1. LIC Housing Finance rated ‘Buy’ says set to gain most from falling yields

LIC Housing Finance rated ‘Buy’ says set to gain most from falling yields

Valuations do not factor in sustained spread improvement; stock is set for a re-rating

By: | New Delhi | Published: October 17, 2016 6:24 AM

With market borrowings its predominant source of funds, LICHF’s cost of funds has declined faster than other HFCs in the last 3-6 months. Continued bond purchases by the RBI in open market operations and repo rate cuts would continue to drive down bond yields, which would in turn favourably impact LICHF’s cost of funds. The spread on LICHF’s incremental loans has increased to 2%+ and we expect this to sustain, given its competitive loan pricing and cost of funds. We believe current valuations do not factor in sustained spread improvement. The stock is set for a re-rating; buy.

Large share of market borrowings favours LICHF

Over the last two years, LICHF has diversified its borrowing profile significantly. Share of bank borrowings has declined from 25% to 10%, while the share of market borrowings has increased to 90%. In the last 18-24 months, while the repo rate has been cut 175bp, banks have cut rates only by 75-100bp. G-Sec yields have fallen more. As a result, HFCs with large share of bank borrowings have not benefited as much as LICHF.

Financials snapshot


Shareholding pattern (%)


Continued RBI OMOs and repo rate cuts to drive bond yields lower

In 2014 and 2015, inflation was high; to counter this, the RBI sold bonds worth R1 trn in the market, causing liquidity deficit. With easing inflation, the RBI started purchasing bonds through open market operations (OMOs) in December 2015. Since then, its overall bond purchases have been close to R1.9 trn. The OMOs have resulted in G-Sec yields dropping 100-120bp in the past 6-9 months . Our Economist expects further OMOs of R700 billion over FY17.

Repo rate and G-Sec yields are highly correlated. Over 2001-03, when the RBI cut repo rate significantly, G-Sec yields fell even more sharply . Our Economist expects at least one repo rate cut by the end of FY17, with another 1-2 rate cuts in FY18. When we published our last update on LICHF in August, G-Sec yields were 7.1%; since then, they have fallen to 6.7%. Given continued RBI OMOs and reduction in repo rate over the next 6-12 months, we believe G-Sec yields could drop further over the next 12 months. LICHF has NCDs worth R220 bn (20% of total outstanding borrowings) maturing in FY17 and FY18, which would help it to save 30-40bp in cost of funds over the next two years. Among all HFCs in our coverage, we believe LICHF would be the biggest beneficiary of falling yields.

Spread of AAA yields over GSec yields have narrowed significantly

Another big impact of the RBI OMOs has been that AAA bond spreads over Gsec yields have narrowed significantly. While the average spread has been 80bp in the past one year, it had increased to 1.5% in March 2016 due to the liquidity deficit. However, since then, spreads have come off significantly to around 35bp today, with most of the spread compression in August and September. Given the liquidity situation today, we expect spreads to sustain at these levels.

2% spread to sustain despite stable share of LAP

Over the last five quarters, LICHF has grown its LAP book rapidly. The share of LAP increased from 4.6% in 4QFY15 to 9.3% in 1QFY17. On an incremental loans basis, the share of LAPs increased from 17% in 1QFY16 to 37% in 1QFY17. Incremental spread increased from 1.74% to 1.98% over the period. This has helped shore up NIM to 2.6-2.7%. However, the management has indicated that it would not increase the share of LAP any further. While this would put pressure on incremental yields, LICHF would get the benefit of lower incremental cost of borrowings due to falling G-Sec yields. We believe LICHF would maintain incremental spread above 2%. We believe consistently achieving 2% incremental spread over the next few quarters would be a trigger for the stock to re-rate in line with peers.

Loan pricing competitive

LICHF is currently originating pure floating rate loans at ~9.5% and other home loans at 10%. Banks are also originating loans at 9.3-9.5%. We believe banks would be averse to reducing home loan rates further, as they would have to reduce MCLR, as a result of which the whole loan book would get re-priced. Hence, we believe LICHF would not need to reduce rates substantially to remain competitive.


Robust loan growth to continue

LICHF has a granular loan book with retail home loans comprising 88% of the total book and the LAP book comprising an additional 10% of the total book. Since around two-thirds of its loan sourcing is from LIC agents, LICHF is able to access the length and breadth of the country. We believe LICHF would be a big beneficiary of the tax incentives announced in the FY17 Union Budget. It could gain some share from banks due to competitive pricing. We expect loan book

CAGR of 19% over FY16-19.

Asset quality has remained strong consistently

LICHF has robust asset quality, with GNPA of 0.59% and NNPA of 0.29%. Asset quality in individual loans is even better, with GNPA of 0.35%. This compares very well with its private-sector housing finance peers. The company has sustained good asset quality over the past several years due to its stringent underwriting discipline. Loan-to-value ratio on incremental disbursements is 47%, down from 50% in FY15. Installment-to-income ratio is 32%, down from 34% in FY15. Asset quality is expected to remain stable.

Re-rating on the cards; Buy

LICHF stands to benefit significantly from the growing demand for mortgages coupled with falling interest rates. Over the past few quarters, change in loan mix has led to 2%+ incremental spread. We expect 2% incremental spread to continue and believe that the stock price does not factor in sustained spread improvement due to falling G-Sec yields and narrowing AAA spreads. Post an earnings growth of 22% in FY16, we expect this momentum to sustain and model 23% PAT CAGR over FY16-19. RoE is set to cross 20% in FY17, which would drive further re-rating. The stock trades at 2.4x FY18e BV, a discount to peers. Buy with a target price of R758 (3x FY18E BV).

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