Why Macquarie Group Ltd shares could rocket past $100

Shares in global financial services business Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) currently sell for $76.36 as investors warm to its continued evolution, US dollar exposure, and reasonable growth outlook.

The group has delivered consistent earnings growth over the past couple of years thanks to the relative stability of capital markets and its renewed focus on its asset management business as a consistent earnings growth driver.

The falling dollar and increased base and performance fee income saw the asset management division lift its net profit contribution 13% to $1.64 billion for the year ending March 31 2016.

This represents more than half of total group profit and with assets under management of around $477 billion covering equities, infrastructure, real estate and fixed income its long-term growth outlook remains reasonable amidst today’s low cash rate world.

Recently Bloomberg reported that the CEO of one of Europe’s largest asset managers, Aberdeen Asset Management, told the TV channel that he had received a lot of takeover interest from rivals in Europe and Australia.

Macquarie is the only real Australian candidate likely to have the inclination, financial firepower, and scale to make a move for Aberdeen, with leading UK broker Numis recently running the numbers to suggest it would require a bid of around $10 billion to acquire Aberdeen.

The UK-based fund manager climbed around 10% in value on the LSE this week on the CEO’s comments to a valuation around $7.7 billion and it has some small operations in Australia already. Aberdeen currently has around $549.7 billion in assets under management and any potential acquisition by Macquarie would be transformational for both businesses in creating one of the world’s largest asset mangers.

In the asset management business scale is important if you want to win your share of the giant mandates from sovereign wealth or retirement funds that can commonly command more than $50 billion in assets under management up for grabs to the few with the operational credibility to assume mandates.

Deal making is in the DNA of Macquarie as it constantly seeks to evolve in order to grow its business and shareholder returns with the renewed emphasis on asset management or annuity-style earnings a common thread of its post-GFC renaissance.

Chief executive Nicholas Moore may also fancy one last giant deal prior to a departure that may be within the next few years given he will have been in the top job for 10 years come May 2018.

Macquarie would have to raise large amounts of capital to finance any deal, although deals of this scale are not unrealistic for a business where raising capital across multiple platforms is second nature. It recently acquired Esanda for around $8.2 billion via multiple funding sources and prior to that in 2015 it spent US$4 billion on the AWAS aircraft leasing business.

Aberdeen recently posted a profit of around $200 million for the six months ending 31 March 2016 and any acquisition by Macquarie is likely to bring substantial cost savings via synergies.

I imagine if it were to successfully make a mid-single digit earnings per share accretive bid for Aberdeen its share price could join blue-chip healthcare businesses CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and Cochlear Ltd (ASX: COH) in cracking the magic $100 mark soon afterwards.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson owns shares of Macquarie Group Limited.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

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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