Should you buy Telstra shares for their 'defensive qualities'?

What's the outlook for the ASX's big telco?

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Key points

  • The Telstra share price has slid 2%  in the year to date 
  • One broker is recommending investors sell Telstra shares for better gains elsewhere 
  • The ACCC has recently dealt a blow to Telstra's network-sharing deal with TPG

The Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) share price has risen slightly in the last month, but is it a buy or sell?

Telstra shares have climbed 2% in the last month and are currently fetching $4.02. On Wednesday, Telstra shares closed 0.5% lower for the day.

Let's take a look at the outlook for the Telstra share price.

Is Telstra a buy or sell

Telstra is the largest telecommunications company in Australia by market share. However, broker coverage on the Telstra share price is mixed.

Seneca investment adviser Tony Langford is recommending investors look elsewhere for more attractive share price growth. Yet, he highlighted Telstra's "defensive qualities" and dividend yield. Commenting on The Bull, he said:

Telstra appeals for its defensive qualities and dividend yield in volatile markets. At its full year results, Telstra forecast total income to range between $23 billion and $25 billion in fiscal year 2023.

But we believe investors can find more attractive share price growth elsewhere. The shares were priced at $4.26 on January 18. The shares were trading at $4.04 on December 15.

On the flip side, Morgans recommended shareholders buy Telstra in December. The broker placed a $4.60 price target on the company's shares.

As my Foolish colleague James reported, Morgans is positive on the telco's earnings momentum and balance sheet. The broker also believes Telstra's InfraCo business can generate more value for shareholders. Morgans is also tipping Telstra to pay fully franked dividends of 16.5 cents per share in FY 2023 and FY 2024. Analysts said:

After a major turnaround, TLS has emerged in good shape with strong earnings momentum and a strong balance sheet. In late CY22 shareholders vote[d] on Telstra's legal restructure, which opens the door for value to be released. […] TLS currently trades on ~7x EV/EBITDA.

However some of TLS's high quality long life assets like InfraCo are worth substantially more, in our view. We don't think this is in the price so see it as value generating for TLS shareholders.

In news on Wednesday, the Australian and Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has blocked Telstra's proposed regional mobile network deal with TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPG) due to competition concerns.

The agreement would have provided TPG with access to 3,700 of Telstra's mobile network assets. Telstra would also have gained access to TPG's spectrum on the 4G and 5G network, delivering between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion over 10 years.

Share price snapshot

The Telstra share price has descended 2.66% in the last year.

Telstra has a market capitalisation of about $46.6 billion based on the current share price.

Motley Fool contributor Monica O'Shea has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Telstra Group. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended TPG Telecom. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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