Now boarding! This ASX travel share could take off again: analyst

Sure, the whole travel sector will recover in post-COVID life. But a fund manager explains how one specific company has more upside than the rest.

| More on:
plane flying across share markey graph, asx 200 travel shares, qantas share price

Image source: Getty Images

The travel industry generally has much upside in the post-COVID world, but one particular Australian business is looking especially good.

That’s according to Montgomery Private Fund portfolio manager Stuart Jackson, who reckons Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) could take off soon.

“With many economies re-opening, unleashing a likely tsunami of pent-up travel demand, the future is looking brighter,” he said on a company blog post.

“While the current level of profitability remains impaired by the effects of the global pandemic, the market is looking for signs of sequential improvement as well as focusing on the company’s rate of cash burn to ensure it has enough capital to make it across the great divide.”

Webjet shares were up 2.94% on Wednesday to close the day at $5.26.

Webjet’s recovery really ramping up lately

Jackson noted that April was a bumper month for Webjet, generating $86.1 million of the total transaction value (TTV) generated through its “over the air” (OTA), or wireless, business.

“This means Webjet generated 87% of its TTV from the whole of the March quarter in just one month during April,” he said.

“TTV would have been around 75% of total 2019 levels in April, even without any international travel.”

The frenzied consumer activity after Easter this year (start of April) matches up with Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL)’s commentary during its quarterly update, according to Jackson.

Webjet’s market share is actually higher than before COVID

Webjet’s slice of the Australian OTA travel market is actually bigger than it was before the pandemic arrived.

In fact, it’s doubled — from 5.5% average market share for the 8 months to May 2020, compared to 11% since then.

“This is partially due to bricks-and-mortar travel agent traffic continuing to be impacted by [lack of] consumer willingness to go to malls and other locations,” said Jackson. 

“However, there is likely to have been a structural shift in online share as a result of COVID given that it will have introduced more of the population to this distribution channel.”

A competitive advantage for Webjet

Jackson pointed out that Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) is planning to reduce travel agency commissions for international flights from 5% to 1%, starting July next year.

The market has interpreted this as a headwind for all ASX travel shares, but it could turn out to be a boost for Webjet.

“In the case of Webjet it is important to recognise that it generates more of its revenue from domestic flights than international flights,” said Jackson.

“Additionally, unlike its competitors, Webjet generates a material proportion of its revenue from booking fees, which will not be impacted by the change to commission rates.”

Other travel agents would either need to take a hit in revenue or increase fares.

“This could end up representing a competitive advantage for Webjet over more traditional travel agents.”

Wondering where you should invest $1,000 right now?

When investing expert Scott Phillips has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the flagship Motley Fool Share Advisor newsletter he has run for more than eight years has provided thousands of paying members with stock picks that have doubled, tripled or even more.*

Scott just revealed what he believes could be the five best ASX stocks for investors to buy right now. These stocks are trading at near dirt-cheap prices and Scott thinks they could be great buys right now.

*Returns as of May 24th 2021

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo owns shares of Qantas Airways Limited and Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of COLESGROUP DEF SET. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

More on Broker Notes