Rio Tinto(LSE: RIO) has not appeared onmy personal wish list for a very long time but it could be worth considering its shares right now, analysts argue.
Are they right?
The iron ore producer is teamingup withSavannah Resources(+80% in early trade)in Mozambique, it emerged today.
Unsurprisingly, Riosstock was flat following theannouncement.
The deal is not a game-changer for Rio, of course, but there remains a doubt thatits shares may deserve the attention of value investors right now at least its depressed valuation may suggest so.
Rio Tintos iron ore strategy has backfired so far the same holds true for BHP Billiton but management is only partly to blame for a very poor performance in recent times.After all, even Glencore, whose management has often accused both rivals of little understanding of certain basic market dynamics concerning supply and demand, has struggledover the last 12 months.
At Rio and its rivals, operational hurdles have come at a time when downwards pressure on most commodities has emerged as the inevitable price to pay for a global slowdown and a shaky recovery whose prospects are highly uncertain, given that nobody can firmly assess whether the growth rate of Chinese GDP is sustainable at 7% a year.
Signs of stress are apparent, and combine with lofty valuations in other cyclical sectors.
As expected, theCRB Commodity Index a commodity futures price index that is useful to determine at which point in the commodity cycle we stand still trades at multi-year lows.
A tough trading environment means that Rios strategy may take many years topay off, or it could just be plainly wrong.
Like disposals, targeted joint ventures could be the way forward although one of the most appealing features of Rio could be atakeover byGlencore, which was rejected in October.A tie-up would make a lot of sense right now but thats not enough to buy Rio stock, Id argue.
In research published earlier this month, analysts at commodity house Royal Bank Of Canada(RBC) argued that applying a 1.0x (8%) P/NAV multiple and a 13.0x multiple to our 2016E EPS forecast, we arrive at our price target of 27/share.
RBCs estimates are broadly in line with the average price target from brokers, according to Thomson Reuters. Riosshares currently trade at 2,700p, which is not far off their five-year lows (and is some 40% below their post-crisis highs).
Consensus estimates have fallen by 26% over the last 12 months: I doubt they have bottomed out.
It is important to note that the NAV and EPS multiples could improve when commodity markets improve and Rio Tinto can progress further in advancing its growth projects and enhancing the returns in underperforming assets. In our view, management success here should lead to multiple expansion relative to its peer group, RBC analysts opined.
So, Rio Tinto remains a cyclical macro play but one whose declining net debts, reduced capital requirements and cash flow position may bea threat to its dividend yield, which is north of 5% on a forward basis.
All in all, Rio Tinto carries too much risk, and there’s better value in growth/yield stocks that do not look expensive at all right now — a few of them have been included ina FREE report published by ourteam ofanalysts.
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