Why Norway’s Central Bank just bought 5% of APN Outdoor Group Ltd

Credit: Franciso Diez

Norges Bank bought a 5% stake in APN Outdoor Group Ltd (ASX: APO) last week. It’s a little odd that Norway’s Central Bank has come to the other side of the world to invest in an advertising business, but I suppose it can invest wherever it wants to.

APN Outdoor is one of Australia’s largest advertising businesses alongside oOh!Media Ltd (ASX: OML) and WPP Aunz Ltd (ASX: WPP). It’s a pretty small business at $876 million in size, but that just gives it more room to grow.

APN is transitioning its portfolio of outdoor advertisements onto digital screens, which allows it to offer the most modern and up-to-date advertisements.

Advertising continues to be an integral way most businesses connect with potential customers. The printed media and TV is slowly losing market share, however APN Outdoor’s outdoor advertising continues to capture more revenue.

In its latest presentation APN Outdoor revealed that in the nine months to 30 September 2016 the total advertising market had increased by 17.1% and APN’s advertising revenue had increased by 16.7%.

APN Outdoor recently updated its guidance for the full year to December 2016, it expects revenue growth of 8.5% to 9%, previously guidance was for 6% to 8%.

It also updated guidance for its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the region of $84 million to $86 million, previous guidance was for $79 million to $84 million.

APN Outdoor has commissioned 32 new digital ‘elite’ screens so far this year, with a further four planned by the end of the year. The original guidance was only for 20 to 25.

Overall APN Outdoor looks like it has a solid future ahead of it over the next few years as it transforms its portfolio into the digital age.

It will have to make sure it offers quality advertisements as Facebook and Google will continue taking a larger slice of the advertising pie.

The way we see advertisements changes each generation, as Seven West Media Ltd (ASX: SWM), Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) and Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX: TEN) are realising to their detriment. So far, APN is doing well to combat the internet giants’ disruptive presence.

Time to buy?

APN Outdoor is currently trading with a price/earnings ratio of 18 and a fully franked dividend yield of 4.76%. It grew its dividend by 44% in its latest results.

At the current price, Norges Bank reckons it’s a buy. I think APN Outdoor looks like a good long term buy for Foolish investors looking for diversification in the media sector.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison 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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