Morningstar has high hopes for listed technology provider IRESS and anticipates the group’s wealth management software business to increase its market share significantly, driven by strong demand for holisitc financial advice.
In a research noted released this week, Morningstar analyst Gareth James notes that the share price of IRESS has fallen 21 per cent over the last 90 days, despite the lack of trading updates since the group posted its interim results last August.
Over the first half of FY18, IRESS delivered a strong result with group segment profit up 11 per cent and operating revenue up 6 per cent compared to 1H17.
Morningstar’s Mr James believes the weaker share price we are seeing today is more a reflection of general tech stock weakness than any fears over IRESS in particular.
“Over the past decade, the company generated an underlying EPS CAGR of just 2.8 per cent but our valuation assumed a CAGR of 8.1 per cent over the next decade, largely on the expectation of margin expansion, driven by a combination of revenue growth and operating leverage within the wealth management businesses,” he said.
“We expect the narrow economic moat, underpinned by customer switching costs, to help defend the dominant position in Australian financial markets software and enable the Australian wealth management software business to increase its market share to around 80 per cent in the long-term from 65 per cent today.”
The analyst is aware that IRESS is currently grappling with structural change in the investment management industry, including the loss of market share by active fund managers to passive and automated investment products.
“This trend is reducing demand for fees for actively managed funds, which in turn is impacting demand for IRESS’ institutional software products.”
The financial markets business has been weighing heavily on the group’s earnings for some time; EBITDA from the division fell at a CAGR of 5.6 per cent in the six years to 2016 and continued to fall in 2017.
IRESS now looks to be moving away from what once its core business and investing more time and energy in the wealth management sector both domestically and abroad. Revenue perspective, its UK and Australian wealth management businesses have grown from 24 per cent to 54 per cent of the group.
Morningstar's Mr James expects this to continue.
“We expect demand for holistic personal wealth management advice to remain strong despite the rise of robo advice and passive investment products which won’t appeal to all clients and can be incorporated into holistic advice anyway,” he said.
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