British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd - While Hong Leong Investment Bank sees Glo as a viable product offering for Malaysian consumers by British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT), they understand that it will take a significant amount of time and marketing investment for it to have a significant impact on earnings.
Hong Leong Investment Bank keeps its forecasts but with a lower discounted cash flow (DCF)-derived TP of RM15.28 (from RM16.00) with the higher weighted average cost of capital (WACC): 9.5% (previously 9.2%) and unchanged target of 2.5%. However, they upgrade our call to "hold" given the decline in share price (-61%) since our downgrade.
Glo is a tobacco heating product (THP) recently launched by BAT in response to IQOS, which was launched by Phillip Morris International (PMI) in late-2018. As opposed to traditional cigarettes, THP works by heating up tobacco (instead of burning it), emitting dry vapor instead of actual smoke.
Currently, Glo is available online (Lazada and Shopee), Glo retail stores and selected 7-Eleven, MyNews and Shell outlets around Klang Valley.
Currently, Glo is retailing for RM100, which is lower than the retail price of PMI's IQOS of more than RM169. BAT shared the significantly lower retail price represents "marketing investment" in Glo, which they reckon is necessary given i) IQOS's head start in the THP market; and ii) high initial start-up cost for conventional smokers switching to THP.
Note that in other major THP markets, the launch of Glo lagged IQOS by six to 18 months resulting in the latter seizing first-mover advantage. As it is still a relatively new product, THP currently only comprises around 1% of the overall smoking market (illicit/legal cigarettes take up the lion's share at 25%/65%).
Glo refills, called neo are available in four flavors and are currently available for purchase at selected 7-Eleven, MyNews and Shell outlets. Notably, shelf prices for the neo of RM14 (including excise duty of RM4) are significantly lower than Dunhill's shelf price of RM17.40 (including excise duty of RM8).
This not only represents a cheaper price for consumers but also better margins for BAT versus traditional tobacco products. Note that neo refills are not a traditional cigarette and as such are not bound by the regular cigarette excise duty tax structure of RM8 per pack of the 20s.
While Hong Leong Investment Bank sees Glo as a viable product offering for Malaysian consumers, we understand that it will take a significant amount of time and marketing investment for it to have a significant impact on earnings.
Furthermore, given the relatively high cost of refills (RM14 versus less than RM5 for illicit tobacco), Hong Leong Investment Bank does not see Glo eating into the chronic illicit tobacco market share, which has now risen to 65% of the total of the smoking market.
Additionally, the rising cost of living is fuelling the growth of VFM brand Rothman's (RM12.40 shelf price) at the expense of premium brand Dunhill (RM17.40 shelf price) resulting in significant margin pressure. Since its launch at the end-financial year 2017, Rothmans has grown to 5.2% of total legal market volumes (approximately 14% of BAT's total volume).
Plunging earnings have resulted in BAT announcing their intent to reduce 20% of their total headcount, which should offer temporary reprieve for the group in facing unwavering negative macro factors.
Given the uncertainty of BAT's future earnings, Hong Leong Investment Bank takes this opportunity to tweak their DCF valuation metrics from WACC: 9.2%, target: 2.5% to WACC: 9.5%, target: 2.5%. Our TP falls from RM16 to RM15.28. Despite our lower TP, Hong Leong Investment Bank upgrade their call from"sell" to "hold" as BAT's share price has declined 61% since our initial "sell" calls in January.
More information about British American Tobacco :
- BAT Seen Focusing on Tobacco Cost-Cutting
- IQOS sets to launch “Cartridge recognition” technology to counter Imperial Tobacco
- Expansion of IQOS in Philippines, Vietnam, and Korea
- The end of the golden age for tobacco pushes Philip Morris International to heat-not-burn
- Breakdown on IQOS annual report, tremendous opportunities for heat-not-burn