SIA shares take off following MCB redemption announcement

Cargo enabled SIA to earn revenue at a time when passenger traffic fell amid the pandemic. PHOTO: PIXABAY

SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) shares soared on Wednesday after the company announced its intention to redeem the first tranche of its rights mandatory convertible bonds (MCB).

Also boosting the stock were earnings upgrades by some investment houses, citing strong demand for air travel.

The stock rose to as high as $5.17, or 2.8 per cent, before closing at $5.11, up 1.6 per cent in one of SIA’s biggest single-session gains in recent months. About 5.57 million shares changed hands.

The rally comes after the company on Tuesday announced that it would redeem $3.5 billion of rights MCB on Dec 8, 2022.

The 10-year MCBs were issued in mid-2020 to support the company’s balance sheet amid an almost total shutdown of air travel during the coronavirus pandemic. The conversion price of these bonds is $4.84 per share.

The bonds will be redeemed at 110.408 per cent of the principal amount, implying a total payout of $3.86 billion. The redemption will also prevent a potential stock dilution should bond holders later convert their holdings to shares.

Analysts noted that the company had the financial wherewithal to redeem not only this first tranche, but also a second tranche of MCBs issued in 2021, when it raised another $6.2 billion.

“SIA has a strong balance sheet with $16 billion in cash as at June 22, and hence can fund this redemption easily through existing cash,” noted Morgan Stanley, which has a $6.30 price target on the stock.

The investment bank added that the early redemption of the bonds points to the management’s rising confidence in the sustainability of the ongoing recovery in passenger demand.

Meanwhile, UBS said it expected SIA to redeem the remaining 2021 MCBs before the maturity date of June 8, 2030, citing improving operating cash flows as air travel demand recovers.

“After the redemption of the 2020 MCBs, we estimate that adjusted gross debt (including MCBs as debt) will be $21.8 billion and gross cash at $12.3 billion,” UBS noted. “We expect shares to react positively on this announcement, as the redemption appears earlier than market expectations and it reduces the extent of equity dilution.”

Citibank, meanwhile, revised the company’s core earnings to $1.2 billion for financial year 2023, up from $0.46 billion; $1.09 billion for financial year 2024, from $1.5 billion; and $1.2 billion for financial year 2025, up from $1.1 billion.

Despite the generally upbeat prognosis, analysts also caution that the airline faces some cargo headwinds and potential yield reduction in 2023 as competition hots up.

Cargo was the star performer during 2020 and 2021, delivering revenue to the airline at a time when passenger traffic ground to a halt amid the pandemic.

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.