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Avensia - Softer Q4 as Avensia plans for the future

Soft Q4, internal training programme hurt utilisation Estimates lowered, but demand should recover in ‘21e 21x-11x EV/EBIT ‘21e-‘23e Soft Q4 results, adj. EBIT -63% vs. ABGSCe Avensia achieved Q4 sales of SEK 87m (-10% vs ABGSCe), corresponding to y-o-y growth of 2%. The sales shortfall was due to low utilisation, which stemmed from: 1) weaker short-term demand amid the second COVID-19 wave and 2) Avensia’s decision to run an internal training programme (which can be viewed as an investment for the future in terms of competence).

Furthermore, opex increased 22% y-o-y and came in +7% above our forecast, mainly driven by increased personnel costs. This combined with the lower-than-expected sales led to a material EBIT miss, with Q4 EBIT of SEK -5m vs. our forecast of SEK 10m.

The negative number surprised us, but we note that Avensia recognised non-recurring items of SEK 8.9m in Q4. Excluding these, adj. EBIT was SEK 3.8m (-63% vs ABGSCe), for a margin of 5.8%.

Rapid net recruitment rate in 2020 for future growth The e-commerce market is heavily impacted by COVID-19. Restrictions have put more focus on flexible digital commerce, which plays to Avensia’s strengths. Despite a tough market environment, Avensia decided to act aggressively and take advantage of the volatile market.

The company expanded its headcount by 25% in 2020 in an offensive move targeting a pole position within the market and stronger future growth. We believe this tactical manoeuvre will help put Avensia in a stronger competitive position, particularly when demand returns to historical levels. Even so, we reduce our ‘21-‘22e sales forecasts by 8-7% due to the soft Q4 results, giving a 32-19% cut to ’21-‘22e EBIT.

We anticipate a gradual recovery in demand With the headcount up 25% at the end of Q4’20 vs. Q4’19, we look for 2021 growth of 16%, driven by a gradual recovery in demand. We believe that the company’s focus in ‘21 will be on margins rather than growth, meaning that we should see....

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