ABB reported strong 31% YoY revenue growth in 3QCY18, in line with our expectations. However, pace of margin recovery has been slower than our expectations and led to the EBITDA miss.
ABB reported strong 31% YoY revenue growth in 3QCY18, in line with our expectations. However, pace of margin recovery has been slower than our expectations and led to the EBITDA miss. We have reduced our CY17-19E margin improvement by 117 bps to 226 bps and lowered our EPS. We believe as the revenue growth continues, leverage will play out leading to further margin improvement. We maintain Buy with a revised PT of Rs 1,700 (v/s Rs 2,050 earlier).
ABB’s management has been discussing improving export opportunities in the last two-three quarters. On the conference call, management highlighted that acceptance of exported products is increasing among customers and will lead to an acceleration in exports going forward. We have consistently highlighted the MNC export theme, particularly with ABB given the strong parent commentary. With exports order flow up 50% YoY in 9MCY18 v/s overall growth of 13% YoY, we believe that the export story has just begun for ABB and strong order book growth will start benefiting the company.
Management on the call mentioned that new capex projects are currently muted and it hopes to see a sharp pick-up post the May 2019 elections. Currently the industry is focused on asset sweating. Capex nature has been more opex oriented, which is reflected in the order flow. However, given the exports push, management is positive on its revenue growth trajectory outlook. ABB has discontinued the EPC substation business, which is 4-5% of revenues but has lower margins. It should have a limited financial or valuation impact given lower margins and limited revenue contribution.
3QCY18 margins have seen a 70 bps YoY uptick and contributed to the 45% YoY EBITDA growth, apart from the strong revenue contribution. This was lower than our expectations of an increase of 110 bps YoY. Management highlighted it had executed a higher proportion of RP800(Power Grids) product orders which reflected in lower margin improvement. Management’s cost control focus especially on gross margins and fixed costs should lead to further margin improvement as revenues continue to rise.