Thursday, July 23, 2020

Why I Think Comfortdelgro (SGX: C52) Is A Strong Recovery Candidate Play

Comfortdelgro (SGD: C52) has been one of the companies that has been affected quite badly since the start of the Covid-19.

It joined the lists of other industries such as airlines, aviation, retail and hospitality industry that is severely impacted by this pandemic crisis.

Since the start of the year, the company has dropped by more than 40% as we saw its share price plunging from $2.37 to $1.40 as of writing today.

One of the most obvious reasons for the plunge is due to the government initiative of a circuit breaker, which lasted two months from April to Jun, before the gradual opening of phase 1 and 2 thereafter.

With the circuit breaker being implemented, the company decided to provide a full rental waiver to its drivers for the 2 months, which based on source is estimated to be around 10,282 fleet to date. After all, what is the use of driving around when most people are forced to lock yourself at home. The goal was to provide a waiver so the drivers do not have to pay rental for its cab. Not the best situation to be in, no revenue for the 2 months but at least they were aided with the waiver.

The full rental waiver could not for obvious reasons last on perpetual needs so the company took measures to cut the waiver by half when the economy gradually reopen following the guidance from the task force.

While there were now people streaming the streets and lining up queues, the crowd pales in comparison as it was before the Covid. Because of this, the company has to gradually lowered the waiver instead of doing it in an instant. Doing so will be catastrophic to both sides as most drivers would rather return the fleet in favor of other available work such as being a social distancing ambassador.

I have no data available on the latest fleet as well as how many fleets were returned during Covid.

Below is a timeline table appended which I will run through in detail on the numbers and impact to the company.


Round 1 and 2 signifies full rental waiver to the drivers, which coincides with the circuit breaker implemented by the government.

Each period runs from 7 April to 5 May, and 6 May to 1 Jun respectively.

The expected rental waiver from the company is expected to cost the company between $45 to $86 per fleet per day based on source from the company's announcement. For the purpose of this computation, I have taken a weighted average of $65 per fleet per day, give or take. 

The total cost to the company based on the above estimation is expected to be around $20m for round 1 and $15.4m for round 2.

This is excluding the Special Relief Fund (SRF) from the Government which is at $10 per fleet per day, so I'm being quite conservative here.

When the government announces the reopening of the phase 1 from the beginning of Jun, the company followed by tapering down its rental waiver to 50%, which is halved from the previous two months.

Even though the government subsequently advance the reopening of the phase 2 from 19 Jun onwards, the company was still extending the 50% waiver to its drivers on goodwill basis, up until 15 Jul (see Round 4).

Round 3 costs the company $10m while the extension of two weeks in Round 4 costs the company a further $5m.

Earlier last week, the company further announced a gradual reduction in its rental waiver to 40% from 16 Jul to 15 Aug. For each sensitivity downward adjustment of 10% in rental waiver, the company would be able to save a cost of about $2m per month. It is not known yet if the company will extend the waiver until the end of Sep but it looks like the case.

If we look closely at most of the government grants that were given to businesses and sectors, most would have lasted until either September or October. This includes the rental waiver from landlord as well as the Job Support Scheme payout. In other words, we could potentially see the company starting to charge a full rental for its fleet as early from Oct onwards.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, we should also look at the economy gradually opening up for more (already we saw cinemas and staycation gradually opening up) with international borders from certain countries being allowed to come in. This should bode well not just for the taxi division but also for its rail and buses, as well as inspection centers as more cars are required to go for servicing.

Operating revenue and profit for FY2019 for its taxi business were at $668.6m and $104.2m respectively which would translate on average of about $167m and $26m respectively per quarter basis.

The impact from the rental waiver is likely to push the company into a loss in the second and third quarter but is likely to rebound back very strongly in the fourth quarter onwards.

Furthermore, there is likely an impairment being done to its taxi fleet given that it's not bringing in much revenue this year, so this is likely to hit the NAV of the company further.


The total impact from the rental waiver I computed came up to about $70m for its taxi division, while I noticed some analysts have estimated the impact to be above $100m. The difference I suspect is due to the earlier waiver being halved as early as Jun and further reduced to 40% as early as 16 Jul while the analysts' earlier estimates were based on full waiver up until Sep.

There are various other factors which we did not talk about in this article including the structural growth of its business, the upcoming bus Sembawang tender and also the railway tender bid in France, all of which is likely to further enhance the diversified business growth nature of the company when the whole Covid situation is over.

I also believe that when international borders are reopen, we should see a flurry of ex-drivers going back to drive, as most have been doing so for a number of years. In this regard, I think the structural story of the taxi business will remain intact.

At the current valuation, I think most of the bad news has been baked in and we should start seeing earnings growth quarter on quarter from Q3 onwards. The only downside is if we are seeing a flurry of second wave coming in, leading to another round of closure, which I think seems unlikely at this point as we continue to see more activities reopening. In this regard, I believe we are awaiting for more positive news to drive the stock upwards as sentiments get better in the wake of this Covid crisis.

*Author is vested at an average price of $1.56

Thanks for reading.

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  2. uncle168,

    if you read best world independent review, it seems that it is laundering money in china and splitting the money with its own people

    i suspect it started in taiwan because all along best world earnings is almost the same until it hit jackpot in taiwan and china which is weird because its products has always been the same nobody buy one

    if the cash was real then it had to come from somewhere but not from selling its products that no one has ever brought


  3. uncle168,

    it is likely mr yan a china citizen hatch a plan to launder money in china using the mlm business as a cover with the 2 chairman

    i hope CAD, CPIB , MAS, SPF and SGX can start investigation on the related personnel involved by checking their phone records and personal banking transactions

    this sounds like what mbs is doing but at a smaller scale


  4. comfortdelgro cash cow is lta which take taxpayers money to pay for the sbs and mrt service provided

    before ge2020 penang cow say fares will have to increase now he kenna dengue in horsepeter as divine retribution

    then ge2020 the wp won landslide victory

    it is unlikely in the next 5 years the pap would increase public fares and is likely to reduce it to please the public via free for seniors as wp advocated and low fuel and electricity prices the gov should lower public transport fares as it is the right thing to do

    future tender for bus contract would be of lower capacity and frequency and hence lower or no profit margin

    see how things can turn around so quickly when the pap loses power

    while comfort has low debt and unlikely to go bankrupt, it is likely to significantly reduce its taxi fleet as it is losing money and concentrate on mrt and bus which is more stable but less profit unless pap wins in ge2025 lah


    1. ROFL how much money you wanna bet that there will be no public fare increase in the next 5 years? Lai, put money on table then talk.

      Reduce to free for seniors? I will double my bet.

    2. uncle168,

      no fare hike this year leh

      the pap not increase public transport fare for the next 5 years and will shift to the left by increasing taxes of the rich by taxing capital

      the pap knows it has been too lenient to capital its time to rewind the clock


    3. public transport is essential for blue collar workers as private vehicles in singapore is expensive

      hence the gov should use taxes collected from private vehicles to fund private transport

      if the fares are kept low there is no need to increase wages in the first place so the high cost of living is a product of the gov greed to keep too much saving hidden and do not dare to tell singaporeans how excessive our savings is until it has caused our birthrate to drop to zero

      there are many avenues to fund public transport like:
      road tax
      carbon tax
      parking fees
      fuel tax
      excise duty

      the gov has been hiding the sales proceed of state land sales surrounding announced new mrt sites which would have been worthless until an mrt station is announced in the area

      there are 130 mrt stations in singapore because they exist the surrounding land value increases exponentially

      assuming a value added of S$1b per mrt station, sla owns lta $130b in land sales revenue to fund public transportation fares and infrastructure cost

      private residential property within a 1km radius of an mrt station should pay an annual mrt proximity levy as they benefit greatly in terms of appreciation in the value and rental of being close to an mrt station which is a public good

      i estimate such a tax would fully pay for the running cost of our mrt system

      the gov cannot continue to ask the poor to pay more tax and ask the rich to pay less that is political sucide

      singapore has reach a turning point

      we have reached the limits of state capitalism divides the haves and haves not

      no matter what the pap do the pap will decline in the next decade as singaporean has lost faith in pro capitalist stance of the government

      we will see a new gov in 2030 that will increase taxes for the rich and middle class in return for free public goods like transport, healthcare and education which are real public safety nets and singapore will shine once again without cecas!


    4. uncle168,

      the new wp gov would also announce a new taxi ownership scheme whereby lta would issue taxi licence to singaporeans who wish to drive for a living

      with this license he can obtain a low cost loan to buy a private car to drive as a meter taxi without having to pay high rental to comfortdelgro

      the fare of this public tax will be regulated to make sure singaporeans can afford to take taxi to hospitals and the taxi driver can make a decent living

      such a system would be sustainable as metrics would ensure affordability for consumper and sustainability for the taxi driver

      the same model would be expanded to the public bus service eliminating the need of a third party which is sbs transit

      without the business owner, the cost of public tansportation will go down and the price will go down and domestic consumption will increase as more of the profit that once went to shareholders that did nothing will flow the driver who is doing all the work

      this is the new normal as you can see from the grab economy but unfortunately grab has become greedy so it would be excluded from this new model known as the uncle168 evolution


  5. Hi B,

    Comfort delgro use to be my fav, before there is Uber and Grab. And also they seems promising in the past in China n Vietnam but die off in recent times. Frankly lots of SG company performed exceptionally well in SG but are mediocre in overseas! This is because all depend on government and Temasek.
    Nothing to do with the CEO or mgmt team who are very average calibre people but appear "high high up" who said "yes" to climb with very little creativity or real business acumen. Sad Sad Sad Singapore!

    I tend to agree with the anonymous write above that Comfort only success is LTA and the government from Taxi and SBS and Vicom sucking our money into the company.

    Anyway, the fee hike postponement may affect their revenue. COE needs to drop to increase their profits. Or Vicom raising fees of car inspection, which I think they will.

    With more WFH, maybe less people will travel during peak hours, lesser revenue again?

    Where is growth factors of comfort delgro?

  6. Hi Brian,

    Prior to Covid-19, ComfortDelgro had been falling off the cliff, dropping from $2.37 to $1.40 on 13 March 2020. Post Covid 19, what make you think it will return to $2.00 mark? What would be the catalysts? In my view, you have caught a falling knife.


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