Philippine Markets Daily

This UITF from the country’s first privately owned local commercial bank has outperformed its benchmark since inception…also, GLO tearsheet

May 14, 2021

This unit investment trust fund (UITF) from the country’s first privately owned local commercial bank outperformed its benchmark, the Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index (PSEi). The average Uniform ROA for its holdings is 5%.

Although as-reported metrics would leave investors confused with the fund’s stock picks, Uniform Accounting helps make sense of the fund’s investments and how it continues to outperform the market.

In addition to examining the fund’s portfolio, we are including fundamental analysis of one of the fund’s largest holdings, providing you with the current Uniform Accounting Performance and Valuation Tearsheet for that company.

Philippine Markets Daily:
Friday Uniform Portfolio Analytics
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China Banking Corporation (China Bank) is a Filipino bank that was established in 1920. China Bank was the first privately owned local commercial bank in the Philippines. China Bank initially catered to the banking needs of Chinese Filipino businessmen but has since expanded its clientele. They offer different financial services such as deposits, investments, and bancassurance services.

China Bank also offers different types of UITFs such as bond funds, equity funds, money market funds, and balanced funds. Previously, we’ve analyzed one of China Bank’s UITFs, the China Bank High Dividend Equity Fund.

This week, we’ll be giving an update on one of their other funds, the China Bank Equity Fund.

The China Bank Equity Fund was launched on June 11, 2013. The fund is a peso-denominated UITF that primarily invests in equities and short-term tradeable fixed-income securities, with the PSEi as its benchmark. The fund caters to investors with an aggressive risk profile who are willing to stay invested for a year or longer.

The fund is currently invested in at least 90% of selected shares of stock while the remaining is invested in time deposits.

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At its inception in June 2013, China Bank Equity Fund’s initial net asset value per unit (NAVPU) was PHP 1.00. The fund’s NAVPU rose to PHP 1.27 by April 2015, its 27% gain for the period outperforming its benchmark’s gain of 24%.

The fund’s NAVPU then declined to PHP 1.02 in January 2016 following the oil price crash. The fund’s 20% loss outperformed its benchmark’s 25% loss during the same period.

After two years, the fund’s NAVPU had bounced back to peak at PHP 1.45 in January 2018. However, the fund’s 42% gain underperformed its benchmark’s 49% gain.

The fund’s NAVPU declined to PHP 1.14 in November 2018, a 21% loss, following Brexit and the U.S.-China trade war. The fund’s loss, however, outperformed its benchmark’s 24% loss during the same period.

The fund’s NAVPU rebounded to PHP 1.38 in July 2019 with a 21% gain, which slightly underperformed its benchmark’s 22% gain for the same period.

In March 2020, the fund’s NAVPU declined to PHP 0.82 following the market selloff caused by the coronavirus, recording a 40% loss versus its benchmark’s 45% loss.

The fund is slowly recovering from the pandemic and as of May 11, 2021, the fund’s NAVPU has risen back to PHP 1.09. This 31% gain underperformed its benchmark’s 36% gain.

Since inception, the China Bank Equity Fund has had a cumulative 9% gain, outperforming its benchmark’s cumulative 4% loss.

As-reported metrics would have investors believe that the fund’s portfolio consists of companies that do not generate economic profit. However, Uniform Accounting reveals the truth behind the companies this fund invests in.

The table below shows the top seven core non-financial holdings of the China Bank Equity Fund along with its Uniform return on assets (ROA), as-reported ROA, and ROA distortion—the difference between Uniform and as-reported ROA.

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Most of the companies in the China Bank Equity Fund show as-reported ROAs at or below cost-of-capital levels, suggesting that they are not generating economic profit. The fund is generating an average as-reported ROA of 4%, lower than the global corporate average returns of 6%.

However, on a Uniform Accounting basis, this UITF’s holdings have actually delivered better returns with an average Uniform ROA of 5%. These companies have strong returns, with some of the companies having Uniform ROAs above global average returns.

The Uniform Accounting framework addresses financial statement inconsistencies attributable to the flaws present in the Philippine Financial Reporting Standards (PFRS). This enables investors to determine the true underlying performance of companies and avoid distorted financial analysis and valuation.

As such, it should not be surprising that when analyzing the non-financial holdings of the China Bank Equity Fund, the figures that easily stand out are the large discrepancies between Uniform ROA and as-reported ROA for these companies.

While at a glance, the difference between as-reported ROA and Uniform ROA may not seem that great, the distortion in percentage ranges from -37% to 134%, with Ayala Corporation (AC:PHL), SM Investments Corporation (SM:PHL), and Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI:PHL) having the highest distortions.

As-reported metrics understate the profitability of Ayala Corporation, suggesting an unprofitable firm with an as-reported ROA of 2%. In reality, this firm more closely resembles one that is breaking even, with a Uniform ROA of 5% that is in line with average cost of capital. Prior to the pandemic, it consistently generated returns of at least 9% through 2005-2019.

Similarly, as-reported metrics understate the profitability of SM Investments Corporation, suggesting a below-average firm with an as-reported ROA of 3% when in fact, it is an average firm with a 6% Uniform ROA. It has consistently generated returns of at least 6% since 2005.

Likewise, as-reported metrics understate the profitability of Ayala Land, Inc., suggesting a below-average firm with an as-reported ROA of 2%. In reality, this firm has a 4% Uniform ROA, and it has consistently generated returns of at least 6% through 2006-2019.

By focusing on as-reported metrics alone, these companies look like anything but profitable businesses.

That said, looking at profitability alone is insufficient to deliver superior investment returns. Investors should also identify if the market is significantly undervaluing a company’s earnings growth potential.

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This table shows the earnings growth expectations for the major non-financial holdings of the fund. It features three key data points:

  1. The two-year Uniform earnings per share (EPS) growth represents the Uniform earnings growth the company is likely to have for the next two years. The earnings number used is the value of when we convert consensus sell-side analyst estimates according to the Uniform Accounting framework.

  2. The market expected Uniform EPS growth represents what the market thinks Uniform earnings growth is going to be for the next two years. Here, we show by how much the company needs to grow Uniform earnings in the next two years to justify the current stock price of the company. This is the market’s embedded expectations for Uniform earnings growth.

  3. The Uniform EPS growth spread is the difference between the 2-year Uniform EPS growth and market expected Uniform EPS growth.

On average, Philippine companies are expected to have 5%-6% annual Uniform earnings growth over the next two years. Meanwhile, the China Bank Equity Fund’s major holdings are forecast to outperform with a 39% projected Uniform earnings growth in the next two years, while the market is also forecasting an outperformance with a 7% projected Uniform earnings growth.

Among these companies, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI:PHL), SM Investments Corporation (SM:PHL), SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPH:PHL), and Universal Robina Corporation (URC:PHL) have a positive Uniform earnings growth spread.

The market is pricing ALI’s Uniform Earnings to grow by 10% in the next two years, while sell-side analysts are projecting the company’s earnings to grow by 127%.

Likewise, the market is pricing SM’s Uniform Earnings to grow by 9% in the next two years, while sell-side analysts are projecting the company’s earnings to grow by 71%.

Similarly, the market is pricing SMPH’s Uniform Earnings to grow by 21% in the next two years, while sell-side analysts are projecting the company’s earnings to grow by 74%.

As for URC, the market is pricing its earnings to grow by 11% in the next two years, while sell-side analysts are projecting the company’s earnings to grow by 18%

Overall, as-reported numbers would have investors incorrectly conclude that this portfolio consists of low-quality companies. While these firms suffer from the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic, dragging down their short-term earnings growth expectations, Uniform Accounting metrics show that these mature, low growth, but high return companies have intact business models that should drive economic profitability moving forward.

SUMMARY and Globe Telecom, Inc. Tearsheet

Today, we’re highlighting one of the individual stock holdings in the China Bank Equity Fund—Globe Telecom, Inc. (GLO:PHL).

As the Uniform Accounting tearsheet for Globe Telecom, Inc. highlights, it trades at a Uniform P/E of 18.2x, below the global corporate average of 23.7x, but around its historical average of 18.3x.

Low P/Es require low EPS growth to sustain them. In the case of Globe Telecom, Inc., the company has shown a 25% Uniform EPS shrinkage in 2020.

Sell-side analysts provide stock and valuation recommendations that poorly track reality. However, sell-side analysts have a strong grasp on near-term financial forecasts like revenue and earnings.

We take sell-side forecasts for Philippine Financial Reporting Standards (PFRS) earnings as a starting point for our Uniform earnings forecasts. When we do this, Globe Telecom Inc.’s sell-side analyst-driven forecast shows that Uniform earnings are expected to grow by 27% in 2021 and decline by 30% in 2022.

Based on the current stock market valuations, we can back into the required earnings growth rate that would justify GLO’s PHP 1,810.00 stock price. These are often referred to as market embedded expectations.

Globe Telecom, Inc. is currently being valued as if Uniform earnings were to grow immaterially per year over the next three years. What sell-side analysts expect for GLO’s earnings growth is above what the current stock market valuation requires in 2021 and below what the current stock market valuation requires in 2022.

The company has an earning power below long-run corporate averages, and its cash flows and cash on hand fall short of obligations within five years. Based on its operating risk and refinancing capability, it has an intrinsic credit risk of 120bps, indicating high dividend risk and moderate credit risk.

To conclude, Globe Telecom Inc.’s Uniform earnings growth is in line with peer averages, and is also trading in line with peer average valuations.

About the Philippine Market Daily
“Friday Uniform Portfolio Analytics”

Investors who don’t engage in the buying or selling of securities for a living oftentimes rely on professionals to manage their own investments within the scope of their investment policies.

With so many funds and managers out there, it can get confusing and difficult to decide which one best suits your needs as an investor.

Every Friday, we focus on one fund in the Philippines and take a deeper look into their current holdings. Using Uniform Accounting, we identify the high-quality stocks in their portfolio which may not be obvious using the as-reported numbers.

We also identify which holdings may be problematic for the fund’s returns that they would need to reconsider from a UAFRS perspective.

To wrap up the fund analysis, we highlight one of their largest holdings and focus on key metrics to watch out for, accessible in our tearsheets.

Hope you’ve found this week’s focus on China Bank Equity Fund interesting and insightful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Friday Uniform Portfolio Analytics!

Regards,

Angelica Lim
Research Director
Philippine Markets Daily
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