Why I’m bullish on Telstra Corporation Ltd shares

Credit: Olivia Wilson

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) has declined by 10% in the last month. This means that it now offers better value for money and when combined with multiple potential catalysts, it offers turnaround potential in my opinion.

International growth

Telstra’s growth will be boosted by opportunities in Asia. It is quickly improving its competitive position within the region through investment. For example, Telstra’s purchase and successful integration of Pacnet means that it has a commanding position in international connectivity, with the largest submarine cable network in Asia.

This represents 30% of total active intra-Asia capacity. In my view, investments such as this provide diversification benefits as well as positioning Telstra for what is expected to be a sustained period of growth in demand for communication services across the region.

Outside of telecommunications, Telstra’s expansion into Asia includes its healthcare services. Although the Australian market has growth potential thanks to an ageing population, the same opportunities exist in Asia on a larger scale. I believe that initiatives such as making Telstra’s hospital data tools available in China will position the company for growth.


Telstra’s earnings mix is rapidly changing. Previously, it was heavily reliant upon domestic mobile revenues, but now it has diversified into healthcare and is becoming a more international company. As well as the growth opportunities this shift brings, it also reduces Telstra’s risk profile in my view.

This should allow it to invest more in growth opportunities, since its earnings visibility will improve. Telstra’s cash flow indicates that additional investment is possible. For example, even though capital expenditure was $4.4 billion in financial year 2016, free cash flow was $3.7 billion. This covered dividend payments and Telstra’s yield of 6.3% is higher than popular dividend stocks such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN). They have yields of 6.1% and 5.7% respectively.

Domestic growth

Telstra faces a rapidly changing marketplace in the domestic market. Demand for voice calls and SMS is declining, while the volume of data usage across its networks increased by 62% in financial year 2016 versus the prior year. In response, Telstra has changed its customer offering. It now offers more content and larger data allowances than ever before.

This has resulted in a rise in customer numbers on bundled plans of 322,000 in financial year 2016. I feel there is scope for further growth in this space, especially since Telstra’s offering includes benefits such as unlimited data and sports content passes.

Telstra’s domestic strategy includes improved levels of customer service. In my view this will boost customer loyalty and provide scope for higher margins. For example, Telstra has increased its use of digital tools for customer facing staff, introduced self-service tools available to customers and streamlined its operating initiatives. Alongside an increase in 4G coverage to 99% of Australia, I believe that Telstra’s offering to customers will improve its outlook.

As well as growth potential in Australia, Telstra is a stable stock which has international growth opportunities. In my view it has turnaround potential after its recent share price fall.

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Motley Fool contributor Robert Stephens has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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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