Is the Telstra Corporation Ltd share price a bargain?

Credit: Olivia Wilson

To the dismay of shareholders, Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is currently trading at levels not far from its 52-week low of $4.98.

To rub salt into the wound, Telstra’s performance which has seen the share price tumble by 18% in the past year is worse than the 12.4% decline in the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

Despite this recent underperformance, there are a number of reasons why Telstra’s share price could be considered attractive at current levels.

Firstly, despite already being the largest player in the domestic telecommunications sector, Telstra is still growing.

For the six months ending December 2015, revenues increased by 7.8% to $13.6 billion and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increased 1.3% to $3.4 billion.

Future growth channels also look enticing with rising data usage from machine-to-machine technology, mobile device expansion and increased usage of the cloud all creating a tailwind for Telstra’s services.

These growth opportunities have led management to issue the following guidance for the full year: mid-single digit growth in revenue and low-single digit growth in earnings.

Secondly, dividends totalling 32.5 cents per share (cps) are expected to be paid in the 2017 financial year (source: Thomson Consensus Estimates). With the share price closing on Friday at $5.16, this implies a fully franked yield of 6.3%.

Thirdly, earnings per share of 36 cps are forecast for next financial year, implying a forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of 14.3x (source: Thomson Consensus Estimates).

This PE multiple compares favourably against the wider market multiple of 19.2x and also against peers such as TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM) which is trading on a forward PE of 23x.

TPG can grow faster as it is smaller, but as the market leader, Telstra has plenty of opportunity to capture a major share of the growing demand for data.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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