains cautious. We previously expected Telko to reach 4.5-5.0% EBIT margins in H2’19 but now expect ca. 3.5%. On a more positive note, Aspo says Telko has managed to improve its inventory turnover recently.

Aspo’s H1’19 was subdued, but EBIT should improve considerably in H2’19

ESL’s H1’19 was weak with EBIT amounting to EUR 5.8m vs EUR 6.9m previous year. The results were hampered by the two new LNG vessels’ crane problems (which have since been fixed) as well as challenging market for the two Supramax vessels. Moreover, Q2 was slow for steel industry shipments as Baltic Sea steel mills’ annual maintenance procedures took longer than expected. Baltic Sea ports also faced operational challenges, leading to extended waiting periods for vessels. Meanwhile Telko and Leipurin struggled to improve their profitability in H1’19 due to the former suffering from declining chemicals prices and the latter dragged by slow machinery business. Aspo’s H1’19 EBIT stood at EUR 9m (EUR 11m). We expect Aspo’s EBIT to improve to EUR 16m in H2’19.

The bulk of Aspo’s value continues to tilt towards ESL

Telko’s contribution to our SOTP valuation has dropped as we have lowered our estimates for the chemical distributor. We now expect Telko to manage EUR 10m (EUR 14m) in FY ’19 EBIT. Our TP is now EUR 9.00 (9.25) due to lower SOTP as we expect FY ’19 EBIT at EUR 25m (EUR 28m). Our rating is now BUY (HOLD).

Aspo - Weak Q2, but improvement ahead

14.08.2019 | Earnings Flash

Aspo’s Q2 revenue stood in line with our estimate, however the EUR 4m EBIT fell short of our EUR 5m expectation mostly due to Telko’s relatively low 2.9% operating margin. ESL’s EBIT came in above our estimate. Aspo had previously warned about subdued Q2 for ESL due to a challenging market for the Supramax vessels.

  • Aspo Q2 revenue amounted to EUR 151m vs our EUR 152m estimate.
  • Q2 EBIT was EUR 4.1m whereas we expected EUR 5.2m.
  • ESL Shipping posted EUR 42.6m in Q2 revenue vs our EUR 39.5m estimate. ESL’s EBIT was EUR 2.6m vs our EUR 1.8m expectation. Aspo had previously warned Q2 to be weak as Supramaxes posted losses (EBIT was EUR 4.3m a year ago).
  • Telko recorded EUR 80.6m in revenue vs our EUR 80.9m estimate, whereas EBIT came in at EUR 2.3m compared to our EUR 3.6m projection. Operating margin was therefore 2.9% i.e. weaker than the 4.1% recorded previous year and clearly off our 4.5% expectation.
  • Leipurin managed EUR 28.0m in Q2 revenue while we expected EUR 31.6m. EBIT stood at EUR 0.6m vs our EUR 0.9m estimate.
  • Aspo guides EUR 24-30m operating profit for 2019 (EUR 20.6m in 2018).

Aspo - Supramaxes posted losses in Q2

02.08.2019 | Company update

Aspo lowered its FY 2019 guidance yesterday due to ESL Shipping’s weak Q2 result as the dry bulk carrier’s two Supramax vessels operated at a loss. Aspo previously expected 2019 operating profit to be in the EUR 28-33m range, but now guides EUR 24-30m (the company managed EUR 20.6m in 2018). We previously estimated Aspo’s FY 2019 EBIT at EUR 31m; our revised estimate stands at EUR 28m. Our target price is now EUR 9.25 (9.75) per share. Our new rating is HOLD (BUY).

We update our estimates for ESL Shipping

Aspo says ESL’s Q2’19 EBIT will decline y/y as the two Supramax vessels posted losses. Aspo also states main customers’ shipping volumes (e.g. SSAB) decreased substantially during the summer months, thus weakening operational efficiency. ESL reported EUR 4.3m in Q2’18 EBIT. Whereas we previously expected ESL to post EUR 4.2m in Q2’19 EBIT, we now expect the dry bulk carrier to have generated EUR 1.8m in EBIT during the quarter. We also update our estimates for the coming quarters. We previously expected ESL’s FY 2019 EBIT at EUR 19m, and now estimate EUR 16m. For FY 2020 we project EUR 23m (previously EUR 26m). There was no update concerning the two new LNG vessels, but Aspo has previously said the crane problems have now been fixed and thus we continue to expect ESL to achieve significant earnings improvement during the second half of 2019.

We leave Telko and Leipurin estimates unchanged

We are not making changes to our estimates for Telko and Leipurin this time. Our revised estimates for ESL mean we now expect Aspo to have generated EUR 5.2m in Q2 EBIT (vs EUR 7.1m a year ago). Our previous estimate stood at EUR 7.6m. We now expect Aspo to manage EUR 28m in FY 2019 EBIT (previously EUR 31m). Aspo’s new guidance range for FY 2019 EBIT is EUR 24-30m (previously EUR 28-33m).

Our updated TP is EUR 9.25 (9.75); new rating HOLD (BUY)

Following our model update we now expect Aspo to post EUR 40m in EBIT next year. Our new TP is EUR 9.25 (9.75), reflecting lower SOTP valuation. Our rating is now HOLD (BUY).

Aspo - Value increasingly reliant on ESL

09.05.2019 | Company update

Aspo posted a 3.5% EBIT margin, missing our expected 4% level as Telko and Leipurin disappointed. Telko suffered from declining plastic raw materials and chemicals prices, while Leipurin’s Q1 fell short due to timing of Easter and machine sales. However, we see ESL proceeding on track. Our rating stays BUY; we update our TP to EUR 9.75 (9.50).

ESL’s operations on track towards higher EBIT

ESL’s Q1 was expectedly subdued as the two new LNG vessels’ cranes were being repaired. The warranty repairs were mostly finished by the end of Q1. Aspo says some parts are still being changed, but the ships are expected to be fully operational in Q2. However, we note that it will likely be a few more months before maximum efficiency is achieved, and consequently we do not expect ESL to reach its full operating profit potential in Q2. We estimate ESL to post EUR 6m EBIT in Q3, seeing the annual EBIT potential from thereon at around EUR 25m.

Telko now includes Kauko; Leipurin slow due to timings

The old Telko beat our EUR 63.6m revenue estimate, posting EUR 65.8m in Q1 sales (EUR 71.9m w/ Kauko). The comparable y/y growth amounted to 14% (11% w/ Kauko). Q1 sales growth was high y/y due to the slowness of the comparison period (itself impacted by exceptionally cold weather which affected Russian and Ukrainian construction). Volume growth was strong, however the price levels of plastic raw materials continued to decline, hurting margins. The prices declined by 5-6% q/q and 7- 10% y/y (margins on raw materials held in storage will be particularly impacted). Meanwhile chemicals prices declined by 10% q/q and 3% y/y. As a result, the old Telko managed a 3.6% EBIT margin (3.8% in Q1’18). Telko targets EBIT margin at 6-7% in ‘20. The target may prove challenging, and we don’t expect improvement on last year’s 4.5% margin (old Telko) this year.

Our expectations for ESL remain unchanged

We expect large EBIT growth in ‘19-20 as ESL’s new ships’ contribution will fully materialize. We lower our estimates for the other businesses slightly, update our TP to EUR 9.75 (9.50) as higher peer multiples lift SOTP valuation. Our rating stays BUY.

Aspo - Sales above our estimate

08.05.2019 | Earnings Flash

Aspo’s Q1 net sales grew 23% y/y, reaching EUR 142m and thus exceeding our EUR 137m estimate. Group operating margin, at 3.5%, fell a little short of our 4.0% expectation. ESL’s top line came in 9% above our estimate (operating margin was in line with our expected 7.2%). In other words, Telko’s and Leipurin’s profitability fell short of our expectations.

  • Group Q1 net sales amounted to EUR 142m vs. our EUR 137m estimate.
  • Aspo posted EUR 4.9m in EBIT vs. our expectation of EUR 5.4m. Group operating margin therefore amounted 3.5% (vs. our 4.0% estimate).
  • ESL Shipping revenue was recorded at EUR 44m vs. our EUR 40m expectation. ESL managed EBIT at EUR 3.2m (7.3% margin), whereas we expected EUR 2.9m (7.2% margin).
  • Telko posted EUR 72m in net sales (including Kauko) vs. our EUR 69m combined estimate for Telko and Kauko. Meanwhile EBIT stood at EUR 2.4m vs. our EUR 2.5m projection.
  • Leipurin sales were EUR 26m, while we expected EUR 28m. Leipurin achieved EUR 0.5m EBIT (our estimate was EUR 1.0m).
  • Kauko is now included within the Telko figures (effective Jan 1, 2019).
  • Previous guidance stays valid as Aspo expects 2019 EBIT at EUR 28-33m (EUR 20.6m in 2018).

Aspo - Larger EBIT gain to materialize in ‘20

01.03.2019 | Company update

We met with Aspo’s management to discuss near term outlook for ESL and Telko. Based on the discussions, we revise our estimates for 2019-20. While in our view Aspo companies are on a steady track towards higher EBIT margins, we acknowledge that our estimates have been too optimistic, especially for 2019. We update our projections to reflect the fact that the earnings improvement trajectory for ESL and Telko is likely to play out over a longer period than we previously expected.

We now expect flat H1’19 EBIT for ESL Shipping

Whereas we previously expected close to EUR 7m quarterly EBIT for ESL starting from the beginning of Q2’19, we now expect the second quarter to stay relatively muted (EUR 4m EBIT). Compared to our initial expectations, we now see it will take longer for ESL to reach the two new LNG vessels’ optimal performance level. While the crane issue should be fixed by the end of Q1, it will be a few more months before operational efficiency will achieve the desired standards. We expect ESL to demonstrate more significant EBIT improvement during the second half of 2019, and we estimate a quarterly EBIT above EUR 6m to be feasible after 2019.

Telko’s 2019 EBIT margin to improve by 30bps

Telko’s EBIT margin improved by 40bps in 2018, reaching 4.5%. Whereas we previously expected further margin expansion to the tune of 100bps in 2019, we now moderate our estimate to equal a 30bps increase. Procurement efficiency will improve slower than we estimated earlier. Telko’s stated target for 2020 is an EBIT margin of 6-7%. We now expect Telko to reach this target only during the last quarter of 2020.

Our rating is BUY, target EUR 9.50 (9.75) per share

Aspo now trades at 13.6x our 2019e EBIT. We update our target price to EUR 9.50 (9.75) per share based on SOTP and DCF valuations. Our rating remains BUY.

Aspo - Teething problems with cranes

15.02.2019 | Company update

Aspo’s Q4 EBIT didn’t meet our expectations as ESL Shipping suffered from serious technical problems with cranes. Both MS Viikki and MS Haaga, the two new LNG vessels, were impacted, leading to inefficient operation. The warranty repairs should be completed by the end of Q1’19. Telko’s Q4 results were in line with our estimates, while Leipurin fell short. We update our rating to BUY (HOLD).

ESL is on path to EUR 25-30m EBIT in the coming years

The deployment of ESL Shipping’s new LNG vessels has been slowed down by both ships’ mechanical problems with cranes. The problem concerns all the six cranes. In the meantime, other ESL ships have been filling in the slack for the SSAB contract. The crane supplier, Cargotec MacGregor, is expected to fix the problem by the end of Q1. In other words, the first quarter of 2019 will be similarly sluggish for both vessels. While this is an inconvenient setback, the company expects the vessels to meet the high requirements starting from the second quarter. ESL Shipping has a target of net sales above EUR 200m and an EBIT margin of 12-15% by 2020. We expect ESL to reach an EBIT of EUR 23m in 2019 and EUR 28m next year. We previously expected comparable figures of EUR 25m and EUR 29m.

Telko should accelerate margin gains during 2019

Aspo has set Telko a 2020 sales target of EUR 300-350m, while the EBIT margin should be in the 6-7% range. One of the key measures for reaching this profitability level is the improvement of procurement efficiency. The company expects to see results regarding the planning and rationalization of raw material purchases by the end of 2019. Telko was able to reach an EBIT margin of 4.5% in 2018, improving by about 40bps.

Aspo long-term outlook intact, higher multiples boost SOTP

Our expectations for ESL and Telko are unchanged. Valuation multiples have lifted since late December, when Aspo revised its outlook for the final quarter. As a result, we see the sum-of-the-parts valuation providing added support for the shares. We raise our target price to EUR 9.75 (9.25) and upgrade to BUY rating.

Aspo - ESL operating profit disappoints

14.02.2019 | Earnings Flash

Back in December, Aspo restated its 2018 EBIT guidance. The company announced that the figure will land at the lower end of the initial range. ESL and Telko both topped our Q4 revenue estimates, while ESL’s operating profit failed to match our expectations (even after we adjusted our estimate following the December profit warning).

  • Group headline figures: Q4 net sales amounted to EUR 156.6m vs our EUR 154.0m estimate. Q4 EBIT stood at EUR 2.6m vs our EUR 3.9m expectation.
  • ESL Shipping: Q4 sales recorded at EUR 46.4m vs our EUR 42.2m estimate. Q4 EBIT came in at EUR 4.2m vs our EUR 5.3m estimate.
  • Telko: Q4 revenue amounted to EUR 69.5m vs our EUR 68.8m estimate. EBIT stood at EUR 3.4m, exactly as we expected.
  • Leipurin: Q4 sales totaled EUR 31.6m vs our EUR 33.0m estimate. EBIT was EUR 0.8m vs our EUR 1.1m estimate.
  • Kauko: sales were EUR 9.1m vs our EUR 10.1m estimate. EBIT (including the impairment loss) was EUR -4.4m vs our EUR -4.8m expectation.
  • Guidance: Aspo guides 2019 EBIT at EUR 28-33m. This compares to the EUR 25.4m 2018 figure adjusted for the EUR 4.8m impairment loss on Kauko’s goodwill. ESL Shipping aims at net sales of more than EUR 200m and an EBIT margin of 12-15% by 2020.
  • The BoD proposes 2018 dividend per share at EUR 0.44, to be paid in two installments.

Aspo - Guides EBIT at the range’s low-end

19.12.2018 | Company update

Aspo announced the restructuring of its subsidiary Kauko. Effective in 2019, Aspo will no longer report Kauko as a separate segment. The corporate action does not come as a major surprise, yet Aspo also restated its 2018 EBIT guidance at the lower end of the initial range. We adjust our estimates for Kauko accordingly, while making small adjustments to ESL’s estimates due to the new LNG vessels taking longer than initially expected to reach their full operational efficiency.

Kauko plays a minor role in the sum-of-the-parts analysis

According to the plan, Kauko’s energy solutions business will be either sold off or terminated, while the offering for mobile knowledge work as well as Kauko’s administration will be restructured. The energy solutions business generates approximately one third of Kauko’s revenue. It was expected that Aspo might take more concrete measures regarding Kauko as the subsidiary has not been able to reach its targets. We recognize the announced EUR 5m goodwill impairment in Kauko’s Q4 EBIT.

We expect ESL’s acquisitions to lift 2019 EBIT to EUR 25m

We make slight adjustments to ESL’s estimates, reflecting the longer learning curve for the new LNG vessels to reach their full operational efficiency (Q4 EBIT EUR 1.2m lower than previously expected, 2019 EBIT lower by EUR 0.4m). Nevertheless, the new LNG vessels and the acquisition of AtoB@C are expected to be major contributors to next year’s EBIT growth. Our EBIT estimates for Telko and Leipurin remain unchanged.

Lower peer multiples cut our target to EUR 9.25 (EUR 10)

Overall, we don’t see any significant changes in Aspo’s operations. We expect Aspo’s 2018 EBIT at EUR 21.9m (including the EUR 5m impairment of Kauko). We retain our HOLD rating but decrease our target price to EUR 9.25 (EUR 10). The change in our target price mainly reflect’s Telko’s lowered peer multiple, while the write-down of Kauko figures only as a minor loss in the sum-of-the-parts valuation.

Aspo company presentation 15082019

Aspo - Company presentation

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Aspo company presentation 15082019

Video presentation

Company Facts


Aspo’s operating profit will be EUR 12–16 (21.1) million in 2020.

Financial targets

Aspo aims for 6% operating margin, an average ROE of above 20%, and gearing of no more than 130% in 2023

Share price (EUR)

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