By Jan Martínek

  • Largest European IPO since 2011 up 21% since its launch
  • Shares performed strongly despite the fact that there is no analyst report published yet
  • Our valuation shows 30% further upside
  • Aena in play – activist investor TCI became the largest investor will most likely push for further improvements to earn further upside

Aena, which is based in Spain, is the world’s biggest airport operator. The company runs 46 airports and two heliports in Spain and another 15 in Latin America, the United States, and Europe, including London’s Luton. It handled nearly 196 million passengers last year, a 4.5% increase over 2013, making it the world’s biggest airport operator by passenger numbers, ahead of Germany’s Fraport and France’s ADP.

The company reported revenues of €2,876 million and net profit of €596 million for 2013. The company has not published its results for 2014 yet. Under my model, the company should report revenues of €3,025 million and net profit of €648 million.

The IPO was a success. It was five times over-subscribed, and its shares closed at €70, up 21% from the issue price of €58. And that’s in spite of the fact that the shares were priced at the very top of the range of the €53-€58 per share that was given prior to the IPO.

Spain, which is privatizing the company as it tries to lower its public debt, sold a 49% stake in the IPO and plans to keep a 51% controlling stake in the operator. The largest shareholder in the IPO was The Children Investment Fund (TCI), a prominent activist fund run by Chris Hohn. TCI bought 7% of the company in the IPO and an additional 3% on the first day of trading. In total, TCI invested over €900 million in Aena shares.

As stated above, there is no analyst research on Aena; no investment bank is currently covering the Aena stock. To bridge the gap, I performed a quick valuation of the company. The valuation is based on comparables of similar airport operators in Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Copenhagen and Vienna. To check the comparability of the sample, I compared the growth, profitability and leverage of Aena vs. the sample.

The table below indicates that Aena reported better growth and profitability and return on equity than its peers. In general, a faster growing company should attract a higher P/E multiple than its peers. Similarly, a company with a higher return on equity than its peers should trade at a higher P/E multiple than its peers.

Name Sales Growth (%) EBITDA Growth (%) EBITDA Margin Operating Income Margin Net Income Growth (%) Net Profit Margin Capex/ Sales (%) Return on Assets Return on Equity
KOBENHAVNS LUFT. 6,05 -21,90 55,64 38,42 -43,10 25,28 20,28 10,05 36,40
ADP 1,33 1,98 39,43 25,21 13,57 13,12 16,11 3,90 9,71
FRAPORT FRANKFURT 0,85 7,64 33,46 20,29 5,88 9,27 14,14 2,42 7,18
FLUGHAFEN ZUERICH -0,19 32,49 54,47 30,79 775,90 22,41 22,96 5,61 10,81
FLUGHAFEN WIEN 1,35 NA NA 20,42 30,80 13,42 15,66 4,35 9,16
Average 1,88 5,05 45,75 27,03 156,61 16,70 17,83 5,27 14,65
AENA SA 10,71 48,63 52,81 24,39 9,00 20,74 16,28 3,60 21,79
Source: Bloomberg

At the same time, Aena is more highly leveraged than its peers.

Name Net Debt/EBITDA (x) Net Debt/Equity (%) Total Debt/Total Assets (%) EBITDA/ Interest Expense (x)
KOBENHAVNS LUFTHAVNE 2,12 174 43,98 11,09
ADP NA NA 43,33 5,78
FRAPORT AG FRANKFURT 4,45 110 46,85 4,13
FLUGHAFEN WIEN AG NA 55 33,64 4,75
Average 3,29 113 40,02 7,96
AENA SA 5,48 274 69,77 6,07
Source: Bloomberg, own research

In general, a multiple valuation should be performed based on forward-looking financials. The past is past, but shares trade on the future outlook. For Aena, it is little bit more difficult. There is no analyst research or consensus numbers. At this stage, I did not try to forecast 2015 performance. Therefore, I calculated my valuation based on 2014 financials. The airport operation business is a stable cash flow generating business. If we assume that 2015 will be a year without major economic disruptions, then we can assume that 2014 performance is a good proxy for future performance. The table below shows that Aena trades at a 30% discount to its peers on P/E multiples.

Name Mkt Cap (EUR) EV P/E
KOBENHAVNS LUFTHAVNE 3 443 4 051 26,46
ADP 10 475 13 562 28,92
FLUGHAFEN ZUERICH AG-REG 3 727 4 484 18,37
FLUGHAFEN WIEN AG 1 608 2 128 19,09
Average 4 850 6 574 23,02
AENA SA 10 500 21 961 16,24
Discount     29%
Source: Bloomberg, own research


As shown in the table above, Aena was able to generate better growth, better profitability and better return on equity than its peers, and therefore, it should trade at a P/E premium to its peers, not a discount. Further upside can be expected from the TCI activist actions. The CEO mentioned on CNBC that they have significant underutilized land assets that could be monetized as well. There should be good times ahead, at least for Aena shareholders.

Disclosure: The author of this article has a long position in AENA