Aneka Tambang (ANTM.JK) - Indonesian Nickel and Gold Producer Poised to Cash in on EV Thematic and Onshoring of Metals Supply Chain
In our last episode, we provided a primer on Indonesia’s exciting macroeconomic landscape and discussed recent efforts to establish a full battery and EV supply chain domestically in the mineral-rich country. This episode is a deep-dive into one of the key beneficiaries of this trend, PT Aneka Tambang Tbk (ANTM.JK, ANTM IJ, ATM.AX, ATM AU, “ANTAM”). In our previous episode, we also cited an article byhighlighting that Indonesia is an investible market for international (retail) investors through the right broker. The time of recording was on 17 May 2023.
WHAT IS ANTAM?
ANTAM is a state-owned gold and nickel miner in Indonesia, which has the largest nickel deposits in the world. The Company has the largest nickel reserves among its local peers.
ANTAM listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) in 1997, selling 35% of its shares in the process. It also listed its shares on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) as a foreign exempt entity in 1999 before abiding it status by the more stringent ASX listing in 2002. The business was initially involved in other minerals including bauxite, coal, mineral sands, but over the past five years the company has largely cleaned up its unprofitable businesses and now mainly focuses on nickel and gold mining.
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For now, ANTAM is primarily a Class-2 nickel producer mining from laterite ore resources, meaning that its output can be used for applications such as stainless-steel alloys, a market which is growing at a healthy 5.3% per annum. However, for EV batteries, which are a hot-topic investment these days, the Company will have to convert its laterite ore resources into Class 1 output. Nickel usage in batteries has grown from approximately 70,000 tonnes in 2017, to 240,000 tonnes by 2023, representing a CAGR of 23% during that period.
To tap into this demand, the Company has already teamed up with major international players CATL (300750.SZ) and LG Energy Solution Ltd. (373220.KS) to establish the high-pressure acid leeching facilities needed to process laterite ore Class 1 output. Prices of Class 1 nickel are bound to increase over time, given the expense and significant lead times required to mine higher purity ores that are more commonly used for Class 1 output (deep earth mining rather than the easier open-pit approach that can be used in mining for Class 2 laterite ore resources).
ANTAM benefits from political developments both domestically and internationally. As noted in our previous episode, the administration of President Joko Widodo has completely upturned Indonesia’s historical ore export model by forcing international producers to set up processing and refining for metals onshore, leading to a meteoric rise in the value of Indonesia’s mineral exports (which accounted for 70% of the massive growth in exports between 2017 and 2021). For nickel specifically, onshore refining is now well-established, and ANTAM benefits by feeding smelters operated by an array of local and foreign operators, aside from the smelters it is working on through the aforementioned JVs. As for gold, which still accounts for the majority of ANTAM’s revenues, we have long been bullish on the commodity as a safe haven asset due to an increasingly fragmented geopolitical scene and hedge on (heightened fears around) recession.
ANTAM has provided the market with production guidance for each segment for FY23e. Based on our own modelling of those figures, we’re expecting ANTAM to grow top line and bottom line by at least 3% and 29% yoy for FY23e. Our numbers sit at top of the range relative to a wide sell-side forecast range. We are quite comfortable with that and even think it’s on the conservative side. Q123 results showed that the business is tracking well, exceeding consensus expectations by over 37% supported by strong nickel and gold production and sales volume.
ANTAM has the highest reserves among its peers. We note that reserves represent concrete estimates of extractable resources, whereas resources are theoretical projections of what new areas may hold.
While the Russian Nickel giant Norilsk does indeed have higher reserves, Russian companies will have a tough time getting their products to international markets due to geopolitical tensions. ANTAM looks relatively cheap compared to peers on an EV/Reserves basis and we expect this discount to close over the next 2 to 3 years through a mixture of macro and micro catalysts.
CATALYSTS TO VALUATION (TARGET RANGE)
Our initial target range for ANTAM is between IDR 2,700-3,200 (currently at IDR 1,935). In our bull case, our view is that the stock could double over the next 2-3 years. Factors driving business growth are strong macro and fundamental demand for nickel and gold products, as well as stable to increasing commodity prices. We are seeing surging demand for EV battery materials from manufacturers in China and ASEAN; a flourishing EV supply chain in Indonesia will complement this.
Negative pricing pressures will certainly set the Company back, but we do like the diversified nature of ANTAM. Short term falls in commodities prices, i.e. nickel – can be counteracted in recessionary or unstable macro environment by higher gold prices.
However, we think the Company carries a significant real option value that we have not tried to explicitly estimate, including, but not limited to the JV projects with major foreign players to establish higher grade smelters over the next several years. ANTAM’s potential avenues of growth through material project partnerships from investment and participation drives the real option value of the Company. ANTAM continues to shore up a healthy and well-capitalized balance sheet. We can also still benefit from any increases in its 30% dividend payout policy. It is noteworthy the Company over the course of 26 years (since 1997), only on 5 occasions did not pay a dividend.
For further details on our deep dive on ANTAM, please refer to the video presentation, podcast or slides.
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