Aussie shares posted the best week in over two years with the broader All Ordinaries up 8.2 per cent so far in October. The market is on track to post the best month since March 1988.
Further relief rallies are likely over the coming week as the market takes a breather from the Euro-zone debacle – although punters can’t forget about the underlying weaknesses plaguing Australia at this point. The RBA is learning closer to a rate cut this month, which highlights that the economy is slowing. Now is not the time to be buying with your ears pinned back.
There will be stocks that buck the trend however, and broker upgrades are one place to watch (see full list of 24 broker buys below).
South-East Asia’s largest telcom firm Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) makes a regular appearance on broker and fund manager lists. JP Morgan has upgraded SingTel from Neutral to Overweight, and lifted its price target from S$3.40 to S$3.60 based on higher growth from regional assets and associates.
Singapore’s wide economic moat is attractive for investors looking for stocks with defensive characteristics. Soon to be launched, Singapore’s ultra high speed national broadband network (NBN) will connect over 60% of homes and offices nationwide. SingTel currently holds a 60% market share of the NBN market.
JP Morgan noted that the NBN will limit competition, benefiting SingTel. With the best balance sheet among Singapore telcos, SingTel is also on track to pay out good dividends to shareholders, the broker says.
SingTel invests heavily across the region thus diversifying its asset base and income sources. The group owns a 21% stake in Thailand’s Advanced Info Service (AIS); a 32% effective interest in India’s largest GSM operator, Bharti Airtel, with operations in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa; a 47% share in Globe Telecom in the Philippines and a 35% ownership in Indonesia’s largest mobile operator, Telkomsel. It also has a 45% stake in Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited and a 30% stake in Warid Telecom in Pakistan.
Mobile customer growth in these regions is mind boggling; as at at 30 June 2011 the group boasted 416 million mobile customers. Over the course of one year, its Indian operator Bharti alone added some 44 million customers to its database, to 221 million people. SingTel’s shares are up almost 5% over the past 6 months, but have displayed some weakness lately.
Beach Energy (BPT) has been one of the top performing stocks this year, up an impressive 84% for the year. The share price has barely taken a breather, up 9% this month alone.
The oil and gas play got the thumbs up from Citigroup following its strong September-quarter result; the broker raised its target price to $1.40.
Higher oil and gas demand and improved Cooper Basin access saw sales revenue rise to $151 million, a 39% jump on the previous period. Richard Batt, of Shadforth Financial Group says that Beach could easily draw predator attention from the likes of BHP for its gas shale wells in the Cooper Basin.
Oil remains the company’s biggest earner, which it currently produces on the western flanks of the Cooper Basin in central Australia. Managing Director Reg Nelson said he thought Beach Energy was well placed due to massive estimated gas resources of 300 trillion cubic feet in the Cooper Basin, which he said was bigger than the combined coal seam gas reserves of Queensland and NSW.
Goldman Sachs prefers Oil Search to Beach Energy for long-term energy exposure; it has a buy rating on Oil Search and a $7.75 price target. Oil Search, however, suffered a third-quarter revenue slump – down 26% from the preceding quarter due to lower oil sales. The fall in output reflected a planned two-week shutdown of its central processing facility at its LNG project in Papua New Guinea.
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