Thursday, October 27, 2016

MTN Group Bouncing From Problem To Problem

Shares of pan-African mobile services provider MTN Group (OTCPK:MTNOY) are down less than 10% from the last time I wrote about the company. And yet, since that time, the company has reached a settlement with the government of Nigeria on a large fine, appointed a new CEO, and begun to make some significant changes to its long-term strategic plans. It's also worth noting that the iShares MSCI South Africa Index (NYSEARCA:EZA) is up more than 15% over the same time period, so MTN Group is definitely getting left behind.

The reasons are many and ought to trouble MTN Group's shareholders. Nigeria's economy remains a mess, the company's competitiveness in South Africa is still less than ideal, the company still has a significant leadership vacuum, and there are new allegations of serious financial malfeasance in Nigeria.

I've significantly cut back my expectations for MTN Group from a modeling perspective, as I believe the company will have to spend more on capex to drive growth, and I have also chosen to model MTN Nigeria separately (and with a significantly larger discount rate). After these changes, my fair value of around $10.50/ADR still leaves meaningful upside for a company leveraged to significant potential growth in subs and ARPU over the next decade and beyond, but "potential" is a dangerous word in investing and investors should approach MTN Group aware of the risks and challenges.

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MTN Group Bouncing From Problem To Problem

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